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Los Claveles: The Opposition View

Continuing with the story of Los Claveles, Inside Timeshare has been asked by Roger Barrow to publish the following letter.

It is published as there are always two sides to every debate, without this balance nothing will be solved. All owners must have access to both arguments, you may not agree with this letter, but there are many owners who do not know what is going on. From the many comments and emails we have received there does appear to be some personal grudges being vented.

Inside Timeshare asks that you put these aside and try to work together, you all believe that you have a lovely resort, many of you have owned for years. Going through the internet we have found many negative comments about other timeshares, but not about Los Claveles or in fact any of the other resorts such as Las Casitas, where Roger is President of the Committee of Owners.

We leave it to you the readers to decide.

los claveles opposition logo

PRESS RELEASE

Los Claveles Committee – Owners Fight Back

In 2015, Ivan Pengelly of WimPen, who were the appointed administrators for Los Claveles along with several other resorts in the Canary Islands, sold his shares to OnaGrup, who he judged were the best company to help improve the rental income for blocked and unsold villas in the resorts. All the resorts were suffering from an aging population of owners and an increasing number of debtors. This sale to OnaGrup was subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Once the sale was complete, Ivan Pengelly announced the sale to the resort owners. While there were a few ‘bumps in the road’ and much anxiety by owners in most of the resorts, calm and measured negotiation with OnaGrup resulted in amicable and mutually agreeable arrangements for the continued management of the resorts. With the exception of Los Claveles that is.

A Los Claveles committee meeting, on the casting vote of the Chairman, decided to terminate WimPen’s contract. A subsequent General Meeting voted 329 to 236 to retain Wimpen, however this result was overturned by proxy votes, including the chairman’s discretionary proxies. The final voting was 863 for termination with 823 against.

“We believe this decision was premature and we want to challenge the Claveles committee and way they have handled this dispute”, said Roger Barrow, chair of the newly formed opposition working group. “It has led to the most acrimonious of disputes, with owner set against owner. The dispute has now launched into an expensive arbitration and legal battle, when the committee could have followed the simple and straightforward process to appoint a new administrator, a process set out in the constitution.”

“It was a knee-jerk reaction which we believe owners will regret,” said Mr Barrow.

So, what is the situation now? While everyone awaits the full outcome of the arbitration and legal appeals, Wimpen, now without a contract, have continued as Acting Administrators, successfully managing the resort. They look after the finances, maintenance, cleaning, resort improvements and employ the staff. Owners still must pay their maintenance to WimPen to gain access to their villas.

“The club committee are also demanding payment with threats that owners are acting illegally and risk losing their membership if they don’t”, said Marilyn Fry, the group’s secretary. “This leaves owners bewildered, confused and very anxious. Some have paid twice to Wimpen and the Club, a few have successfully obtained a refund from the club. But for owners, this is a very unsettling situation”.

“There is also an unsatisfactory level of secrecy in the club”, continued Mrs Fry, “With owners who criticise or oppose the committee’s actions banned from the owner’s website and social media, which is heavily censored”.

So, what is the solution? The opposition working group are setting out to challenge the owners’ committee and believe that by giving WimPen a new contract, owners can regain control and should then allow Wimpen time to show what they can do before following the correct process to either continue with WimPen or appoint a new administrator.

“We all want the same thing in the end,” said Mr Barrow. “A happy and efficient resort that operates as successfully as all the other resorts in WimPen’s portfolio.”

www.losclaveles-alt.eu | info@losclaveles-alt.eu | 0796 222 4554

The opening paragraph clearly explains the problem that all timeshare resorts have, owners who are now elderly, many unable to travel, owners who can no longer afford the maintenance fees and a new generation that do not believe in the concept of timeshare.

With this diminishing population of owners the only way these resorts can survive is by increasing the maintenance fees of the remaining owners, or by renting out the unsold and returned weeks.

Inside Timeshare has given you a platform to begin a discussion and resolve this issue, it is your resort, you are among the lucky owners of timeshare, you do have a say in how your resort is run. For those who own in the points system, which the Spanish Supreme Court has deemed illegal, they do not have these rights. They are members of a vacation club, with only a right to use and this is subject to availability.

Inside Timeshare will continue to publish news as it comes in, we also hope to publish the news that you have all come together and resolved the issue. We wish you all the best.

justice

Eze Group in Trouble

It has just been announced that Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly have pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 17 November 2017. The guilty pleas are in respect of aggressive sales practices and coercion, contrary to the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The magistrates court have deferred sentence to the Crown Court in January 2018, this is an indication of the severity of the case as the magistrates court is limited in what sentence they can impose. Magistrates can only sentence to a maximum of 12 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of £5,000.

birmingham court

Eze Group and their Tenerife based company Regency Shores SL are well known for their Eze credits scheme, which they claim gives huge discounts on holidays, theater tickets and many other goods.

They are also known for their sponsorship of Birmingham City FC and the EZE wishes scheme, there is even a stand called the Eze Group Stand. Their “Foundation” also has an impressive list of sponsorships which include Celtic FC, Aston Villa Former Players Association along with other sponsorships of individuals.

So by and large the image they portray is one of respectability, but for many of their clients this is not the case and this latest news would appear to back that up.

But it does not end there, only yesterday 22 November, Canarian Legal Alliance published the result of a case in Tenerife against Eze Group Europe and Regency Shores SL.

The Court of First Instance in Tenerife ordered the return of over £52,000 plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. In this case the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 was used. It looks like their “Eze Credits” may have been seen by the Spanish courts as “Points” which have been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.

tribunal supremo

Could this be the first of many more cases in the Spanish courts and could this open up many legal proceedings in the UK?

Only time will tell.

Once the Crown Court issues its sentence in the New year, we will bring you the news, all that can be said is when they appear, they should take their toothbrushes with them!

If you have any questions about this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

flags

The Tuesday Slot

Since we published last week’s Friday’s Letter from America, Inside Timeshare has received some very good news from one of our readers. It was concerning the “FAKE” law firm Amador Galeca Abogados, this reader had paid them by bank transfer to start “legal” proceedings against Royal Sunset Beach and Andrew Cooper. When she became suspicious, she found our articles on this group, which are part of the Litigious Abogados family of “FAKE” law firms.

We advised her to contact her bank and see if they could stop the transfer, this she did. Thankfully her bank has managed to do this and the money is now safely back in her account.

amador-galeca-300x191

She then received another call from this “law firm” asking why she had stopped the transfer and why she was not going to continue with the “case”. She told them in no uncertain terms that they were a “scam”, to which they replied, have you been reading the Inside Timeshare Blog? They are the ones perpetrating the scam!

Well, it is certainly a great scam, considering Inside Timeshare never receives or asks for any payment for any help or advice we give. To be a scam there must surely be some financial motive.

The only ones perpetrating a scam here are Amador Galeca Abogados along with all the other fake law firms this lot have produced. If Inside Timeshare is wrong in what we publish we ask this very simple question, YOU ARE SAYING YOU ARE A LAW FIRM, SO WHY HAS INSIDE TIMESHARE OR OUR LAWYERS NOT HAD ANY NOTIFICATION OF YOU TAKING ANY LEGAL ACTION FOR PUBLISHING FALSEHOODS?

The simple answer is, YOU ARE THE FAKES, YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE DEFRAUDING VULNERABLE ELDERLY TIMESHARE OWNERS. THE AUTHORITIES ARE ONTO YOU AND WE WILL KEEP ON PUBLISHING ABOUT YOU AND EVERY NEW WEBSITE, FAKE LAWYERS NAMES THAT YOU COME UP WITH. THAT IS OUR PROMISE TO ALL OUR READERS!

Now on with this Tuesday’ article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Lending Decisions

As Compared to Prenuptial Agreements

AB

By Irene Parker

October 10, 2017

Mesmerized by the thought of endless vacations, while on vacation brain, staring at a finger pointed to a low monthly payment, the last thing on the mind of a timeshare buyer is “What type of lending, if any, should I select in the event my decision to spend thousands of dollars for a vacation plan does not work out?”  

The decision made about how to finance a timeshare purchase has a dramatic impact on what happens if a buyer learns later they made a mistake.

Hopefully, you didn’t make a mistake. There are timeshare companies that work hard to keep up industry standards and provide a viable, if limited, secondary market.

