Start the Week: Two Claims Companies Closed Down

Welcome to another week at Inside Timeshare, we start this week with news of two claims companies ordered into liquidation by the High Court in Manchester, Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultants Ltd (MPCC) and First Law Solutions Ltd (FLS).

On the 22 February 2019, District Judge Obodai, wound-up both companies in the public interest, an official receiver has been appointed. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2 Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Email: [email protected]

Meredith Pritchard was no stranger to many enquiries made to Inside Timeshare, we did publish an article in March 2017 with a full account of one readers experience. Unfortunately this article was removed after the director Stephen Paul Fairclough made threats to our reader for submitting his story for publication.

Stephen Faircloughs company, Meredith Pritchard, along with FLS, was in the business of supposedly making claims against timeshare companies and offering relinquishment services. He scammed many people out of thousands of pounds for legal fees, with the promise that they would be passed to various lawyers in Spain, Malta and various other countries, to pursue litigation through the courts.

As it now turns out, this was never the case as investigations found out, lawyers may have been instructed, but no evidence of any of the work for the services being carried out was ever found.

MPCC received £440,000 while FLS was paid £110,000, with investigators being unable to find any evidence of any payments being made to any overseas lawyers. Although they did find that FLS had only paid £13,000 to any lawyer and this was during the investigation.

The grounds of the petitions presented by The Insolvency Service, were that both companies “traded with a lack of commercial probity by failing to provide contracted services in a timely manner or at all. This included accepting payments in respect of non-viable claims, charging excessive fees, and using misleading and aggressive sales techniques”.

We can well believe the last part of that sentence due to the comments given by our readers at the time, plus the fact that Stephen Fairclough did threaten one correspondent.

Another factor to the petition was that both MPCC and FLS “It was also alleged that MPCC and FLS did not maintain, preserve and/or deliver up full accounting records and that they were remiss in complying with statutory obligations to file annual accounts and confirmation statements”.

It was also noted that MPCC did not fully cooperate with the investigation. Knowing the nature of Stephen Fairclough, that is not surprising.

To see the full press release from The Insolvency Service click on the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/timeshare-claims-specialists-wound-up-by-courts?fbclid=IwAR0n99SDUdG5ZeQCJFL21wfvpA5MLL9X2__fJr74Y4GnRXUMnvjxT33tQyk

Although these companies have now been wound-up, it is believed that there is an investigation underway against Stephen Fairclough, let us hope that this leads to his arrest and conviction.

Again, this story shows just how careful you have to be when dealing with any company that has contacted you or that you have found on the internet or advert in any publication.

If you need any help in checking whether any company is genuine and actually does what it says, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish a press release about the Arizona House Bill 2639, a bill designed to give consumers the protection they need when purchasing a timeshare. As usual ARDA (American Resorts Development Association) is opposing this bill, this release is a call for all consumers, timeshare owners and non-timeshare owners to voice their support for the bill.

First an update on Claims Assistance Bureau Ltd, as we published yesterday they are also using the name of a genuine registered and regulated claims company, Claims Advice Bureau (UK) Ltd, well, it looks like they have already started using another name.

The cold call is from a Paul Burrows, the company this time is called Travel Claims Solutions Ltd, Company Registration Number  04831724 and registered address:

Flat 12 Stamford House, Great Heathmead, Haywards Heath, England, RH16 1FH

Changed on 28 August 2018 from:

22 Updown Hill Haywards Heath West Sussex RH16 4GD England

According to Company House records the company was incorporated on 14 July 2003, with the current directors being, Hannah May Edwaards and Jeremy Robert Goodyer, both are the original directors.

The story from Paul Burrows is the same as before, Eze Group member has been awarded a specific amount of money, but to get this they first have to pay a fee of £695. This will be held in “TRUST” at an unnamed High Street Bank, the client will then receive their money in 10 days.

Now for our Letter from America

Time-Sensitive in Advance of Arizona House Bill 2639 Vote

We Need Your Voice

ARDA Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639, Which Offers Consumer Protection

On the heels of perceived unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices that have left many families financially devastated, 13 Arizona representatives have proposed the creation of Arizona HB 2639 in an effort to safeguard consumers from entering into a perpetual contract, often buying a product they have not even had a chance to try before purchase.

Buyers often enter into timeshare contracts when on vacation, are encouraged to review documents after they return home from vacation, sometimes long after the rescission period has ended – leading to confusion, anxiety and costly fees that can last years.

Arizona House Bill 2639, aimed at alleviating some of those problems, was approved by a committee in a 7-0 vote, but is strongly opposed by the timeshare lobby group American Resort Development Association (ARDA), an industry-supported PAC.

Provisions in the proposed bill offer safeguards for timeshare buyers. We ask that consumers voice their support for this bill by emailing the representatives listed below.

The proposed bill includes:

  • Purchaser is granted a 14-day rescission period. The closing, as evidenced by delivery of the deed or other document, is prohibited before the 14 day calendar period expires.
  • After the end of the rescission period, the first use of the timeshare interest concludes; “first use of the timeshare interest” means the first time the purchaser or third party transferee stays in a timeshare pursuant to the purchase agreement.
  • The seller can charge up to a 10% cancellation fee. Seller may charge regularly scheduled maintenance fees for one year.
  • The purchaser may cancel the purchase agreement and relinquish all the timeshare interest within one year after the purchaser signs the agreement.
  •  At least ten years after a purchaser purchases a timeshare, a purchaser who has paid the entire purchase price and current annual fees may terminate the purchase agreement without cause.
  • A request can be denied only if it does not meet the criteria described.
  •  The bill also requires disclosure to alert the purchaser that the contract may be of a perpetual nature.

Please contact the following representatives in support of this bill. There have been numerous Attorneys General investigations, BBB complaints and lawsuits describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The following individuals are the bill sponsors; we urge you to call and write to them to voice your support.

