Following on from Monday’s article which highlighted Keys Concierge and the relationship with Silverpoint, Inside Timeshare has received further information from one of our readers.
This reader attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Club in Tenerife, one of the Silverpoint resorts, he was then sold a one year trial membership of Keys Concierge, the new “lifestyle product” which we found out is the new product Silverpoint are marketing.
According to the information received, the new company selling this membership is called:
So there we have it, new company name, same CIF and address, but I would not be surprised if they deny that they are still Silverpoint, a little like Silverpoint tried to deny they were Resort Properties.
As for the new product, it is a credits based lifestyle membership, offering stays at Beverly Hills Club (no longer timeshare), Beverly Hills Heights(part of which is being sold off) and Hollywood Mirage. They also offer a “concierge service” where their “lifestyle managers” do all the work for you, make your bookings and travel arrangements even helping you with switching your utility company.
Some of the “benefits” are the discounts you can get from utilising your Keys membership, from 5% discount at Marks & Spencer, 4% discount at Sainsbury’s or even 8% at B&Q! You can also get upto 15% discount at Disneyland Paris among others. (see the link for offers).
They also had a “concierge service” which would “enhance” your lifestyle, your very own personal assistant to do all the mundane things like booking travel or theater tickets. Massive discounts which never materialised, either on the holidays or the other products they listed.
It is also sold that you “earn” more credits when you book anything with them, which “saves” you even more. I’m sure we’ve heard this before with “Leisure Credits”?
So the next question is, now that Silverpoint is no longer “selling” timeshare, or no longer members of the RDO, will Kwikchex business service be contacting them for a transparency report? Will they “comply” and if not what will Kwickchex say?
Will Mindtimeshare even post anything about them and this “New Product”? After all Mindtimeshare does publish about companies that are not “Timeshare” and in their eyes are “bogus or scams”. We shall watch those blogs and all the other forums for any comments about this new venture. Somehow I don’t think we will have to wait to long for answers.
On another note, Silverpoint again lost another case, the news was announced on 18 April. The High Court No 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife found in accordance with the Supreme Court rulings and declared the CLA client’s contract null & void. They ordered Silverpoint / Resort Properties to return over 27,000€ plus first instance legal fees and legal interest.
So just to finish, Silverpoint Vacations Marketing SA are now Signallia Marketing Distribution SA, a new name and a new product to peddle, will this product turn out to be a good one or will it go the same way as others before it? As usual it is all left to questions needing answers.
Following on from last Friday’s article where we highlighted the case of a Filipino families experience with timeshare, a reader emailed his response. Irene decided that it was worthy of its own article.
This Friday we will publish another in the series of articles by Irene, this one will focus on “Resales and Rentals”, this will be part III of the series The Three R’s of Timeshare.
A Reader’s Response to “An Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure”
A reader’s response poses more questions than answers
One of our readers emailed comments and questions about Friday’s “An Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure” article. As I attempted to answer his questions, I realized the complexity of his questions and comments are worthy of an article.
I don’t understand the Monarch to Diamond transaction. Is there an explanatory paper about the transaction?
The Monarch to DRI transaction is exactly like the ILX to DRI transaction. My husband and I were ILX owners. Monarch and ILX acquired owners are the most disgruntled because they received the greatest upheaval in maintenance fee increases. The Castle Law Group ran ads just because so many former ILX owners were in foreclosure.
As reported at a Monarch annual meeting, “Of the 40,000 remaining Monarch owners, 33% have not paid their 2016 maintenance fees.”
The goal is simple and does not require reading ILX or Monarch to DRI acquisition documents. Sales agents are instructed to get the former deeded owners to give up their deed and convert to DRI points.
Deeded timeshare weeks are defined as real estate but points are “right to use” like a country club. No one says I am an owner at a country club. Points are much easier to “take back” as opposed to weeks which require an actual foreclosure process.
As you can tell from the tone in the article, there is no interest expressed in enhancing owner value. One of our Diamond Facebook administrators said that in listening to several Diamond conference calls with shareholders, not once did Palmer mention a benefit to owners. In fact, he boasted about how when Diamond buys a property, they “immediately add 15% onto every annual budget item and that is a 100% profit to shareholders.” Mr. Miller actually used the lack of a secondary market as a reason to buy the stock.
Shortly after acquisition Grand Beach Orlando owners received a notification stating “we will be raising maintenance fees 14.99%.” The increase is always due to the resort being in bankruptcy and therefore neglected. Odd expenses started popping up. I was sent a copy of an agreement stating, “Stephen Cloobeck is allowed 50 hours of annual use on the most expensive aircraft in the DRI fleet and the DRI flight crew for non-business use.” After the Apollo acquisition, DRI PR said DRI no longer owns or leases aircraft. This type of expense was not a normal ILX or Monarch expense. Palmer earned $19 million in two years and Cloobeck and other executives millions more.
