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The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the first Tuesday Slot with Irene of December, this week Irene gives an update on an article from October, but first some important news from Europe.

Last week Inside Timeshare had some unconfirmed news on a raid in Tenerife, which we did not publish, this was against the offices of Mark Rowe’s enterprise there. This week news came out of raids at his businesses in the UK By Trading Standards, so this could just verify the Tenerife news.

This raid follows an investigation by the “Scambuster Team” of Trading Standards, offices of around 22 Mark Rowe companies were searched, employees questioned and documents removed for further investigation and as evidence if any criminal charges are brought.

trading standards

Among those raided were ABC Lawyers, Glenmore Consultants, Monster Rewards, Jive Hippo (replacement for Monster Credits) and apparently the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association). The raid in Tenerife would most likely have been Hollywood Marketing SLU.

It looks like we will have to wait until the new year before we know the outcome, this follows the news last month of another enterprise EZE Group, where the directors and owners Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates of “Aggressive” sales tactics and “Coercion” with their product EZE Credits. They are to appear at Crown Court on 15 December, whether they will be sentenced then or just remanded on bail until the New Year remains to be seen.

Now on with the article from Irene Parker.

TARS – Timeshare Advisory and Resolution Services

An Honest Timeshare Exit Program – Who knew?

TARS Limited Term Deed Program – A Monthly Update

case

By Irene Parker

December 5, 2017

In October Inside Timeshare featured the launch of TARS TIMESHARE ADVISORY AND RESOLUTION SERVICES LLC new “limited term deeded” program.  “Consumers enjoy all the “pros” of traditional timeshare and none of the “cons”, plus even more benefits,” announced TARS President and General Counsel, Martin M. Kandel.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-24/

The limited deed/limited fun program is geared toward fixed week resorts, but the same strategy could be implemented by major timeshare point sellers, solving the problem a timeshare owner faces when life changes and now they own a vacation product they don’t want, they can’t afford, and can’t sell. TARS could eventually neutralize resale and listing scams. Scam revenue would turn into new buyer revenue which would be a win-win for everyone except the scammers.

https://search.justice.gov/search?affiliate=justice&query=timeshare+report

Inside Timeshare has received timeshare complaints from 223 readers (176 when the October 26 article was published). Members sometimes describe catastrophic financial distress when denied a release.

I asked Dennis F. DiTinno, CEO and President of the Liberté Management Group of Companies and Chairman of TARS to provide an example of how the limited deed works. “The TARs program offers the member an option to purchase a limited term deed for five or ten years. The term will be the decision of the Associations, but we would not recommend any term less than three years. We feel the five year plan best suits the Association and the owners. The design is to utilize the units’ maintenance fee costs with an increase annually to make the tax repercussions better for the Association – a major savings, but each unit in each resort would be different,” Dennis explained.   

All Seasons Vacation Resort in Madeira Beach and the Voyager Beach Club Treasure Island are the first to launch a TARS program. TARS had just signed up their first sale when we first talked to Dennis and he said other owners told him they would be glad to sign up when they returned home.

The example Dennis provided was for a Voyager unit with an annual Maintenance fee of $510. A five year limited deed could be purchased for $6,000. The now former perpetual deed owner becomes a limited deed owner. At the end of five years the term is up and the unit reverts back to the HOA.         

At this point skeptics raise their eyebrows. Wait! A $510 annual maintenance fee turns into $1,200 a year or $171 a night for a seven night stay? The Liberté website offers a one bedroom gulf view for $1,053 a week. So the limited deed would cost the member $735 ($1,200 – $1,053 = $147 x 5 years).

One timeshare insider suspects it’s a crafty upfront scam. I know Dennis and Martin Kandel so I have no concerns there. Another insider I contacted voiced a concern about what would happen if TARS went out of business. Liberté has been in business 35 years managing seven fixed week resorts and brokers resales and rentals as well. Liberté is a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

Dennis received a great congratulation from one timeshare advocacy organization, told this can be a huge positive change for the industry. Dennis also spoke with Robert Follis at the Florida Attorney General’s office who also saw the program as a solution to many problems.  

When I called Voyager, I spoke with M J Hassall, also with Liberté, who expressed great enthusiasm. “Every owner is unique so we provide a one on one presentation. One obstacle is convincing owners this is not just another ruse to get them to buy more weeks. This really is important information they need to know about. We have presented the plan to about 15 members with about 50 percent in favor of the program,” explained M J.

“In conjunction with select strategic partners, TARS will provide an a la carte menu of products and enhanced services designed exclusively for the legacy market segment. One of the partners is Let’s Go N Travel,” M J added.

This led me to Let’s Go N Travel which will be the subject of January’s monthly TARS update. I spoke with Chip Langdon at Let’s Go N Travel. Chip described Let’s Go as a Vacation Club boasting 450,000 members. More on how this fits in with TARS later.  

https://www.facebook.com/4life4less/

TARS provides a new way to address old problems (www.tarserv.com) in an effort to provide legacy resorts with a means to maintain their resorts for a decade or more in order to plan for robust continuation or an orderly repurposing of the resort and its timeshare program. This would seem a concept owners need to wrap their heads around, as they may not have yet thought about an exit or even if they need one.

Thank you to all at TARS for their help as we learn more about this evolving program. As a former deeded fixed week owner, I can see spending the extra money on something I enjoyed for 30 years, paying an extra $735 spread out over five years to be done with it without the hassle of dodging scams or waiting for an over supplied product to sell. As with any product, if it meets the needs of the consumer, it will sell itself. Timeshare does not sell itself. It is product that has to be “sold” and often requires six to eight hours of brow beating, “pitching heat” and deceit, according to 220 of our readers. We hope, working with developers, such tactics will diminish. We know there are good timeshare sales agents out there selling the product the way it should be sold. Inside Timeshare endorses Disney for their scarce complaint record.

Inside Timeshare will publish a monthly resale recycle report to follow along as TARS progresses. I still need to call my favorite fixed week timeshare people at Port Elsewhere in the Missouri Ozarks and Maui Hill at Maui Lea to hear what they think.

 Liberté

At least this provides a positive topic members and developers can agree on – the need for an honest timeshare exit to shut off the scam valve.  

http://resorttrades.com/timeshare-advisory-and-resolution-services-llc-tars-and-the-liberte-management-group-join-to-expand-services-for-legacy-resorts-and-owners/

Irene will be keeping us updated on a monthly basis on TARS Limited Term Deed Program, could it be that there is some honesty in this industry called timeshare? Only time will tell.

Other news coming in from the US is the link up between ARDA (American Resorts Development Association) and Europe’s RDO (Resorts Development Association). It has been rumoured for sometime that the RDO is what you might call “strapped for cash”, well they have this year lost one of their major members, Silverpoint. Could this link up be the saviour of them?

Kwikchex has also laid out the scope of its new mission, running the “Timeshare Helpline”, on behalf of the RDO, which replaces the disgraced and bankrupt TATOC. As we know TATOC was supposed to be an independent body representing timeshare owners through their committees, but under the leadership of Harry Taylor, they did the bidding of their benefactors. These benefactors were the industry and RDO members.