RepresentativePhone NumberEmailDesignation
Bolick, Shawnna(602) 926-3244[email protected]Bill Sponsor
Biasiucci, Leo(602) 926-3018[email protected]
Blackman, Walter(602) 926-3043[email protected]
Carroll, Frank(602) 926-3249[email protected]
Dunn, Timothy M.(602) 926-4139[email protected]
Fillmore, John(602) 926-3187[email protected]
Finchem, Mark(602) 926-3122[email protected]
Grantham, Travis(602) 926-4868[email protected]Committee Chair
Kavanagh, John(602) 926-5170[email protected]
Payne, Kevin(602) 926-4854[email protected]
Roberts, Bret(602) 926-3158[email protected]
Toma, Ben(602) 926-3298[email protected]
Weninger, Jeff(602) 926-3092[email protected]

For more information, contact Inside Timeshare or Timeshare Accountability GroupTM

http://insidetimeshare.com/

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

So there you have it, a bill to protect consumers being opposed by the industry because it does not fit in with their own agenda and curbes the power they have held over consumers for years.

It is now down to you the reader to exercise your right to lobby and have this bill past to protect all consumers. The industry has had its own way for far too long, they need to be brought down and be regulated by independent regulation.

On The Tuesday Slot we shall be publishing more about this bill, so join us then.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, or if you have any information regarding any company that you are suspicious of and believe it is a scam, then use our contact page and get in touch.

Have a great weekend and remember to do your homework on any company that contacts you.


Claims Advice Bureau UK: The Hijacked Name for Claims Assistance Bureau Ltd

Inside Timeshare has had more emails regarding Claims Assistance Bureau Ltd, the cold calling company contacting Eze Group clients with tales of money being awarded by the courts and court cases within the next few weeks. The original warning was published on 18 February.


https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06832938

Claims Assistance Bureau Limited

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close,

Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

Tel: 02920099129

06832938 companies house

Well it would seem that they have changed their name in the calls to Claims Advice Bureau UK, which from our research there is a genuine company called Claims Advice Bureau (UK) Ltd, with the Company Registration Number 05518043 and the registered address:

128-130 Whitworth Road, Rochdale, OL12 0JJ

The company was in registered 26 July 2005

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05518043

Click link below for their website:

















According to the details provided on the website they are based in Manchester and are a PPI Agency operating throughout the UK.

They even show a Claims Regulation Management Number CRM 1970, claims management is regulated by the Ministry of Justice and their website confirms that this company is duly registered and authorised:

https://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/search.aspx?search=simple&category=CRM&text=CRM1970&sectors=&statuses=&dates=&startdate=00010101&enddate=99991231

So they have now hijacked a genuine company so when you do your searches on the internet, you will find them and be taken in.

Inside Timeshare has spoken with the director of this company today so they are now aware of the situation, we shall be sending them all the details that we have. So hopefully these “fraudsters” will get caught.

As we know, these people with the name Harry Evans, Claire Bruce , Mel Rhys and have concocted some very believable stories that they are acting as intermediaries for the courts. Which we know would never happen.

The email adress they use is:

[email protected]

As you can see these are standard gmail accounts which do not link to any company website, which should always cause alarm bells to ring.

The latest story from Harry Evans, which is then backed up by Claire Bruce in an email, this time there is a case underway in the Madrid Courts against Eze Group, which we do know is not the truth. But according to Harry and then backed up by Claire in the email, they will have the clients money of over £15,000 back in TEN, YES, TEN days! Wow, that is very fast work, Inside Timeshare has never known any payout to be that quick, they are obviously great miracle workers!

So there we have it, not only are they committing fraud by taking money from Eze Group clients under false pretences, they are also committing a very serious crime of using a genuine companies name, along with the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, The Bank of Spain and The High Court of Madrid to lend credence to this FRAUD.

If you have been contacted by Harry Evans, Claire Bruce, Mel Rhys under the name of Claims Assistance Bureau or using the name Claims Advice Bureau UK, then contact Inside Timeshare with all the details, we will ensure that it goes to the right authorities.

JUST REMEMBER DO NOT BELIEVE THEM AND DO NOT PAY ANY MONEY!

Need help or advice on any company the has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or in any publication and want to know if they are genuine or a fraud?

Do you have a problem with your timeshare and want to know what options are available to you?

Then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will give you the best advice possible, all free of charge.

Stay safe and do your homework.

The Tuesday Slot: The Timeshare Tax Trap

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker looks at the question which is rather unique to the US, it is something we in Europe do not have a problem with. Irene also includes a very good explanation from Attorney Mike Finn.

The Timeshare Tax Trap

By Irene Parker

February 26, 2019

Inside Timeshare has heard from 719 timeshare families. Of the 719, 98 are veterans and active duty service members. All but a handful allege unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The most common complaint is being told you can pay your maintenance fees using points when programs as described do not exist. Others report being assured their timeshare could be sold only by purchasing additional points.

It’s bad enough to be lied to, suffer the frustration of groveling before customer services representatives who dismiss your complaint with “You signed a contract,” then undertake the arduous process of filing regulatory, and in some cases, law enforcement complaints. After you think it is finally over and done with, you get one of these 1099Cs in the mail after your timeshare loan has been cancelled, Blood pressure rises again.

We can’t give tax advice, so we rely on professionals to point you in the right direction. We published information on how to dispute phantom income last year on April 6. Given we have already received many questions about this pesky form this current tax season, we are publishing earlier this year hoping to calm our readers before receiving an IRS form 1099-C.

Here’s the word from the professionals:

1099-C: Cancellation of Debt

At the time the seller/borrower obtained the loan to purchase or refinance the property, the loan proceeds were not included in taxable income because the borrower had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation to repay the lender is forgiven or cancelled, the amount that is not required to be repaid is considered income by the IRS.  The lender is required to report the amount of the cancelled debt to the borrower and the IRS on Form 1099-C, when the forgiven debt is $600 or greater.

http://www.koontzassociates.com/pages/know-the-difference-between-a-1099-a-and-1099-c/

Excerpt from attorney Mike Finn’s Learning Center article on timeshare loan forgiveness:

The 1099 form is referencing a large amount which may very well be taxable income! Unlike the mortgage balance forgiven, which would have been spread out over the life of the loan, this possibly taxable sum has now been reported to the IRS all at once, in one lump sum! Say the amount reported is about $25,000. Say further that your tax bracket is 20%, a rate on the lower end of the scale. Your new added tax bill is $5,000, and it’s all due by April 15th!

