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Summary of the Royal Courts of Justice Tribunal Ruling by Judge Timothy Herrington.

This case was heard on 19 June 2018 and  revolves around a validation order made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which validates (makes legal) loan agreements taken out by clients of Azure Resorts Malta, using Barclays Partner Finance (BPF).

The loan agreements were made by Azure Service Ltd between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016, with this company not being authorised as a licenced broker to arrange or introduce clients to BPF. On finding out that these loan agreements were made by an unauthorised entity, BPF applied to the FCA to have the loans validated or made legal.

This validation order was issued, affecting some 1,444 clients and could cost Barclays around £47 million.

An appeal by the clients and their legal representatives forced the FCA to apply to the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing on the legal implications and guidance to overturn the validation Order.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement.

He ruled that the FCA did not take into account “Client Detriment” when they issued the validation order, his ruling was that the FCA re-evaluate that decision and take into account the client detriment.

He stated that the client detriment revolves around the following:

  1. Clients were not given sufficient information as to the terms and conditions of the loan agreement required by law;
  2. There were no major credit checks made as to the affordability of the repayments such as income versus outgoings reports;
  3. The length of the loan agreements were not explained, with client under the impression that they were for two years;
  4. Clients were pressured into signing these agreements;
  5. False representations were made to clients relating to the financial impact of regulated agreements;
  6. Clients were subject to long high pressure sales tactics to purchase the timeshares;
  7. Clients were sold timeshares which were not appropriate for them;
  8. Vulnerable consumers were treated inappropriately;
  9. Concerns about commission arrangements and disclosure thereof.

The FCA must now re-examine the original validation order and take into account the client detriment statements of the borrowers.

With this ruling it makes it almost impossible for the FCA to uphold the original validation order, therefore it must overturn the previous decision and rule that these loan agreements cannot be validated and are thereby unenforceable in law.

This means that all 1,444 clients will be entitled to be repaid all the money plus all interest paid.

Once the FCA issued a cancellation of the original validation order, this will no doubt have an effect on any loan issued by a timeshare company through BPF. Although the company brokering the agreement may be authorised, the points listed above may make it possible for any loan to be contested.

This will be of significant interest to all Silverpoint clients who entered into contracts under the investment weeks scheme.

At present it is not known how long the FCA will take to issue their findings.

Latest news surrounding Tauro Beach.

The scenes witnessed a few weeks ago of the destruction of homes situated on Tauro Beach have been the subject of many news articles, the local people are understandably very angry.

The destruction was carried out by a private demolition company with a not too savoury reputation, Desokupas, who were hired by the Cazorla‘s and Anfi to clear the area which they claim they own.

This was done without any apparent court orders, which leaves us to believe that the destruction may just be illegal, even if the land is owned by the Cazorla’s.

It does leave us to wonder how the members of the Anfi resort must feel about this, that the company they pay high annual maintenance fees can behave in such a manner?

Do they actually understand what is going on?

It also begs the question how the Ambassador for Anfi David Silva, the renowned footballer and local boy must feel about how the company he represents in advertising is treating his own people and neighbours?

Click on the links below.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/situacion-vecinos-Desokupas-chabolas-Tauro_2_799340062.html

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/politica/Nueva-Canarias-Ayuntamiento-Mogan-Tauro_0_800020281.html

For the full story of the whole project search Tauro Beach in the search box.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this or any other article, or if you need to find out about any company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we publish another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with the introduction by Irene Parker. As with many of the other articles published on Inside Timeshare this is a story from the Veterans own personal experience, these stories have become all too familiar with us at Inside Timeshare, not just from Veterans but also serving members of the armed forces and law enforcement. But first some other news.

It looks like Diamond Resort International have yet another legal action filed against them, this was filed by Labaton Sucharow LLP, on 23 July 2018, on behalf of their clients Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Pension Fund, under the Securities Exchange Act 1934.

Once again this is a Class Action lawsuit, which others who may be affected being invited to join, further details can be obtained from: www.labaton.com. (See link below).

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/07/25/1542302/0/en/Labaton-Sucharow-LLP-Files-Securities-Class-Action-Lawsuit-on-Behalf-of-Diamond-Resorts-International-Inc-Investors.html

There is another new name has come up on the radar, Martinez Notarias with lady called Victoria Holmes contacting consumers who had dealings in the past with our old friends Ramirez and Ramirez. She claims that they can recover along with compensation what the consumer paid, now the worrying aspect is she knows exactly how much was paid, which only leads us to conclude that she is either working with Ramirez or has managed to get hold of all his old records. We actually believe that she is working with Ramirez.

She sends out to those interested Non Spanish residents tax exemption form, which is downloaded from the internet, once the form is completed it then has to be faxed not posted back. There is no website but there is an email [email protected] which is just a normal Gmail free account,  the telephone numbers being used are:

(+34) 603208693 Spanish mobile

Fax: 070 1197 2107 The code 070 is a personal number.

Personal numbers allow a person or businesses to give out a single phone number, then redirect their incoming calls to different locations as and when they choose. 070 numbers can also be used as temporary numbers. For example, somebody selling a car through classified adverts could set up an 070 number to receive enquiries then disable the number after the car has been sold, rather than publishing their real home or mobile number. So this is not a very good sign!

Another new “fake” Procurador has also been flagged, CARLOS RIHOM IGRAIM, with the website:

http://procuradores-igraim.com

The website was only registered on 25 June 2018 so is only just over a month old, yet according to the website they have been established since 1973 and have over 40 years experience. The email they use is [email protected] which again is not linked to the website but is another free email provider such as gmail or yahoo.

The address they give  Calle Yamun 23, Edif. Ifuami, Oficina 328D, Santa Cruz, 38009, Tenerife, when checking this address on google maps, guess what, nothing comes up!

It appears that this “Procurador” is also part of the Legalidades Abogados setup, (Litigious Abogados family). Remember unless you have instigated any legal action, any call to tell you that your timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you will be in for substantial compensation, it is all a lie, they are after your money and that is all.

Now for this weeks article.

Timeshares Affecting the Lives of our Veterans

Another Veteran Family

A Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience

July 31, 2017

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare reached out to Tahiti Village. I talked to a Tahiti reservation agent. He was very nice, explained Consolidated was bankrupt, and that we would need to contact Soleil Management as to their response to this article submitted by a Tahiti owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. The Tahiti agent took my information and said he would forward to Soleil.  We did not hear back.

By a Discouraged Tahiti Village Member

Inside Timeshare can forward comments to this Tahiti member requesting anonymity.