So the question is if the new helpline is run by Kwikchex and the Timeshare Task Force, paid for by the RDO, how can it be independent and on the side of the consumer?

Have Trading Standards and other Authorities been taken in by them, the same way as Citizens Advice Bureau were taken in by TATOC?

Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to draw your own conclusions.

Remember

“Non enim videtur”

“Not all is as it seems”

monday

Start the Week

Welcome to the first article of the new week, over the weekend the debate on Los Claveles has seen the opposing views getting rather heated and personal.

One reader who is an owner at Los Claveles has sent in the following response to the article published on 30 November. Inside Timeshare has agreed not to publish the writer’s name and abide by his wishes.

His response is well written, it lays out his view on the situation in a clear and precise manner, giving a very good opposing argument.

Response to The Opposition View

The “Press Release” submitted by Mr Barrow, who is a director of the WimPen Holding Company at Las Casitas and has a long term family association with Mr Pengelly, is deeply flawed and highly questionable regarding the title “Los Claveles Club” which is a misrepresentation of the Official “Club Los Claveles” as defined in the Club Constitution. It takes no account of the unique ownership structure, governance and committee-led stewardship of the resort over many years that has resulted in the resort being financially strong, in sharp contrast to other former WimPen resorts. Without going into all the details, Mr Pengelly’s handling of the sale of the Los Claveles management contract to Onagrup is widely recognised as having been lacking in judgement and consideration for the owners, and disrespectful to their elected representatives in the weeks following the sale. Since then, Mr Pengelly has presided over flagrant abuses of statutes and constitutional frameworks  governing the community of owners at Los Claveles; disregarded a petition calling for his resignation and a vote of no confidence in him at the 2016 Escritura Community AGM, which he refused to accept (as a result of which ALL the owners left the room, except for 3 owner couples, calling the meeting illegal). In addition Mr. Pengelly has practised non-compliance with arbitration orders and awards; turned a blind eye to the physical assault of the Club President and intimidation of Club Members by an Onagrup employee; condoned false accusations of fraud being made by Onagrup to the Spanish Police against the Club President and Chairman; and allowed the unlawful sacking of long term staff members. As a result, his once decent reputation in the timeshare industry is now in tatters.

For the record, the notice of termination given to WimPen for Club Los Claveles on 31 March 2015 was not a “knee jerk reaction” as described by Mr Barrow but a considered decision precipitated by the arrogant attitude of Onagrup to the Club Committee and a flagrant disregard of the Club Constitution regarding rental policy.  It was a unanimous decision by elected committee members in response to the representations made to them by hundreds of concerned owners in the 2 months following the sale to Onagrup, and was also supported by the Escritura owners’ representative. Mr Barrow’s representation of this decision being based on the Club Chairman’s casting vote is wildly inaccurate and misleading. The notice of termination made provision for Club Members to have the final say at the subsequent AGM in June 2015. This was heavily influenced by the contribution of one single owner, a commercial lawyer by profession. He raised such fears in the minds of those attending that they would become personably liable for damages in a breach-of- contract claim from Onagrup that many changed their mind and voted not to risk that eventuality. Otherwise, the vote would have been much more conclusive in favour of the termination. This same owner subsequently changed his views and has since given his support to the committee. Regardless of this the view of Onagrup that it still held the management contract for the resort only came about because it combined the votes of both Club and Escritura owners despite the vote being taken separately. .

The issue here is not with the committee, as Mr Barrow would have owners believe. It is with WimPen, Onagrup and a minority of owners that he is now representing who are not prepared to accept the democratic constitutional process of governance of the resort. They refuse to accept that every effort was made by the Club Chairman to negotiate with Onagrup. even going to the lengths of travelling to Barcelona to meet with Onagrup senior management, prior to the members democratically voting at the SGM of January 2016 to take the dispute to arbitration because Onagrup would not agree to abide by the Club Constitution.

The situation now is that WimPen, i.e. Onagrup, is appealing the arbitration.  And much like Mr Barrow and the self-elected members of the protest action group he is leading, WimPen has taken it upon itself to illegally carry on managing Club Los Claveles without a contract which expired on 2 May 2017, claiming that it has a right to do so while the appeal is being heard. This is not so. Meanwhile, the Club Constitution is being completely disregarded by both Mr Barrow and WimPen in advocating that members should pay their maintenance fees to an illegal agent who has no contract to manage Club Los Claveles. This same agent is sending threatening letters to members who have followed the Constitution and paid their maintenance fees to the Club, refusing access to their accommodation until they pay again and blocking RCI members’ exchanges.

Marilyn Fry, who has a close, long term tie with Mr Pengelly and family, also seeks to mislead by failing to explain that owners who do not follow the Club Constitution and deliberately pay their maintenance fee to WimPen automatically place themselves in conflict with the rules governing their membership of the Club and risk being suspended. However, the Club Chairman has simply reminded the tiny minority who have taken this course of action that they are in breach of the Constitution, that they have an outstanding debt to the Club and that they have therefore placed their membership of the Club at risk. A similar tiny minority have placed themselves in the position of paying their maintenance fee twice, i.e. once to the Club and a second time to WimPen simply because they took it upon themselves not to follow the committee’s instructions, or its process for overcoming WimPen’s illegal demands for gaining access to their Los Claveles accommodation.

Equally misleading is her statement about secrecy and censorship. The committee is bound by the rules of arbitration and is therefore restricted in what it can and cannot communicate to Club Members. No member has been banned from the owners’ website, and the normal rules of moderation apply to Los Claveles social media groups. A tiny number have been suspended for failing to comply with these rules.

The solution that is supported by 90% of the 971 members of Club Los Claveles who voted at the 2017 AGM, a record high number, is for WimPen to abide by the Club Constitution and Arbitration orders and awards, and to withdraw from the management of the Club, along with the Trustee FNTC, a company that was dismissed in 2012 but also refuses to go. This will allow the members to regain control of the Club, appoint their chosen Administrator, Trustee and management service providers, and restore the loyal staff who were wrongfully dismissed under Mr Pengelly’s watch. Only then will the resort return to peaceful normality, and continued prosperity and enjoyment for the owners.

As this article was being prepared for publication, Roger Barrow sent in the following, Inside Timeshare publishes this in order to try and keep a neutral and balanced stance.

LAS CASITAS AGM:

Dear Charles

Its a good news story for those Los Claveles owners who are interested and remember the days of happy AGMs where owners have full control, with healthy, friendly debate and a great get-together in the bar the evening before.

  1. Administrators report – Approved
  2. Accounts for year to Aug 2017 – Approved
  3. Budget and proposed 3% increase in fees ( first increase for 3 years)  – Approved
  4. President re-elected
  5. Reintroduction of Owners’ Representative – Approved
  6. Appointment of Wimpen for a further 3 years – Approved
  7. Bar Franchise offered further 3 year contract – Approved
  8. Charges for more than one WiFi connection – Approved
  9. Acceleration of upgrade of Lounge/Dining room – Approved
  10. Replacement of baths with walk in shower – Approved

Four different resorts approved new 3 year contracts for Wimpen at AGMs this weekend

Regards

Roger Barrow

As you can see, there does seem to be a very wide difference of opinion between the other resorts as well as the differing opinions at Los Claveles. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish articles showing the opposing views, especially those with a clear and precise argument.