Last week we published an article about timeshare Foreclosure. Out of 160 US timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received, the majority are about high interest rate loans and even higher interest rate credit cards. The toxic and compounding effect of this combination can spell financial disaster. It can mean the down payment is financed at around 25% and the loan 12% to 19%. Many tell us they were told any bank would refinance a timeshare at a lower interest rate only to learn banks do not finance timeshares. Comments include, “Banks would be crazy not to finance your timeshare. It is worth $500,000!” when it was worth nothing on the secondary market”. One complaint even stated specifics – the name of the bank, the term and an interest rate of 6%.  

At the last timeshare presentation I attended, the sales agent told us, “When you get home, take out a home equity loan. No one would finance at our interest rates.” However, transferring to a lower interest loan like a home equity loan may not be the right decision either.

Inside Timeshare published its first Nightmare on Timeshare Street article one year ago. The family was struggling to pay maintenance fees. As so many of our readers have reported, a common solution, as suggested by unscrupulous sales agents,  is to sell the existing member more points as this will afford them maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points. Unfortunately, the programs were non-existent. Fortunately this family walked away from this deal. Unfortunately, they had taken the financing advice and took out a home equity loan transferring the loan to a third party lender. When the kids said they wanted nothing to do with timeshare, and the maintenance fees escalated, they were forced to deed back $60,000 worth of vacation points and were left with a $33,000 home equity loan and a high school graduate starting college.

Should timeshare buyers ever consider third party lending?

Savage

Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group says NO!

Mike posted this comment after reading “Foreclosure, Is it Survivable?”

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-foreclosure/#comment-10000

Another tremendous and informative article! I think the one major, major admonition I have for anyone, client or not, who has purchased a timeshare with developer financing and may want to reconsider the merits of the purchase (and, of course, assuming the rescission period has passed), do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, attempt to re-finance the purchase via a home equity line or a transfer to a lower interest credit card, or, for that matter any other methodology that has as its objective, re-paying the developer with other third party money.

For that matter don’t even think about using your own funds either! Assuming you soon may conclude that you do not want to continue with your timeshare obligation for whatever reason, legally based or economically driven or a combination of both, you will come out much better in the long run (no matter the developer’s interest rate) if you are left dealing with the developer as your creditor, as opposed to any other third party you opt to transfer that debt to! If you have any sort of legal argument that the resort debt was accompanied by any sort of misrepresentation or fraud in its inducement at time of contract of purchase, you will lose the benefit of that position with any other third party creditor save the resort!

Respectfully,

Mike Finn

This leads me to the comparison I made in today’s title, comparing a timeshare lending decision to a prenuptial agreement. Being in love is a little like being on vacation. A marriage often starts with a vacation. With love all around, the idea of signing an agreement that casts doubt on the “till death do us part” seems distasteful.

From what Mike Finn says, if you must buy a timeshare, begin with a negative end in mind. Buy it on the developer’s high interest rate nickel because in-house loans are easier to cancel. For my part, if this is the appropriate strategy, then a timeshare should never be purchased. Would I buy our timeshares again knowing what I know today? Yes, I would buy Port Elsewhere in the Ozarks and Maui Hill fixed-week timeshares again. Ambiguous right-to-use programs I think not.

Can we stop unethical timeshare business practices?

I doubt it. In Florida alone, $70 billion a year flows into the state in tourist dollars. Lawmakers, some influenced by lobbyists, have turned a deaf ear. Regulation is by design at the state level, disguising and diminishing the scope of the problem.  For some industry players, the culture of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale is so ingrained it is the established norm. Until the problems associated with perpetual contracts with no secondary market and deceitful and overly aggressive sales tactics are acknowledged and addressed, buyers should consider carefully the choice between buying a timeshare and booking online. To my knowledge not one timeshare company has ever admitted wrongdoing.

The following self-help Facebook pages offer members a safe place to express concerns and share experiences. Petitioning a timeshare company can be frustrating and intimidating. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share.

We seek to provide 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/180578055325962/

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

we can help

Thanks Irene for that article, also our thanks to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group for your contribution.

Inside Timeshare welcomes contributions to our pages from you the readers, we are also looking for more contributors from Australia, Asia, Mexico Central and South America, India and anywhere that timeshare consumers exist. Let us all get together and share our experiences, the industry will only change when we all speak with one voice.

globe flags 2

        

 

gavel 1

Update: Litigious Abogados the Fake Family of Lawyers

Well it seems that Inside Timeshare has lost the wager on the name of the director who pleads guilty at court, article published Thursday 21 Sept. In this we said that it would most likely be a Keith Baker or Keith Balker, as that name had been used on many other occasions.

lost bet

Amador Galeca Abogados have come up with a new name,  Andrew Cooper, has this time pleaded guilty in a Spanish Court, for a timeshare bought and located in the United Kingdom!

Firstly, why would a Spanish court be adjudicating on a case that is clearly outside of its jurisdiction?

Secondly, in all the years we have been looking at this industry, we have not known any timeshare company or directors plead guilty to anything. On the contrary, they have always denied any wrongdoing, finding excuses and legal loopholes to wriggle out of it. Well, not quite, back in July 2009, at Reading Magistrates Court, UK, Gary Leigh (ILG) did unexpectedly plead guilty to 11 counts of the most serious charges.

http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2009/07/15/timeshare-conman-convicted/

In our article of 31 July, Keith Balker pleaded pleaded guilty on behalf of Club Class Holidays, could it be as we have been publishing this name for so long they needed a change?

Also the names Keith Baker and Keith Balker are very similar to one of the names of an ILG director Keith Barker. Could this have been a take on that?

deutsche bank

Another question that is puzzling us, is in regards to the bank accounts that are being used, the latest being Deutsche Bank, with the name of the so called Procurator Graham Ingum Gorrin. The question is how on earth are these accounts being opened?

Surely in this day and age they must be doing some kind of security checks, after all when I went to open a new bank account, the documentation and proof of residence was extensive. Is this group that well prepared with all the fake documents to open these accounts or is it the banks are failing in their procedures?

To follow the story from the start, search Litigious Abogados in the search box.

Basic rules on keeping your hard earned money safe

As we have warned before, unless you have instructed a law firm to act on your behalf, then there is no case. The courts do not use outside agencies or companies to contact consumers who may have been victims of fraud. If they do need to contact you they will do so through official channels, not by telephone or email.

The courts do not issue cheques, especially from banks that are no longer in existence such as Banesto.

Spanish Courts will not be dealing with cases which have not been purchased within Spanish jurisdiction, so if your timeshare was purchased outside of Spain, then you do not have a case pending.

The Courts will also not appoint any company to investigate a missing cheque and recoup the money from the bank on your behalf.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs would not be getting involved, they will not contact you by telephone or email.

Do not be fooled by the promises of the huge sums being held and waiting for you to collect, or the very genuine looking paperwork.

Until you are 100% sure that it is genuine do not pay any money, whether it is for procurator fees to lodge the case, taxes, notary fees, or any other reason to release the money.

If you are in doubt and need help in verifying any company that has contacted you with any of these promises, get in touch with Inside Timeshare.

be careful

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of Friday’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker asks the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, What about us? Ms Bondi seems to have a reputation for backing big business rather than the consumer, but more of that in Irene’s article. As usual we begin with what is happening in Europe.

CLA Logo

Some news which was breaking yesterday has now been confirmed, Canarian Legal Alliance issued a press release informing us of the latest Supreme Court victories.

Legal history has now been made with CLA achieving their 60th victory in Spain’s highest court, we say legal history as this is unprecedented. No other law firm has ever managed to get this number of cases through the Supreme Court. This is a fantastic achievement since their first victory in March 2015, in the past two and a half years they have not only made history but have also made law.

Their latest victories have been against Silverpoint, in sentence number 59, the court ordered the return of over 65,000€ plus the payment of First Instance legal fees and legal interest. The client’s contract was also declared null & void, which now makes them timeshare free with no more ongoing maintenance fees.

With sentence number 60, the same court ruled that the contract be declared null & void, ordering Silverpoint to return over 92,000€ plus Appeal Instance legal fees and legal interest. This now makes a total of 21 judgments from the Supreme Court against Silverpoint alone.

Then the following day, the Judge at the High Court Number 3 in Tenerife, followed the Supreme Court rulings declaring another client’s contract with Silverpoint null & void. The judge also ordered the return of over 11,000€ plus legal interest.

