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letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday, yes that is correct, we are publishing a day early as we are travelling to the US on Friday.

Inside Timeshare is visiting our American colleagues, with Irene and Don meeting me at Orlando airport, while there we have arranged to meet with several attorneys including America’s very own Timeshare Crusader Lisa Ann SchreierWe will also be meeting many other people and hopefully having a few cold beers.

beer

Inside Timeshare is also pleased to announce a new collaboration, for sometime CLA International based in Dubai, has been getting their website up and running. They have been following the articles published on Inside Timeshare and have asked if we would run their news section.

They wanted an independent voice rather than their own take on things, Inside Timeshare has agreed to supply those articles, so many of the articles regarding international timeshare news we publish will be posted on their website. These will be from the many contributors who are now writing for Inside Timeshare. We also hope to add more from the following areas:

India (Goa), Thailand and the surrounding Asian area, Australia, Mexico, Central and South America, we welcome any contributor who would like to publish their experiences, news and views on the world of timeshare. You can contact us via our contact page or direct to admin@insidetimeshare.com

contribute

Update from Europe

Once again, Inside Timeshare has heard from another reader who found our articles on the Litigious Abogados family, namely Amador Galeca Abogados.

The reader had a call regarding their timeshare at Royal Sunset Beach, with the name Andrew Cooper again being named as the director being taken to court with all his personal property and assets being seized. For a sum of just under 1000€ they could be part of the case.

The reader then made a bank transfer, but then decided to check out the name Andrew Cooper, finding our previous article. When the reader contacted us we explained how the scam operates, they immediately informed their bank and the bank is now trying to stop the transaction.

The reader explained that when her husband became too ill to travel Royal Sunset actually took back the timeshare, so they no longer owned. Because of this there would not be any basis for a claim in any court.

This story just goes to show once again, before you pay any money, check who you are dealing with. Hopefully the readers bank was informed in time to stop the money being transferred.

stop think proceed

We started the week with verdict from the courts against Palm Oasis (Tasolan), the following day the Supreme Court ruled on another case against Silverpoint in Tenerife, that made 64 rulings from this court on timeshare. In this case the court again declared the contract null and void, awarding over £99,000 plus a double deposit of £6,082 including legal fees and legal interest.

Then yesterday Wednesday 4 October the High Court in Tenerife ruled once again against Silverpoint and awarded over 67,000€ plus legal fees and interest to the client. This was then followed by the news the Supreme Court had just issued another sentence against Silverpoint, bringing the total number of cases won at this court by Canarian Legal Alliance to 65.

Now on with Irene’s article where she recounts our first meeting and her visit and interview with Canarian Legal Alliance. We have certainly moved on since that first meeting.

Canarian Legal Alliance and Inside Timeshare

The meeting of minds

Irene with CLA
Irene Meeting with CLA Staff Sept 2016

By Irene Parker

October 5, 2017

We are judged by the company we keep, so shortly after submitting my first article to Inside Timeshare my husband and I flew to Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to meet Charles Thomas and his Canarian Legal Alliance friends. It was not an easy trip since we boarded the wrong plane in Madrid and ended up in AMSTERDAM!

We stayed at Diamond Resorts Cala Blanca resort on Mogan. A Diamond sales agent in the US actually introduced me to Charles by sending me one of his articles. The staff at Cala Blanca could not have been nicer. I talked quite a while with the manager as he was the head of a resort employee union of sorts advocating on behalf of refugees he felt were being treated unfairly at a resort on the other side of the bay. One of the sales agents working at Cala Blanca and a friend of Charles is one of my Facebook friends.

In today’s timeshare world you can’t be too careful. Attorneys come in all ethical shapes and sizes. In addition to meeting Charles, I was able to meet with the CLA office manager Csilla, named business person of the year for Gran Canaria, several intake workers showing sincere compassion as they listened to timeshare accounts over the phone, and a few CLA lawyers. Since this July 2016 video clip CLA has achieved several more victories for EU timeshare clients – 65 Supreme Court victories to be exact as of October 4, 2017. Watching this video for the first time, I remember thinking if Cristina ever decides she doesn’t like law, she could find a job in the motion picture industry.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-latest-updates-video/

Timeshare today seems to have lost all sense of direction. True, we hear primarily from the disgruntled, but developer lawsuits flying back and forth between timeshare developers and transfer agents has left many timeshare members in a state of confusion. Who do you trust?