Consult with a tax professional before you assume that your receipt of a 1099 form from a timeshare developer automatically means you’re staring down significant tax liability.

Please understand we are not providing tax advice, merely a possible position that we believe is quite tenable and may be worth exploring with your own tax advisor. Although it’s accurate for me to state that I was a Certified Public Accountant, it is much more important to note that my C.P.A. licensure has long ago lapsed (because I didn’t choose to keep up with the annual professional education courses necessary to retain my certification).  Please take your tax preparation advice solely from your own qualified tax return preparer.

Every tax filer is unique, with differing facts and circumstances. I am not offering, nor should you interpret my comments, as tax advice.

The receipt of these 1099 forms creates confusion.

I point you to IRS form #982. This is the form that the IRS advises should be filed along with the income tax return itself as a form of supporting schedule, which provides notification to the IRS that the amount presented to them via a 1099 is being acknowledged, but further, that the amount listed should be excluded from the taxpayer’s gross income. The myriad of possible reasons provided on the 982 form are in and of themselves confusing and difficult to understand. I’m therefore providing my readers what I suggest may be appropriate reasoning in concluding that, in many cases, there should be no “income tax penalty” imposed after successfully negotiating a release of contract with your timeshare resort.

Allow me to provide my argument as to why some forms of debt forgiveness may well be construed as taxable income, and then differentiate the negotiated act of cancelling a timeshare contract and why this transaction therefore logically should be treated differently.

Since “income” generally means a measure of accretion of wealth or value added to your worth, then the cancellation of a debt, when that debt was incurred when you received something of value, should be counted as income because the elimination of the debt liability plus the retention of the item acquired when the debt was incurred increases your net worth. Under this definition of added wealth, the taxing of same would be quite logical.

Applying this argument to the cancellation of a timeshare contractual obligation and its related underlying indebtedness, it’s immediately evident that the cancelled owner has retained absolutely nothing of value. They’ve surrendered their interest in exchange for a debt and/or contract cancellation, but after the transaction they have absolutely no accretion of net worth.

In terms of taxpayer reporting requirements, the issue becomes murkier when you apply it to timeshare transactions. Whether or not the industry will ever acknowledge that the resale value of a timeshare interest is minimal at best, what we can establish is that it would be extremely unusual for anyone other than the resort developer to acquire the timeshare interest at foreclosure, and therefore the liquidated basis of the interest will nearly always be zero, or at best a nominal value at foreclosure. Also making the timeshare transaction more complex in terms of following the instructions of either IRS form 982 and/or publication 4681 relating to this issue is determining whether the underlying debt should be viewed as “recourse” or “non-recourse,” given the propensity of the developers to utilize non-recourse based non-judicial foreclosures to recover the interest the greatest majority of the time.

I’ve intentionally attempted to avoid becoming overly technical in terms of specifically advising of taxpayer reporting requirements other than to suggest very generally that the filing of the IRS form 982 will most probably be required. Lastly again, I do most strongly recommend utilizing a professional tax return preparer, as these forms are not at all intuitive.

I earnestly wish that I could offer something less complex to help provide absolute answers to this prominent issue, but I do feel that this is important because the financial ramifications are potentially high.

 Mike Finn

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/tax-time-contract-cancellation-timeshare-developer

Once again, thank you to Mike Finn for his experienced advice. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare concern or a story to share. If we don’t know the answer we will find someone who does.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for this article and thanks to Mike Finn for his contribution, as usual you explain things in a way that us mere mortals can understand.

If you have a problem with your timeshare, have been contacted by any company offering you what looks like a very simple solution, but are not sure if they are genuine, than use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we have had more emails from concerned readers regarding Claims Assistant Bureau, a company we highlighted only last week.

As we know, this company is calling timeshare owners along with those who have had dealings with Eze Group, they claim they have been appointed by the courts to tack down owners who have had money awarded to them and is being held by various courts.

According to Harry Evans and then back up by an email from Mel Rhys, Regency Shores Holdings SL (Eze Group), have recently been in court in Tenerife. The court is now holding a substantial amount which Claims Assistant Bureau will be able to get back for you, for a fee that is.

Well we do know that there has not been any court case in Tenerife against Regency Shores, the only court case is at Birmingham Crown Court against Eze Europe Ltd, Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly. That case is yet to be concluded, with sentencing due to take place in March.

Another fact is they also claim that they are backed up and guaranteed by The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, The Bank of Spain and the High Court of Madrid.

Another reader who we spoke with was very suspicious, as the person on the phone was contradicting himself so much it set off alarm bells.  Below are the company details along with a link to the article publish on 18 February.

Claims Assistant Bureau with the company registration number 06832938, with the address:

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

The past two weeks have certainly been busy for Canarian Legal Alliance, with results in favour of their clients against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint, Holiday Club Finland and Club la Costa, in various courts around Spain.

  • 14 Victories in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi
  • 1 High Court judgement against Anfi
  • 2 First Instance victories against Silverpoint
  • 2 High Court victories against Silverpoint
  • 1 First Instance against Holiday Club Finland
  • 1 First Instance against Club La Costa

In all these 21 sentences the contracts were declared null and void, the total claim value has yet to be released, but it is believed to be very substantial.

In further news from the Courts in Maspalomas, another 8 cases have been sent for sentencing at the pre-trial stage. It appears the judges are dispensing with the need for a full trial, which is only good news for the clients. This will result in cases being concluded in a much faster manner, with payouts being much quicker.