Not only must the clients be celebrating, but I will wager there was some celebrating going on in the Lawyer’s office!

amador-galeca-300x191

Following the publication of yesterday’s article on the new fake law firm Amador Galeca Abogados, we received an email from a reader who has already been taken in by them. Unfortunately they have already paid the Procurator a fee, but at least it was not a large sum, yet something prompted them to start checking the internet for information before they paid them next amounts.

As we said yesterday it would only be a matter of time before we found out the new name of the Procurator and the bank account they are using, here it is:

Procurator: Graham Ingum Gorrin

Address: C/ Layanva, Edif Colmenas, Oficina 2223, 38003, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Bank: Deutsche Bank Sociedad Anonima Espa, C.P.A. BCN, Ronda General Mitre 72-74 Barcelona.

IBAN: ES3900190172854010033761

As for the address of the procurator, searching on google and google maps it does not exist, so any post sent there will obviously never be delivered.

This reader has also supplied some new and interesting information, Amador Galeca informed them that the directors of their timeshare had pleaded guilty in court and that all their assets had been seized, not bad, it seems that all the directors according to this group of fake law firms plead guilty!

The amount paid was for a relinquishment through the Spanish courts, which needed to be done first before they could go to court for compensation. The strange thing is, once again it seems that the jurisdiction of the Spanish Courts now extends beyond the borders of Spain and encompasses timeshare in the UK!

These readers have been lucky, they have not lost a huge amount, they have also informed their bank who is going to issue an alert to all other banks.

This does prove the point, never believe what you are told, especially when it comes to timeshare,

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD, STOP THINK AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

homework

Now on with Irene’s article.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi – What about Us?

Irma Iniki and Timeshare

most people

By Irene Parker

Friday September 22 2017

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi expressed her outrage over price gouging during hurricane Irma. While her dismay is understandable and commendable, why has there been so little effort expended to come to the aid of Florida timeshare buyers alleging they were deceived into buying a timeshare? Nationwide there have been lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations too numerous to mention.

Ms. Bondi has been quick to investigate timeshare resale scams.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a lawsuit against a company she accuses of violating Florida’s Timeshare Resale Accountability Act.

Florida has a specific law covering timeshare resales because it has so many of the properties, whose owners are often desperate to unload them.

In this latest case, Bondi sued Prime Resorts International, based in central Florida. She accuses the company of making telephone calls to timeshare owners all over the country, telling them they have a buyer for their timeshare. She says the company also claimed to be able to guarantee the deal would close.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/florida-sues-another-timeshare-reseller-031116.html

The Berkley Group

Sources tell us Ms. Bondi is investigating The Berkley Group. The Berkley Group owns Vacation Village Resorts. With a BBB rating of F, looking into this company is a start, but acting on only 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014 seems underperforming at best.

https://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/timeshare-companies/vacation-village-resorts-in-fort-lauderdale-fl-4003645/reviews-and-complaints

Ms. Bondi opened this resale investigation after receiving 85 complaints.

The attorney general opened her investigation after she said her office got more than 85 complaints, claiming to have lost more than $110,000. The suit seeks a permanent injunction against the company, consumer restitution, and a civil penalty of $10,000 per violation.

Inside Timeshare has received 144 timeshare complaints of which 130 allege they were deceived on the front end of the sale. The dollar amount in question concerns well over one million dollars. The 14 not alleging deceit say they seek relinquishment because they say they cannot afford the annually increasing maintenance fees. ARDA and the industry continue to ignore deception exists, and with lawmakers turning a deaf ear, the court of public opinion seems the only avenue open for families reporting how they have been financially devastated by their timeshare plan.

follow money

Timeshare revenue in Florida is a lot of dollars to tamper with.

As the state’s No. 1 industry, tourism is crucial to Florida’s economy – generating 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and employing more than one million Floridians. In 2011, tourism was responsible for welcoming 86.5 million visitors to Florida and generated $67.2 billion in direct economic impact.

http://www.flgov.com/governor-scott-applauds-floridas-tourism-marketing-2/

The industry will be quick to respond that there are nine million who own timeshares. What difference does a couple hundred families make? It makes a world of difference to the families affected who have contacted Inside Timeshare.

Recently, the Finn Law Group took issue with the lack of disclosure provided to timeshare buyers. If feeling deceived, after spending $5,000 to over $500,000 on a vacation plan, families are shocked to learn their timeshare has no secondary market and the contract is perpetual. Contracts are deceptive in that they often state points can be sold. Buyers are not informed about the lack of buyers should they need to sell.

LARGO, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–An administrative petition has been filed against Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleging that the agency’s approval of a request by timeshare developers to make statutorily mandated public offering statements available by providing an online address at the closing rather the furnishing hard copies violates Florida law.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170905006015/en/Finn-Law-Group-Files-Petition-Florida-Agency

Ms. Bondi appeared on Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi’s Property Man Show in 2016 explaining how the Florida Attorney General’s office worked with ARDA and the Department of Justice to shut down timeshare resale or release scams. Mr. Massi encouraged timeshare members to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association if they need to sell their timeshare. When I contacted LTRBA about selling our Diamond timeshare points, I was informed by several LTRBA members they know of no licensed LTRBA broker who will even accept a listing for our points due to secondary market restrictions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHCdcS2Ds-U

Inside Timeshare has also started hearing from Bluegreen members. One member is Lela Renea, a Bluegreen member and a detective. Lela Renea says she was deceived into buying a timeshare. If a Florida detective, allegedly reports being a victim of deceptive sales, what chance does the average timeshare buyer on the street have?

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

When I wrote an article for TheStreet, Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service, challenging what is in my opinion gestapo like tactics demanding Diamond members stay vacationed, Diamond demanded a rebuttal, stating they understood life’s changes could render their product a liability so they were introducing a program called Transitions that would allow qualified members in good standing a way out. That was June of 2016, yet the company has yet to introduce the program. “Qualified” is the key word. Most members contacting Inside Timeshare have loans, and many allege they succumbed to high interest rate loans and credit cards after hours long aggressive sales presentations. A timeshare must be unencumbered to be eligible for any voluntary surrender program.

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

“Is Apollo Returning to its Junk Roots?” is the article Diamond found objectionable. Most remember the subprime mortgage crisis, but a decade earlier was the Drexel Burnham Lambert junk bond scandal that sent Michael Milken to jail for securities fraud. DBL founder and banker Leon Black filed bankruptcy on DBL only to reform and rebrand as Apollo Global Management, purchasing Diamond Resorts in 2016. If DBL liked junk bonds, which had some value, timeshare points that have no value the moment the contract is signed, should a buyer need to sell, must seem attractive.

Hurricanes and Timeshare

hurricane

One of the top complaints Inside Timeshare has received concerns upsells by timeshare sales agents on the US mainland selling against timeshare agents in Hawaii. This would be normal competition were it not for the fact the dueling agents work for the same company. Buyers tell us sales agents on the mainland side tell existing members they should not have purchased a Hawaii timeshare because of damages from hurricane Iniki that struck Hawaii on Kauai in 1992. They are encouraged to buy more points and transfer to US mainland points, despite Florida resorts included in their purchase. Obviously, Florida is at risk for hurricanes.

pam bondi 1      Ms. Bondi, please listen to us. The Arizona Attorney General has received over 900 timeshare complaints about Diamond Resorts:

http://insidetimeshare.com/arizona-attorney-generals-assurance-discontinuance/

Wyndham former timeshare sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million by a jury concerning overly aggressive and predatory timeshare techniques:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?mcubz=0

Eric Schneiderman’s $6.5 million settlement with The Manhattan Club:

http://nypost.com/2017/08/17/new-york-ag-reaches-6-5m-settlement-with-manhattan-club/

In addition to member families,Charles Thomas at Inside Timeshare has heard from eight current and former timeshare sales agents alarmed at the escalation in predatory sales. The following comment made by a former experienced sales agent mirrors the others.

“I watched every day, agents selling DRI for double and close to triple what it was supposed to be sold for but management laughed and congratulated them for doing it.  The maintenance fees statement about buying more and using that to pay your maintenance fees was a practice that was encouraged, but be careful.  Some of the agents, who still work at DRI, would sell the program for $98k when it was only in the 50k range.  One of the guests came back to cancel but the agent said no worries, “I have it packed 40k but I’ll give then 15 off and still make a killing!”   This made me sick because these particular guests were in their late 70′ early 80’s.  I asked the agent if he had a conscience and he just laughed…if you can get them to pay more you’re a hero!!  They have the money!!

