Welcome to our “Friday’s Letter From America”
Following our theme of readers experiences, today David Franks shares his and his wife’s holiday turned into nightmare by a sales presentation. What was supposed to be 90 minutes turned into 5 hours of hell.
As usual we start with a few items from Europe, yesterday we published a rather tongue in cheek article about the court ruling against TATOC, as we said in the article all comments have now been removed from the TATOC Facebook page. This includes the comment about someone meeting Harry Taylor and found him to be a gentleman. It certainly looks like they are on the defensive.
Last week ended with the news after publication of another defeat in the Tenerife courts for Silverpoint.
In this case Court No 3 in Arona found for the British clients of CLA and ruled that the contract did not fulfill the terms of Spanish timeshare law, the court awarded them over 13,000€ and declared the contracts null & void.
The Supreme Court rulings are certainly having an effect on timeshares sold in Spain.
In Gran Canaria, the beach at Tauro, which was the artificial beach being developed by Anfi remains closed to the public, that is not surprising really as much of the sand has been washed away. There was some worry last week as we were expecting some severe storms, these thankfully never came. There have however been reports, though unconfirmed of sightings of scorpions on the remaining sand. One does wonder if it could be true as the sand came from Western Sahara and was untreated.
The investigation into corruption over the project is ongoing along with the investigations of licences and other documents being forged. The former head of the coastal authority is still awaiting trial, we will report on that as we get the news in.
Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails from US owners, these are passed on to Irene Parker, who is better place to deal with them, however we have also been receiving many questions from owners in the UK. These mainly concern calls they have received that say they have a claim, on a “no win no fee” basis. Many of the names are not new to us, and are what can only be described as “dubious”.
In many cases the consumer does not have a valid claim as they did not purchase in Spain. It then turns out that the “claim” is going to be on a section 75 of the credit consumer act, with then a substantial amount to be paid to relinquish / surrender the timeshare. Unfortunately, section 75 is not going to work, the credit card company / provider will rightly state that you purchased ex number of years ago and have used it. Therefore you have received the goods and services paid for, the act does not cover illegal timeshare contracts. So the so-called “no win no fee” claim is just a ploy to get thousands from the owners to just be rid of it.
On this particular theme, Inside Timeshare has saved this week alone several readers from paying anything to the “fake” law firm in Tenerife, the family known as Litigious Abogados and company. At least the news is spreading.
A new book is due to be published on 1 June and will be available from Amazon. The book is the story of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, who was implicated in the Brinks Mat bullion robbery but was found not guilty by a jury for smelting it down. It charts his Tenerife Timeshare business in which many people lost thousands of pounds. The author Wensley Clarkson contacted Inside Timeshare after reading a previous article “TIMESHARE” A Dirty Word For Many.” He thought it might be of interest. I will certainly be placing my order.
Now onto our Friday’s Letter from America.
Our Diamond Resorts Misadventures
Chapter One: Vegas, Baby!
“Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.” François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac
By David Franks
May 19, 2017
My lovely wife and I enjoy Las Vegas. Our last visit, in July 2015, found us at The Golden Nugget. Unfortunately, Diamond Resorts was also there, at the entrance fronting the parking garage. We had seen the two episodes of Undercover Boss featuring Stephen Cloobeck, who had striven to be impressive. We were offered gift cards that seemed ample compensation for the supposed ninety minutes they would commit us to, and we’d get to see what passes for a resort near Las Vegas.
The next day, they shuttled us to Diamond’s Cancun Resort, barely within sight of town. In we went, and into a conference room where we filled out a survey about our travel interests. Then the earnest pitchman told us about the benefits of buying in. He focused on cost control, talking about the exchange value of Diamond points and their supposedly stable cost over time, compared to an inflation rate he pulled out of some warm part of his digestive tract. He said quite a bit about the exchange value of Diamond points, mentioning 30 cents several times. He might have mentioned a 20-cent valuation a couple of times; but apparently he wasn’t interested in promoting the more plebeian levels of membership.