Obviously it will not be long before other courts in Spain start doing the same thing, it is obvious now that the laws put into place to protect consumers are solid and are being enforced by the courts.

Have you been contacted by any company mentioned in any of our articles, or one that you have found on the internet or even from an advert in a newspaper or magazine?

Do you want to find out if they are genuine and not sure how to do this?

Have you been told you have a valid claim and want to know if it is true?

Then use our contact page and send us a message, we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Inside Timeshares Irene Parker reports on a Lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 former Wyndham employees. This suit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblowers Act in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division. This follows on from a previous article first published in 1 December 2016, where Whistleblowers exposed timeshare sales tactics, it was also where we reported on Trish Williams being awarded $20 million by a San Francisco jury for unfair dismissal after she exposed Wyndhams tactics. But first the latest news from the Spanish Courts.

For one British family they are nearing the end of a long road in their fight against Anfi Resorts, the Court of First Instance Number 4, in Maspalomas Gran Canaria has declared their contract null and void. The basis of this decision is the contract did not follow that stated under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

The Hope family are now timeshare free and will soon be able to enjoy the money awarded, as the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance has already begun proceedings to enforce the sentence and have the money paid out as quickly as possible.

Mr & Mrs Hope

On the subject of enforcing sentence, one Norwegian family have now been awarded 49,226€ with their contract with Anfi Resorts being declared null and void, on the grounds that it did not include any tangibility and was detrimental to the consumer.

After enforcement of sentence proceeding by their lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, this money is now safely in the clients own bank account.

So contrary to many posts on various forums and claims by timeshare companies, clients are receiving payment, so congratulations to both families.

Now for today’s article.

A Lawsuit Filed on behalf of 10 Former Wyndham Employees

Filing #82214691 filed 12/17/18

Timeshare Exit Team Responds to Manifesto

Arizona Timeshare Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers Opposed by Timeshare Lobbyists and Developers

By Irene Parker

February 22, 2019

A lawsuit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (Florida Statute 448102(3)) on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division against Wyndham Vacation Club. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal timeshare sales practices. This lawsuit parallels the former Wyndham California sales agent Trish William’s lawsuit in which a jury awarded Ms. Williams $20 million November 2016.

According to the Florida statute, “An employer may not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee has….Objected to, or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation.”

Florida House Bill 435, introduced by Freshman Representative Wyman Duggan seeks to protect timeshare members from unfair and deceptive sales practices perpetrated by timeshare exit companies.

The timeshare industry lobbyists and developers lump legitimate law firms and lawyers in with lawyers employing questionable business practices, with a goal to prevent members from seeking any legal counsel if they feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Timeshare Accountability Group™ maintains a member need not retain a law firm or an exit company. Our Supporters answer questions about regulatory filings as the process can be daunting. However, some members do not have the time or temperament to withstand our process, which we admit is arduous.

In Manifesto Part I the author compared third party exit companies to Ponzi Schemes. This prompted a response from Timeshare Exit Team:  

“For the past seven years, as Timeshare Exit Team has grown from a local, Seattle-based company to a national brand, we have remained focused on honesty, integrity, and transparency. We exit burdened timeshare owners legitimately by facilitating transfers, voluntary deed-backs to resorts, or using attorneys to litigate against timeshare developers when necessary, and offer a 100% money-back guarantee. To date, we have successfully exited 16,000 timeshare owners. Our goal is not just to provide a valid exit for owners who find themselves with no realistic solution to get out of their timeshare, but also to transform the industry. For that reason, we are proud to be a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare. In solidarity with our Coalition partners, we are pushing for a Consumer’s Bill of Rights for timeshare owners–and would-be owners–that seeks to create a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract, to  lengthen rescission periods to 14 days, to force full disclosure in timeshare presentations, and to give timeshare owners booking rights over the general public. Our passion is to be able to serve every single one of our clients AND to support those who wish to keep their timeshare, but just want a level playing field with the developers.”

Given Timeshare Accountability Group™ recommends not paying anyone to get out of a timeshare, we find ourselves an unlikely ally with Timeshare Exit Team as we are also a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare.

There are many timeshare exit scams, but there are also many scam timeshare sales agents. Inside Timeshare has heard from 705 families reporting allegations our ten Wyndham former employees say they were forced to employ or be “starved out” of their jobs.

In the Wyndham lawsuit, plaintiffs were employed by Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort which opened in 2017. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents, a business operations coordinator and a community marketing agent. Plaintiffs say they were enticed by a supposed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the opening sales team where they were promised yearly profits in excess of $500,000.

The allegations described in this December 2018 class action read like a broken record to Charles Thomas and me. We hear on a daily basis, identical complaints from timeshare buyers from a variety of timeshare companies. Many were existing members who trusted the company, buying more points in order to be eligible for programs that did not exist, like the ability to sell back points to the company. Timeshares have virtually no secondary market.

We also have received many complaints from timeshare buyers who said they did not realize a credit card had been opened or charged. They report being told to “fill this out so we can determine if you are eligible” when in actuality a credit card was opened and charged. Electronic signing doesn’t help as initials are stored and then, tap, tap, tapped to completion.

According to the Wyndham December 2018 complaint, allegations (edited for brevity) in violation of Florida statutes, include:  

18. Plaintiffs allege supervisors regularly instructed them to intentionally confuse and mislead buyers or “wear them down” so they would buy property.

19. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to misrepresent the price of the timeshare through the use of point charts, specifically Wyndham’s “Clearwater Beach Resort Points Chart” fraudulently showing buyers the “RCI Points Chart” which depicts substantially cheaper points – in many cases less than half the actual cost.

20. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the timeshare was an investment.

21. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the property was not a timeshare.

22. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently misrepresent to buyers the effect of completing a credit application. Plaintiffs were instructed to advise buyers that the credit application would only be a “soft hit” or that it was not a credit application at all.

23. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently alter the buyers’ income level on their credit application, if needed, for them to be approved for credit financing.

24. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that Wyndham would buy back their property if they were not satisfied with it.