Many analysts reported on 11 quarters of consecutive growth but few financial analysts, with the exception of Pulitzer winner and New York Times financial journalist Gretchen Morganson, reported on this oddly coincidental 2Q earnings report explaining Diamond’s dismal 2Q downturn due to improper inventory valuations (that’s us) announced shortly after the $2.2 billion announcement. Earnings had to be restated back to 2014 and caused a significant drop in earnings.
There is mention of Monarch “equity” and Monarch “points”. What is the connection?
A fixed week deeded property can be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association for no upfront fee. The broker gets paid after the sale. Even points for any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts can be listed with one of the 64 LTRBA members. The members feel Diamond points are worthless on the secondary market due to restrictions the company has in place on use of points purchased on the secondary market more onerous than other timeshare companies.
Buying Diamond points so that you don’t lose equity is nonsense because we all know DRI has no resale value unless you can find a buyer that doesn’t care about resale value. One of the LTRBA members I spoke with said even the market for Diamond’s deeded weeks is soft. You can always sell to friends or family but the members I talk to would never sell their DRI points to a friend or family member as they are so dissatisfied with the program and alarmed at the rise in maintenance fees. Again, acquired owners are the most exposed. There are many Diamond owners who use and enjoy their points. The problems arise if a member needs to sell. One owner from Wisconsin checking out of Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona said to me while packing his trunk, “I tell my kids if they act up I will name them as beneficiary to my Diamond points. I attend sales presentation to annoy the sales agent and hang out by the pool to warn others. The sales agents just roll their eyes and say, oh, he’s just an ILX guy.” He had stayed five months at Los Abrigados so in all likelihood was a Platinum member.
How can Diamond justify their salesmen explaining to Monarch owners, the complexities of the Monarch/Diamond transaction at a dinner or short meeting?
I can answer that! The dinner or breakfast or 55 minute group session is followed by a three to seven hour (so far the reported record is seven) high pressure brutal and demeaning sales experience as I reported happened in this article. Diamond has introduced a new Clarity program that is intended to tone down the aggressive nature of the sales experience. Diamond is certainly not alone in the high pressure department. It was the sales presentation I wrote about in this article that led to my writing to Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi, host of Business FOX Property Man. Our interview with Mr. Massi will be aired this Friday April 21on Business Fox at 8:30 PM EST.
Only a senior customer service person may know enough to explain.
We have a lot of high powered advocates that can explain better than a Diamond customer service representative as we know more than the longest tenured customer service person. They may not even own Diamond points.
Diamond should have produced a summary of the transaction that could be understood by the layman.
Again, there’s no mystery. ILX and Monarch went bankrupt. Diamond bought them. Get the deeds and replace with ethereal points. Monarch owners found themselves not having access to resorts they had stayed at for years. Lawsuits resulted. This case led to the filing of a billion dollar class action in Nevada.
Diamond would not do that because they are happy to confuse the Monarch owners and just want to sell Diamond points without truthfully explaining the consequences of doing that.
That is obvious if you read the first example in Friday’s article. I have used that example often as it is the most glaring but I have heard from about two dozen Monarch owners all reporting variations on the theme.
The above are only a few of the aspects that I need to have explained to me before I can start to understand the issues.
The timeshare developer lobby ARDA has supported laws making it more difficult for owners to contact other owners. We can certainly see why. Laws are passed to protect our “privacy” but as we all know, we are bombarded with solicitations.
Thank you for these comments and observations. Our Advocacy group has been accused of “victimizing the uneducated”. Many are happy with their Diamond points, but those that get hit with one of life’s roadblocks, no longer able to afford the timeshare and up-sold for the wrong reasons, can face financial ruin when that day comes.
Other Apollo related articles by New York Times journalist Gretchen Morganson:
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.
Contact Inside Timeshare or an Advocacy Group if you have questions or concerns about your timeshare.
Once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank our readers for all their comments and contributions, keep them coming. If you would like to share anything with the rest of the world contact either Inside Timeshare or the Advocacy facebook page, this is where you will find out what is going on in the world of timeshare.
If you require any information about any company that has contacted you or you are thinking of dealing with but need to know more, Inside Timeshare is here help. If we don’t know the answer we will find it .
The amounts awarded for these three cases is well over 100,000 euro, a severe blow to this resort, again the courts ruled as per the Supreme Court judgements. Contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, (including by a third party), have all been deemed illegal.
All three clients in these cases are from Norway, they had employed Canarian Legal Alliance to fight their cases and release them from those illegal contracts. The courts declared them null & void and ordered that Anfi repay them their purchase price, plus double the deposits, legal interest and legal fees.
Along with the ongoing problems of the Tauro Beach Project, which again we have seen the authorities removing people from the beach, as it is still fenced off and closed to the public, these awards are a severe blow.
Back in January, we published the article about another new credits based lifestyle company, Keys Concierge.
The company became active on 6 August 2015, with the director being one Franz Markus Deutsch, who we know is associated with Mark Cushway of Silverpoint fame. In this article it was mentioned that due to the association between the two directors and their past relationship, could this new product be the new one being sold by Silverpoint?