Deception actually goes back further than that.  We were told to pack the price for a trade in and imply that it was what they got back for their TS… we sold it for the regular price….they got nothing for their TS!”

(Charles Thomas, editors note: we have published on many occasions on the “stack and drop” tactic. This has been used for many years and we have seen it throughout Europe. It is used as a tool for upgrading or poaching other companies members. The consumer then believes they have had value for their other purchase).

It is our hope Diamond Resorts will listen and respond, along with Wyndham, Bluegreen and others, to improve timeshare sales today after the rise of “right to use” programs. In my opinion, such programs leave wide berth for misrepresentation and deceit.

The following are self-help Facebook pages representing over 1000 timeshare member families:

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

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

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

A few of the 144 families who have contacted Inside Timeshare:

Marsha, Ann and Marjorie

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-18/

Bonita Hill

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-review-clarity/

Eron Grant ARDA’s Code of Ethics

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-14/

Irina Allen

http://insidetimeshare.com/monday-start-another-week/

Justin Morgan and Michael Nuwer June 30, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-australia-no-read-correctly/

Alan Callner

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

Detective Lela Renea

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

David Franks Chapter 4

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

Karen Garello Secret Shopper June 22, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Romeo and Lily

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-9/

Dr. Jeffries

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-7/

Angela Johnson

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

Neina Orrillo

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

Barclaycard and Member stories May 17 2917

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

Marjorie Menacker

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

Eron Grant May 12, 2017

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

Barclays Bank Charles May 11, 2017

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

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017

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

A Filipino Family April 13, 2017

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

Laurie Sabbagh March 17, 2017 Clarity Review

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

A Military Family March 6, 2017

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

The Hurleys January 25, 2017

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

Irina Allen January 13, 2017

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

Kathie Old December 6, 2016

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

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award December 5, 2017

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

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles November 7, 2017

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

Sylvia Saldana and the Barclaycard October 25, 2016

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

Hug Your Haters! By author Jay Baer on the importance of Social Media

http://insidetimeshare.com/customer-service-message/

need you

Will anyone listen? Author Jay Baer is to be keynote speaker at the upcoming October Interval International Shared Ownership Investment Conference, attended by developers and private equity firms. In Hug Your Haters, Mr. Baer strongly urges companies to listen. Members are hopeful, but doubtful, developers will listen to him.

Thank you Irene and those that proof read your article and gave advice, timeshare is a crazy world, which is such a shame as it is a great idea, with many who have enjoyed it for many years. There are some very good developers and resorts, but the reputation of the industry is being spoilt by a few.

Have a great weekend.

weekend-picard

         

 

letter from australia

Friday’s Letter from Australia

We start September with another Friday’s Letter from Australia, just to give our American cousins a rest. Today Justin Morgan, looks at the the role private equity plays in timeshare, with the introduction and comments by our very own Irene Parker. But first a little from Europe.

europe

Earlier in August we said that it tends to be a quiet month, well this was not the case this year, as our roundup of the month article yesterday showed. We also mentioned that September usually sees the start of new companies, changes of name or even resurrected ones. Well they have started to surface already.

Doing our usual daily rounds of the internet, one site, mindtimeshare, since the beginning of August has published the names of 6 that have come to their attention. 3 of these were published yesterday. We begin with:

Appointing Consultants, with the following website, which was only registered on the 14 August, as usual, the registrant is hiding under a privacy service.

http://appointingconsultants.co.uk/

According to the website, they are a company that offers the following services:

  • Appointment Setting; We can provide your business with qualified appointments for your sales team.
  • Lead Generation; We can offer bespoke leads from both websites and telemarketing operations.
  • Customer Service; Create the best customer services team for your business.
  • Online Marketing; Run an online marketing campaign. We can help you with SEO or e-mail campaigns.
  • Data Sourcing; Source the best possible data to make your business thrive.
  • Sales Training; Teach your team with one of our professionals to be the best. (Their spelling mistake)

The thing is they are informing timeshare owners that they have grounds to make a claim, which for a telemarketing company making appointments for another company is a little worrying.

They also do not appear on any company house records.

The next one is Barlow & Scott, with the telephone number 01904 501 389 which is a York number. When checking on who is calling, one name comes up First 4 Legal, there was a company of this name registered in London, but it was dissolved in February 2012.

There is no mention of a website and they seem to be contacting Club Class members, stating that they are a solicitors office and that there is money being held for the client by the courts in Spain!

They claim that the purchase of membership was never completed as the client never had an NIE Number, no problem for £500 we can get this for you then you can get your money back.

This is however untrue, you do not need an NIE number unless you are going to live in Spain or for any of the following:

  • Open a bank account
  • Buying, selling or insuring a property
  • Arranging a mortgage or credit
  • Pay taxes
  • Being employed
  • Registering with employment agencies
  • Registering to study
  • Applying to start a business
  • Registering with social services, receiving social security benefits
  • Applying for a driving licence
  • Inheriting assets

The NIE is a Spanish Tax Number for foreigners. So beware these types of claims.

The next is called Stapleton Consultancy. Once again they claim that the Spanish courts are holding money owed to the consumer from a previous fraud. Now to get this money paid out Stapleton Consultancy will need to be paid in order to do the work. There are no contact details available, so very little is known.

There is a company called Stapleton Consulting Limited, but they are chartered building surveyors, so absolutely nothing to do with timeshare. As and when new information comes to light, we will publish it here.

This really does show that you must do your homework before dealing with any company that calls you out of the blue, especially when they inform you that you have a payment waiting to be released by a court!

homework1

Just to finish off the month of August, Canarian Legal Alliance announced yet another sentence from the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, once again it is against Anfi, who still deny that they have any cases against them.

In this particular instance the court declared the contract null & void, the infraction was again a contract over the stipulated period of 50 years. The court awarded this consumer over 23,000€, they also awarded over 4,000€ as double the amount that was taken as a deposit within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period.

If August was a quiet month, what will the next few months bring? Keep an eye on these pages and you will see.

So here we go to the land down under and this weeks article from Justin.

What Role Does Private Equity Play in Timeshare?

we the corporations

By Justin Morgan

Introduction and comments by Irene Parker

September 1, 2017

Private equity firms, traditionally providing capital to fund high growth start-ups, may be shortchanging timeshare consumers in their quest for returns typically targeted to reach higher returns than those of the public market.

Timeshare in general has been facing increased pressure due to overly aggressive sales tactics. This warning about escalating default rates was published February of this year by American BankerDiamond Resorts and Wyndham under pressure due to aggressive sales tactics. Wyndham is a publicly traded company. Diamond is owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Diamond Resorts ABS under Pressure from Company’s Sales Tactics

https://asreport.americanbanker.com/video/diamond-resorts-abs-under-pressure-from-companys-sales-tactics

The question is – how are higher returns for private equity investors won?

Is timeshare even an appropriate venue for private equity investment? Can higher returns be earned without strangling the timeshare consumer with excessive maintenance fee increases, reduced availability and other unsavory tactics driven by such demands?

Former Diamond CEO David Palmer explained this concept to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript, “Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee, That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Meanwhile, timeshare members received this notification:

“Timeshare owners of the Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.”

I asked Advocate Justin Morgan, our Australian Contributor, his thoughts:

This is the ‘Super Profits’ issue that I questioned years ago… I pointed out that retail prices for vacation points were sometimes four to six times retail value across Asia and Australia. But the real focus involves turning vacation ‘currency’ into more fiat currencies at super profit level. In my opinion, they are not interested in member value at all. It’s an early version of cryptocurrency! My sentiments are no different today…even worse.

In my case, I found my Diamond Resorts account terminated for renting, although my contracts clearly gave me in writing the right to rent. If they changed the rules, that’s unfair, but virtually all timeshare contracts state the rules can be changed at any time for any reason.  It is now apparent we were ‘all-in’ against the Vegas House that takes all it can get.