As we were preparing for publication, the following news came in from Madrid:

The Supreme Court has once again ruled in favour of a former UK client of Silverpoint, this court has once again ruled as per their previous judgements.

In this case the court has awarded back over £45,000 plus legal fees and interest, also declaring the contract null and void. This is the 77th ruling made by Spain’s highest court and leaves no doubt that the interpretation of law 42/98 is correct.

If you need any help or advice on any timeshare related matter, Inside Timeshare is here to provide it. Contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to December’s first Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker examines Non-Disclosure Agreements in timeshare and should they be permitted. But first we have a look at what has been in the news in Europe.

Last month we ran the article on the court case involving Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, they both pleaded guilty to some very serious charges at Birmingham Magistrates court. Their case has been sent to the Crown Court for sentencing in January, it has now been reported that they will be back in court on 15 December. Whether they will be sentenced then we will have to wait and see, but if they are, they may be having Christmas dinner behind bars.

Yesterday we published an article with an opposing view of the Los Claveles saga, this has prompted some rather heated comments. It would seem that each side is accusing each other of telling lies, this is not the way forward, there will always be a difference of opinion, just because one person does not agree does not make it a lie!

Just having opposing views does not mean you cannot work together, it is your resort and that is what counts not the bickering or personal animosities.

 

The courts once again have been busy, with no less than three Supreme Court ruling this week.

tribunal-supremo

After publishing last Friday’s article it was announced that the Supreme Court had made another ruling against Silverpoint, the court awarded the client over £42,000, plus £3,000 which is double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period. The client will also receive back their legal fees and legal interest.

On Monday 27 November, the Supreme Court again ruled against Silverpoint, declaring the contract null and void and awarding over £23,000 including the return of legal fees and interest.

On the same day they issued another sentence against Silverpoint. The contract was declared null and void with the return of more than £37,000 plus legal fees and interest.

It was the turn of the Court of First Instance in Tenerife on Tuesday 28 November to issue a sentence against Silverpoint, the judge following the Supreme Court rulings ordered the return of over £11,000 and declared the contract null and void.

On Wednesday 29 November the Tenerife Courts again found against Silverpoint with the return of £11,000 and the contracts declared null and void.

The same day from Madrid the Supreme Court announced yet another ruling against Silverpoint, contract declared null and void with the return of £7,000 plus legal fees and interest.

Other cases this week saw rulings from other courts around Spain which included the return of all payments and contracts being declared null and void against Anfi, Blue Bay and Puerto Calma

Now just to rub it in, as if Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly havn’t got enough problems the list also included a sentence against EZE Group!

The total amount being returned to clients this week alone is a staggering 403,336.25€

All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, with this week’s Supreme Court rulings bringing their total to 74, another record for the legal history books!

law

So on with this Friday’s letter

Timeshare Non-Disclosure Agreements

When they are fair and when they are not

 cloud

By Irene Parker

December 1, 2017

High school civics classes must be having interesting and lively class discussions about American politics today. Sexual harassment accusations have taken over the media and are raising questions about the damage caused by non-disclosure agreements (NDA). Sexual harassment settlements require the victim sign an NDA agreeing not to disclose what happened.

New Jersey lawmakers are proposing NDAs be banned in cases of sexual harassment. As NJ.Com reported, “Corporate boards of directors keep on approving settlements to cover executives who then go on to commit the same offense.”

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/harvey_weinstein_scandal_has_nj_dems_ready_to_ban.html

Timeshare members should lobby for a similar prohibition, especially when a member receives nothing in return after surrendering timeshare vacation points that can easily cost $100,000 or more. Out of 220 timeshare complaints voiced by our readers against multiple developers, 115 allege they were sold or up-sold by deceit and bait and switch, some just days after purchasing. Members have reported on the many ways sales agents and their companies can avoid the rescission or cancellation period. Especially in these cases, an NDA seems harsh.

The most common allegations of deceit reported by our readers include:

  •  The ability to sell or rent vacation points
  •  The ability to pay maintenance fees with points
  •  The need to always buy more points in order to have adequate availability
  •  Agents from the same company accusing each other of selling the member the wrong product. The member is told to buy more points to change from one product to the next only to be told by the next agent, they still bought the wrong points! The member is required to sign an NDA even when all they did was buy more points.    

One lawyer I spoke with, who asked not to be identified, said he is shocked by the use of NDAs in timeshare. He explained that as a litigator he saw large settlements awarded without a non-disclosure, but in timeshare even members who receive nothing in return for surrendering vacation points must sign an NDA.

When Inside Timeshare publishes an article about a member’s complaint, we no longer feature the article if the resort helps the member resolve their issue. We do maintain a complete list of all member articles for regulators and law enforcement and have compiled a 90 page complaint summary. With over 200 complaints, patterns emerge. Repeated complaints against certain sales agents point to repeating offenders. Comparing notes with law firms across the country, we have learned certain timeshare sales agents are household names at their offices as well.

Inside Timeshare published Deneice’s article September 29, 2017.

lady

 Inside Timeshare has received 23 reader complaints concerning Diamond Resort’s Las Vegas sales centers. Deneice Vargas alleges she was fraudulently up-sold in Las Vegas. Eight of the members reported a positive outcome working with Diamond Resorts to resolve their complaint.  

Initially, the DRI advocacy agent Deneise worked with seemed to agree with Deniece and had asked for supporting medical documentation about her husband Louis’s diagnosis of Bell’s palsy. Relieved, Deneice submitted the information only to learn the customer service agent who had been helping her quit and the new agent seemed to dismiss Bell’s palsy as if it were a common cold. I personally felt the loss because the hospitality agent who quit called me about my complaint over two years ago. We did not always agree, but I felt she had a moral compass.   

Deneice reached out to us recently to let us know how things were going. She was shocked to receive a call from one of Diamond Resort’s advocacy hospitality agents. According to Deneice, when DRI Consumer Advocates are not advocating, they make collection calls. “They called at 6:50 AM! Isn’t there a law that says you can’t do collection calls outside of normal business hours? I suspect the advocacy department called demanding payment because I was not answering the phone from the collection agents,” said Deneice.    

If there were no loan, I’m confident DRI would allow Deneice to surrender her points for resale, but Deneice’s situation is complicated by her allegations of deceit and bait and switch and the outstanding loan. We reached out to Diamond for comment, but there was no response. Deneice’s original article:  

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

If Deneice’s resort does decide to help her, she will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, agreeing not to say anything disparaging against her resort. One benefit (for our advocacy efforts) is that Deneice will not have to sign an NDA if she forecloses. We lose a lot of advocates because of the NDA. I’ve gotten to know Deneice and feel she will be of great benefit to our team of core advocates determined to stop or at least reduce the “pitching of heat” prevalent in timeshare today, bolstered by points based programs that offer easy deception. One of our advocates is a Florida detective who worked economic crimes undercover.