Since that article, a reader has sent in the following information:
They attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Heights, where they signed up for the £995 1 year trial membership. They would receive 995 credits, which would give them access to multi discounts across major high street and grocery retailers. One which this reader was interested in was the 6% discount at Asda, being a major shopper there it would certainly save him a great deal.
The thing is this reader was not totally taken in, he checked with Asda and other retailers, not one of them had heard of Keys Concierge as a business, let alone had any “deals” with them. In his words “I am now a little dubious about their offer”. Inside Timeshare has contacted Asda and is waiting for a reply.
It does go to show that doing your due diligence and research is very important. There are many of these “Lifestyle Products” making an appearance these days, many are replacing the sales of “Timeshare”, as they do not come under timeshare law. (Is this why Silverpoint split from the RDO?)
These “lifestyle Products” “Credits” etc, make promises of big discounts and saving money, where have we heard all that before? Why would you pay for “credits” or “vouchers” to get a discount anyway?
If you have any questions or comments on any article published on Inside Timeshare we would love to hear from you. If you have had any dealings with any company mentioned and would like to share your experience with others use the contact us section.
It is through your information that others can find out who to deal with.
In one case the court ordered the return of 85,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, the client’s contract was again declared null and void. In another two sentences the clients were awarded with the return of over 25,000€ plus legal interest, with the contracts declared null and void. A rather expensive end to the week for Silverpoint, with no sign of these cases letting up.
The week also started on a bad note for Anfi with CLA announcing another sentence issued by the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas. Once again this lower court ruled as per the precedent set by the Supreme Court that contracts over 50 years were illegal, therefore the contracts have been declared null and void.
The clients in this case have been returned with over 14,000€ plus legal interest. They are now timeshare free and are no longer bound by the rising maintenance costs. So what a start to the week for those lawyers at CLA.
So, on with today’s writings by Irene Parker, in this article she explores the three R’s, Resolution, Relinquishment and Refund.
In Spain one of the three R’s is hitting the industry, as we have seen from the opening of today’s article, many owners are receiving back their full purchase price and some, purely because the timeshare companies have sold a product that does not comply with Spanish Timeshare Law or the Directives issued by the EU.
For those who do not have a claim, the other option is relinquishment also known as surrender, unfortunately this does depend on who you own with, some are easier than others. One company that is renowned for not playing ball is MacDonald Resorts, there have over the years been many articles written and published about how they make it very difficult for anyone to get out of their contract. They say they allow a limited number out every two years upon payment of 4 years maintenance fees, this is done on a first come first served basis, so no guarantee.
Some resorts, especially the smaller independent and usually family owned resorts, just allow owners to hand back, in some cases they will even pay back something. This obviously is good for both parties, the member is released and the resort has inventory to sell. Win Win!
Most consumers are unaware of the perpetual nature of a timeshare contract. The combination of rising maintenance fees and a mortgage interest rate ranging from 12% to 18% if a loan is attached can spell disaster when the timeshare member can no longer afford the timeshare due to illness, unemployment or age.
We hear a lot about the elderly being targeted, but our advocates have also heard from the young. So far the youngest person I have interviewed was 19 and pregnant when she signed her contract just after midnight. When I explained what a perpetual contract meant, she was shocked.
“A perpetual contract in itself is not harmful,” explained timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When you buy a house or car the contract is perpetual. The problem comes when there is no secondary market as Mike explains in his article, “The Unconscionable Suppression of the Timeshare Resale Market”.
Timeshare developers and the timeshare lobby ARDA seem to think voluntary exit programs are the answer. How does this help the family who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000 to purchase a timeshare, only to get hit with a life event that results in not being able to afford the timeshare shortly after purchase? Would you buy a house that could not be sold? The price of a timeshare can easily rival the cost of a modest condo or home.
Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA is quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.” Recycling inventory is the term used when a resort “takes back” your points or forecloses due to nonpayment of a loan or maintenance fees.
Timeshare companies are starting to offer voluntary surrender programs, but surrenders are evaluated on a case by case basis. The money invested in a timeshare can easily run over six figures, so walking away from that kind of money without a fight, when you feel you have been defrauded, doesn’t seem right.
The Second R: Refund
A refund is not easy to come by. Litigation takes years and if you win, there will in all likelihood be an appeal. Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause.
Let’s examine the most common complaints our advocacy group has heard to determine if these tactics meet the FBI’s definition of white collar crime.
Reportedly coined in 1939, the term white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.
These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).
You can get airline and other travel awards but the value is zilch,
It’s less expensive to book online than to use my points,
The contract is perpetual? Who knew?
The interest rate is 18%!! I didn’t know till I started paying!
According to the FBI, there is corporate fraud and mortgage fraud. Corporate fraud includes accounting schemes designed to deceive investors about the true financial condition of a business entity by manipulating financial data, share price or other valuation methods.
While the definition above is most often applied to stock transactions, we can draw some comparisons to a timeshare point. Availability of accommodations, the value of travel awards can be overstated and the escalation of maintenance fees can be understated.
Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:
Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.
