Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker looks at Whistleblowers of America and their report to the Veterans Affairs Committee. As we have reported in previous articles, we have received many complaints from veterans who have had very bad experiences with timeshare sales agents. These practices are unexceptable and need to be stopped, but that can only come from the top of the timeshare companies, if they have the will to do it!
Now for some news from the Spanish courts, more legal history has been made at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Silverpoint has had another 2 judgements made against them, bringing the total of rulings from Spain’s Highest Court to to 126!
The tally this week is:
2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;
3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;
3 Provisional executions of sentence against Anfi del Mar, (this has secured over 93,000€ for clients with Anfi depositing the funds at the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana);
2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.
In the Diamond sentences, the clients have been awarded their full purchase price plus double deposit for a total of 19,504€ and 30,000€ respectively. These and the contracts for the clients above have all been declared null and void.
In total the 7 sentences amount to over 370,000€ another expensive week for the timeshare industry in Spain. All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients from all over Europe by none other than those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance.
As we near the end of July, we only have one more week where the courts are working, August is the annual close down, so we will see no new cases being heard until September.
Now on with our Letter from America.
Whistleblower Retaliation against Government Workers, Employees, Timeshare Members and Timeshare Sales Agents
62 out of 500 timeshare complaints we have received are from veteran and active duty members of the military and law enforcement
A Whistleblower Summit in Washington D.C. July 30 – 31
By Irene Parker
July 20, 2018
There are several federal and state laws in place to protect government and corporate employee whistleblowers from retaliation, but whistleblowing is never easy and can take a personal toll. A whistleblower friend of mine suggested I attend the Whistleblower Summit linked above, because of threats and accusations our advocates, Charles and I have received over the past two years. I have heard the following false statements made about Inside Timeshare and our advocates through the timeshare grapevine:
- That our articles are based on false information. Many articles are submitted by our readers, which I edit, or the content provided by our readers.
- Our advocates are compensated financially for assisting members,
- Our advocates are practicing law,
- Our advocates are compensated for soliciting business for lawyers,
- We’re targeting certain timeshare sales agents (we call repeat offenders)
Articles written by timeshare members describing their timeshare experiences are revealing and important. One of the Whistleblower Summit presentations I am looking forward to attending is titled,
Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story
Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW
“Story is what defines us and set us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each other. Story is powerful. Story is grossly misunderstood. A good story has conflict, but ultimately resolved. A story is messy and full of confusion, but there is meaning and completeness to it. Stories have natural momentum to them, fueling our passion to find out more from the teller. Stories are laden with bait and intrigue, with suspense and tension. Stories are provocative.” Jeff Goins
Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Founder Jackie Garrick will moderate a panel discussion at the upcoming Whistleblower Summit that will address resilience after retaliation
“My numbers are going up with new reports every day,” says Jackie Garrick, founder of Whistleblowers of America (WoA). Garrick created WoA earlier this year after discovering firsthand how difficult the process of reporting wrongdoing can be, and the personal toll it can take on the people blowing the whistle. By offering up the help and insight of former government insiders and whistleblowers like herself, Garrick is hoping to not only encourage more people to come forward, but also to simply support them once they do so.
So far the only information available on timeshare whistleblowers concerns a lawsuit in which a jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams $20 million.
She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.
Despite several relatively recent Attorneys General investigations and settlements, lawsuits galore, and a flood of internet complaints, the timeshare industry continues to place blame on their customers and on advocacy groups. In other words, the industry believes Inside Timeshare either invented 500 timeshare complaints or that the 500 members would be happy timeshare members had they not read Inside Timeshare articles or joined one of several members sponsored advocacy Facebooks and websites. Almost all of the 500 members are highly educated, professional, high credit score citizens. At least they had a high credit score until they were sold or upsold into timeshare insolvency.
It doesn’t matter how many millions love their timeshare. What matters is that the majority of the 500 families have alleged they were fraudulently sold a timeshare product. All but a handful received an automatic “You signed a contract” dismissal from the timeshare company.
Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:
How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims
Here are a few steps that you (a corporation) can take to reduce the risk that your company will be subject to such a lawsuit. In parenthesis are my observations as they apply to timeshare:
- Don’t retaliate — Try to remember not to treat employees (timeshare members) that have complained about your company any differently than those who have not.
- Have a complaint policy in place and be sure to use it — It is a good idea to have a complaint policy in place, even if it is not required by law. Train and educate your employees in using the system. Once you have your complaint policy in place be sure to abide by it. (According to member reports, the timeshare complaint policy has been to provide the complaining member with their initials on fine print and dismiss them with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”)
- Investigate all credible complaints — If you receive an internal complaint about alleged wrongdoing, be sure to investigate it, so long as it is credible. If you find that the complaint was truthful, take the steps needed to remedy the situation.(The timeshare member has often reported that they were told they were wrong and the timeshare sales agent judged truthful)
- Be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for other misconduct — If you have a whistleblower in your company that needs to be disciplined for other conduct you must be very careful. Get evidence to support your claim that you are disciplining for reasons other than the whistleblowing and make sure the employee knows the reason he or she is being disciplined.
Following the above advice would eliminate the need for timeshare advocacy groups and whistleblowers.
United in Speaking Truth to Power
601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004
Jackie presented testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. She included Timeshare Advocacy Group’s veteran timeshare fraud report in her statement. Several of the 62 veteran timeshare members we have assisted struggle with disabilities and PTSD as described in the report. Jackie believes that retaliation can cause PTSD.
- The veteran population has very complex needs due to unique exposures/injury during military complicated by having two plus significant medical problems in one patient.
- Veterans experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD). According to the CDC, about 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year making it the 10th leading cause of death. (Several of the veterans we have helped struggle with PTSD and TBI, one is a decorated Marine, and another a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts.)
- Agent Orange exposure – For example, eye cancers are a continuous issue. (Two of our disabled veteran timeshare members are disabled from Agent Orange exposure)
- Gulf War Illness – Illness haunts Gulf War veterans. (One of the timeshare members served in the Gulf War and is on 25 meds)
- Camp LeJeune: Due to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base, Camp LeJeune, increased reports of cancer in veterans and their families have been documented over the last several decades related to the solvents in water.
- Burn Pit Exposure: Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 were exposed to a concoction of burning substances on military installations that has caused them to raise health concerns from cancers to respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. (One of the members we assisted was diagnosed with blood cancer having lived next to a burn pit in Basra)
Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C
Whistleblowers of America
Committees on Veterans’ Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
March 14, 2018
Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:
Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit. Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets. Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans. Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.
Jacqueline Garrick is a former Army social work officer who has worked in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as well as for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. She is a subject matter expert in mental health and program evaluation. She is an advocate for disabled veterans and the use of peer support to improve resilience in traumatized populations. She founded Whistleblowers of America in 2017 based on her experience reporting attempted fraud with DoD Suicide prevention funds.
We thank Jackie and Whistleblowers for their support. It is our hope that through public awareness and knowledge, the consumer will be better able to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare, especially one financed at 17%, is a good idea for the family.
That’s it for this week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, on Monday we will be publishing the court cases against Diamond and how Spanish law is protecting consumers, we will be comparing this with what is happening across the Great Lake with our US cousins.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank all contributors to these articles and also to those who supply the evidence and information on the “fake” companies that are trying to rip you off. It is your valuable information which goes to help and save others from these unscrupulous charlatans.
Remember to check, check and check again, doing your homework will save you your hard earned cash. If you are unsure how to check, then use our contact page, we will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Have a great weekend and join us again next week at Inside Timeshare.