Nevada and the businesses and agencies operating within it have no intention to do anything about timeshare fraud, so I hope the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please Share my article on your Facebooks to let people know about timeshare business practices and to seek answers to questions you should ask before signing any timeshare contract. If you don’t, you may find yourself stuck in a timeshare trap as we are.

I am writing this article to let people know about our Tahiti Village timeshare experience. I hope to warn other people to ask the right questions, so they don’t find themselves saddled with a timeshare they can’t get rid of. We made our last payment December 2017. I last heard from Tahiti Village in April. We have always had good credit, but now, as seniors, we face foreclosure.

I retired from a ATT & T, so I understand customer service. Our experience with Tahiti customer service has been disappointing. When I wrote good comment cards, Tahiti would respond, but when I submitted our concerns, Tahiti ignored those comments.  

When searching the internet, I found this email address from a member seeking other members who wish to pursue a class action lawsuit against Tahiti Village:  [email protected]

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-scam/las-vegas-nevada-89119/tahiti-village-scam-shannon-deceptive-sales-lies-and-misrepresentation-of-facts-l-1432118

Tahiti Village has a Better Business Rating of A+ despite two of two negative reviews.

https://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/resort/tahiti-village-vacation-club-in-las-vegas-nv-77371/reviews-and-complaints?section=reviews&reviewtype=negative

We have been Tahiti Village timeshare members since 2008. We enjoyed our Tahiti experience for several years until 2015 when we were steamrolled into purchasing an upgrade. By 2012, things had changed. Once when we checked in, we discovered our unit was nasty, the carpets were worn, the couches ripped. One year there was a bad smell in the master room. They just sprayed deodorizer, which did not help. The next year the microwave did not work. As we were checking out they brought the microwave. This is what our maintenance fees are supposed to cover.

Pressure to upgrade ensued. After one presentation, we felt like we had been held hostage after a four hour sales. We ended up upgrading from a fixed to a floating week with RCI. Since then, many things have happened that have turned what was a bearable irritation into an unbearable nightmare. In addition to seeing the fees rise, we now realize we were pressured into purchasing a timeshare product that we never really wanted in the first place. It is a timeshare product not worthy of what we are paying.

My husband, a Navy veteran, served his country for 20 years. Our Armed Forces Vacation Club benefits far exceed this timeshare. We paid Tahiti our hard-earned money for a product that has never lived up to its billing and has been a source of much stress.

As we explored ways of getting rid of our timeshare, it became apparent that many things we were told were not true, including

  1.    The timeshare is an investment that would appreciate in value,
  2.    We would be entitled to tax breaks,
  3.    We could rent the timeshare to pay maintenance fees,
  4.    The timeshare would be easy to resell, assisted by Tahiti.

So, after 10 years of paying for a timeshare that we were told would appreciate in value, could be rented and could be sold for a profit, we are left disappointed and angry. You can sell a house, even with a mortgage, but it seems there is no way out of a timeshare trap.

At times I stayed at Tahiti without my husband. If he was not with me I was treated markedly poorer. I felt that this is because they would always try to upgrade us if we were staying there together. When my husband was not with me, the customer service was worse, and the rooms were of a lesser quality. If we had a problem, even when staying together, reception would tell us they would look into our concern without ever doing so. One time,I asked for a first floor room because my daughter was on crutches and we ended up with the furthest room on the fifth floor. It seemed the only time we were treated with respect was when they wanted more money. This has been a source of irritation through the years, but not enough to warrant action.

When I wrote directly to Tahiti Village Resort asking to be released from this timeshare, I received no reply. I wrote to Soleil Management. They told me that they were not responsible for any misrepresentations that may have happened at the presentations because they were carried out by Tahiti Village Resort and they were merely the managing agent. Tahiti Village Vacation Club also said they were not responsible for any wrongdoing.

I wrote to ASNY, who claimed to be the developer and seller of the resort, as well as the managing agent for Tahiti Village Vacation Club. They said they were not responsible for any complaints about the quality of our stay and we should contact Soleil Management. They then proceeded to give me the usual spiel about how I signed the contract and they were innocent of any wrongdoing perpetrated by the sales staff. They also said that because we had been customers for 10 years, we had no case so would no longer correspond with us. (Inside Timeshare comment: Where have we heard this before?)

According to Ripoff Report, Tahiti is also known as Consolidated Resorts but have learned Consolidated filed for bankruptcy protection:

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc/las-vegas-california-89145/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc-tahiti-village-soleil-management-awsuit-479999

Why is the length of time we owned the timeshare be relevant if we always believed our timeshare was an investment that could be sold if need be? It wasn’t until we wanted to get rid of the timeshare did we learn we had been lied to. If you are in a dead-end relationship and your partner decides to go one step further and punch you in the face after 10 years, should you have no recourse?

So far, we have filed a complaint with the BBB and had our complaint dismissed before any real dialog took place. The Nevada AG referred us to the Real Estate Division. We filed with the Real Estate Division, who said they could not help.

In my opinion, Nevada, and the businesses and agencies operating within it, have no intention to do anything about this so I’m hoping the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please share my article on Facebook to let people know about our Tahiti Village experience and to warn potential buyers to do their homework before buying any timeshare.

Comments from Irene

The public, especially the military, need to be aware that a decision to sign a timeshare contract means signing a contract in perpetuity, often with no secondary market. Maintenance fees have a tendency to increase, so the timeshare can easily become cost prohibitive, even when there is no loan outstanding. Attorneys General investigations and settlements are appreciated, but seem to be only financial speed bumps in the life of a timeshare company. There has been no federal enforcement.

When a timeshare has little to no secondary market, even if you spend $100,000 or more, there is a good chance you might not be able to sell it or even give it back. Scams abound, promising to get you out of your timeshare or your money back. A few of these companies are legitimate, but several readers have reported they did not receive their money back, even when the timeshare returned to the developer due to foreclosure.    

Inside Timeshare has received timeshare complaints from 63 active duty and retired military and law enforcement personnel. Some of the active duty members are concerned about losing their security clearance due to timeshare foreclosure.   

Whistleblowers of America is an organization dedicated to seeking justice for veterans and Active Duty military. WoA presented a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ report to a Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. We hope lawmakers will wake up and do something about this. If a timeshare member is helped by our efforts, we encourage a donation to Whistleblowers of America.

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D,C.

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group™ which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Thank you to our Veteran for their story, they also wished to remain anonymous, also thanks to Irene for the hard work you put in to edit and write the introductions for many of these articles. In Friday’s Letter from America we will be publishing the Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report, which also has some very interesting recommendations to the industry.

If you have any questions, comments or even would like to have your experiences shared with others, then contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Have you been cold called by a company offering any service from resale, claims or relinquishment, or even found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing you due diligence and homework will save you your hard earned cash.