The backend of timeshare fraud has been widely reported, but there has been little attention paid to the front end. The industry needs to stop focusing only on the backend of timeshare scams as detailed in this US Department of Justice Timeshare Scam Report and take a closer look at the front end – the timeshare sales presentation.
In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner’s request.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.” These sales practices included “TAFT” days, which stands for “Tell Them Any F@#*ing Thing” days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn’t put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.”
Diamond Resorts has instituted a new consumer advocacy department to help members or owners resolve disputes. A member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group works with members and Diamond’s advocacy department to resolve issues. There is always the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using Diamond points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We just booked two weeks in Sedona for far less using our points than we could have by booking online.
We wish all complaints could be resolved by better understanding the resort’s program, but that is not always the case.
Our complaint format is included in this Inside Timeshare article. Inside Timeshare readers can use this form when contacting Inside Timeshare or their resort when problems arise. Of course there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare year after year. Those owners don’t need us, yet.
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.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who help to make these articles, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, who helps Irene with the legal aspect of her writing.
If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try find you the best answer or solution. You can also join our facebook pages and join the discussions. It is through these that we all find out what is going on.
It’s Friday, the end of another week in the murky world of timeshare, and what a week it’s been.
The RDO and TATOC announce that Silverpoint has withdrawn their membership from these two organisations, with Silverpoint announcing they will no longer be selling timeshare. One can only speculate as to the reasons behind this, but it does look like they may just be looking to develop another product which circumvents the timeshare laws. Rumour has it, this may be a “leisure credits” type of product.
There is also a lot of speculation as to a probable name change to the company, again this might just be to deflect any further litigation. After all Silverpoint did try and argue that they were not Resort Properties at one point, but the courts threw this out stating they are one and the same entity.
Inside Timeshare also announced in a previous article the sell off at Beverly Hills Heights, with owners being moved to other apartments or to Hollywood Mirage. We saw this at Beverly Hills Club a couple of years ago when this resort was sold off. It is now used as a hotel. Palm Beach Club owners also had the same thing happen, when the top 3 floors were sold. Again they were moved to other apartments or resorts.
All the contracts were declared “Null & Void” with over £120,000 awarded to the clients, including legal interest and legal fees. This is quite a staggering amount to have to pay out in just one week, with many many more in the pipeline. It makes you wonder how long Silverpoint can hold out with these figures being awarded against them by the courts. So they may just need to come up with a new product pretty damn quick!
Again this week we have had new information passed to us about the Litigious Abogados family, these “law firms” are hitting many timeshare owners with false promises of cases against their timeshare resorts / companies being lodged at court. One which we highlighted this week was a gentleman who had a narrow escape, luckily he found previous articles and never paid them.
The new “firm” Abel Garcia Abogados, told him his case had been lodged with the court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 4 March, the case was due to be heard on 25 April. Under 2 months to get the case heard, this is astronomical, even CLA take around 2 years and they are the most experienced in this field.
The only problem is he did not own anything, the “club” he purchased and the marketing company selling it, were dissolved many years ago so no longer exist. They were also UK based and the sales were conducted in the UK, so how could a Spanish court have jurisdiction?
These “law firms” have a very sophisticated operation, all the documents look genuine to those who do not ever see the real thing. The story is also very plausible, then coupled with the high amounts being “awarded” by the court, along with copies of the cheque waiting to be sent to the lucky client, it is easy to see how people can be taken in.
Irene Parker, our US colleague, has also been busy, getting ready for her “starring role” in the Fox News programme Property Man with Bob Massi. Today’s article from the US is an update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups.
This is becoming a very big project, attracting more and more owners to the various facebook groups, it is also stimulating a lot of dialogue with the industry. Could it be the industry is now starting to realise that without you the owners / members, there would be no industry?
Well thats enough of that, on with Irene’s Friday piece.
Update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups
April 6, 2017
Our consumer advocates have heard an earful, so we are encouraging those who feel they have been victims of deception or fraud, review ARDA’s code of ethics and email ARDA ROC to express your concerns.
The biggest complaint our Advocacy Group members have expressed is lack of a secondary market. ARDA ROC needs to know when there is no secondary market for a timeshare, at least not through any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.
for more information on the timeshare resale process as well as a link to resale companies who are members of ARDA.
Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014
Conduct. All Member Activities with customers, clients, other Members, business or community partners, regulators, legislators or government agencies shall be honest, legal, ethical, and in accord with standards of fair business dealings, professionalism, integrity, dignity and propriety. Members shall not denigrate the Vacation Property business, but instead shall use their good faith efforts to promote the Vacation Property business.
Timeshare narrative can get confusing fast, especially when there are multiple contracts that span several years. To make it easier for the resort and for our members, here is a blueprint members can follow.
How to File a Complaint
State of Residence
Number of points currently owned
Current Maintenance Fees
Original Loan Amount and stated interest rate
Resort where purchased and sales agent’s name
If you are claiming deception or fraud, list how you feel you were deceived.
Deception 2, Etc.
What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment? If your investment is $20,000 or less and you owned your timeshare for ten years or more consider relinquishment.