I trust CLA and am honored to have been asked to have my Inside Timeshare articles featured on the new CLA International website with Charles webmaster of the news tab. Our Diamond Resorts member sponsored Advocacy Facebook administrator and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer and Australian Contributor Justin Morgan submitted their comments for this article about the Apollo Global Management buyout of Diamond Resorts.

http://clainternational.ae/2017/09/28/who-is-apollo-what-is-apollo-two-diamond-member-consumer-advocates-offer-their-opinion/

Timeshare members need help. It has been widely reported many aging baby boomers (like me) are desperate to be released from timeshare. Some timeshare companies have launched surrender programs, like Wyndham’s Ovation program, but the vast majority of members contacting Inside Timeshare succumbed to high interest rate loans and credit cards. Thus, they are not eligible for voluntary surrender programs. Often they are forced into foreclosure. The problem is exacerbated when the member alleges they were deceived into buying a timeshare or upgraded for maintenance fees relief or buy-back programs that do not exist. Out of 157 complaints received (as of October 4), 143 allege deceit on the front end of the sale. The others can’t afford rising maintenance fees.

From our humble beginnings, as more members started helping other members, we called ourselves Timeshare Advocacy Group™ as members turned anger and disbelief into action and advocacy. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ started as an afterthought. A former timeshare sales agent contacted me and said they wanted to do a press release in Arizona. We needed a place where readers could respond.

Irina Allen stepped up to the plate. She is our Facebook page administrator.

admin lady new

Irina (Irene) Allen purchased over $500,000 worth of timeshare points to share with family, friends and clients. On the advice of a sales agent, Irene opened a RedWeek account and posted one ad to rent some of her points. She gave up this idea after she never got paid for the rental. Rentals are not allowed, according to company rules, but there are hundreds of rental ads anyway. She also was accused of opening an Airbnb account. Irene says she has never had an Airbnb account. She was expected to pay $2,400 per month in mortgage payments and $29,000 in maintenance fees for a year while her account was suspended. Resorts are exempt from the rule for promotional purposes. Thus, the resort was able to rent out Irene’s points at Irene’s expense.

At Timeshare Advocacy Group™ members also help members with regulatory filings and media outreach. We have Wyndham, Bluegreen and Diamond members working alongside former Hyatt, Westgate, and Diamond timeshare sales agents in an effort to reform an industry badly in need of reform. In addition to timeshare members, other Advocates, like blogger Lisa Ann Schreier, lend their support. Lisa Ann and Charles are both former timeshare sales agents.

In America, it’s not easy these days for opposing sides to talk to each other, but every once in awhile there is a glance of a Republican sticking their toe over to the Democratic side of the aisle. It is our hope there will be a day when developers will take the time to listen to what critics have to say instead of only focusing on ambulance chasing unscrupulous transfer and listing agents. It is my belief, until the deception on the front end of the timeshare sale is acknowledged and addressed, the court of public opinion is the only court open for the beleaguered and often financially devastated timeshare member learning their contract is perpetual and the secondary market limited at best. For some timeshare companies, there is no secondary market. What other investment or product exists that holds the buyer of a product hostage?

Charles Irene

Charles is winging his way to America tomorrow, so let us know if you will be in the Orlando area October 8 – 12. Or, let Charles know the next times you happen to be on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.

I am a former stockbroker and financial planner. After I retired from the brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, writing court reports for Family Court on behalf of children in foster care. I have always had a problem turning my back on anyone who considers themselves a victim. There are many ways to volunteer time in retirement. Join us in our efforts to enhance timeshare accountability and transparency.

http://insidetimeshare.com/what-a-volunteer-does-for-nothing/

globe

That’s it for this week, tomorrow will be a long day as it is Gran Canaria, Madrid, Miami then to Orlando. I know Irene and Don have set aside a couple of days to show me some of the sights, so it will not be all work and no play!