Marriott Change Contracts to Bypass Spanish Timeshare Laws

Since January 1999, when Law 42/98 came into force, many timeshare companies continued to sell their product as they had before, this all change when these laws were challenged and the Supreme Court ruled on the definitive interpretation. This interpretation made many contracts illegal, especially on two main points, the duration of the contract was limited, allowing only for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years, the Supreme Court also ruled that floating weeks and points systems were also illegal as they lacked any substance or a tangible product.

The unfortunate thing is that many timeshare companies still sell floating weeks and points, one company Anfi, has added a week number and apartment number in an effort to get around this, but the courts still rule that it is floating as the contract actually states that. Others are using another ploy to get around Spain’s strict timeshare laws.

Inside Timeshare has received from one of our German readers a new contract that Marriott tried to get him to sign in May, to replace his existing contract for Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program.

This would not be a problem if it were to comply with the law as it applies to Spain, but as we explain it is not designed to do this, it is purely a way to circumvent the strict laws on duration, points and floating weeks.

What Marriott have done has already been tried with contracts sold by Diamond Resorts and Club la Costa, in the past these two companies have used UK, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands or other offshore havens and registered as  Limited Companies. The contracts also have a clause which states that the laws of the United Kingdom and the Jurisdiction of UK courts applies. Even if the contract was sold, signed and paid for in Spain.

With the case of Marriott, they now use a United States Florida address on the contract, 6649 Westwood Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, 32821-6090. They have also included in the terms and conditions a very unfair clause, this relates to the possibility of taking any legal action against them. This clause is placed in section 8 on page 5 of the contract we have seen, below is a translation from the German contract.

“By joining this program, you waive your right, under applicable law, to go to court for any legal action or lawsuits that may be brought by or against MVCEC or its affiliates in any way as to its interpretation, design, validity, enforceability, or instruments, related to the program (including replacement procedures)”.

The original in German.

So what does this mean?

You as a purchaser will no longer have any recourse to take legal action against Marriott, when you find out that your contract is illegal in Spain and would be declared null and void in a Spanish Court.

This is obviously a blatant attempt to surpass the laws of Spain, which have been put into place to protect consumers from unfair contracts and purchases.

Points which are the basis of many timeshare contracts are illegal in Spain, but they are still legal elsewhere, the duration of the contract is limited to a maximum 50 years in Spain but perpetuity is still allowed elsewhere. By using this method to bypass the laws of the country where the purchase is made, does not protect the consumer. It goes back to lock them into never ending contracts and a points system that most find are unusable due to no availability.

This can be born out by many comments on various forums, below are just a couple found on Tripadvisor; (spelling mistakes are from the originals).

“Unless you live in the US, forget about investing in a Marriott timeshare. I have bought one weeks ownership in in the resort in Phuket. The resort as such is beautiful and it seems well managed. However if you dont want to go to your home-resort every year exchanging it through Interval becomes extremely difficult especially if you are looking at resorts outside the US. Interval has very few properties of similar standing in Europe or Asia, even the Marriott property in Marbella Spain is almost impossible to obtain in exchange.

I am so frustrated with the investment that iI am considering selling the ownership. Marriott offered my app. 15% of what I originally paid inspite of the fact that property prices in Thailand have gone up considerably. I can only say that buying ownershi at Marriott Vacation in Phuket was the worst investment I have ever made in my life.”

“It is difficult to give feedback on the use of it when the places you want to go are never available unless you book 13 months in advance. That is ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who books their vacations that far in advance. So, I’ve only used it once in Florida (Panama City Beach) which is on the bay side. It was nice, but not convenient being I wanted to be on the beach. I agree with the others, it’s not worth the money. I can stay in places just as nice for the $ and book closer to the date which is convenient for me.”

So for those who have in the past purchased in Spain, if your old contract shows that it was signed in Spain and indeed comes under Spanish law, you have a right to claim the purchase price back and have your contract declared null and void in a Spanish Court. If you sign the new contract you will lose this right, if you are a new purchaser, then the advice is don’t bother as you will have no consumer rights at all.

If you have any questions or comments on this subject or wish to know if your contract is illegal under Spanish law, then use our contact page and get in touch, we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot we publish yet another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this highlights their Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many such stories from Veterans, serving members of the military and law enforcement officers, some of these have been published others have just related their stories and asked for help. The author of tomorrow’s story has requested anonymity we have complied with their request. So join us again tomorrow.

The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners Round 2

Back in March 2016, Inside Timeshare published the article The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners, this highlighted the long running arguments between the Lyng family and Santana Cazorla, the 50% partner in Anfi, who also controls the Board.

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

It centered mainly around the disappearance 8 million Euros between 2012 and 2013, the diversion of these funds was apparently noticed  by the Lyng’s while a lawsuit was pending between Cazorla and Lopesan. This lawsuit revolved around a 14 million Euro debt, which Lopesan claimed was owed to them by Cazorla as they had bought the debt from the Cardenas family. This debt it is claimed was for the land which Cazorla purchased from Cardenas for the golf course and complex at Anfi Tauro.

Well the story has not ended there, round 2 is up and running.

Just recently the Spanish press has been running several stories on the continuing battle between Cazorla and Lopesan, it also involves the new head of the Costas, Rafael López Orive, who is facing charges of “Prevarication”. (For the full story on this click the link below).

https://www.elconfidencial.com/empresas/2018-07-22/anfi-canarias-direccion-general-costas-juez-investiga_1595609/

http://espiral21.com/santana-cazorla-demanda-a-ifa-por-fraude-en-la-compra-de-anfi/

In another twist in this long running dispute between the two major players in the tourist sector in Gran Canaria, Santana Cazorla has issued a lawsuit filed in June 2018 at the Mercantile Court in Las Palmas, involves Bankia, the public bank of the Spanish State and 6 million euros.

http://espiral21.com/bankia-rebajo-6-millones-a-lopesan-la-compra-de-creditos-de-anfi/

Apparently it looks like Bankia lowered the price for the purchase of credits from Anfi del Mar by Lopesan by 6 million euros and according to the lawsuit Cazorla states:

“Lopesan ha estado comprando créditos existentes contra las sociedades de Anfi y contra las empresas del grupo Santana Cazorla a diversas entidades bancarias”.

“Lopesan has been buying existing credits against the companies of Anfi and against the companies of the Santana Cazorla group to various banking entities.”

The situation between the factions is complicated and we will no doubt be seeing many more lawsuits and counter lawsuits being filed, this now begs the question, what does this actually mean for those members of Anfi?

When IFA Lopesan purchased their 50% share, it left many wondering where Anfi would be heading, would Lopesan if they do take full control turn Anfi into a hotel and do away with the timeshare model?