Are you sure you know how to use points and the program correctly?
Why do you want relinquishment?
Is it due to Deception, Health, or Financial Burden?
Availability – There are many who are happy with availability but there are those who have been oversold on availability. For example, we were told to buy more points because NYC properties were being added. Because these are affiliated properties, like in San Francisco as well, they are never discounted and never have 59 days or fewer rates. On average, year round, it costs $5000 to $10000 in maintenance fee equivalent dollars what could be booked online in New York for $2500 to $3500 for a week. Great Wolfe Lodge is similar.
MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline
Remove numbers from your testimony. It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the contracts and figures at the top of your complaint.
ALWAYS include the name of the sales agent (s). Refer to your contract if you don’t know. Provide the sales agent’s ID number if you can.
How Advocacy Works
Email your sworn testimony. Raise your right hand. Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Start writing.
Send to intake volunteer who will review, edit and return to you.
Position open: Volunteer report writer. No experience necessary.
An email will be sent to the resort, public relations and you.
Owner or member takes it from there unless there are questions or concerns along the way. Owner or member will report back with positive or negative outcome. Due to the mutual release, terms and conditions will not be discussed. If negative, complaints to be filed with:
If a sales agents appears to be obviously deceptive due to the number and consistency of complaints, the FBI Internet (formerly white collar) crime division IC3.gov.
Our Advocacy Group
We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
It’s a lot of work but it is the only way to change business practices is through an organized lobby effort targeting legislators and regulatory agencies that may be sympathetic to owners or members, and media outreach targeting the general public.
It is only a couple of days since we published the latest article on Litigious Abogados and all the other associated “Law Firms” in Tenerife. This latest effort from the new one Abel Garcia is exceptionally brilliant.
Our reader received the following email:
Dear Mr XXXX,
We are pleased to inform you that an official lodgment has successfully been implemented. Your case can now be pursued with the Santa Cruz courts should you wish to proceed.
Our Lawyer’s office will then liaise with you every step of the way until final settlement is obtained. We have been informed that there are very strong grounds for compensation.
Assuring you of our best attention at all times, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your involvement thus far and send you our best regards.
This email is confidential and intended for the named recipient only. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately and delete the email. You must not copy, distribute, disclose or take any action in reliance on it. This email message and any attached files have been scanned for the presence of any computer viruses.
Fantastic news, he has a case and wonderful grounds for compensation, but there is only one small problem, how can the case go to court?
The purchase was made in the UK in 1999, the company that sold it, is no longer in business, the club to which he became a member is also no longer in business. According to Company House Records, both companies dissolved many years ago, as no date is showing.
So how is this very successful “law firm” able to get this case heard in Santa Cruz de Tenerife?
One, the purchase was not made on Spanish territory, so Spanish timeshare law does not apply, secondly, there is no company or club to take to court as they no longer exist. What is the betting that if this reader had paid the legal fees, in a matter of weeks they would have received what looks like an official court document showing they had won the case and been awarded substantial amounts in compensation. Also I would not be surprised if the Director of the company pleaded guilty and was named as Kevin Baker or Kevin Balker or something revolving around that.
Then there would be the next letter to say that Tax was due to the Hacienda, this would need to be paid before the court could release the cheque. The amount of “TAX” would probably be around 10% to 20% of the compensation amount. If you are unable to afford that then loe and behold, the Lawyer Liaison Mr Richard Lehman would be on hand to negotiate a Pro Bono deal, where the “Partners” would agree to pay 80% of the “TAX” amount, leaving you to only find 20%. They would even show a BBVA cheque to one of the procurators, who incidentally all have very similar names, various bank accounts and the same address.
This amount would then be added to your invoice for payment once you receive the Banesto cheque from the court procurator, one of the Davido’s, Harstun’s, Jaime’s, Jilmo’s, Darston’s or the latest one to come up D Hurstom F400SL, incidentally his first name is “DAVIDO”, his bank account is with BancaMarch. Also has the same address as the others. They are certainly a big family!
As we were getting ready to publish this article, our reader has received the following email and the attached letter.
Subject: Reduced Court Fees
Dear Mr XXXX
I hereby attach a letter with very good news from one of our Lawyers Mr Ramon Quena Cinol.
Assuring you of our best attention and care always, we send you our kind regards.
It is important you confirm receipt of this Email and its attachment.
In this letter, the lawyer Ramon Quena Cinol, states that as the court has accepted further claims against the defendant, there are more grounds for compensation and thus the fees are less than previously stated.
The case which was lodged on Tuesday 4 March 2017, is due to be heard on 25 April 2017, at the Court of Instruction Number 6, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Well, well, well!!!What a very fast and efficient service they perform, getting a case lodged and heard in under 2 months!
Inside Timeshare has never known any case to get to court in this speedy manner, this firm of “lawyers” must have very good connections with the courts.
For previous articles in the search box type Litigious Abogados.
Once again Inside Timeshare cannot stress the importance of doing your homework, in the case of this reader, he found the articles just in time, he felt something was not quite right and started his search. Then contacted us for further information with his purchase documents, after checking what he purchased and researching the company, Inside Timeshare was able to tell him that no claim was possible.