We will however be trying to publish some articles while over there, so keep an eye on these pages.

Have a great weekend

cartoon-airplane

comparison

The Tuesday Slot; Airbnb v Timeshare

Preface by Irene

The mass murder in Las Vegas strikes everyone worldwide to their core. The 2nd amendment in America was written when our founding fathers defended themselves with muskets. Many ask, and I’m sure others wonder why I am so determined to advocate for consumers who feel they have been victimized financially by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. Memories like the ones in Vegas are experiencing will last a lifetime. At age 24, my best friend since the third grade Jayme Simmons, was murdered by her husband in front of her two year old. He served seven years in jail. That level of anger may dim but it doesn’t die. I channeled my anger into advocating for victims of any race, creed or color. I hope those experiencing what they are experiencing today will find peace and a way to make their heartbreak a path to a better world. Does that better world include me being able to buy an assault weapon?

While getting this article ready for publishing this latest news has just been released:

Airbnb have issued a statement that they are offering free rooms to family members of the Vegas victims. This is a very great move by this company and is highly commendable.

with you

Tattoos Timeshares and Airbnb

Airbnb “Experiences!”

IMG-2361

Michelle Myles and Airbnb

https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/111311?source=pdpother

Featured Airbnb launch of a New York City Tattoo “Experience”

https://press.atairbnb.com/airbnb-and-celebrity-guests-celebrate-launch-of-nyc-experiences/

By Irene Parker

October 3, 2017

A few timeshare members posted on a member sponsored Facebook I follow that their sales agents told them they could use timeshare points to book Airbnb stays. I contacted the resort only to learn no such program existed, but I began to think about how the ability to use timeshare points to book Airbnb stays might solve the two biggest timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare hears most frequently.

First, there are many complaints about limited availability. Airbnb has four million choices spanning the globe. Second, there are many timeshare complaints about the cost of a stay. While timeshare bargains can be found, if your goal is to vacation in New York City, our timeshare does not work. It would cost us $13,467 in maintenance fee dollars to stay one week October 1 – November 30 at the same New York hotel that could be booked online for $2,867 including taxes and fees. I checked year round. The ability to stay in New York was the reason we bought additional timeshare points.

What’s an Airbnb Experience?

Airbnb has a unique “Experience” program that allows members to book cultural experiences for as little as $20 per person. Unlike timeshare, Airbnb doesn’t use the “Experience” program as a means to sell you anything.

Michelle Myle’s New York City Daredevil Tattoo Experience is one that hits home. Michelle is my daughter. We had assumed Michelle would get a job as a graphic designer after graduating from Parsons School of Design, designing ads for cereal boxes or something, but the classic artist in Michelle had other ideas.

FullSizeRender.jpg

As Michelle explained to me, “It’s not just prisoners and sailors anymore!”  When I saw one of Michelle’s tattoo’s on the cover of New Yorker magazine commemorating 9/11 one year showcasing a “5555” officer down tattoo on the arm of a firefighter, we understood that tattooing has come of age.

King Tut is a favorite of mine.

king tut

In addition to being the co-founder of Daredevil Tattoo located in a quiet (for New York) section of Chinatown, Michelle used Kickstarter to launch Daredevil Tattoo Museum. This led to Michelle becoming a curator and licensed NYC Tour Guide. Artifacts were on display at the New York Historical Society this year.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/arts/design/tattooed-new-york-mohawk-chiefs-bowery-denizens-inking-artists.html?mcubz=1/

image4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpHYJCmDJjM

The above link displays Forbes Magazine’s report about Michelle’s Friday the 13th marketing strategy that attracts hundreds every Friday the 13th.

I wondered about other Airbnb Experiences. Of interest to me is Urban Grown. Tony is the founder of Harlem Grown, a non-profit that has grown to eight urban farms. Tony’s organization inspires youth to lead healthy lives through hands-on urban farming and nutrition. If I chicken out of getting a tattoo, my back-up plan is Tony’s Urban Farms.

https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/38915?location=New%20York%2C%20NY%2C%20United%20States&source=p2&currentTab=experience_tab

Here’s the complete Airbnb Experience shopping list.

https://www.airbnb.com/s/experiences?allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=gk2A53_K

Thank you to Charles Thomas for this opportunity to shamelessly promote Daredevil Tattoo and Museum. Daredevil is located just steps from the Lower East Side Tenement Tours, so stop by the next time you visit The Big Apple. Michelle is used to “one of my mother’s friends” stopping by.