Looking at the history of Anfi and comments from members, since the Cazorla’s purchased their 50% share and took control of the board, Anfi has been seeing a slow decline in standards, a series of scandals and lawsuits, with the latest being the Tauro Beach Project. It must also be remembered that Anfi are also losing heavily in the courts for the past mis-selling of their timeshares.

What the future has in store for this once great resort, no one really knows, what we can say however is that it is going to be at a cost of millions of euros in legal bills, something the Anfi members should be very much aware of, yet we believe that they will as usual be kept in the dark and fed whatever “spin” Anfi can put on it.

https://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-sandwich-holandes-lopesan-incordia-santana-cazorla-anfi-mar-201806210739_noticia.html

If you have any questions or comments on this article or even want to know if you have a valid claim to retrieve your purchase price and have your contract declared null and void, then use our contact page. Inside Timeshare will get back to you and endeavour to answer your questions and concerns with facts.

Tomorrow Friday’s Letter from America asks what the future holds for Americano Beach Resort after the hurricanes Matthew and Irma, this is from another new contributor Meryl Stefan, with the introduction by Irene Parker.

So join us for our last article of the week for more news and information on the world that is timeshare.

 

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

On 7 July, Market Exclusive published an article reporting on the financial statements issued by Marriott. (See link at the end). After the preamble they began by announcing they had identified Fraudulently Induced Electronic Payment Disbursements”, which resulted in $9.9 million resulting from unauthorized third-party access to their email system. They duly notified law enforcement and relevant financial institutions, commencing an investigation.

They have managed to recover $3,2 million, but are hopeful they will recover the rest. Now this is just a start in their report.

They have also acknowledged they are recording pre-tax litigation expenses of $16.3 million, these are to settle in principle, two actions in their North American business with the Petrick action and an owners action brought by those with fractional interests at the The Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe. It will also include actions by owners of Marriott timeshare interests in Spain.

The litigation on their Spanish business is a result of the laws Spain has brought in to protect consumers, this law known as Ley 42/98, was enacted in January 1999 and invalidated many timeshare contracts sold after that date.

Marriott, as many other timeshare operators believed, that by filing a deed of adaptation they would be able to continue as before, but they were sadly wrong. It took many years and court battles to get to the stage Spain is at now, the strongest timeshare laws in Europe.

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

Many timeshare operators continued to sell perpetuity contracts, when the law stipulates they should be of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. They also continued to sell the floating weeks and points systems, which gives the purchaser no actual rights apart from the right to use subject to availability. With the fractional ownership, the Supreme Court clearly regarded this as timeshare, as usage was dependent on a points system being allocated. Fractional was designed to “replace” timeshare with the promise of “purchasing shares and investing” in a real estate property, but again in Europe timeshare should never be sold as an investment.

We have seen over the past few years many other companies falling foul of this legislation, Anfi, Palm Oasis, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma and the Diamond run resort Cala Blanca in Gran Canaria, Silverpoint in Tenerife and a host of others all over Spain. Marriott is just the latest to be hit by timeshare owners becoming aware of the laws and finding they now have a way out of the never ending cycle of upgrades and maintenance payments.

Marriott, have also conceded that this litigation is going to cause them to incur considerable and “material and litigation” costs, along with the settlements and judgement costs. They have also admitted that it will have a severe effect on their results in the European sector and will have repercussions on their business and financial condition.

The one thing Marriott along with others in the industry are still saying, is they all disagree with these rulings, that the law as interpreted by the 126 rulings of the Supreme Court are wrong, they are seeking to introduce legislation “that will implement a more balanced approach”. More balance, or do they mean going back to when they believed they could not be touched and did exactly as they wanted.

Although they do go on to say the following “The timeshare laws, regulations and policies in Spain may continue to change or be subject to different interpretations in the future, including in ways that could negatively impact our business”. Negatively impact their business, well they only have themselves to blame, had they sold within the regulations, they wouldn’t have to worry about negative impact!

On this point of Marriott and others in the industry lobbying for a change in the law, this has now been set by the Supreme Court, the only way that the law can be changed now is for the Spanish parliament to pass new ones. This is very unlikely to happen, even if it were to happen, then we would end up with many years of court cases and appeals to the Supreme Court to clarify any new laws.

At present the law firm which is responsible for the clarification of the law with now 127 rulings from the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance, has many cases upcoming against Marriott. These cases are only now just starting to take place, CLA have at least 2 cases already presented at court with around 30 in the final stages of presenting to court. They are also looking into new clients cases, all these contracts are in perpetuity and use the point system, so this figure is surely set to rise.

On the point of the Supreme Court rulings, Canarian Legal Alliance began seeking clarification from the Supreme Court well over 7 years ago, they eventually received their first victory against Anfi in March 2015. This case involved the Norwegian client Mrs Tove Grimsbo, it was a long drawn out case, but the precedent had been set. Within weeks of this first ruling, many more followed, setting in stone the laws that for many years had been interpreted differently depending on the court and the judge presiding.

It will be interesting to see whether Marriott go the same way as Anfi, Silverpoint and others in constantly appealing against any rulings made against them, or will they just payout and cut their losses?

Only time will tell, we will certainly be keeping an eye on these cases.

Link to the original article:

https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/amp/

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker-marriott-racketeering-lawsuit/

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

If you need any further information on this subject, whether it be a Marriott, Anfi, Silverpoint or any other timeshare, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Have you been contacted by a company that tells you that you have a claim, and want to know if it is genuine and they are a legitimate company? Then contact Inside Timeshare for the facts.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker looks at Whistleblowers of America and their report to the Veterans Affairs Committee. As we have reported in previous articles, we have received many complaints from veterans who have had very bad experiences with timeshare sales agents. These practices are unexceptable and need to be stopped, but that can only come from the top of the timeshare companies, if they have the will to do it!

Now for some news from the Spanish courts, more legal history has been made at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Silverpoint has had another 2 judgements made against them, bringing the total of rulings from Spain’s Highest Court to to 126!

The tally this week is:

2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;

3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;

3 Provisional executions of sentence against Anfi del Mar, (this has secured over 93,000€ for clients with Anfi depositing the funds at the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana);

2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.

In the Diamond sentences, the clients have been awarded their full purchase price plus double deposit for a total of 19,504€ and 30,000€ respectively. These and the contracts for the clients above have all been declared null and void.

In total the 7 sentences amount to over 370,000€ another expensive week for the timeshare industry in Spain. All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients from all over Europe by none other than those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance.

As we near the end of July, we only have one more week where the courts are working, August is the annual close down, so we will see no new cases being heard until September.