As a non-lawyer, I often rely on NOLO for legal advice. An added benefit of NOLO is somehow they prevent timeshare exit scam artists from posting ads all over their articles.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nondisclosure-agreements-29630.html

When I looked up nondisclosure agreement on NOLO, the site connected me to Richard Stim. I submitted this question to Mr. Stim at http://dearrichblog.blogspot.com/

I write for Inside Timeshare. We are receiving a flood of timeshare complaints. If someone who feels they were sold by deceit and bait and switch, spending $95,000 for a timeshare, convinces the resort to take the timeshare back with nothing in return, should they have to sign an NDA? Thank you for your help.   

ballchain

What property would anyone buy, be it a boat, home or car, financing a loan at 12% to 18%, knowing the product they were buying could not be sold?  Not one of our 220 readers knew, at the time of purchase, they could not sell their timeshare. There is a limited secondary market for some timeshares. Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out how your timeshare fares on the secondary market or if you are stuck with a product you don’t want, can’t afford, and can’t sell.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Thank goodness for Social Media. Here are some self-help member support groups offering good advice and a shoulder to cry one when one finds themselves caught in a timeshare trap.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and all who contribute to these articles, they are certainly bringing new information to members / owners in the world of timeshare.

Inside Timeshare once again reminds all readers to do their due diligence when deciding which companies to do business with, as always, doing your homework will prevent the loss of your hard earned cash. If you need help in checking who to trust contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good relaxing weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

 

stop press 1

Just as we were about to publish, this came in from the Supreme Court in Madrid, another Silverpoint contract declared null and void with this particular client being awarded over £90,000 plus legal fees and interest. That is now 75, yes, 75 rulings from Spains Highest Court!

After publishing this also came in.

The High Court in Tenerife found against Silverpoint yet again. The judge has declared this contract null and void with the return of over £74,000 plus legal interest.

 

capone

The Tuesday Slot with Irene Parker: Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Lawsuit

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, in this article Irene Parker looks at the Marriott Vacation Club and the law suit for racketeering.

First some recent news fro the Supreme Court in Madrid which came in this morning, this is the 73rd ruling by Spain’s Highest Court.

Another Silverpoint contract has been declared null and void with the British clients set to receive over £37,000 plus legal fees and interest.

No details are yet available, but as with other cases the main infringement is likely to be a contract over 50 years. The one important factor is that these contract contravene the Spanish Timeshare law 42/98.

Now for Irene’s article.

marrioot symbol

The Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Lawsuit – an Update

Timeshare Wars – Members vs Developers and ARDA Part II

evolution

November 28, 2017

By Irene Parker

Part I – The Manhattan Club and the possible dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker/

Part I describes how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman achieved a $6.5 million settlement for The Manhattan Club timeshare members after a battle that lasted almost three years. ARDA, the American Resort Development Association, seemed to be on the side of the TMC developers. In today’s article we look at ARDA’s involvement in the Marriott Racketeering lawsuit filed May 2016. Timeshare members should research ARDA ROC before making their voluntary donation which appears as an “opt in” or “opt out” donation on their maintenance fee invoice.

In the Marriott racketeering lawsuit, attorneys for the plaintiffs, Anthony and Beth Lennen, challenged Marriott’s points based system. Once again ARDA’s lobbyists are at the forefront.

“This was bigger than a lawsuit,” Hunter says. A negative ruling “could have a consequence of being devastating, conceivably, to the industry.” Florida Trend

I can imagine slave traders and slave owners making the same argument ARDA lobbyist Gary Hunter makes in opposition to the challenge to the points based timeshare product.The legal structure of the points based timeshare product is complex. It seems the points based programs are not products that should be associated with real estate. It would be as if a country club charged me closing costs for joining their right to use program. Bluegreen seems to employ a similar model. As usual, I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group if he agrees with me.

“Several developers are using a similar trust based hybrid product like Marriott’s. I think Bluegreen may have initiated it originally, but don’t hold me to that. Yes, the products are very similar. I felt Bluegreen was intentionally hurting their defaulted owners with their credit reporting as ‘foreclosures’, when I knew this was incorrect for the same reason as the allegations in the Marriott lawsuit, namely that the interest the ‘owner’ ends up with is personalty, not real estate. You cannot accurately call a personalty repossession a ‘foreclosure’ as there’s no legal procedure to ‘foreclose’ on personalty, according to UCC codes. My efforts to get Bluegreen to change were ignored; hence our litigation which resulted in at least 11,000 individuals getting foreclosures redacted from their credit reports. However, in our preparation, at the last minute, we researched the Florida timeshare act and realized Florida had anticipated our move! The statute was modified to define the Bluegreen timeshare plan as “real estate”. It was like legislating a duck into a goose,” Mike explained

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/timeshare-vs-vacation-home

Is timeshare deemed real estate when it comes to charging buyers fees associated with actual real estate, but not real estate in matters having any control over the property? Is this a case of having your cake and eating it too?

I asked timeshare member and economics professor Michael Nuwer to review the amended Marriott lawsuit complaint filed October 25, 2017 by the plaintiffs’ law firm, Newman Ferrara LLP. The complaint suggests suspicious legislative maneuvering intended to circumvent the lawsuit. The amended complaint addresses the Marriott-forced law changes in 2013 and 2017. The recent (2017) amendment to the Florida Timeshare Act purports to exclude pre-existing weekly owners as “interest holders” and pre-existing Condo Declarations as “encumbrances” with regard to sales of multisite timeshare plans that use pre-existing timeshare estates. According to the complaint,

“It allows massive profit-making – including administrative fees, closing costs, recording fees, transfer taxes, maintenance, assessments, and title insurance premiums.” Amended Marriott complaint 6:16-cv-00855-CEM-TBS

“As far as I know, none of the trust fund based timeshare systems “convey real property interest,” said Michael. “Ownership is a “beneficial interest” in the trust fund, although a recent ruling in Canada found the Diamond Resort Embarc members don’t even have that.”

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

“If Florida law requires a real property conveyance, then I think there could be a problem,” Michael added.

Michael Kosor, a Wyndham owner and timeshare advocate, circulated a similar argument at the last two Nevada legislative sessions, proposing greater disclosure, but again ARDA’s lawyers fought against the members. The legislation proposed would have allowed better disclosure as to the lack of or limited secondary market and the fact that timeshare today has nothing to do with real estate. Timeshare agents typically inform buyers during their presentations that they are real estate agents, further enhancing a false security that the buyer is protected by real estate rules and regulations.  Even the name reflects the change. Fixed week timeshare buyers were “owners”. Points based buyers are “members.”

I have been researching timeshare since attending an astonishingly deceptive sales presentation July 2015. Like peeling an onion, I discovered at timeshare’s core, the points based system provides a recipe for deceit. As the Lennen complaint describes, point programs began in 2008 when timeshare developers did not know what to do with aging, foreclosed or repurchased inventory.

Inside Timeshare has received 216 US timeshare complaints from our readers, the majority concerning points. Not one of the 216 members understood, at the time of purchase, the difficulty selling their timeshare. Of the 216 complaints, 201 allege deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. Of the 216 complaints, only two came from a Marriott member. It saddens me to see Marriott singled out when the entire industry may be guilty of selling a product that is more smoke and mirrors than reality.