I am always asked, “Do you have any tattoos?” No, in 1989 I told Michelle I would not pay her tuition at Parson’s School of Design if she obtained more than five tattoos. Michelle thought this was cruel and unusual punishment. She has bent somewhat on that position, but I’m just not sure what art to select. It probably should be trumpet great Miles Davis, because after attending a Miles Davis concert, the opening act Richard Pryor, I reported shortly after birth, Michelle’s middle name would be Myles.

We have all used and enjoyed our timeshares and hope the industry works with us to achieve greater accountability and transparency in timeshare sales.  And hey, maybe timeshare developers could create new ways for timeshare members to use their timeshare points by booking Airbnb stays. It’s not a bad idea.

air bnb

Thank you Irene and Michelle, also our thanks to Airbnb who helped Irene prepare this article. We know that it is not timeshare but it does show other alternatives, as Irene said, maybe developer could find another way of working.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we continue with another chapter from our traveling writer David Franks, this week it is entitled Miami Vise, edited by Irene Parker. But as usual we begin with some news from Europe.

eu news

Back in May Inside Timeshare reported on some very nasty events in Tenerife, this involved the former Wimpy resort Los Claveles, which was subject to a management buyout by Ivan Pengelly in 1998. Over the years the resorts operated by Wimpen (Wimpy Pengelly) had very good relationships with the owners and the owners committee, this all changed when Pengelly sold out to the Ona Group. (see previous articles).

But there may just be a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it was announced this week that the arbitration process has completed and a judgement has been made. It is in total favour of the owners committee, that the Ona Group, Wimpen and the FNTC, are all in the wrong. The owners committee is legally constituted and has all the rights to run the resort. This means everything must be handed over to the committee, that Wimpen (Ona Group) have no right to collect or demand maintenance fees.

It now just needs to be seen if these companies comply with the Arbitrator, if not the committee will then have to resort to the Spanish Courts to enforce the judgement. We wish them all the very best and hope that this sorry tale will be over very soon. More on this as and when new information comes in.

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

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

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

Now for some news which is proving to be rather disturbing.

Justice4 the claims company owned by Lee Roy Pallister, which went bust recently but re-emerged as Hello Consulting and Tucola Ltd, with his wife as named director, has been taken over. Could this be good news for all those clients who paid Justice4?

Unfortunately that may not be the case, the take over is by ABC Lawyers, yes, you did read that correctly. Mark Rowe of Monster credits, Hollywood Marketing and Jive Hippo fame is now owner of the former Justice4!

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare

The TCA (Timeshare Consumers Association) whole heartedly endorse this, not surprising considering the TCA is also owned by Mark Rowe.

What also has to be remembered is Mark Rowe was at one time a senior sales manager for Resort Properties / Silverpoint under Mark Cushway, now look at the history of that company! Also Lee Roy Pallister is another ex-timeshare salesman. We leave it up to you the reader to decide what the implications of this will be. We think we already know what they are likely to be!

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published an article about Anfi, just after publication, news came in of a sentence which had been issued by the court, it would seem that even though it is August some people are still working.

Another loss for Anfi, at the moment we do not know the infringements ruled upon, but it is more than likely the usual, either perpetuity, floating weeks or points. In this case the ex-member has been awarded 37,224€ plus the legal fees and the court also awarded back all maintenance fees that had been paid.

Do you still believe what Anfi say, that they are not losing any court cases?

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

Our DRI Misadventures

Chapter Four: Miami Vise

miami

By David Franks

August 11, 2017

For background, you might wish to read the first three chapters:

Chapter 1: Vegas, Baby! — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Chapter 2: Missouri Loves Company — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

Chapter 3: Stand Back. These People are Professionals  —http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-12/

(You might not. The annoyance is epical.)