Now on with our Letter from America.

Whistleblower Retaliation against Government Workers, Employees, Timeshare Members and Timeshare Sales Agents

62 out of 500 timeshare complaints we have received are from veteran and active duty members of the military and law enforcement

A Whistleblower Summit in Washington D.C. July 30 – 31

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

July 20, 2018

There are several federal and state laws in place to protect government and corporate employee whistleblowers from retaliation, but whistleblowing is never easy and can take a personal toll. A whistleblower friend of mine suggested I attend the Whistleblower Summit linked above, because of threats and accusations our advocates, Charles and I have received over the past two years. I have heard the following false statements made about Inside Timeshare and our advocates through the timeshare grapevine:

  • That our articles are based on false information. Many articles are submitted by our readers, which I edit, or the content provided by our readers.
  • Our advocates are compensated financially for assisting members,
  • Our advocates are practicing law,
  • Our advocates are compensated for soliciting business for lawyers,
  • We’re targeting certain timeshare sales agents (we call repeat offenders)

Articles written by timeshare members describing their timeshare experiences are revealing and important. One of the Whistleblower Summit presentations I am looking forward to attending is titled,

Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story

Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW

“Story is what defines us and set us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each other. Story is powerful. Story is grossly misunderstood. A good story has conflict, but ultimately resolved. A story is messy and full of confusion, but there is meaning and completeness to it. Stories have natural momentum to them, fueling our passion to find out more from the teller. Stories are laden with bait and intrigue, with suspense and tension. Stories are provocative.” Jeff Goins

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Founder Jackie Garrick will moderate a panel discussion at the upcoming Whistleblower Summit that will address resilience after retaliation

“My numbers are going up with new reports every day,” says Jackie Garrick, founder of Whistleblowers of America (WoA). Garrick created WoA earlier this year after discovering firsthand how difficult the process of reporting wrongdoing can be, and the personal toll it can take on the people blowing the whistle. By offering up the help and insight of former government insiders and whistleblowers like herself, Garrick is hoping to not only encourage more people to come forward, but also to simply support them once they do so.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/10/va-whistleblowers-under-threat-seek-help-from-outside.html

So far the only information available on timeshare whistleblowers concerns a lawsuit in which a jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams $20 million.  

She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

Despite several relatively recent Attorneys General investigations and settlements, lawsuits galore, and a flood of internet complaints, the timeshare industry continues to place blame on their customers and on advocacy groups. In other words, the industry believes Inside Timeshare either invented 500 timeshare complaints or that the 500 members would be happy timeshare members had they not read Inside Timeshare articles or joined one of several members sponsored advocacy Facebooks and websites. Almost all of the 500 members are highly educated, professional, high credit score citizens. At least they had a high credit score until they were sold or upsold into timeshare insolvency.

It doesn’t matter how many millions love their timeshare. What matters is that the majority of the 500 families have alleged they were fraudulently sold a timeshare product. All but a handful received an automatic “You signed a contract” dismissal from the timeshare company.

Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:

How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims

Here are a few steps that you (a corporation) can take to reduce the risk that your company will be subject to such a lawsuit. In parenthesis are my observations as they apply to timeshare:

  • Don’t retaliate — Try to remember not to treat employees (timeshare members) that have complained about your company any differently than those who have not.
  • Have a complaint policy in place and be sure to use it — It is a good idea to have a complaint policy in place, even if it is not required by law. Train and educate your employees in using the system. Once you have your complaint policy in place be sure to abide by it. (According to member reports, the timeshare complaint policy has been to provide the complaining member with their initials on fine print and dismiss them with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”)
  • Investigate all credible complaints — If you receive an internal complaint about alleged wrongdoing, be sure to investigate it, so long as it is credible. If you find that the complaint was truthful, take the steps needed to remedy the situation.(The timeshare member has often reported that they were told they were wrong and the timeshare sales agent judged truthful)
  • Be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for other misconduct — If you have a whistleblower in your company that needs to be disciplined for other conduct you must be very careful. Get evidence to support your claim that you are disciplining for reasons other than the whistleblowing and make sure the employee knows the reason he or she is being disciplined.

 

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/whistleblower-retaliation-could-land-you-in-trouble.html

Following the above advice would eliminate the need for timeshare advocacy groups and whistleblowers.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004

Jackie presented testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. She included Timeshare Advocacy Group’s veteran timeshare fraud report in her statement. Several of the 62 veteran timeshare members we have assisted struggle with disabilities and PTSD as described in the report. Jackie believes that retaliation can cause PTSD.     

  • The veteran population has very complex needs due to unique exposures/injury during military complicated by having two plus significant medical problems in one patient.
  • Veterans experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD). According to the CDC, about 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year making it the 10th   leading cause of death. (Several of the veterans we have helped struggle with PTSD and TBI, one is a decorated Marine, and another a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts.)
  • Agent Orange exposure – For example, eye cancers are a continuous issue. (Two of our disabled veteran timeshare members are disabled from Agent Orange exposure)
  • Gulf War Illness – Illness haunts Gulf War veterans. (One of the timeshare members served in the Gulf War and is on 25 meds)
  • Camp LeJeune: Due to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base, Camp LeJeune, increased reports of cancer in veterans and their families have been documented over the last several decades related to the solvents in water.
  • Burn Pit Exposure: Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 were exposed to a concoction of burning substances on military installations that has caused them to raise health concerns from cancers to respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. (One of the members we assisted was diagnosed with blood cancer having lived next to a burn pit in Basra)

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Jacqueline Garrick is a former Army social work officer who has worked in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as well as for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She is a subject matter expert in mental health and program evaluation. She is an advocate for disabled veterans and the use of peer support to improve resilience in traumatized populations.  She founded Whistleblowers of America in 2017 based on her experience reporting attempted fraud with DoD Suicide prevention funds.

We thank Jackie and Whistleblowers for their support. It is our hope that through public awareness and knowledge, the consumer will be better able to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare, especially one financed at 17%, is a good idea for the family.

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

That’s it for this week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, on Monday we will be publishing the court cases against Diamond and how Spanish law is protecting consumers, we will be comparing this with what is happening across the Great Lake with our US cousins.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all contributors to these articles and also to those who supply the evidence and information on the “fake” companies that are trying to rip you off. It is your valuable information which goes to help and save others from these unscrupulous charlatans.

Remember to check, check and check again, doing your homework will save you your hard earned cash. If you are unsure how to check, then use our contact page, we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week at Inside Timeshare.