If you have been contacted or are in contact with any company, especially one that is offering to “claim” against your timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
Nothing surprises us here at Inside Timeshare, but sometimes we are a little taken aback. This time it is the very charitable offer from that wonderful group of “lawyers” in Tenerife, Emilio Leyes Castillianos or Litigious Abogados.
Readers of Inside Timeshare have shared with us the latest in this firm’s game plan, our readers informed this company that they could not afford to pay the “Tax” to the Procurator, Darston Jilmo Davida. They also asked for their original fees to the Procurator to be returned, conveniently the lawyer liaison Richard Lehmen did not receive the email.
Instead he had a meeting with the partners of Litigious Abogados and they very generously have offered to pay 80% of the “Tax”. As they state in their lovely letter “ We as a firm, occasionally carry out “Pro Bono” work, to assist those who are unable to pay for services, or, as in your case, pay the imposed tax fees”.
Above the letter offering the “charity” payment.
They then go on to say “We feel that there is a lot of money at stake for the common good and therefore you were made eligible for this arrangement, however this decision was reached mainly because Mr Richard Lehman explained to us your particular circumstances”. I would guess the “common good” was their own pockets!
I don’t know about you, but this Mr Richard Lehman is a very lovely person and the lawyers are the most charitable I have come across. They are sending a BBVA cheque to the Procurador to the value of 5,384.40 Euros, which is 80%, leaving the client to pay 1,346.10 Euros. They will then invoice them for this amount and add it to the 20% commission upon payment of the compensation cheque.
The letter ends with “We trust the above is clear and pledge to be as proficient and professional as you would expect of a company of our standing”. This is signed by Simone Maro Malivas, Abogado. This is a new name to add to the list of “lawyers”.
The question is how have they managed to set up so many bank accounts, after all many of us who live in Spain had to show so much identification to open up our accounts?
Going back to another firm in this little family living in Tenerife, Legitimos Abogados, one of the named lawyers, Juan Luis Partalabo, one document gives his Colegio de Abogados (bar association) number as 4057. When checked against the bar association registry 10 names come up around Spain, none with this name or the colleges he is supposedly registered in: Madrid; Málaga and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. So this would confirm he is not a registered lawyer.
So far we have not been able to locate any of the named lawyers in any colegio de Abogados, on mainland Spain the Balearics or the Canary Islands.
Three fake court documents
As we have said before, this is a very well put together operation, we have seen very convincing court documents, copies of cheques with clients names on, wonderful letters offering to “pay the taxes” and to cap it all, the sending of cheques to clients. The only problem the letter was open and the cheques missing. This is then followed up with another letter from another firm, claiming that a gang of Romanians have stolen and cashed the cheques. They have been charged with getting your money back but in order to do this they have to be paid.
Please remember, courts do not issue cheques, especially on Banesto cheques which were taken over by Santander in 2012 and they stopped using that name. There are no “Hacienda” taxes to be paid for compensation. These cases do not exist, even the best law firm in this field cannot get a case to court within the timescale these have done.
For all the articles on this group of law firms and consultants search Litigious Abogados in the search box.
This is a great example of doing your due diligence, it looks very genuine and to those of you who don’t know how the system works in a foreign country or what the official documents look like, will be taken in. If you have been contacted by any company or law firm that tells you that the court has money waiting for you or that you have a claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will have them checked for you. There has been a huge proliferation in these types of fraud since the Supreme Court ruled in favour of clients of the Canarian law firm CLA, so do your homework.
It would seem the woes that are befalling Resort Properties / Silverpoint are just getting bigger. It has now come to our attention that it is the turn of the Beverly Hills Heights Resort, the news is not good for those who own at this resort, a number of apartments are now going up for sale.
We have seen the same thing happen at the Beverly Hills Club in the past year or so, where the owners were moved to the Heights when the resort was sold. It is now effectively a hotel, with the apartments available to the general public. The same has also happened to part of the Palm Beach Club, another Resort Properties / Silverpoint resort.
Owners who are affected have been told they will be moved to other apartments at the heights or to the Hollywood Mirage. This seems to be causing quite a stir among the owners at this resort, many are becoming very vociferous, taking to the discussion forums and venting their anger.
Could all this be a result of the years of misselling, which is now coming back to haunt the company?
Only in first three months of this year, the Supreme Court has made five rulings against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. This is also alongside numerous judgements at the courts of First Instance and High Courts in Tenerife.
On the 1 March the Supreme Court awarded over 90,000€ which included the original purchase price, double the deposits and maintenance fees. The court also ordered that the client receive back their original legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared “Null & Void”.
On 6 March, the same court ruled in favour of a German client, returning over 30,000€ plus legal fees and interests, again declaring the contract “Null & Void”.
It was also announced on 21 March that the Court of First Instance Number 1 in Arona, ruled in favour of another client, awarding 44,000€ plus interest and legal fees. Then on the following day the news was broken that the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife awarded 37,308.40€ along with the initial legal fees and interest and the contract declared “Null & Void”.