25. Supervisors intentionally preyed upon the elderly in the use of unethical and illegal sales tactics.

26. Out-of-state residents not eligible to purchase Clearwater Beach Resort properties directed plaintiffs to fraudulently advise such buyers to purchase “Club Wyndham Access” that would give them access to other Wyndham properties, and that they could transfer their interest to Clearwater Beach Resort, even providing a form letter explaining this, knowing it was not true.                                                   

27. Potential buyers were told the property was not a timeshare, but a “vacation ownership.”

28. Supervisors routinely overstated availability due to Wyndham renting out rooms, reducing availability.

29. Supervisors directed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise timeshare owners on their refinancing options advising existing owners that they could keep making the same monthly payments and pay off their loan by the same time, when in actuality repayment terms were simply extended.

30. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to do “whatever they have to do” to close deals, even if it was unlawful or unethical.

The suit also alleges unlicensed real estate agents engaged in the unlicensed practice of real estate by selling properties to buyers.  

Plaintiffs say they complained numerous times to supervisors, Human Resources, and eventually to corporate attorneys and investigators. Plaintiffs stated at least one supervisor stated he would “starve out” Plaintiffs that objected and/or complained if they did not do what he told them to do, or would fire them. Plaintiffs were constructively terminated. According to the complaint, one supervisor advised Plaintiffs to “forget everything (they) just learned” as they would never make a sale that way.

According to attorney Tom Roebig of Florin Roebig trial attorneys, representing the Plaintiffs,

“All too often corporations think that an employee who reports wrongdoing is trying to start trouble, when they’re really just trying to protect the company and other innocent victims. Unfortunately, as we can see here, all too often the employee is punished for doing the right thing.”    

Allegations from the Trish Williams lawsuit:

In the Trish Williams lawsuit, the elderly were also targeted. Allegations in the Trish Williams lawsuit include:   

1.     The effect or even existence of a credit card application;

2.     That current owners could increase their points at no cost;

3.     That Wyndham would buy back points or property in certain circumstances;

4.     That monthly payments would be reduced when they were simply being extended;

5.     That current owners were making smaller payments than they were, in an effort to persuade them to purchase more points;

Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations made this statement about unscrupulous timeshare exit companies’ sales practices:

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of.”

Having heard from 705 timeshare families, 98 active duty service members or veterans, alleging unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, we contend both sides of the timeshare sales and exits are problematic.

Arizona has proposed a bill (linked above) to safeguard timeshare buyers against practices alleged in the Wyndham lawsuit, numerous Attorneys General investigations, Better Business Bureau complaints, and other lawsuits. We will be reporting on this bill in an upcoming article.  

Thank you to the bravery and courage it takes for employees and former employees to “Hold the Powerful Accountable” and as I can personally attest – it’s not easy!  I look to Whistleblowers of America (WoA) for support because you can’t do it alone. WoA is a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, active duty service personnel and government workers. A veteran introduced me to WoA.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/h

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share. We know there are honest agents who refuse to buy into the “pitching of heat” which means telling consumers anything they can think of to get a potential buyer to sign on the electronic line. They too are harmed by the actions of sales agents with questionable business practices.

Thank you Irene and to all other contributors this week, with your help we are able to give others a glimpse of what is happening in the world of timeshare.

Please use our contact page if you have any comment or questions on any of the subjects covered on Inside Timeshare.

Have a great weekend.


Has Another Genuine Law Firm Had Their Identity Stolen?

We have received enquiries regarding another Law Firm that claims the client has a substantial amount of money due to be paid to them, unfortunately from our research the CIF numbers, do not match the law firms name or the companies name, neither does the address match that of a genuine law firm.

The name of the “law firm” is Cárdenas Abogados, the CIF Number given is B93597839 which is one we have come across before, it actually belongs to Victoria Services Legal SL, with the address:

C/ Centro Comercial Los Jarales Local 1, Suite  29651 (Mijas) Málaga

These are the details given on the letterhead sent to one of our readers:

Cárdenas Abogados
Calle Nuestra Señora de Gracia, 7 1C,
29602, Marbella, Malaga

Tel – 952774858

Company Reg (CIF) – B93597839

We have also found two websites

https://www.abogados-cardenas.com

With registration details hidden when checking whois,

The other website is cardenasabogados.es but unfortunately it will not link to this page.

No registration details can be found for this website either.

Both websites show no company details or registration numbers, no lawyers details or bar association numbers. Although on Google Street View there is an office which can be seen with the name of the firm and the website being visible on the window. The office is located on the first floor on the corner of Calle Alonso de Bazán and Calle Virgen del Pilar Marbella.

This may very well be a genuine law firm but the lack of details on the website does make it look suspicious.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Calle+Ntra.+Sra.+de+Gracia,+7,+1C,+29602+Marbella,+M%C3%A1laga/@36.5095837,-4.8905459,3a,75y,265.25h,85.36t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sgKsE4E6-BewzWAWTowkihA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0xd7327ff7fd848d5:0x415071f69d2a8859!8m2!3d36.5094418!4d-4.8907654

There is another company name and address at the foot of the letter:

Tenco Marketing SL, CIF B93374304, C/ Centro Comercial Los Jarales Local 1, Suite  122 Mijas Costa Málaga Spain.

Again both CIF Number and address do not match the company registered with that number:

Autobahn 2015 SL, C/ Veronica 9 Mijas Costa Malaga. According to company records this company is in the business of Construction and Development and has been registered for around 5 years.

We have located a law firm called Bufete Internacional Cardeñas Abogados SLP, based in Sevilla, with the CIF Number B90397662. No website for this company has yet been found.

The letter names a “lawyer” Marijo Dujmovic (not very Spanish is it?) and is also signed by him, according to this letter our reader is set to receive over £26,000 on or before 20 March. The lawyer is to charge the client over £6,000 with an advance fee of over £2,000, with the balance due 5 working days after the services have ceased.