Start the Week

Last week we highlighted the new Timeshare Association, which is linked to David Cox of TESS, we do know that he appears to have made up with Mark Rowe, as all posts he had slating his companies have been removed. But The Timeshare Association is inextricably linked to Timeshare Talk, a forum owned by Mark Rowe.

They have posted a list of who knows who by a gentleman called William Dobbs, (if that is his genuine name), this in itself is nothing unusual, in most industries many people will know each other. After all they may have worked together in the past.

The one problem with this list is the title, Who Knows Who, Ian Smart, this is what can only be described as very offensive to all who knew Ian Smart, I say who knew, as Ian Smart passed away earlier this year. So to use the name of a man who is no longer with us Mr Dobbs is to say the least sick. You should be ashamed of yourself.

RIP Ian Smart

Last week the following information came in after publishing Friday’s Letter from America, it was certainly a busy week in the Spanish Courts, and a rather expensive one for the industry.

No less than 16 sentences were passed by various Spanish Courts, they are as follows:

10 were against Anfi del Mar

2 against Tasolan (Palm Oasis)

4 against the Tenerife based Silverpoint.

In all cases the contracts have been declared null and void and the amount of money the timeshare companies have been ordered to return is over 561,000€.

It was also announced by Canarian Legal Alliance that their Provisional Execution of Sentence team had also successfully had 2 more embargos place on Anfi cash accounts, securing the money for their clients.

Tomorrow Inside Timeshare once again publishes a revised article on How to File a Complaint, these articles are aimed at our American readers but are still of interest as you can adapt them to suit your own country and associations.

If you have any comments or stories you would like to share then use the contact page, also if you need to find out about any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet, then get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker asks a very important question, What is a Defamatory Statement? This is in fact a very appropriate article considering Irene and Inside Timeshare have been accused of making them in respect of some of our readers “experience” stories. Inside Timeshare asks this question, how can a statement be defamatory if it is someone sharing an experience they have had with a particular company?

We started the week with an article highlighting two new companies that are what can only be described as dubious, the first was Davies & Howell Associates Ltd, with a registered address in London. They claim to have over 40 years of timeshare experience and can extricate owners from their timeshare, along with gaining them compensation.

The other is Ashton Group, apparently based in Nottingham, they have been cold calling timeshare owners with the same type of story. They apparently have a legal representative going by the name of Sir Drummond McFadzean!

So far no company record or website has been found about them, which is never a good sign.

On Tuesday, Irene published the 2nd quarter report from the The Timeshare Advocacy Group™, considering it is only halfway through the year, the number of pleas for help is huge. Thank you to all the advocates who work so hard to help these readers.

Another dubious setup was reported on Wednesday, this concerns a company called Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists, with the names Lance Steer and Joanne Johnson. It turns out from information received that Lance Steer is in fact one Lance Oakley, a former Diamond sales agent who also worked for EZE Group. Again they claim to be able to get you out of your contract and claim compensation.

Now on with our letter from America.

What is a Defamatory Statement?  

When to File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Irene Parker

July 13, 2018

The above cartoon was not selected to play partisan politics. It was selected because it is thought provoking. Clearly the elephant is a Democrat and is feeling defamed. Does that mean he or she was defamed? For EU readers who may not be familiar with our political symbols, the Republican Party portrays the elephant as their mascot.  

Inside Timeshare always considers defamation. Our stance is that truth is not defamatory. The reports received from 496 timeshare members describe deceptive and unfair trade practices. A pattern of complaints creates compelling and compounding evidence, even without hard evidence like a recorded conversation. If timeshare companies and some state regulators are over relying on the oral representation clause, the public needs to be aware that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. Are our readers’ allegations defamatory?   

Definition of defamation in law (from Webster’s Dictionary)

The act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person

Following is an excerpt from a New York Times article. I have edited out the names because we are exploring the topic of defamation, not singling out any one timeshare company. Are the following statements defamatory?

New York Times economics specialist devoted a long article…. One timeshare owner told the journalist: “The Company is much more ambitious, aggressive and downright nasty in their sales presentations compared to other companies. This Company just has an amazing reputation of being tough on people.”

A 77-year-old California woman said a 5-hour hard sell left her “shaking.” The Company gave her a voided receipt for a $4,840 charge on her credit card: “The representatives had been so certain that she would agree to the offer that they had charged her card for the down payment – even though she had not given approval,” the Times reported.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints and published many articles submitted by timeshare members who say they were not aware a credit card had been opened or that they had been charged for the purchase of a timeshare product.

Unlike Wells Fargo victims, the timeshare buyer complaining of the unauthorized opening of a credit card, or unauthorized charges, often could not file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has lost influence since the roll-back of the Dodd Frank Act, but even before the agency’s demise, timeshare buyers could not easily file a CFPB complaint because the timeshare company serviced the loan. A lender must be selected from a dropdown menu. Timeshare companies are not an option. When the member selected the bank that issued the credit card, the bank would respond that they did not actually sell the timeshare points or fill out the application for a credit card. End of story.  

The response from the company to the article:

The CEO said he had “belligerently zero tolerance” for any of his sales representatives who “goes off script.”  

In my opinion, some companies could care less if their sales agent “goes off script” unless the buyer happens to work for the media or holds a smoking guy, like a recording of a fraudulent transaction. Two of our readers who worked for the media resolved their dispute in one day. According to FBI agents our readers have contacted, or attorneys I checked with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” is in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.

In order to determine whether an act or practice is “unfair,” the FDIC will consider whether the practice “causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers themselves and are not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.” (5)

To correct deceptive trade practices, the FDIC will take action against representations, omissions, or practices that are likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances, and are likely to cause such consumers harm. The FDIC will focus on material misrepresentations or omissions, that is, those that affect choices made by consumers because such misrepresentations are most likely to cause consumers financial harm. 6

https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/compliance/manual/7/vii-1.1.pdf

Almost all members reporting are highly professional, educated people, alleging they were a victim of unfair and deceptive trade practices. All but a handful were angry, desperate, overwhelmed, and confused until empowered with straight answers about how to report and rectify their timeshare nightmare. A few were just tired of aggressive attempts to sell them more points. They just wanted out.  

More on Defamation

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/what-defamatory-statement

A defamatory statement is a false statement of fact that exposes a person to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, causes him to be shunned, or injures him in his business or trade. Statements that are merely offensive are not defamatory (e.g., a statement that Bill smells badly would not be sufficient (and would likely be an opinion anyway)). Courts generally examine the full context of a statement’s publication when making this determination.

In rare cases, a plaintiff can be “libel-proof”, meaning he or she has a reputation so tarnished that it couldn’t be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.

Defamatory statements that disparage a company’s goods or services are called trade libel. Trade libel protects property rights, not reputations. While you can’t damage a company’s “reputation,” you can damage the company by disparaging its goods or services.