Irina Allen agrees. Irina is a professional who ended up with 139,000 Diamond points alleging she was up-sold to that level by deceit. Inside Timeshare previously reported on how Irina’s account was suspended for posting one ad on RedWeek. Rental ads for Diamond points on RedWeek abound.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monday-start-another-week/

The timeshare point’s product is a cryptocurrency that offers no backing other than your promise to keep paying ‘whatever it is this year’ maintenance fee increases. Some timeshare companies force maintenance fee increases for any reason…They can then pick up default points.

Timeshare developers pocket millions and millions this way. Most members are not allowed to leave. It’s like ‘Hotel California’s’…you can check in anytime you want, but you can never check out.

“Last thing I remember, I was

running for the door

I had to find the passage back

to the place I was before

“Relax, “said the nightman,

“We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like,

But you can never leave!” The Eagles

It doesn’t matter much whether they are public or private, though I feel private equity firms have far less scrutiny. The problems lie in the legal structuring of these entities, and how they can basically bill members for whatever tab that they find is allowable. If they control the HOA, and therefore budget approvals, the rest of the structure is usually just a financing and ‘dividend’ pay out model. Wages can be like a hidden dividend, if they are simply looking to pull money from members over to those they seek to pay out:  i.e. usually management, vs the actually financiers, who are often at the back of house in the financing structure.

In my opinion these private equity firms are targeting the timeshare industry now because they understand that they can raid them by simply jacking up maintenance fees by 20%, or even their required rate of 30% return, by simply hiding cost allocations within their structure, or simply paying their executives directly from the Club. There’s no stopping what they can do under some structures. It is a license for them to take what they want.

dollar man

As reported by Business Wire, “A class action lawsuit has been filed against timeshare developer Diamond Resorts International, timeshare owners associations Bali Condominium Association and Parkway International Owners Association, and auditor RSM U.S. L.P. alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and professional negligence over billing practices for maintenance.”

The plaintiffs allege that the language addressing maintenance and management fees in the condominium association’s governing documents were outdated and ambiguous. The outdated language allowed the defendants to include subsequent amendments to:

  • Charge inappropriate maintenance fees.
  • Inflate management fees.
  • Hide inappropriate fees.
  • Charge costs unrelated to the maintenance and management of the timeshare development including an “indirect corporate fee.”

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170629005705/en/Finn-Law-Group-Files-Suit-Timeshare-Maintenance

Bluegreen is exploring a possible Initial Public Offering. I asked Bluegreen member and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer if Bluegreen BBX Capitol falls into this private equity category.

http://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/BBX/news?id=167811

BBX Capitol is not a private equity firm. Alan Levan has had a significant ownership interest in Bluegreen since at least 2008. Something like 85% of BBX revenue and 75% of their income comes from Bluegreen.”  

squiggle

What falls from the mouths of timeshare company public relations departments in their message to the investment community often sounds like a foreign language to beleaguered timeshare members. New York, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona Attorneys General settlements against timeshare companies are but the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you Justin, we look forward to more from our Australian cousins and your insights into this worldwide product called timeshare. No matter where you are, the story seems to be the same, you are the UP’s, you have the money and we will take it from you, but give you nothing but hassle in return!

It now just leaves us to say thank you to all who contribute to Inside Timeshare, a very big thank you to all the volunteer advocates of our advocacy group, who do a splendid job of helping others with their problems. Have a great weekend and we’ll be back again next week with more from the murky world of timeshare.

BBQ chef

 

6-pillars-with-text

Hug Your Haters Part II: A Customer Service Message

Today’s article by Irene Parker is part II of her Hug Your Haters, which we published on 15 August,

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=customer+service+message

But first some of the latest in Europe.

At the end of last week, even though the courts are closed for business, another sentence against Anfi Sales SL and Anfi Resorts SL was published. This was issued by the Court of First Instance Number 1, based in Maspalomas, the court ruled according to the precedents set by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Court Masp

In this case, the court ruled that the contract be declared null & void with the return of over 13,279€ plus legal interest. In this case the infraction was the length of the contract was greater than the 50 years allowed by Spanish timeshare law 42/98, which came into effect in January 1999.

Again this flies in the face of Anfi’s assertion that their contracts are legal and that they have not lost any cases, see the article “Truth, What is Truth?”  Published on 10 August.

It is not just Anfi who deny these facts, Silverpoint have been doing so for years, they have even left the RDO and claim they no longer sell “timeshare”. So what are they now selling?

Well, we do know one product is Keys Concierge, a so-called “Lifestyle Credits” product, which promises a great deal but does it actually deliver? Another ploy by Silverpoint is the move to transfer the blocks of timeshare weeks they sold to clients (with the promise to sell in 2 years for a profit), into what is euphemistically called a “Company Participation Scheme”. Not much is known at present, a lot more research is yet to be done, but it appears that clients sign a document at the notary which makes them shareholders of the company Club Paradiso. If this is the case, then all liabilities of the company will fall squarely on those clients shoulders. More on this when the research is complete.

Now on with Irene’s article.

Hug Your Haters Part II

My Marriott Customer Service Experience

testimonials

By Irene Parker

August 29, 2017

Customer Service is a Spectator Sport, according to Hug Your Haters author Jay Baer. Although Hug Your Haters was written primarily for the providers of customer service, users of Customer Service can benefit from the book as well. Social Media has dramatically changed Customer Service in a way many timeshare companies have yet to acknowledge. The Marriott hotel chain seems to have gotten the message and has adapted to the new world order.

 

Mr. Baer discusses in his book the difference between onstage and offstage Haters. Many of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received are from offstage Haters, unfamiliar with Social Media. Sometimes offstage Haters need an onstage Hater to plead their case.

Disney Vacation Club seems to have bucked the timeshare trend, refusing to fall back on the oral representation clause that states, “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase” which translates to the customer is always wrong. Disney has few timeshare complaints so it’s not surprising to find former Walt Disney theme park executive Lee Cockerell, author of The Customer Rules, mentioned in Hug Your Haters. Mr. Cockerell explains in his book how he would encounter employees blaming the customer:

“From time to time over the years, a customer would complain to me that a frontline employee had been belligerent. When I asked the employee what happened, I’d usually be told the customer was wrong about the facts, or had been abusive, or trying to cheat the company. Most of the time, the employee believed it was better to lose a bad customer than appease one.” p. 115

A Lesson for Other Timeshare Companies

Another Hug Your Hater example is Pella Windows and Doors, VP of marketing Elaine Sagers. “Monthly, our executives call a random selection of unhappy customers to talk about their experiences with us…..We’ve also played recordings from the call center so you can hear the emotion in our customers’ voices around what’s been happening with jobs and their homes.” p. 120

Having listened to 133 timeshare complaints, mainly about maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist, or the ability to sell points when no secondary market exists, it’s hard to understand how companies can so often ignore or dismiss allegations, especially when a volume of complaints (119 out of 133) meet the definition of white collar crime – “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” – painting a compelling and compounding picture of trouble within a company or within the timeshare industry as a whole. I challenge any timeshare executive to listen to the tone of the voices of families devastated financially by their vacation plan. “Well you signed a contract,” is not the appropriate answer. I’m sure Mr. Baer would agree.

Mr. Baer makes another important point I have often stated when it comes to offering a customer wronged an apology. “In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’” Mr. Baer quotes Michael Lasky, an attorney and litigator with the Davis & Gilbert law firm in New York City. Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125

marriott rewards

Page 138 of Hug Your Haters discusses the importance of rapid complaint response time. My husband and I have been Platinum Marriott Rewards members for several years. About a decade ago I complained about something I can’t remember at a Marriott Hotel front desk. I was just complaining, not asking for compensation, yet the company responded with an automatic adjustment in reward points. Every 20 or so stays, something might happen that I would complain about had it not been for the times the company responded rapidly and appropriately.

Right out of the Hug Your Haters playbook, I posted a comment on the Marriott Facebook about how a trainee and a manager patiently and pleasantly changed our room three times to address our concern about highway noise. I posted this experience on Marriott’s Facebook and they almost immediately responded, “Irene, we would like to share this on our comment site if that’s alright with you.” As Mr. Baer explains, onstage Haters (or Lovers) don’t expect to be answered. When they are, they are taken aback, astonished that a company as large as Marriott would care.

I can’t speak for Marriott Vacation Club, the timeshare company, because I am not a member, but one of our Advocates, a senior manager with a Fortune 500 company, also a Marriott Vacation Club member, made this comment about Marriott in Part I of our Inside Timeshare article Hug Your Haters, “I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also, while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience.”