The Marriott racketeering lawsuit was first reported by Paul Brinkmann May 2016 at the Orlando Sentinel

Case No. 6:16-cv-855-Orl-41TBS

According to the suit, Marriott (NYSE: VAC) timeshare customers pay fees associated with owning real estate — such as closing costs and recording fees — but don’t actually own any real estate. Despite not actually being real estate owners, the lawsuit says, buyers are still paying closing costs, recording fees, title policy premiums and real estate taxes.

Marriott has argued, in its motion to dismiss the case, that “plaintiffs have misread the statutes that they assert have been violated” and “the allegations are without merit and the MVC Plan fully complies with applicable law.”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-rico-20160524-story.html

Except it seemingly did not fully comply with applicable law, so ARDA lobbyists and industry executives forged ahead to initiate legislative changes that would change the definition of “beneficial interest” so that Marriott would comply.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-comptroller-marriott-rico-20170113-story.html

The following excerpts are from a November 23, 2017 Florida Trend article. The full article is linked below. In bold is my emphasis.

“Engineering the Law” Politico

However, Marriott began fighting the suit on another front. The company turned to the Florida Legislature, acting through the American Resort Development Association, the trade group that represents the timeshare industry. At the time, ARDA’s chairman was Steve Weisz, Marriott Vacations’ president and CEO.

In both provisions, the lobbyist, Gary Hunter, of Hopping, Green & Sams in Tallahassee, included extra sentences saying the changes were meant as “a clarification of existing law” — an effort to ensure Marriott could use them as a retroactive defense in the Lennen lawsuit.

ARDA sent more than talking points and issue briefs. A few days after Hunter sent in the additions to the bill, the organization gave $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and another $25,000 to a committee controlled by Senate Republican leaders. In April — on the same day that both the House and Senate scheduled the legislation for floor votes — ARDA gave another $10,000 to the state Republican Party. (ARDA, which represents a heavily regulated industry and works on legislation every year, is a reliable source of money for the state GOP, which controls all levers of state government. The organization gives more than $100,000 to the party and its affiliates every year.)

The legislation passed both chambers in late April, and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law a month later. After the legislation passed, ARDA gave another $50,000 to the fund controlled by Republican Senate leaders.

Two weeks to the day after the bill became law, Marriott went back in court in Orlando, alerting Judge Mendoza to the new Florida law whose provisions “go to the very heart” of the case. “These clarifications of existing law … decimate much of the complaint,” Marriott’s attorneys wrote.

A spokesman for Marriott declined to comment on either the lawsuit or the legislation. But Hunter, the lobbyist for the American Resort Development Association who worked the bill, says the goal of the legislation isn’t just to help Marriott defend itself. It is, he says, meant to protect the entire timeshare industry from similar attacks in the future, should a judge, who is unlikely to be familiar with the history and intricacies of timeshare law, interpret state statutes in a way that no one in the industry ever intended.

http://www.floridatrend.com/article/23307/engineering-the-law-marriotts-class-action-timeshare-battle

Florida Republican Representative Mike La Rosa, Oceola County was one of the lawmakers behind the amendment along with Republican Senator Travis Hutson, St. Johns County. Representative La Rosa is a member of ALEC. Senator Nan Orrock of Georgia has described ALEC as a “corporate bill mill.”

https://www.alec.org/person/mike-la-rosa/

After the legislative amendment was made, Mr. Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel once again picked up the thread:

A third-party observer, Ben Wilcox of the nonprofit government watchdog group Integrity Florida, said the timeshare law changes are suspect.

“It has the appearance of unethical influence, the appearance anyway,” Wilcox said. “The question would be, does it represent misuse of office or conflict of interest? Is it meant only to benefit those corporations and change the rules of the game?”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-legislation-20170719-story.html

Legal Dept
It’s not unusual for Florida to spearhead legislation that ultimately gets rolled out nationwide. Like the 2017 Florida amendment, in 2015 Florida passed a bill that alarmed advocacy groups. Advocacy groups felt the 2015 bill made it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts. This new amended 2017 bill is also expected to be rolled out nationwide. ARDA lobbyist Gary Hunter is instructing Senator Hutson to remove language from the proposed 2017 Amendment that provided that the law applied only to Florida properties. He called the language “non-substantive” clearly intending to broaden the reach of the amendment to cover properties from single-site timeshare plans outside of Florida (which make up the bulk of MVC Trust properties).

Timeshare, in my opinion, is virtually an unregulated industry. There is no federal enforcement, and some Attorneys General may be influenced by lobby dollars. Florida is a timeshare Mecca with billions of tourist dollars flowing into the state. As mentioned in Part I, the Florida Timeshare Division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014.   

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

How will it end? I fear big money will get its way at the expense of middle class timeshare buyers, even it means labeling a duck a goose.

Marriott Inside Timeshare July 2017

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

Contact Inside Timeshare or a member sponsored self-help group if you have a timeshare concern or a story to share.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and all who helped with this article, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group for his legal views, this will certainly be of interest not just to those across the Great Lake, but also those owners in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments on this article or any other timeshare matter, please contact Inside Timeshare and we will do our best to help.

 

time to talk

Los Claveles: A Difference of Opinion.

Over the past week Inside Timeshare has received many comments regarding the ongoing dispute at Los Claveles in Tenerife, it would appear there is a split among the owners. Not all are siding with the committee or agree with how the committee is handling the situation regarding the removal of Wimpen / Ona Group as the managing company.

los claveles3

Inside Timeshare first reported this story back in May when we received information of owners being refused admission to the resort, with the elderly Club President being threatened and manhandled. She was then accused of an assault and spent hours being questioned by the police.

It must also be remembered that the contract for Wimpen to act as the management company came to an end at the beginning of May, yet they still demanded that maintenance fees be paid to them. They even terminated the employment of many members of the resort staff, which considering they no longer had the contract to manage the resort would suggest they had no right to do so.

These are some of the comments received, they reflect the split in opinion between the owners and members of the club.

“The full results of the arbitration have yet to be released, so I don’t know how you can say “the judgement was in total favour of the owners and the owners committee”. It seems you are only telling one side of the story. Why haven’t you obtained a comment from WimPen?”

“I am surprised by your biased report above. Nobody has yet seen the result of the arbitration. Both sides have picked out bits that support their own claims. I am an owner at Los Claveles and am impressed by the manner Wimpen continue to conduct the running of Los Claveles . I have never received a threatening letter from Wimpen or Ona, nor have any if my friends who are owners there. The committee does not have a 100% support from owners as you have been led to believe. Nor will they.”

los claveles1

“Hi Susan many owners have published their threatening letters from Wimpen on Facebook or posted that they have received threatening letters as you well know. I have, myself received several, and I have exchanged many messages with you with evidence on Wimpen’s wrong doings, so please do not accuse the report above of being biased as it is not.”

“I believe the the constitution also says the committee should of also kept records of the coming and going at Los claveles so the blame game continues and yet the committee take no responsibility for the mess the owners are in no surprise there”

“Dennis, the Constitution, Clause 11.5, states that “the Committee shall maintain or cause to be maintained a register of owners”.