Because a statement must be false to be defamatory, a statement of opinion cannot form the basis of a defamation claim because it cannot be proven true or false. For example, the statement that Bill is a short-tempered jerk is clearly a statement of opinion because it cannot be proven to be true or false. Again, courts will look at the context of the statement as well as its substance to determine whether it is opinion or a factual assertion. Adding the words “in my opinion” generally will not be sufficient to transform a factual statement to a protected opinion. For example, there is no legal difference between the following two statements, both of which could be defamatory if false:

“John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

“In my opinion, John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

For more information on the difference between statements of fact and opinion, see the section on Opinion and Fair Comment Privileges.

Defamation Per Se  

Some statements of fact are so egregious that they will always be considered defamatory. Such statements are typically referred to as defamation “per se.” These types of statements are assumed to harm the plaintiff’s reputation, without further need to prove that harm. Statements are defamatory per se where they falsely impute to the plaintiff one or more of the following things:

  • a criminal offense;
  • a loathsome disease;
  • matter incompatible with his business, trade, profession, or office; or
  • serious sexual misconduct.

It is important to remember that truth is an absolute defense to defamation, including per se defamation. If the statement is true, it cannot be defamatory. For more information see the section on Substantial Truth.

Emily Doskow, attorney

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html

  1. A defamatory statement must be false — otherwise it’s not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don’t count as defamation because they can’t be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, “That was the worst book I’ve read all year,” she’s not defaming the author, because the statement can’t be proven to be false.
  2. The statement must be “injurious.” Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement — for example, the person lost work; was shunned by neighbors, friends, or family members; or was harassed by the press. Someone who already had a terrible reputation most likely won’t collect much in a defamation suit.

Scotty Black is a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocate. The FBI definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Scotty has an MS in Criminal Justice and works in law enforcement. A few months ago Scotty sent me the criminal code that stated that someone aware that a crime may have been committed must report the alleged crime because it is a crime not to report a crime. When timeshare members report actions that meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, FBI agents have advised us that we should direct those members to file a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov and with the FTC.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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/

Related article: Timeshare Advocacy Group™

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-11/

That’s it for this week, we shall be busy watching the World Cup Finals this weekend, unfortunately England didn’t make it to this years final, that is between France and Belgium.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more information and more stories on the world of timeshare.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Sheila Brust gives us an update to her previous article “Pencil Pitch”, again edited by Irene Parker.

It would seem that Darth Vader has sent in his Imperial Stormtroopers and Inside Timeshare is under attack from the dark side, no problem, the force of the good is with us. Keep your stories coming, the truth will always prevail!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

“You have no Proof” and we were not allowed a rebuttal

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Many potential timeshare buyers have watched timeshare sales agents scribble timeshare promises on a piece of paper. Buyers are not allowed to keep a copy of the “Pencil Pitch” but Sheilah Brust managed to walk out with hers.

Sheilah listened to her pencil pitch in Daytona presented by Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie. She filed a complaint with Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) and was told the following,

As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures.  In terms of evidence we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida.  Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not surely, if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own.  If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.

By Sheilah Brust

My husband Thomas and I have been Diamond timeshare members since Diamond acquired our resort. Our original timeshare was purchased in 1994. Things were fine until we fell for the Pencil Pitch.   

On February, 4, 2017, we attended an update meeting at Diamond’s Daytona resort The Cove. We wanted to attend the update because Diamond had been sold to Apollo Global Management. We are Platinum Diamond members so already had more points than we needed, but wanted to hear about the changes.

Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie said that he had just returned from training in Orlando and had learned about a new program that would allow us double point usage. We patiently followed Brad’s presentation. He wrote the numbers upside down. I remarked at how he could he do that. He said practice.

We feel Diamond must not understand the Pencil Pitch or they would cancel this purchase. I have learned Diamond retained the law firm Duane Morris to write a letter implying our article was defamatory. I have submitted this article as our rebuttal. We understand the figures we were presented. We were not confused. I have an accounting background. I wrote down everything Brad Leslie said.

Here’s the pitch. We hope you post a comment expressing your interpretation.  

The actual Pencil Pitch is three pages long. Page 2 of the Pencil Pitch is based on 15,000 additional points instead of 25,000 points pictured above because we said no to 25,000 points. The numbers below reflect 65,000 points instead of 75,000.  For those not familiar with the point system, a Diamond timeshare points sells for around $4 a point.

Timeshare members incur annual maintenance fees. For Platinum members the annual maintenance fee is $.15 per point, or $8,631 for the 50,000 points we owned before the purchase of 15,000 additional points.

From the original illustration above, to offset maintenance fees, on the right side of sheet, Brad said and wrote:

  • Own 75,000 points
  • Ability to get (Double Usage) 150,000 points – 50,000 points is what would be left for travel
  • 100,000 points would be available for point redemption @ 10 per point through a Travel Reimbursement program. Brad told us to book hotels, etc., and then cancel the reservations. We would receive a reimbursement check back for $10,000. The 50,000 points tendered would not be credited back. Brad said we would be reimbursed via check in about 30 days or 72 hours if via a reloadable debit Visa card. Without the double points, this program is of no value. If we used all our 50,000 points for redemption at $.10 a point, we would receive a reimbursement check for $5,000 that would only pay $5,000 towards a $8,631 maintenance fee bill with no points left for travel.

Brad said we could use the reimbursement check to pay maintenance fees but he said he could not tell us that. He said, “It’s your money!”

Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017.  Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program.

65,000 own                 $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000

65,000 given              2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points            $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

80,000 left                 $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed       

x $.10 reimbursed     EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

Brad said Diamond was working on a new member page for the new program that would have a split screen and that we would be able to see our newly acquired 15,000 points in the background. He said the 65,000 points “given” (Brad’s word) would also appear on a “split screen” on our member account page.

When I asked about the maintenance fees on the new 15,000 points, Brad said, “If you don’t use them you don’t pay maintenance fees on them. They will be kept in the background. If you want to use them then you will pay maintenance fees.”

I specifically asked Brad, “So if I had all 130,000 points reimbursed, they could all be redeemed for a check? Brad said, “Yes.”

I asked Brad why this program was developed. He said Diamond wanted to make sure we STAYED VACATIONED.     

We met with Brad again in May 2017. Brad said the program had changed. Brad said Diamond was getting rid of the debit cards because there were problems. He said DRI was working on the split screen. He said now we would need to generate the reimbursement checks by participating in the Travel Reimbursement program. I was familiar with this program and had used it before. This was a benefit we already had as Platinum members, but only beneficial if we were to lose points. We feel Brad adulterated the Travel Reimbursement program, incorporating it into his February Pencil Pitch.  