This letter was sent via email from the following email address:

[email protected]

As you can see it is a standard free gmail service which anyone can sign up for and not linked to any website.

The following section also does not seem to make sense considering that there is a fee already quoted:

6. Lawyer will charge for all activities undertaken in providing legal services to Client under thisAgreement, including but not limited to, the following: conferences, court sessions, and depositions. Preparation and participation; correspondence and legal documents review and preparation; legal Research; and telephone conversations. When two or more of Lawyers personnel are engaged in Working on the matter at the same time, such as in conferences between them, the time of each will Be charged at his or her hourly rate.

Now the letter itself is not on any official looking headed paper, it is a word document with a picture of a gavel and scales, the picture is linked to Bing, so the image is just a standard one downloaded from the internet, so the whole thing has just been cobbled together.

Just on these finding alone we can safely assume that this is another scam, there is no money, they are not a law firm, the addresses are very familiar and the Modus Operandi is also very, very familiar, see links below for the original articles.

Once again this shows that you must be absolutely vigilant when it comes to any “firm” contacting you with news that you have been awarded substantial amount of money in “compensation”.

If you have been contacted by any of the companies named here, or are suspicious of any others that have contacted you with a similar story, then use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will help you find out if they are indeed genuine, but the chances are they are going to be an absolute scam!

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, this week we publish Part 2 of Manifesto, by another Industry Insider, with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

At the end of last week we received some news from the courts in Gran Canaria, first was the news that the Enforcement / Embargo Team of Canarian Legal Alliance had once again secured a payout for one of their clients. Anfi Del Mar were ordered to deposit with the courts the sum of 49,226.57€ which is a few thousand more than they originally paid. They also received back their legal fees and legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.

Then it was announced that the Courts of San Bartelomé de Tirajana had declared another 8 Anfi contracts null and void, with a total claim amount of over 400,000€. So some very happy clients indeed.

Now on with our Tuesday Slot.

Another Industry Insider Responds to Manifesto

Manifesto Part I:

Manifesto Part II upcoming: Our author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Introduction by Irene Parker

February 19, 2019

As we learned in Manifesto Part I, considerable effort went into restricting the secondary market. One developer will not allow participation in the company’s voluntary deed-back program if the timeshare points were purchased on the secondary market. The goal is to get and keep the timeshare points in house employing any means possible.

As documented in Manifesto Part I, publicly traded timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to (their) investors. As baby boomers especially are learning about this timeshare hostage scenario, some families are financially devastated. They are left with no choice but to foreclose. Of the 702 families that have reached out to us, 98 are active duty service members or veterans, several disabled. The vast majority have high credit scores. Having to withstand the intimidation and humiliation of foreclosure can be overwhelming, especially for seniors having spent a lifetime paying bills on time.  

A Second Insider responds to Manifesto in today’s article. Insider analysis allows timeshare members and owners a glimpse into what goes on behind Wall Street’s timeshare scenes. Wall Street has made light of the well-orchestrated restricted secondary market. It’s just a loan loss provision number. I wish they could spend a day on the front lines listening to family after family explain how they were driven into timeshare insolvency, alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices, a few even to the point of bankruptcy. Most complain they bought additional points promised maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points that was not forthcoming.

Following are comments from Industry Insider #2 to Manifesto, with responses from Industry Insider #1 (our Manifesto author) interspersed:

Commenter: I appreciate the well-formed Manifesto published last Tuesday, but would like to add some key points. A very important group of companies and individuals played a significant role in helping the timeshare ownership industry evolve/shift into the (points based) industry. The distinction being; now there are very few owners with “real property rights” as the majority of people own a beneficial interest in a club in the form of “crypto-currency” or points.

Anonymous responds; In Wall Street parlance; the Timeshare industry monetized utilizing a derivative – a very smart move. The term “luft” comes to mind. Luft is the German word for “air”. We’ve termed this derivative an RTU or “Termed Length” – Right to Use contract. Right to use timeshare contracts are the most popular forms of vacation ownership sold today. However, right to use (RTU) timeshare, and their agreements, operate differently from traditional deed ownership. Right to use timeshare is exactly as it sounds—you purchase the right to use the timeshare during the period on which you agreed. Unlike deeded timeshare contracts, you do not actually own any part of the property. Instead of a deed or title, you are bound to the timeshare by the terms of your contract. Right to Use contracts often takes the form of a club membership.

The right to use may be lost with the demise of the controlling company, because a right to use purchaser’s contract is usually only good with the current owner, and if that owner sells the property, the contract holder could be out of luck depending on the structure of the contract, and/or current laws in foreign venues. A more important question is; how many points can a (resort) issue to new buyers as 100% of the points are “derived” from the (resorts) land trust ownership of the original deeds? Secondary purchasers of RTU/Points have reported that many (resorts) strip owners’ privileges, access, exchanges and other perks of ownership to discourage and deter secondary market purchases.

This question begins to examine why Club /RTU owners often find that they cannot successfully book accommodations or exchanges unless they plan far in advance (24 months + prior). Because the points/RTU contracts are basically selling ‘air’, the resorts sell many multiples of Points /RTU’s than could ever be accommodated at any given time.  As we can see, this Club /Points/ RTU method allows the (Resorts) to sell an infinite number of points when compared to the prior physical simple-deeds.

Commenter: The industry, which upgrades up to 70% of its existing owner base, misleads owners into trading in their deeded intervals for some expansion use of a multi-site developer under the guise of convenience. This opportunity was something that was already afforded to them by the exchange companies.

Anonymous responds; Indeed, the industry quickly saw the future in selling air and swapped out owner’s valuable real estate property deeds for RTU contracts.

Commenter: The industry, already renting some 11M nights and adding 2+Billion in rental revenues (mostly to non-owners), could only be achieved by taking away the “sticks & bricks” of ownership.

Anonymous responds; Thus, creating extreme amounts of actual real inventory that could be rented out without benefitting RTU /Points Owners. Simultaneously, major resorts banned aggregations or collections of Points that could be used for business ventures; I.e. renting the points out.