Then yesterday 27 March, it was announced that the Court of First Instance Number 5 in Arona found for a British client. The amount awarded was a staggering £111,134.00, plus the return of initial legal fees and interest. Again the contract was declared “Null & Void”.
This is certainly showing that the Supreme Court rulings are being used in the lower courts, the Supreme Court has ruled on the following points:
Taking of deposits is illegal;
Floating weeks and Points systems are illegal;
Contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) are illegal;
Clients are Consumers not Investors.
All of this is a result of the hard work of one group of dedicated lawyers based in Gran Canaria. Yes it is those lawyers and the team which is Canarian Legal Alliance, which since the very first Supreme Court ruling in March 2015, have gone from strength to strength.
These are not just against Resort Properties / Silverpoint but also there have been many rulings against Anfi, Palm Oasis (Tasolan) and many others. These cases are also being highlighted in the Spanish press, which is having what can only be described as a field day.
All we can say at Inside Timeshare is well done to the lawyers and team at CLA, to the readers beware of the companies that purport to be the ones bringing these cases, especially when they have only been formed for a matter of months. There are many of them jumping on the bandwagon, misleading you the consumer into believing they have done the job. Can they actually prove they have won these cases?
We will be publishing articles on some of these over the coming weeks, some we have already highlighted, some are very sophisticated frauds. If you are in doubt, wanting to know more and who you can trust, Inside Timeshare can point you in right direction to find the answer. Remember, doing your homework and due diligence will save you not only money but a lot of stress and heartache.
The prosecution allege that the former Head of Costas illegally authorised the construction of the artificial beach at Tauro without the promoter of the project (Anfi) having fulfilled the condition required by law.
These works were to build an artificial beach using 70,000 tonnes of imported sand from Western Sahara. It was the first works of its kind that the Coastal Authority, part of the Environment Ministry had authorised in 25 years.
The indictment presented to the Court of Instruction number 3 of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, denounces that the then head of the Costas José María Hernández de León, allowed these works to begin knowing that Anfi had not complied with the conditions demanded, then falsified the documents so that it appeared everything was legal and they had complied with the ministry.
The Public Prosecutor demands that Hernández de Léon should be tried as a perpetrator for the crime of prevarication (being intentionally dishonest) with forgery of an official document. Along with the sentence of three and a half years in prison, they are also calling for ten years of disqualification for public employment and a fine of 18,750 euros.
It certainly looks like the Public Prosecutor is calling for a severe punishment, it now remains to be seen if the ex chief of the Costas puts forward any evidence which could implicate Anfi in any wrongdoing. With such a sentence hanging over him he may just want to mitigate this by plea bargaining and save himself.
As usual only time will tell, Inside Timeshare will bring you the news as and when it comes in. This story is by no means over.
Inside Timeshare once again publishes the Friday article from across the Great Lake (The Pond to our American Cousins). Today a new contributor, Laurie Sabbagh, with additional notes from our senior writer Irene Parker, who is doing a great job in rousing timeshare owners in the US to work together and improve the industry.
Firstly, we are getting more and more information on that outfit operating out of Tenerife, the Litigious Abogados family. The latest addition which we reported on 14 March Abel Garcia, was very interesting. As we said in the article, the website was registered on 5 January 2017, the name of the “law firm” was never heard of, yet the court document showing “Keith Baker” being sentenced, is dated 17 January 2017. Well we have never heard of a case going to court and being adjudicated with sentence being passed within 12 days. Wow, these lawyers are good!
We have also heard from another reader who had dealings with Stephen Fairclough and Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultancy Limited, another figure of just under £6000 has been paid, given the details of Jose Dorta of D&M Lawyers, yet no case or anything. This reader also suspects that the elusive Stephen Fairclough is back in Portugal.
So now on to our new contributor.
A Diamond Resort Member Does Her Timeshare Homework
We seek to provide Diamond Resorts 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.
Today Laurie educates prospective and current owners. Not many timeshare buyers comparison shop. Timeshare sales presentations are almost always same day sales. A timeshare sales agent named in the Colorado Attorney General’s investigation of Highlands Resorts explains why:
“According to Highlands Resorts” sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”
I recently started reading the invaluable Inside Timeshare articles and web postings of timeshare advocate Irene Parker after joining the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group. In February I posted that I would soon stay at Diamond’s Los Abrigados resort in Sedona. Irene asked me to attend the “members update” to find out if sales agents were adhering to the Arizona “Assurance of Discontinuance” rules.
After more than ten years of dodging the member updates, (i.e., sales pitches), I reluctantly accepted the invitation from the concierge to attend a 55 minute presentation.First, a little background on my Diamond “The CLUB” membership:
My membership started in 2006, when I purchased 8500 points in the Hawaii Collection when it was part of Sunterra. This vacation ownership interest (VOI) gave me a right of use equal to one week at either the Point at Poipu in http://Kauaior the Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Maui that I could reserve 13 months out, plus have access to resorts in the US and California Collections. In 2011 I received notice of a special assessment (SA) for a water intrusion problem at the Point. I scoured the internet to find out what was happening and learned that Sunterra knew about this massive liability when I purchased my vacation ownership, but its salespeople most likely weren’t informing prospective buyers about the problem prior to DRI’s impending purchase.