Wimpen were employed by the owners to maintain the Register on behalf of the owners.

Wimpen refused to comply with Arbitrator’s Awards to release the Register to the Committee so that the Committee could contact ALL owners with a true statement of the facts and call an AGM for all to attend. Wimpen, therefore denied ALL owners the opportunity to attend the AGM. Wimpey, in their wisdom, drafted Constitution Clause 19.4 which permits the Committee to hold meetings if the Register is not available.”

“I dont believe anyone has suggested the Committee has 100% support, I certainly have not seen that statement posted anywhere. I would indeed be an unusual situation to have 100% support for anything these days. However they certainly do have a large proportion of owners supporting them in this issue and one has to bear in mind that in this instance its weeks of ownership and not head count that carries the day not that I think it will make any difference. I can only assume that you have received no threats from Wimpen as no doubt you will have paid them the maintenance fees rather that the correct method of paying the Club as required under the Constitution. Thats the rule book for the resort that you signed up to comply with when you purchased.”

los claveles2

Inside Timeshare also received the following by email:

I have read your article and associated comments with interest and, whilst not wishing to turn your website into a battleground for our dispute, wish to submit the following response.

It is a shame that Onagrup/Wimpen and their supporters appear to operate double standards when it comes to ‘the right to respond’.

Since the dispute started in 2015 I have sent numerous communications and requests to Directors and employees of Wimpen, many have gone unanswered and others have been very selective as to which questions they reply to.

In 2000, Wimpen filed the Deed of Adaptation for Los Claveles, partly in accordance with Ley 42/98. In 2015 I requested a copy of the Deed from Ian Crane, Wimpen’s Director of Administration, but the reply was that ‘he was out of the office’. A few months later in 2016 I repeated the request but have still not yet received a copy of the Deed from Wimpen nor any reply.

The Club Constitution states that members are bound by the Regulations of the Community of Owners, copies of which are available on request from Wimpen. The Community of Owners is a separate entity within Los Claveles, registered with the Spanish fiscal authorities, NIF H38392122. In 2015 I emailed Jesus Monedero, Wimpens Director of Resort Finance and Community representative for Los Claveles, requesting a copy of the said regulations. To date I have not had a reply.

A similar request to Wimpens accounts department in 2015 resulted in them sending me an out of date copy of the Club Constitution.

Also in 2015, I emailed Ivan Pengelly, MD of Wimpen, requesting information about the Regulations of the Community of Owners, amongst other items. He totally avoided answering that specific point.

Again in 2015 I emailed Germán Castro, General Manager of Onagrup, and Ivan Pengelly, asking why they had not guaranteed that the future of Los Claveles would remain in the control of the owners and Club members. There has been no guarantee from either of them on that point.

Ivan Pengelly and Germán Castro both acknowledged this year that their contract with the Club expired on 02nd  May  2017. I later received a letter from Sr. Castro, dated May 11th to which I replied by email correcting the many inaccuracies contained within his letter and questioned why they continued to use the members register when they had previously acknowledged that they did not have a contract with the Club. Sr Castro did not have the courtesy to reply.

Earlier this year I noticed on my credit card statement that payment of fees using Wimpens online facility went to Wimpey Leisure SA, a company that ceased to exist in 2004. Further checks of previous statements revealed that this had been the case as far back as 2007. In August I emailed Wimpens accounts department querying this, as my credit card provider had said that it was very suspicious. Not having had a reply I then emailed the same query to Sr. Castro in September, suggesting that the Agencia Tributaria may be interested. To date I have still not had a reply.

Having received an invoice in September for fees due for my week 14 in 2018, I emailed the accounts department questioning why they had done so when they did not have a contract with the Club, and pointed out that this use of the members register breached Spain’s data protection laws and that the correct way to proceed was for Wimpen to invoice the Clubs representatives for fees due for the maintenance of the common areas of the resort. No reply was received and so, in October, I emailed Sr. Chinea Cruz, Wimpens registered Data Controller pointing out the many breaches of the data protection law which also includes installing CCTV without seeking the prior consent of owners. Again there has been no response.

Edward

We have also received the following letter from the Club Chairman to Mr Pengelly, click on the PDF to read it in full.

Pengelly DOA 211117.docx

As this article was about to be published Inside Timeshare received the following press release from the official opposition:

Los Claveles – Owners Fight Back

As you can see, there is a very big difference of opinion, one recurring theme is evident, the apparent lack of communication between all parties. Communication and dialogue is the only way this matter is going to be resolved, we know there will never be 100% agreement, but unless all parties are aware of the facts, nothing will be resolved.

Inside Timeshare will continue to follow this story and publish the latest news as and when it comes in, we thank all who have contributed. In response to Edwards opening comment not to turn the website into a “battle ground”, we do not see it that way, it is Inside Timeshares belief that by providing you with a forum to discuss these matters and to see the views of other parties, maybe, just maybe we will see this resolved. Then the Club can get back to what it was, a community enjoying each others company and holidays at this beautiful resort.

monday again

Start the Week

Welcome to another new week in the world of timeshare, tomorrow Irene Parker has prepared an article following the news that Richard Cordray has stepped down from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Part I is about the Manhattan Club, She begins with what the CFPB has done, including the investigation into Westgate, which was conveniently dropped after two years. But more on that tomorrow.

tribunal supremo

In Friday’s Letter from America, we began with the usual roundup from Europe, with the latest court cases. At the end of the day the news came in, too late for publishing, of yet another Supreme Court ruling being issued from Madrid.

In this case, Silverpoint have been ordered to return over £61,000 plus legal fees and interest to another client. The contract was also declared null and void, at present we do not have the full details of the sentence, but it would appear that the contract breached the timeshare law on several points.

As usual the main point will be the length of the contract, the law states that contract must be no longer than 50 years in duration, so the perpetuity contracts sold by Silverpoint contravene this. Once again the Supreme Court has made its point.

los claveles logo

On the story of Los Claveles in Tenerife, Inside Timeshare has received some comments from other members who do not appear to be in agreement with the Committee. They are either neutral or feel that Wimpen has acted in good faith.

Well, there are always two sides to any story or dispute, not all will agree, Inside Timeshare is happy to publish opposing views. We will also be looking into this and preparing a full article in due course.

In the meantime there is a link below which will start the ball rolling in bringing another side to the story and hopefully a little balance.

Inside Timeshare does try to get other views, quite often other parties do not respond, many emails are sent but no reply is ever received. Telephone calls are terminated, usually with you are through to the wrong department or even we don’t know anything about that. So thank you to those who did send in information.

http://www.losclaveles-alt.eu

 

jaw jaw

You have any comments or views on any article published, send them in using the contact form, we will either post them in the comments section or include them in any article.

Want to know if a company is genuine, once again contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

alone

Los Claveles: Chairmans Update

Welcome to the start of the week, back in August we published an update on the goings on at Los Claveles in Tenerife, it was announced that the arbitration process had completed and the judgement was in total favour of the owners and the owners committee. The judgement ruled that the owners committee was legally constituted and has all the rights to run the resort.