Commenter: To accelerate this effort of transition, a modernization of laws needed to be created. This started in 2012 when ARDA drafted a sponsored a bill known as the “Timeshare Resale Accountability Act”. What few knew then was that the secondary market was collapsing right along with the primary market in the “Great Recession” – Timeshare developers began stripping various benefits of owners, selling into the secondary market, and imposed great “use” restrictions on those who acquired timeshares in the secondary market (like on eBay or through another resale channel).

As the economy began to improve and timeshare sales rebounded, a new subset of companies emerged. Those companies were called *Trade-in/Transfer groups and many of them worked on the same tables alongside of the teams of resort reps waiting to help those existing owners getting into an upgraded and competitive timeshare program.

Anonymous comments – These were the earliest aggregators working in contact with the developers who were filling their land trusts with the deeds as owners got part exchanged or traded into upgrading for RTUs.  

Commenter: What to do with these competitive intervals? Most of these companies ultimately failed as a result of a suppressive business model that was never shared with owners regarding how this created the nominal value factor which some even call negative value. Examples of companies: (Fireside Registry – Catalyst – SumDay Vacations – ALL ARDA members, assisting to provide inventory recovery/aggregator services for resort developers. Each acquired inventory for literally a penny to five cents a point, or sometimes at no cost.

Further, the writer suggests that attorneys are not effective and cannot make the resorts release their owners. This is simply untrue. There are thousands of owner/members who have successfully used attorneys to negotiate a release or litigate for return of monies paid and further, many multi-plaintiff or class actions in which resorts have paid multiple millions back to owners. These all were settled out of court and protected by settlement agreements that have confidentiality clauses and/or have been sealed by the courts, designed to protect developer secrets and activities of unclean hands, they simply do not want owners to know about.

Anonymous Comments – Attorneys that were early were certainly very effective.

The industry richly deserves its worst courtroom defeats. Many large defeats were on the basis of sales misrepresentation, contract misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent credit card/credit line applications and many other examples too numerous to mention.

Most effective examples are when the attorney/client relationship is limited to one timeshare case. Thousands of people have been willed unwanted timeshares as beneficiaries and literally 100% of these get redeemed with no issues and nominal fees. In 2008/09/10 owners who went bankrupt got redeemed without any issues, their personal credit was already damaged. The resorts could not use the leverage of personal negative credit reporting to force payment so “attorneys of merit” handled all of that work, therefore “yes” attorneys of merit are effective in dealing with unwanted timeshare assets.

Sadly, not all Attorneys are cut from the same cloth. Attorneys working on behalf of TPE’s represent a type of faux-Legal Mill. Rarely do attorneys working with TPE’s ever meet, counsel, or in fact speak to the customers. In fact, attorneys working in conjunction with TPE’s seem to be ineffective, due mostly to the overall felonious strategy.

Commenter: Finally, timeshare developers are finding it harder and harder to conduct business around the world *(UK, Spain, South Africa, Canada, others) except here in the United States where powerful lobbyists have used timeshare owners monies thru voluntary contributions to ARDA-ROC, Orange Lake Resort Alliance and other funds from developers to ensure passage of laws that protect the industry from angry consumers who unfairly have not been told the truth about their lifetime vacation ownership purchases.

Anonymous Comments – These lobbying attempts indubitably and with little doubt demonstrate how the industry desperately clings to its massive residual cash-cow after decades of selling a clearly worthless, illiquid luxury product to giddy, undefended, vacation minded, innocent members of the public.

Thank you to both our Insiders. We would appreciate input from the industry, but to my knowledge have refused to admit the secondary market is a problem and that there are thousands, if not millions who have wanted or want to be rid of their timeshare. There are some developers who have responded when we have sent an article for comment. We appreciate developers who will at least respond after members report being financially harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. We hope more dialogue ensues.

Thank you Irene for your introduction and for editing the article, we would also like to thank both our Industry Insiders for their contributions, no doubt we shall receive many more from them.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare invites you to use our contact page, or join our Inside Timeshare Facebook Group, use the visit group box to log in, or use our contact page to send in your comments or questions.

If you have a timeshare issue that you would need help with or want to know what you can do, again contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide you.

Start the Week: More Scams Reported

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight another new “SCAM” in the making and revisit another which we highlighted back in January.

As we know Eze Europe Ltd (Eze Group) along with Dominic O’Reilly and his Daughter Stephanie O’Reilly, have been in the news recently and are due to appear before Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing on 29 March. It was only a matter of time before some unscrupulous people got on the bandwagon and started contacting those who have been involved with Eze Group.

The company is called Claims Assistant Bureau with the company registration number 06832938, with the address:

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

Tel: 02920099129

This address is actually used by a company called Help Debt Plus (Wales) Limited, who have full Financial Conduct Authority authorisation, so obviously have nothing tho do with Claims Assistant Bureau.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06832938

The company was registered with Company House on 2 March 2009 and the current director Stephen Michael Francis being appointed on 2 December 2009, he is also the Company Secretary, appointed on 2 March 2009.

According to the filing history at company house, the company has been listed as “dormant” since 2 April 2010 and is now listed as a “Micro Company”.

So it would seem that it is only registered so it can be used for initiating various “scams”, to fool people into thinking they are dealing with a “legitimate” UK company.

So what are they promising?

According to information from several readers in the past few days they have either been appointed by Birmingham Crown Court, The High Court in Madrid and the Courts in Tenerife to make contact with Eze Group victims. Apparently there is a substantial amount of money being held and Claims Assistant Bureau can help you retrieve it. For a fee that is.

According to one of the readers they received a call from a Harry Evans, who explained that due to a recent court case against Regency Shores (Eze Group) Holdings SL they have been awarded their money back. They then received an email from one Mel Rhys:

Dear Mr & Mrs XXXXXX

Further to your telephone conversation with Mr. Evans here is an email giving you further insight into the situation at hand.