Brad’s reply to our complaint submitted to the Florida DBPR was that 15,000 points in the background was for a Dream Vacation. He said I was confused! Dream vacation points were not in any background account. They were added to our account February 17, 2017 so these could not have been the points in question. Brad sent us a $2,621 check to reimburse us the maintenance fees on the newly purchased 15,000 points. If it wasn’t for the NEW 15,000 points, we never would have gotten a $2,621 reimbursement check for the maintenance fees. Diamond representative Brandi said sales agents are allowed to reimburse members for their first year’s maintenance fees. Dream Vacation points don’t have maintenance fees.

Of course Brad was selling a double point program. He wrote down 130,000 and called the 65,000 points “given” points. I had told him that this program better be right because we are retired and living on fixed incomes and that we had NO extra money if he was not telling us the truth.  His answer was that he hoped to rebuild our trust in Diamond. We had told him we had been duped previously, told we had to buy 4000 points to prevent our heirs from being stuck with Diamond points.

Diamond’s response to us was that the information as presented was confusing, but not illegal. This is the CLARITY promise Diamond launched in response to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an Assurance of Discontinuance.  

The CLARITY Promise: With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. She said our complaint had been escalated to the legal team and they found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.

I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create a savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

Summary

As a result of this upsell and lack of clarity, we have less time to travel because we have to work to pay for the additional points that increased maintenance fees to $11,252. We have a loan with Diamond for $31,000 and $26,000 Barclay Card balance.

Brad charged on two Barclay Cards $14,000 in my name and $12,000 in Thomas’ name. He had us fill out a credit card application to see if we qualified for the new program. He returned and said, “Barclays loves you! You got $26,000 credit!” I was livid after I learned we had been charged these amounts. We could have used a different credit card that would have gotten us rewards points.  

This whole deal was based on having 130,000 points using points at $.10 a point for a Travel Advantage reimbursement service taking advantage of 65,000 bonus points. You can book a lot of vacations with 50,000 points that would vastly exceed a measly reimbursement check for $5,000. You can stay a week for roughly 2500 to 5000 points. At an estimated 4000 points per week, about 12 weeks.       

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

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

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

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:

 

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

 

 

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jun/17/whconsider-when-buying-time-share-vacatispot/472994/

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help with a timeshare concern or would like to share your experience.   

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Sheila for your candid story, it just amazes us that this type of sales practice still goes on, yet the companies involved deny all responsibility for their sales agents actions. In Europe timeshare is very much on the decline, partly due to the antics in the past of unscrupulous sales reps, not all I hasten to add, I do know many who abhor the deceitful practices and are genuine in their approach to selling the product. They believe that telling the truth sells the product.

We have said this on many occasions, timeshare was and could be a good product, it may not suit everyone but sold properly and truthfully will only strengthen it and give it a future.

So we say to all timeshare companies, get your house in order, reign in your sales agents / reps, stop these types of sleazy sales presentations, take control or you will lose a product that could work.

News has just come in from Canarian Legal Alliance of this weeks court cases, on the receiving end are Anfi in Gran Canaria once known as the flagship of timeshare resorts in Europe and Silverpoint in Tenerife.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, has had NINE sentences passed against them this week. The clients will receive back all their money and have had their contracts declared null and void.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint, who are well known on these pages has lost another case in the Court of First Instance in Arona. Again the court ordered the return of all money and the contract declared null and void.

In total these 10 cases will cost these timeshare resorts over 325,112€ plus legal interest and in most cases the return of the client’s initial legal fees.

So the week ends with another “Black Cloud” hanging over the timeshare industry. Will they ever learn?

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and stories, if you would like to share these with the rest of the timeshare world, then use our contact page and get in touch.

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

Thursday News

Now we are in July the legal world will start to slow up in Spain, the courts are beginning to wind down for the August break, but there will still be some news as sentences are issued for cases previously heard.

In the Court of First Instance Number 4, in Maspalomas San Bartelomé de Tirajana, Anfi have been on the receiving end of a very severe sentence, this particular one shows the courts are not taking it lightly when timeshare companies break the law.

The Court House Maspalomas

In this case Anfi have been ordered to payback double the amount paid within the cooling off period, this can range from 10 days to 90 days. The law states that no payment shall be taken within this cooling off period even by a third party such as a trustee, which many timeshare companies have tried to use to get around this law.

This follows the Supreme Court rulings which created jurisprudence in 2015 in favour of the clients. This has been confirmed many times in Spain’s highest court and has been followed judiciously by the lower courts.

The clients in this case have also had their contract declared null and void but will now receive over 63,000€ plus legal interest.

The Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 has been in existence since 5 January 1999, yet until recently the timeshare companies thought they were immune, since March 2015 and the very first ruling by the Supreme Court, they have found they are not as powerful or immune from sanction as they thought. Now with around 124 rulings the odds are firmly stacked against all contracts which have infringed the law, leaving the timeshare companies to pay back millions of Euros to clients. (See PDF below for the full court sentence).

1st N4 Anfi data protected (ves)

In further news from the Supreme Court, they finally issued their ruling in a case against Puerto Calma, in Gran Canaria. They have upheld previous judgement that the contracts which were issued were illegal under Spain’s Timeshare Law 42/98. This follows all other rulings from the highest court in Spain, declaring the contract null and void with the client being awarded over £11,000.

It looks like David Cox may have resurfaced, a new post has just gone up on his website, this lists “cases” won in court for his many clients since July 2017 upto April 2018. At first glance it does all look very impressive with the figure being shown, but it is when you actually start looking at the list the questions then begin.

Every single entry is worded the same, “Mr & Mrs X won damages, interest and costs in the amount of £xxxxx”.

There is no mention of which timeshare company, which court the case was held in and no mention of what the infringements of the timeshare laws had been. There is also no mention of which lawyers or law firm had conducted the cases.

Surely if you were looking for credibility you would show these details and the court sentence papers on at least some of the entries. So could it be as he has claimed of others that these are all Bogus?

Another fact which is rather disturbing is his companies adverts on the forum Timeshare Talk, which is owned by Mark Rowe. The reason this is disturbing is we all know that David Cox had a falling out with his former partner, posting many scathing comment about Mark Rowe companies, then they all disappeared!

Have they now kissed and made up, it certainly looks like it.

As usual we leave you the reader to make up your own mind.

If you want to know about any company that has contacted you or have found on the internet, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you get to the truth.

Join us tomorrow for our Friday’s Letter from America where we give you an update on “Sheilah’s Pencil Pitch” article, with an introduction by our very own Irene Parker.