Well it would seem that WimPen have not taken any notice, they continue to refuse to allow members onto the resort unless they pay THEM the maintenance fees. They are also sending out threatening letters to the members of the Club stating that they will be suspended if they do not pay. The Chairman Albert Fletcher and the President Carol Parkinson are still being denied access to the resort, even though they have a legal right.

It must also be remembered that WimPen’s contract as the managing company was ended on 3 May 2017, yet they still behave as though they have the contract.

los claveles logo

WimPen have lodged an appeal with the Court of Sessions in Scotland (equivalent to the English High Court). WimPen argue that the Arbitrator is wrong in law coming to the conclusion he did. WimPen maintain that the Club does not have a legitimate Committee so WimPen can not be challenged.

This case will be heard as a “Priority” due to the rules regarding an Arbitration Appeal, hopefully a decision from the judge will be made on how this is to proceed. Also, it has to be said that WimPen have not yet been given permission to appeal, before a full hearing can take place this must happen.

The Club has also instigated a court case in Scotland against FNTC for failing to transfer all documents to Hutchinson as directed in 2012. This followed the Clubs decision to terminate the contract with FNTC as the Clubs Trust Company. We wait to hear when this will take place.

The Chairman, has also made contact with RCI, it looks like RCI has agreed to convene a meeting of all parties at the RCI Headquarters in Kettering. The Club Chairman has agreed and that the Club confirmed it would participate.

This certainly looks like it is the industry just bullying the owners, from what we have seen, the Club has gone out of its way to do things by the book. There is still a long way to go in this sorry tale, these have been long standing and loyal owners of the resort, the way they are being treated is downright despicable.

For the Club Chairman’s full update see the pdf link below. For the full sorry story see the past articles.

Chairmans Update 8 November 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/los-claveles-return-bad-days-timeshare-tenerife/

http://insidetimeshare.com/los-claveles-battle-goes/

http://insidetimeshare.com/horror-weekend-los-claveles/

Inside Timeshare will bring you the latest news as and when we get it, all we can say is we will publish every story, giving the Club and the Committee our full support in publicising their plight.

If you have any information regarding this matter or any other timeshare problem would like to share with others, contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to give you the facts.

back

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Another week over and another Friday’s Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a very quick look at two cases announced this week.

Silverpoint have once again been on the receiving end of another Supreme Court verdict. They have declared the client’s contract null and void, ordering the return of over £43,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.

In this verdict the court stated that the contract lacked specific information required by law, such as a specific apartment number, date and location. It is quite clear that the Supreme Court has on more than one occasion clarified the law.

In another case heard at the Court of First Instance in Palma de Mallorca, Altres Vacances have been ordered to repay the client over 58,000€  plus legal fees and interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

This court has followed the Supreme Court rulings on the length of the contract, the law is very clear on this point, the contract must be no longer than 50 years. They must also contain specific information as required by law.

abogados-ag-250

Once again, we have to warn about the “fake” law firms operating out of Tenerife, part of the Litigious Abogados family, another reader has been in contact with the new firm Abogados AG, with Armando González Areca named as the main “lawyer”.

They state that following a “groundbreaking ruling on “Tuesday 19 March 2015” (very precise date), against Diamond Resorts International SL, one of the the directors, once again Andrew Cooper, has pleaded guilty to the indictment of the Spanish Civil Code. They also state that the High Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife have declared 28 of their clients contracts null and void, seizing all the personal assets of Mr Cooper in Spain and the Canary islands.

Now according to this “law firm” they will be lodging the case against Diamond Resorts International Sl and Mr Andrew Cooper on the 7th November 2017, this will heard on Tuesday 21st November, very quick indeed, they must be very well in with the judges!

In the case of our reader, they no longer own any timeshare with Diamond, they got rid of that years ago, so there is no basis for any claim. Beware the claims that you have a case, if you no longer own you don’t, even if you do own you may not have a valid claim. Before engaging with any company that states you do have a claim, check and check again.

See the full letter below, pdf.

Abogados AG

So now on with this week’s letter.

Another Bluegreen Member Alleges a “Bait and Switch”

Sometimes Called “Pitching Heat”

cross fingers

By Irene Parker

November 3  

Back in July, Inside Timeshare published an article by Lela Renea, a detective who alleged she was deceived by a Bluegreen timeshare sales agent. Camyell Pratt, another Bluegreen purchaser, alleges she and her husband were also deceived.

The FBI definition of White Collar Crime, Financial Institution Fraud, is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Inside Timeshare has received 179 complaints from readers, of which 164 allege they were victims of a timeshare bait and switch. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

Lela Renea is a detective. Camyell understands bad debt. She assists in collecting back taxes for a Virginia County government office and understands the repercussions when someone does not pay what they owe. But what if the contract agreed to was purchased under conditions of fraud?

In timeshare, that doesn’t matter thanks to the clause that appears in every timeshare contract – “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase.” In other words, any complaint that begins with “The salesman says” can be conveniently dismissed.

Bluegreen is certainly not the only timeshare company Inside Timeshare has reported on concerning questionable sales tactics by some agents:

A jury awarded Trish Williams, a former Wyndham sales agent, $20 million. Ms. Williams described TAFT days – tell them any blank thing on slow sales days.

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

Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against Diamond Resorts accusing the company of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act.

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

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against The Manhattan Club. Of note, The Manhattan Club admitted wrongdoing, unusual in corporate America.

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $6.5 million settlement with the owners and operators of the Manhattan Club, a timeshare in Midtown Manhattan, over the sponsor’s repeated false promises to potential and current share owners.

The settlement is the largest in recent history for the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau. Under the terms of the settlement, the operators of the Manhattan Club, acknowledge that they repeatedly misled shareowners about the club’s reservation process, their ability to sell back their shares, and the details of the club’s state-approved offering plan.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-65-million-settlement-midtown-manhattan-timeshare-scammed

Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Missouri Attorneys General took action against other timeshare companies.

As we’ve said before, the abnormal becomes normal, whether it be predatory timeshare sales or sex abuse in the Catholic Church or Hollywood. Victims are messengers to be beheaded or silenced and isolated through non-disclosure clauses. To my knowledge, except for The Manhattan Club, timeshare developers have not even acknowledged deceit on the front of the timeshare sale, despite thousands of internet complaints and lawsuits too numerous to mention.

Current and former timeshare sales agents and managers are also speaking out. As one manager explained:

I watched every day, agents selling for double and close to triple what it was supposed to be sold for but management laughed and congratulated them.  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 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!   It 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!

Some companies are trying to do the right thing. Bluegreen has been listening and taking appropriate action in some cases. Diamond Resorts has opened a Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department that pledges to help members from day one and has launched a program called CLARITY which promotes accountability, transparency and respect for the customer.

Instead of beheading the customer’s, legitimate attorneys, volunteer advocates and journalists, why won’t the timeshare developer not identify and drain the swamp of predatory sales agents? After receiving 179 complaints from our readers, at times we can guess the agent by the con.         

cartoon fraud

Camyel and Jayson Pratt

Camyell and her husband Jayson endured an eight hour Bluegreen timeshare sales presentation at Harbor Light in South Carolina. They were promised:

4000 points plus 6000 points plus two RCI weeks

Availability to a variety of resorts

What was delivered?