All monies that you will be receiving are being settled to you by the successful outcome of recent court proceedings against Regency Shore (EZE Group) Holdings SL, were upon you were listed as one of their members GP11186.

The amount you will receive is £3,950.

About any paperwork you may or may not have, do not worry as we will be sending notarised legal paperwork that will include all company histories and court documentation regarding your outcome.

Some of your paperwork will be in Spanish if you have any problems understanding it please do not hesitate in contacting us as we offer a free translation service for you the client.

Our processing fee is £695 this includes our fees, courier service and translation services, once you have paid our fees we will be under contract with you to finalise the claim, all monies will be settled within 10 working days. If the process does not complete within the given timeframe all monies will be returned to you the client.

We are now giving you not only our company guarantee but that too of our contractual and fiscal arrangements with the Bank of Spain, the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and the High Court of Madrid. This means that all business is backed and covered by these three entities and ourselves.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us on the details below.

Kind regards

Mel Rhys

Claims Assistance Bureau Limited

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close,

Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

02920099129

06832938 companies house

As you can see from the email, not only do the clients get the “company guarantee” but the company is also guaranteed by The Bank of Spain, The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and th High Court of Madrid!

With those sort of “Guarantors” it must be safe!

Well, not very, for one there is no money being held by the courts, there has been no case in Spain against Regency Shores, those institutions would not be making any guarantee or have any dealing with a private company for any legal matter.

The case in Birmingham has not been concluded so no money has been set aside for victims.

If the courts had your name and membership numbers as victims of any company, they would have been in contact through official channels, not using a third party company. If you have been contacted with this or a similar story, do not be fooled into paying anything, it is a “fraud” pure and simple.

In January we reported on another company JB Legal / SIM Legal owned by Jeroen Martijn Brussel, pictured below.


Another of our Scandinavian readers has been contacted by this person and his companies, our reader has paid a substantial amount for the SilverpointCompany Participations” and somehow Brussel had his details.

Unfortunately, our reader was taken in by the pitch that JB Legal / SIM Legal would take their case against Silverpoint to court, claiming fraud. A lawyer was named as the person taking on the case, Ruben Padron Perez, but it seems he claims his identity has been stolen for illegal purposes.

This reader then paid over 17,000€ to a company called Walker Padron Perez Consultants Ltd, a UK registered company, Company Number 11099369, registered on 6 December 2017 with the address:

The Apex, 2 Sheriffs Orchard, Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom, CV1 3PP

This address is mail box and virtual office run by Small Firms Service Limited, so is not a permanent address.

The director is named as Alan Walker with according to filing history one Mrs Marisol Sanati De Walker (Dominican Rep) as a person with significant control.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/11099369

Mr Brussel also required a payment to himself of almost 2000€ to be paid in cash for the notary, that is a rather large amount for any notary.

But it doesn’t end there, without his knowledge of permission, his documents were handed to another firm, which at this point is not being named. He has also paid this other company over 28,000€ to take on the case.

So what has happened to the initial payments made to Walker Padron Perez and Jeroen Martijn Brussel?

Our reader has not been able to contact Walker Padron Perez or Brussel, all emails are being ignored and the telephone calls not being answered.

He has been told by the “new” company that they will get him back this money, we will just have to wait and see.

Once again, these two stories reinforces what we have been saying all along, before doing any business and paying out substantial amounts of money, do your homework. If you do not know where to start, then use our contact page, we will help you find the genuine from the fraudsters.

If you have also been contacted by any of the companies mentioned, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, use our contact page and let us know what happened.

You will also notice that we have started a new Facebook Group, log in to join.

Friday’s Letter from America: On Thursday

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, yes it is Thursday, but due to personal matters we are publishing this today, also to give a little more time to gather more people to attend the Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest. We also thank Patty Boyak for this article.

Our Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest at the Mall Entrance

Harmon Avenue

Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

Join Us this Weekend February 16 & 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

Thursday, February 14 (Friday’s Letter from America)

By Patty Boyak, event organizer

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. I should be thinking about hearts and flowers, but I am having a hard time getting over the deception 70 Platinum timeshare members experienced. I am one of the 70. We were told and believed buying additional points would qualify us for a program to reduce or eliminate our maintenance fees. It was a program that did not exist. Other Platinum members were sold on the ability to be able sell points. They later learned that their timeshare points are all but worthless. We were loyal, and most importantly, trusting customers, so believed timeshare sales agents. We are educated professionals. We are not deadbeats with buyer’s remorse.

Florida Representative Wyman Duggan submitted a Florida House Bill 435 concerned about unfair and deceptive timeshare exit company sales practices. What about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? The bill proposes exit companies be required to provide one day for a buyer to review a contract. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

Why can’t timeshare buyers be given one day to review a contract?

  • Probably because the industry would disappear if the buyer was allowed 24 hours to review the contract. Timeshare companies demand buyers must buy a timeshare the same day – often after a long aggressive sales session.

What about deceptive timeshare sales practices?

Why isn’t Florida Representative Duggan concerned about the much larger dollar amounts consumers are losing to unscrupulous timeshare sales agents?

The St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau gets it:

THE ST. LOUIS BBB RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use a neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

Voluntary deed-backs work for those who have used and enjoyed their timeshare for years, but what about the buyer deceived who signed off on high interest rate loans and credit cards after experiencing unfair and deceptive sales practices? Voluntary surrender programs don’t help them.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official response to complaints of unfair and deceptive practices – seconded by lawmakers and the regulators in some states (like Nevada), the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Nevada all our complaints were dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” There are too many educated professionals, who don’t know each other, reporting similar, and in several cases, identical complaints.

Platinum member Sheila Brust (and our T Shirt designer) reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a Florida regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market.”

Check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare or to find out if your timeshare even has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Our Mission Statement

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

 

Thank you Patty for your article, for all those who are going to attend, Inside Timeshare will be with you in spirit and we hope you all have a wonderful day. We never know, it may just make a difference, we can but try!