There were a couple of people in the group who claimed to be happy owners of timeshares. As I recall, they were not Diamond members, but I have no evidence that they were shills.
That took about eighty of the ninety minutes.
The targets were then ushered out to a large room with bad lighting and loud music, where we would discuss our most intimate aspirations and financial details at tables separated only by a few feet and loud music – a disoriented slice of vulnerable humanity.
Well, we tried to not be interested. We told the helpful salesperson that our only conceivable interest in Diamond was as a small outlay whose yearly expense would goad us into getting out of the house once a year. We enjoy traveling, but we also enjoy being at home, and we are frugal wherever we are. Economy would be the key.
We explained that we like cruises and train travel, road trips, old motels and roadside attractions, and dining at local restaurants. After a while, the attentive salesperson stopped talking about resorts and started talking instead about how points can be used for all kinds of travel for their exchange value (20- or 30-cent). He talked about how being a member of Diamond Resorts and Interval International made it possible to book any kind of travel, get discounted pricing and pay for it with points. We asked about European river cruises, explaining that we would be interested in a Viking river cruise on the Rhine or the Danube. He said that should not be a problem. We explained that we didn’t want to spend any additional money. He said that should be possible, though we might need to save points so as to use two years’ worth at one time.
A couple of hours later, the solicitous salesperson suggested a tour of the resort. We tried to tell him (again) that it would not be necessary because we have no interest in resorts, but he would have none of it. He was proud of the irresistible pile of faux-Mayan faux stucco, and off we went to the example unit. I explained (again) that I cook at home, and see no need to go on vacation to cook. Back we went to the interrogation room.
Certain that he could pretend to meet our stated expectations, the intrepid salesperson showed us several options for joining, to no avail. After another hour or so, he excused himself for an awkward spell, and then returned with a grizzled veteran of the timeshare wars. He had with him the data sheet for a 2500-point membership. He said they don’t usually offer them, but – as he was unable to let us go without buying something, however inappropriate – here we were. It was pointed out to us that this would not get us a full week in a resort, which was irrelevant to us. It would give us an opportunity to experience the advantages of Diamond membership, they said. It was not pointed out to us that this minimum membership had few of the benefits that had been sold to us.
We bit. About an hour later, as we flailed around in the flurry of papers they thrust at us, one of the three people who had ganged up on us by that point mentioned, in reply to our question, that Diamond does not buy back memberships, but members can certainly resell them themselves – not that anybody ever wants to, of course.
We were there for a bit over five hours. By that time, the shuttle bus had become an antique and was placed in a museum, so the helpful salesperson called a cab and paid the driver to take our gullible selves back to our hotel. We enjoyed chatting with the cab driver.
Important points so far:
- The music was playing at about 75 decibels – almost as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Conversation was difficult.
- The 20 or 30 cent exchange value of points was the only exchange value mentioned.
- Convenient, discounted travel was emphasized.
- The availability and advantage of comprehensive service through Interval International was emphasized. (This despite the fact that Interval International had stopped providing comprehensive service for Diamond at the end of 2014).
- There is a distinct and important difference between “Diamond Resorts does not buy back memberships, but members can certainly resell them themselves” and “Diamond Resorts actively obstructs individual resale of membership and the resale industry won’t deal with them.”
Inside Timeshare would like to thank David for his article and sharing his experience at the hands of Diamond sales agents in Vegas. It is the first time we have heard of loud music during the presentation process, it does make you wonder if these agents had been trained by someone well versed in the techniques of interrogation!
Also once again thanks to Irene Parker for her invaluable help in bringing people together to share those experiences and editing the articles, it has saved a lot of time at this end.
If you have any stories and experiences such as this you would like to share, you can contact Inside Timeshare or our Advocacy Facebook page.
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to do your homework, it will save you money in the end.