For 4000 points, according to one of our Advocates, also a Bluegreen member, the member can book a studio in winter on the wrong side of the weather report.

After filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Bluegreen did offer to credit Camyell the additional 6000 points promised. Camyell declined, deciding she did not want to have anything to do with a company that would resort to such tactics. Nevertheless, Bluegreen credited the family 6000 points anyway.

Camyell said they were given no paperwork after they signed the contract, told the contract needed to be processed. They were given a booklet about Bluegreen and the timeshare exchange company RCI.

Let’s see how Camyell’s complaint compares to Lela Renea:

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

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

Timeshare members have had enough. Timeshare has been employing tactics former timeshare sales agents call “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat” for too long.

Like so many of our readers have complained, Camyell was not allowed onto the booking site until after the contract rescission period. When she did finally gain access, she was informed she was not within the booking window and did not have enough points to book the stay she desired and says she had been promised.

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

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

None of the above agencies will act on behalf of a specific individual, but a volume of complaints can prompt an investigation.  

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If you or anyone you know has a timeshare story to share, or needs help with a timeshare issue, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help Facebooks:

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

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

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

 

There we have it, Friday is here, the weekend is about to begin, have fun and don’t forget, do your homework before you deal with any company. If you are in any doubt, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

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Start the Week: Is This A Joke?

At the end of last week it came to our attention from several readers, even though we did see it ourselves, the TCA published a piece about Mark Cushway (CEO Resort Properties / Silverpoint and now Signallia Marketing Distribution), is about to embark on a new course of action.

He is going to send his own clients to a claims company to sue himself!!

settlement out of court

Apparently the company he has made a deal with is Claims Solutions Group Ltd, previously Timeshare Solutions Group Ltd, of Aberfeldy in Scotland. This lot came to our attention last September, many Diamond owners were being contacted by them regarding their timeshare ownership with Diamond. At the time it was widely believed that the company was set up by ex Diamond sales staff, using their old client lists.

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-company-website-based-scotland/

This particular company was registered on 13 June 2016, the name change took place 2 February 2017.

So what is this all about, the CEO who was behind the contracts now being found illegal by the courts, is now going to help all those owners that were duped into buying the non existent “investments” to get their money back. I know that we have seen some very weird goings on in the timeshare world but this one really takes the biscuit.

Firstly, this really does look like a desperate ploy to attempt to stop the ever increasing litigation Cushways companies are going through. But how are these claims going to be made?

One cannot see any of these cases going to court, after all why would Cushway take himself to court?

We can only surmise that once the claim is lodged with Claims Solutions, the client will be unable to process a claim with any other company or to file a claim with the courts. So that leaves only two choices, either Cushway will offer a pittance of a settlement or the claim will be on a Section 75 basis, which is unlikely to cost Cushaway anything. He may even offer to end the contracts, mind you that will probably mean a swap to Keys Concierge the “new” product.

So Mr Cushway, how are you going to make money out of this, surely there is a profit motive behind it, we can’t see you suddenly being the philanthropist!

All we can say to our readers is this, you were taken in once by this person, don’t let him fool you again. If you think you have a claim against any timeshare bought from the companies headed by Mark Cushway, then seek proper legal advice and take it to court. Don’t line his pockets.

The Supreme Court rulings that have been made against them since January this year, have set the law in stone, if you need any advice or guidance regarding your ownership and would like to know where you stand legally, contact Inside Timeshare. We will tell you if you do have a valid and viable claim or not, this service is given free of charge, at least then you will know where you stand, that way you will not to fall for the slick calls and claims from the “dodgy” companies.

 

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Monday Starts with New Warnings!!

Welcome to the Monday post, once again over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received many more emails enquiring about companies offering timeshare services. Most of these have been regarding claims, or compensation that is waiting for them at court.

As usual the same old names crop up, but there have been a couple of new ones, Regal Finance Company being one of them. As we had not heard of these before, a quick check on the internet and lo and behold Mindtimeshare has placed a post about them (10 Oct).

It is the same old story, owners are called by this company, from the Security and Fraud Prevention Department, they are told that a case has been through the courts against companies that have “ripped” him off in the past. Guess what? The money has been awarded to him and is waiting at the court.

Unfortunately there are fees to be paid around 10% of the awarded amount before this money can be released.

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There is a company registered at Company House called Regal Finance Company Limited, according to the records this company has been registered since 1955. The address given on company records is:

Fourth Floor, Park Gate, 161-163 Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex, England, BN1 6AF

It is highly likely that this registered company is unaware that a fake company is using their name, so when you do a search of company house, you will believe that you are talking to a legitimate firm.

Also the searches of the named directors and secretaries, have not shown any link to any previous timeshare related company.

The telephone number given by the caller is:

01273358408

This number has already had several mentions on the various who is calling websites, all saying the same thing, “This number is ringing asking to send money for release of payment for timeshare refunds”.

The email address is:

RegalFinance@consultant.com

Which is a common scam email address, which has been commonly used in the past Nigerian scams, just like gmail and yahoo it is a free service. So one point to consider is if the company does not have a website with an email linked to the domain name, or is using consultant.com or any other email, then you should be very cautious.

Here We Go Again!!!!!!!!

abogados-ag-250

Another one of our regular readers have informed us that it looks like the family of “fake” lawyers Litigious Abogados have another new name  Abogados AG and website:

http://abogados-ag.com

This website was registered on 28 August 2017, so is only just 2 months old. Again registration details are through GoDaddy and hidden by a privacy registration. It is also exactly the same as all those that have come before, stating the firm was established in 1990, that they have had over 15 years presence on the internet.

The head of this “Fake” law firm is one Armando González Areca, along with a few new “lawyers” names:

Manolo Lantanoz Juantim

Simone Deltaba Yenarsol

Juan Pelardom Erminilso

The Boss

Armando-González-Areca-243x300
Armando González Areca aka Amador Malodan Galeca
Manolo-Lantanoz-Juantim
Manolo Lantanoz Juantim aka Simono Maenga Arlovas

 

Simone-Deltaba-Yenarsol
Simone Deltaba Yenarsol aka Manuel Pralge Namblib
Juan-Pelardom-Erminilso
Juan Pelardom Erminilso aka Balthathar Hirmod Nisbelam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the same photographs of them from the previous website Amador Galeca Abogados.

The address they show on the website is:

4 Calle de S. Francisco, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands

When this address is checked, it does exist, with two plaques on the doorway for Abogados, but the names do not look like the one here. So once again, do the genuine Abogados at this address know that it is being used by a “fake” law firm.

The telephone number given are a UK Freephone number:

0800 802 1487

A Spanish Number they say is Madrid:

910 601 672

But when we checked the prefix 910, it did not show as Madrid, but did show up as one which will cost you a small fortune to call.

So now all we wait for is news on what name the “Procurador” is going to take and which bank account they will be using.

Once again these two posts clearly show how careful you need to be, do not take what you are told at face value, check and double check, if you are unsure as to their validity, don’t do anything. Especially send them any money.

If you need help in checking any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction, after all that’s what we do day in day out.

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