Onstage Haters compared to Offstage Haters – Chapter 7

Some companies respond to negative comments by expanding their advertising budget. “Advertising is a tax paid for being unremarkable,” is a quote Mr. Baer said is usually attributed to Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad,  but he rephrases the comment appropriately, “Advertising is a tax paid when you’re poor at retaining your current customers.” p. 18

“Listening is the ability to pay attention to what the sounds means and understanding it. We hear noise, but we listen to music. That is because noise falls on our ears without any effort at our end,” said an anonymous writer explaining the difference between hearing and listening. Too often customer complaints are dismissed as noise in the form or automatic denials to a complaint filed against a timeshare sales agent (s).

create

These are but a few timeshare Advocacy Facebooks and websites of members helping members because company complaints so often fall on deaf ears. They are closed groups, but all would welcome corporate representatives bold enough to listen and learn. We hope timeshare industry executives, ARDA and lawmakers will take the time to not just hear, but listen.

Bluegreen and Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebooks

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

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

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

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

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently sent a message in the form of a $6.5 million settlement against The Manhattan Club timeshare accused of restricting availability for members who paid thousands of dollars for a timeshare while allowing access to those booking online. The settlement response was a reaction to a chorus of timeshare members mobilized and action orientated. All timeshare owners are grateful because a victory for one is a victory for all. Lack of availability is a universal complaint.

change

Thank you Irene, once again you have given us a look into the world of “Customer Service” or in some cases lack of. It is one of the main complaints that Inside Timeshare does receive, in many cases the sales staff are only intent on getting more money from you, rather than helping to get the best from your membership.

If timeshare is to flourish, developers and resorts really do need to look at this aspect and change their practises. Disney is a very good example of this as we showed in a previous article by Irene, “Disney Vacation Club Vs The Timeshare Industry”, published in July’s “A Lesson for Other Timeshare Companies”.

If you have any questions or comments Inside Timeshare invites you to contact us, your views are important, it will help to change the industry for the better.

Have you been contacted by a company you have never heard of, or want to know more about but don’t know how to start, again contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

help

mond

The Monday Briefing

Well, here we go the start of another week in the world of timeshare, over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received numerous enquiries regarding companies offering a variety of services.

One reader who unfortunately has been taken in by Armando Gareca Abogados and the Litigious Abogados family. They have paid Ricardo Sannino a substantial amount of money, they have since tried to contact them by telephone, but the number is out of service. Not a very good sign.

number no longer in service

To recap on how the scam works, timeshare owners are contacted usually via email and informed that a case has been filed at court against their timeshare company / resort, they can be included in the upcoming case (usually within the next few weeks). They are told how much they will receive and when this will happen, in order to have their case included in this prosecution, the procurator fees must be paid. This will be around 10% of the amount being claimed.

Within weeks, you receive confirmation that your case has been successful, that the Director, usually a Keith Baker or Keith Balker, has pleaded guilty. This name has been used as the director of the following companies:

Diamond; Club la Costa; Resort Properties / Silverpoint; Incentive Leisure Group / Designer Way Vacation Club, Club Class Concierge and several others.

Not bad really, the same person acting as director for many rival timeshare companies, who also pleads guilty to every case!

Part of the confirmation that you have been awarded this substantial amount is a copy of the “court” order verifying the amount and a copy of a cheque with your name and the amount on it. The problem is the cheque is made out on a Banesto cheque, this bank no longer exists, it was taken over in 2012 by Santander, who subsequently removed all Banesto logos and name from all cheques cards etc.

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

To receive this lovely amount, “tax” needs to be paid, this is around 21% of the awarded amount. This once again needs to be paid to the Procurador, before he can release the cheque.

So once you have paid this fee, you then receive an envelope by post, but surprisingly it has been opened, document from the court is there, but the cheque is missing. Then comes the next phase to the scam.

You receive a letter from another company, the last one was Manuel Valentin, who states that they have been charged by the court with the task of investigating the disappearance of the cheque and retrieving your money. They inform the client that a gang of Romanians have stolen the cheque and cashed it. Not bad considering the cheque was made out in your name.

In order to do this work, you must once again pay a fee of 10% of the amount, they will then work on your behalf and retrieve this money for you. Guess what, you will never get anything back, you are now several thousand pounds the lighter.

Some facts.

  • You do not have a case at court unless you have personally instructed a lawyer to act on your behalf.
  • Cases at court will take anything from 1 to 2 years to get there, not the weeks this lot say.
  • No cases will have gone to court in August, the courts are closed.
  • No director of any timeshare company or resort is going to plead guilty.
  • Courts do not issue cheques for money awarded. Certainly not using a bank that no longer exists.
  • No company is going to be charged by a court to investigate and retrieve stolen cheques.
  • There is no tax to pay on any awarded amount, Tax would have been paid to the court when your case was filed.
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will never be involved.
  • Unless your purchase was made in Spain, then you will not have a case in a Spanish court.

If you require any information on court procedures and payments of legal fees and taxes, contact Inside Timeshare and we will explain them to you.

Remember, before you ever pay out any money, do your due diligence and check who the company is, do not be taken in by the large sums these companies say is waiting for you. For the full story over the months search Litigious Abogados in the search box.

search

Now on with another important story, this involves TimeshareTalk, a forum of timeshare owners, which was once seen as an independent place for the exchange of information and good advice.

Unfortunately there has been some dissention among the long standing members, as we know timeshare talk was the forum set up by the TCA, a once independent consumer website. These entities were sold a few months ago to Mark Rowe of Monster Credits, Hollywood Marketing and sellmytimeshare.tv fame.

Since his takeover, TCA have been doing nothing but extolling the virtues of of Mr Rowe’s new companies, such as ABC Lawyers. Timeshare talk members have had posts and discussions removed when they mention any of this person’s companies. The forum was no longer seen as the independent place for discussion. Totalitarian Regime practices took effect, the freedom of speech and expression which was the cornerstone of this forum had been eroded.

freedom of speach

But it is not all doom and gloom, many of those long standing members have now setup a new forum, Timeshare Users Forum, to bring in those lost ideals. It is a forum open for any timeshare user to join, you will need to go on the website and register as a user if you wish to participate.

Inside Timeshare has registered and will post any information that may be of interest to users, we will also be there to answer any questions with facts, if we do not know the answer, we will find out for you or point you in the right direction.

Inside Timeshare wishes this new forum the very best, we hope that the old ideals will be resurrected and also look forward to working with the members.

Follow the link to the new Timeshare Users Group Forum

https://www.timeshareusersforum.com/

August is almost over, so come September the courts will be back in full swing and we anticipate many more announcements of cases being won in favour of the consumer. Inside Timeshare will be keeping an eye on those announcements and will publish them here.

Tomorrow we will be publishing Part II of Hug your Haters, A Customer Service Message. This is based on the book, Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer, which is apparently available at most airport book stores. It is again written by our US colleague Irene Parker. Then this week’s Friday’s Letter from America will be travelling once again to the Land Down Under, for another installment from Justin Morgan our Antipodean colleague, in Friday’s Letter from Australia, this is titled “What Role Does Private Equity Play in Timeshare?”.

If you have any comments or questions, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them for you. If you have anything to share regarding your own experiences and would like others to benefit, we will work with you to publish your story.

So that is it for today, remember to do your due diligence, doing your homework will save you a lot of money and stress.

homework

law

Legal News From the US: Castle Law Group PC v Timeshare Developers

Today Irene Parker gives us an insight into one lawsuit that has made the headlines in the US, it would seem that across the great lake it is the timeshare companies that are on the legal offensive. In Europe the timeshare companies are very much on the defensive as we have seen in some of our previous articles.

Yesterday we published an article about the legal battle being waged against Silverpoint, they have stated that they will be filing a case with the High Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that Spain has got the EU Timeshare Directives wrong.

eu court justice

Just to clarify one point on the EU Timeshare Directives, that is what they are “directives”, they are not law. A directive issued by the EU is a guide to all EU States to enact into their own domestic laws certain aspects which affect citizens. It is up to each individual state to interpret those directives as they see fit. The whole point is that each State may strengthen the directives, which is what Spain has done with their own timeshare laws, firstly with Ley 42/98 and more recently with Ley 4/12.