I was able to absorb the cost of the SA and considered myself lucky compared to owners who were on the hook for around $6,000 per deeded week for the water intrusion project – as many as 500 owners defaulted on their units because they either couldn’t or refused to pay the assessment. By reading Redweek and TUG I learned that management companies can change the terms of the Vacation Ownership Interest VOI membership agreement at any time, for practically any reason. I also read posts about high-pressure and questionable sales tactics being used to get consumers to buy into the various Collections – some Hawaii Collection members were being told to get out of that collection by buying more points to transfer into the US Collection to avoid future SA’s, and vice versa. Reading about other people’s’ experiences was a wake-up call that it was not in my best interest to buy any more points.
Note from Irene:
I have received several complaints from people who attended sales presentations (one at Daytona Regency) told they should not have bought Hawaii Collection Points because Hawaii maintenance fees were going to increase dramatically or were encouraged to transfer Hawaii Points into the US Collection because Hawaii real estate is valuable, Hawaii Collection owners only can rent Points and only Hawaii members’ heirs can refuse inherited Points. Each transfer requires the purchase of more Points.
Now to Laurie’s member update:
The promised 55-minute update turned out to be about three hours. The first salesperson, with whom I spent most of the time, was courteous and not high-pressure, although she did advise me to buy more Points to bring me into the Silver loyalty level which is 15000 Points. But to upgrade to Silver they were going to charge me over $8.00 a point, which would have cost more than $50,000! She also said the Hawaii Collection maintenance fees were more expensive and that I should join the US Collection. However, the second sales person I spoke with said with my small number of points, it costs only about $100 more per year.
Note from Irene:
According to SIRF Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Diamond points historically have sold for an average of $3 to $4 a point through 2014, according to data obtained from lawsuits. In a prior article, we reported Apollo plans to raise the price per point to $10 and then $12 per point.
The sale’s agent also said that Apollo Global Management, the owners of DRI, would freeze that price for me for 18 months, and that the price was likely to rise soon.
Note from Irene:
Apollo Global Management founder, banker Leon Black, also founded Drexel Burnham Lambert of junk bond fame. Junk bonds did have some value, but a Diamond contract becomes worthless the moment it is signed should an owner need to sell, unless a friend or family member is willing to buy the Points.
I was also told that DRI members can use Points like cash for items such as airline travel, hotels, luxury items, and guided tours and adventures. For example, Diamond Luxury Shopping enables Platinum and Gold members to apply Points towards products that are 30% off the best market price. But at a redemption point of $.30 per Point, this seems exorbitant to me.
Note from Irene:
I tried to use Points for an airline ticket. The Points we bought for $4 were worth $.07 for travel awards (Platinum $.10) so for $2,300 in equivalent maintenance fees dollars I could buy one domestic US flight. Customer Service told me this benefit is for convenience, not value.
Back to Laurie
Another example is that members can use 1500 points to purchase America the Beautiful – the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass. My 8500 Points cost $1,973 this year, which includes maintenance fees, The CLUB fee, taxes, and mandatory membership in Interval International. That comes to about 23 cents a point. For me, 1500 Points for the pass equates to $348, not including the $10 processing fee for my “Valued” level of The CLUB membership. I paid $80 for the same pass at a National Monument we just visited. Seniors over 62 pay $10.
At the end of the presentation a third person asked me some questions, including if I was treated courteously. I said yes, but also said I was not interested in buying any more Points with DRI. I declined the $100 Visa gift card, since that was not my reason for attending the update.
All said my elderly parents and I had a wonderful week at Los Abrigados. I was able to secure the historic Stone House, an 1800 square foot property with four separate entrances for only 6500 points. I almost always book weeks for 50 to 75 percent off, within the 59 day discount period, and have experienced good value for my points. Every year I’ve been forced to vacation or lose my points, and I’ve taken about 18 weeks of vacation at DRI resorts since I bought my membership. If I had not purchased this VOI, I never would have gone to all the places that The CLUB membership has enabled me to visit. However, I advise other members to only use points for timeshare use, not the auxiliary products or non-resort vacation experiences DRI offers.
Thank you to Laurie for sharing her knowledge and experience. Email us at Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare story you would like to share.
Thank you Laurie and Irene, once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who contribute, either through writing articles or supplying information on possibly rogue companies. It is through your efforts that we can inform the timeshare world on what is going on.
On another note Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated for the Canary Awards which recognises individuals and businesses that make a difference on the Canary Islands.
Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated in the Real Gran Canaria category for their outstanding services to timeshare consumers and their efforts in the changing of consumer law.
In the Business Person of the Year category is Csilla Nazali, the operational manager of CLA for her outstanding work with all the clients.
Follow the link and vote for them, I’m sure they will appreciate it.