Directives are there to try and unify each State’s laws, especially on the matter regarding consumers rights, which the timeshare directive was intended to do. Before the timeshare directives came out, timeshare in Europe was what can only be described as lawless, timeshare companies could walk all over the consumer, there was no protection, timeshare was a new concept which nobody actually understood.

It followed an old economic system known as Laissez-faire, which has its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was to be free of any government intervention, such as regulation. More recently a new term was conceived by conservative politicians and economists ‘free-market capitalism’. Timeshare has always followed this model, profit, profit and more profit at the expense of the consumer. (Again it sounds like Star Treks Ferengi).

Until laws are strengthened to the benefit of the consumer, we are going to see many more of these legal battles, be it consumer against developer or developer against law firms, the stage is set, let battle commence!

Now on with today’s article by Irene

Castle Law and Judson Phillips is Sued in Federal Court for Fraud

Orange Lake v. Castle Law Group PC

Westgate v. Castle Law Group

Diamond Resorts v. Castle Law Group

Who Next v. Castle Law Group

Speak truth

By Irene Parker

August 22, 2017

Who is Judson Phillips?

Tea Party Nation is a conservative American group considered part of the Tea Party movement.   The group was created by former Shelby County, Tennessee assistant district attorney Judson Phillips in 2009

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Nation

Judson Phillips Ridiculed for Wanting to Deny Others the Right to Vote

Judson Phillips, the lawyer behind Castle Law Group (Nashville), latest idea has created a hurricane size backlash against Mr. Phillips. The Castle Law Group owner believes that only property owners should have the right to vote.  Phillips seems to believe those who aren’t the elite feudal lords of property can’t be trusted to vote. Instead, they must be put back in their place as serfs, working for their lords for scraps off the feudalistic tables.

http://www.brighthub.com/money/home-buying/articles/123520.aspx

A Bright Hub reader’s response:

Yes, I am Republican but in no way would I ever want to be affiliated with any political group who deemed renters shouldn’t vote in public elections.

Who Castle Law Group is not:

http://www.castlelawgrouppa.com/

I contacted attorney Ben Hillard of the Castle Law Group P.A. in Largo, Florida a few months ago – by mistake. Mr. Hillard responded saying he thought I had his law firm confused with Castle Law Group PC of timeshare fame, law firms differentiated only by the initials P.A. and PC. Mr. Hillard would like to make it clear his firm is in no way associated with Mr. Judson Phillips or his law firm Castle Law Group PC. In a recent letter to Mr. Hillard, Mr. Phillips said his firm is considering rebranding for reasons not associated with Mr. Hillard’s concerns, the similarity in names.

Here is the Castle Law P.C. and Orange Lake Lawsuit as reported by Paul Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando-based timeshare companies Westgate Resorts and Orange Lake Country Club filed nearly identical lawsuits in Orlando against Tennessee firms Castle Law and Castle Marketing. Westgate and Orange Lake accuse the Castle companies of charging some customers an upfront litigation fee of $7,500. Orange Lake said Castle filed no lawsuits for any of its owners who paid the fee; Westgate said Castle hasn’t filed lawsuits for some owners who paid the litigation fee.

A senior partner with Castle — attorney and Tea Party leader Judson Phillips — denies those allegations…. he said in an email he believes the suits are frivolous, and he and Castle have obtained good results for clients.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-timeshare-cancellation-fraud-20170618-story.html

According to a letter sent to Orange Lake attorney Brian Lower, from a Castle Law Group attorney, Castle accused Orange Lake of “gross misrepresentations regarding the terms and conditions of the Orange Lake timeshares in that they were fraudulently induced to enter into the timeshare contract and the debt instruments associated with such contracts in violation of federal and state laws.”

A letter from a lawyer like this triggers a “cease and desist” demand of all communication with the client, including collection attempts. This cease and desist letter has served as a bone of contention to timeshare developers in that a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer if the consumer is represented by an attorney or has an open Attorney General complaint, under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Among the twelve causes of action in Castle’s cease and desist letter against developers, are those our Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us asking for help would not disagree with:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

Castle Law Group PC is not Better Business Bureau accredited, is nonrated, and a consumer complaint warning has been posted.

https://www.bbb.org/nashville/business-reviews/timeshare-cancellation-and-litigation-attorneys/castle-law-group-pc-in-nashville-tn-37113357

According to the Castle Law website they are timeshare lawyers trusted by thousands with a 4.7 out of 5 star ranking based on 12 reviews (powered by GetFiveStars). When I reached out to the firm for comment, I was put on hold for a very long time.

https://timesharecancellation.com/

you decide

Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association was recently quoted by the Orlando Sentinel that more lawsuits against cancellation companies were likely in the works.

“Some of those cancellation companies that have been targeted by developers were actually started by their own former timeshare employees. Those folks learned how to exploit the system by learning what is called the inside track. They know how the high-pressure sales tactics work,” Crist said. “They attract timeshare owners in the same way — post cards offering a free dinner, or an evening out. They show owners how maintenance fees escalate, and literally scare the hell out of these people using calculations that are wildly inaccurate and overstated. These are not law firms but represent to have an attorney on staff, giving the illusion that there are legal services involved in the transaction. Rarely does the company even communicate with the resort and the timeshare owner doesn’t even know what is happening until it is too late. Why is that?”

Crist explained this is often due to an unqualified money back guarantee the company provides that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The owner is simply lulled into a false sense of security, until they are foreclosed on and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Crist has watched this happening for years, but says the industry is making a mistake by throwing legitimate attorneys in the same mix with resale, transfer and advocacy groups.

While the NTOA is involved with educating owners, advocating for their rights and helping them engage in the product they already own, they do not sell, transfer or offer services like TPE’s do. Any timeshare member or owner can join NTOA.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

GBUgly

The present legal climate in the timeshare world is reminiscent of the old west with summons flying like bullets back and forth across the corral. Lost in the middle is the consumer, many complaining they purchased a timeshare based on false promises. The timeshare lobby ARDA and the major timeshare developers seem determined to ignore outcries of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale.  

All attorneys are not created equal. It seems that timeshare developers don’t want a timeshare member to ever contact any lawyer and they lump all attorneys into a kettle of frivolous lawsuit filers. Two major developers attributed their rise in default rate due to “attorneys targeting members and cease and desist letters.” As in any profession, some attorneys do have questionable business practices, but any citizen should have a right to their day in court and the legal representation that accompanies that right if they feel they were deceived into purchasing a timeshare.

One former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent described “inventory recycling” as a hamster wheel that sometimes begins with deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. To date (as of August 16, 2017) Inside Timeshare has received 124 inquiries of which 110 allege they were deceived on the front end of the timeshare sale. Most have outstanding loans.

“I am asking you to look at the moon and you are staring at the end of my finger,” deceased Jesuit Priest Anthony DeMello once wrote. That’s how I feel listening to case after case from family members, often financially devastated, alleging they were deceived, sometimes just days after a rescission period. Why won’t developers take a closer look at their own house?

ethics cartoon

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share, through your experiences others may have a better understanding of what they are going through and see that they are not alone.

If you need any further information regarding any article published, or wish to know where you stand legally with your timeshare, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

volunteer quote

What a Volunteer Does for Nothing!

As usual the industry attacks those that highlight their failings, this time it is the turn of our main writer and colleague Irene Parker.

In today’s article Irene’s husband Don, who knows her better than anyone else comes to her defense, like the knight in shining armour. Inside Timeshare has seen these sort of tactics many times in the past, the industry trying to discredit those who are doing some good, letting you know what they upto.

If the industry and the industry trade bodies, not just ARDA in the US but the RDO in Europe, focused on the failings of their own members instead of attacking and making snide comments about others, then maybe, just maybe we would have an industry that we could believe in.

For too long the industry has been riding roughshod over you the consumers, allowing their sales agents to lie to you just to get the sale, continually upgrading when you don’t actually need it. Collecting maintenance fees yet giving you nothing in return.

Then comes along someone like Irene, who gives all and expects nothing in return, take a leaf out of her book. She is known as the Peasant of Venice, as opposed to the Queen of Versailles (madam Westgate). Irene is an inspiration to many, she has pulled together many others who volunteer their time to help others all for no personal gain other than satisfaction that they have helped and made a difference.

We now leave the stage to Don.

ARDA, Diamond Resorts and Bluegreen

Irene does not get paid!

volunteer

By Don Parker

July 19, 2017

On more than one occasion, my wife Irene told me there are those at ARDA and at Diamond Resorts convinced Irene is receiving compensation from timeshare members who contact her asking for assistance after they explain how they feel they were victims of deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.

While I understand it might be difficult for those earning high salaries to comprehend why someone would forfeit their retirement opting to spend 40 to 50 hours per week advocating for others, people that know Irene and have worked side by side with her in previous advocacy efforts will vouch for her credibility.

Irene and I have been together for 35 years. Here are a few examples of Irene’s past efforts:

n Jersey seal

In New Jersey Irene ended up at the Drop-In Center for Aids patients in Newark. One Sunday we heard about an Aids Awareness Day at a Catholic Church in New Jersey where we lived at the time. Diocese wide, 90 volunteers were recruited. The problem was the Diocese did not expect that level of interest. They had no program. Having sent the Diocese a letter presenting her volunteer experience, the Bishop requested an interview with her. He sent Irene to meet Brother Joe McAlister at the Newark Aids Drop-in Center. When Irene told Brother Joe the Bishop recruited 90 volunteers to help with the 8,000 cases of Aids in New Jersey, Brother Joe replied, “We don’t need any fxxxing Florence Nightingale’s here.” After a staring contest, Irene asked Brother Joe, “Do you need money?” He wavered. Irene reached into her purse, took out her checkbook and wrote a check for $35 to buy a coffee maker for one patron and an iron for a Hispanic man who liked to iron his shirts. After that Brother Joe, the Drop-In Center patrons and Irene became the best of friends. I helped out too and have to say I learned a lot from those brave souls. That was about 30 hours per week unpaid.

Hawaii

In Hawaii Irene worked with the Salvation Army and was a founding mother of the Waimea Salvation Army Board on the Big Island. She worked about 10 volunteer hours a week helping the Army find appreciable assets for their Charitable Remainder Trust program. Hawaii has a high tax rate and Irene had several clients who could use the tax benefits provided by a Charitable Remainder Trust. She and their development director also gave presentations around the islands.

Irene came home from work one day with a Korean baby and mom. Irene had learned dad was alcoholic and addicted to heroin. He was a Harvard graduate and fellow Rotarian. Before I knew it we were at the Korean Embassy in Honolulu arranging to fly mom and baby back to South Korea so they could get out of Dodge before the baby was placed in foster care. Mom was here illegally since Dad never married her. Salvation Army Major Ganot advised us on how to handle this situation which led to Irene’s Salvation Army involvement. Major Ganot could be a major in anyone’s army. She worked 26 years in Haiti.

mich

Irene got really mad in Michigan. By now she had retired from the brokerage business and had been hired as a pipe organist and Music Director for a Catholic church. One day there appeared in the paper an article about how a few bad apple nuns sexually abused 120 Indian boys from the 1st to the 7th grade back in the 60s and 70s. Just like timeshare, our Priest said there is no evidence this happened, despite a four part article with the surviving victims interviewed by an Indian working on her Ph.D.

Before long, Irene and I were at the tribal headquarters meeting with the Chippewa Peacemaker (judge) and about a month later we were with Peacemaker Paul at the Diocese meeting with the Bishop demanding an apology. That’s all they wanted. But, just like timeshare, an apology is a tall order as it really is an admission of guilt. This was a good Bishop who listened and did offer an apology to a group of people and in print media. Irene calls them Indians because the root of the word means In-Dios, in God, and American means Amerigo Vespucci who contributed to the destruction of their land and people.

wku

Kentucky was another state where Irene worked full time for free as a CASA volunteer, advocates on behalf of children in foster care. After about a year, Irene raised enough money to fund a “Fostering Futures” program assisting teens aging out of foster care, who had agreed to extend their commitment for educational purposes. This population of youth “aging out” is probably the highest risk population in the country. Since Kentucky was the last state we lived in, there are many at CASA who will vouch for Irene’s efforts like Debbie Harwood and Andrew Wollin who wrote a grant in order to hire Irene to be a full time paid CASA Supervisor writing and editing court reports for children in foster care. CASAs also attend all hearings and trials.

Debbie can also vouch for the effort Irene put into selling ads for the Ombudsman program housed at legal aid. Ombudsmen advocate on behalf of nursing home patients. Irene put in about 20 volunteer hours per week on that one for several months.

Last, but not least, Irene became a Volunteer Enactus Advisor at Western Kentucky University helping Burmese Karenni refugee women, not literate in their own language, sell beautifully woven scarves and bags at the Farmer’s Market and was able to introduce them to a few stores. Irene convinced me I should teach a few of the Burmese how to drive (on our car). Enactus is a worldwide organization partnering major corporations with universities worldwide to improve impoverished populations. She completed a WKU graduate course on “Teaching English as a Second Language” concentrating on pre-literate learners. The Burmese speak over five languages. They are not dialects.

croc

That brings us to Florida where we live now. While we were in between houses, waiting for our home in Venice to be built, we attended a predatory timeshare presentation at Diamond’s Grand Beach Resort in Orlando. The reason I say it was predatory is because I was 77 years old at the time. The last thing I needed was vacation points. I remember Irene asking three times if we would be paired with a commissioned sales agent as we were only interested in long term care plans at this stage of our life. Told no because there had been so many complaints, we were held for over three hours by bad and worse cops that left Irene so angry she wrote to Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi of Fox Business Property Man. Out of all the viewers who responded to a show about Westgate Timeshare called “The Queen of Versailles”, Irene and I were selected for an interview because the producer told her she was the only respondent who wanted to talk about the positives in addition to the negatives concerning timeshare. Irene has called herself “The Peasant of Venice” ever since.

love

I hope this answers the question, “Does Irene get paid to assist timeshare members who are angry, confused, overwhelmed and desperate?”  

Instead of worrying about whether Irene gets paid or not, I hope ARDA, Diamond and Bluegreen will think about the harm being done to so many consumers. Instead of attacking my wife, I think they should track down the sales agents using unscrupulous tactics and drain the swamp of them, instead of always saying the sales agent didn’t say that.

I am the first person to read Irene’s articles and the articles submitted to her written by other timeshare members. I’ve heard and learned a lot about timeshare. Not all presentations are predatory. We are actually not unhappy with our Diamond points. I don’t know that I would use the word happy, but our first two sales presentations before 2015 were professional. It seems the escalation in aggression has really ramped up over the last two or three years.

When Irene and the member run into a dead end with the timeshare company, she does refer to a variety of lawyers. She receives no compensation from any attorney unless you consider the time a few of them give for legal editing.

By now, if you are still reading, you might be asking why Irene is so determined to find and assist victims. When Irene was 24 years old her best friend, Jayme Simmons, asked if she could live with her because she was afraid of her husband. Jayme and her two year old daughter left after two months. A week later her husband John Moore shot her in the face three times in front of her daughter. He served only seven years in a California prison. That kind of an event can have a lasting effect. You could say Irene has channeled that anger into advocacy.

I hope others volunteer to help write timeshare reports because there has been an increasing number of callers and emailers. We hope someday, somewhere, a lawmaker or regulator or AARP will either stop the predatory behavior or enough public exposure alerts the public to buyer beware.  Irene knows there are also a lot of Wyndham members who complain, but they have not been calling – yet.

Contact Inside Timeshare or Irene if you have a concern about your timeshare purchase, but I kindly ask that you call between the hours of 1 to 5 PM Eastern Standard Time as that is a good time to call. Irene writes reports and articles in the mornings.

peasent of vinice card

There you have it, that is what it means to be a VOLUNTEER, something these businesses fail to understand. It is not all about money, it is about doing what is right.

In Spain we are seeing the industry on the run, their failure to abide by the laws because they believed they were above the law, is now starting to bite them back. Millions of Euros are being awarded back to consumers by the courts. Other European countries are looking at Spain to see how they can protect the consumer from these timeshare giants.

The industry needs to take note, carry on running it like you do, then there will not be an industry left. Consumers are getting wise to your tactics, Inside Timeshare will publish what you do wrong, but we will also publish when you get it right. We would love to publish more positive articles, timeshare could be a good product, but your greed has destroyed what was once loved by many.

time for change