April 2016 arrived. Never mind the showers; my lovely wife and I were going on a Diamond Resorts International Dream Holiday to Miami, Florida and the western Caribbean!

We started the adventure on Tuesday, April 5. I shall note at the outset that it was road and bridge construction, not DRI that turned the drive to the airport into a slightly mobile parking lot.  XNA in Bentonville, Arkansas is a lovely little airport.  It is expensive to fly in and out of XNA, but the cost was covered in the Dream Vacation package.  Score two for DRI.  Keeping their intervention to a minimum works wonders.

We arrived in Miami without incident, unless changing planes at the Houston airport is an incident. We made our way to the Penguin Hotel in Miami Beach, a nice old place on Ocean Drive in the historic South Beach Art Deco District. We had selected the hotel because of its age, and because it was possible (though not easy – see Chapter Three) to get an ocean-view room.

We arrived at the hotel to find that we did not have a room there. Somebody from DRI had decided to “upgrade” us to a brand-new room in the President Villa, a newly-remodeled building. We talked to a couple of hotel managers, met a couple more concierges, and confirmed that our reservation for an ocean-view room was in underlined capital letters in their reservation book.  Having been made aware of their faux pas, the helpful DRI people attempted to mollify us with a $100 certificate for dinner at a rather nice little bistro (double the regular value of $50). We were not mollified, but we accepted the certificate.

Unfortunately, we would not be able to have the favor of their “upgrade” corrected immediately, as there were no rooms available in the Penguin until the next day. So, guided by a helpful DRI minion, we excursed from the Penguin along a dismal alley route to the President Villa, a former office building next to the President Hotel on Collins Avenue. The conversion to residential use was not impressive. Our room was so awkwardly designed as to be uncomfortable; the bathroom would not have been even adequate for a modern resort guest. The ocean view I had struggled to get was of course not available, and the slight smell of fresh paint was no compensation. When we compared the President Villa to the Crescent Resort – and even to the dinged-up but charming Penguin – we felt that we were being treated as second-class guests.

On the other hand, the President Villa – despite its lack of accoutrements consistent with a nice hotel – did offer, under the same roof, exotic car rentals and the services of a psychic/fortuneteller.

gypsy

While we were unable to see the ocean, we were able to see from our window an endless stream of people taking selfies standing next to or sitting in Ferraris and Lamborghinis, presumably with permission.  We declined the opportunity to have a tarot reading, as we already suspected that our future with DRI was not becoming less bleak.

We trundled back over to the Penguin the next morning and took possession of our ocean-view room in time to attend a luncheon provided by DRI prior to a mandatory “buyer update” meeting that afternoon.  The luncheon, set up in the lobby of the Penguin, was actually rather pleasant (DRI managed to not interfere), and we met a few Diamond Resorts members who made a good show of not seeming like victims.

We eight or so members then went next door to the Crescent Resort and up to the penthouse, where over the course of a couple of hours we were told a couple of things that started out interesting but have since turned out to not be true: that, as Gold and Platinum members, we would be receiving a tablet computer preloaded with DRI-related software, which would enhance our owner experience; and that DRI was looking at adjusting maintenance fees based on actual resort usage, which would reduce some members’ fees (“Like ours?” I asked. “Like yours,” they said) because there’s no need to pay so much to maintain facilities one doesn’t use. Oddly enough, they didn’t try to get us to buy more membership, but they did make us stand around on the roof deck for quite some time for no apparent reason.  Particularly given the lack of veracity of the “buyer update”, we would have been better off using the afternoon thus occupied for sightseeing instead.

[Note from Irene: Maybe they read Chapters 1, 2 and 3?]

Our only interaction with a DRI concierge as such was an attempt to find the nearest Walgreens where we could get a prescription filled. He didn’t know, and he guessed wrong.

We had a good time during the remainder of our stay in Miami Beach. We had a nice bus tour, visited Calle Ocho, and enjoyed the meal at the bistro, which ended up costing a little over $100. The Penguin is a perfectly good hotel if your expectations are in line with what an old hotel has to offer. The room was fine – its ocean view was just as good as from a newer hotel – and its cafe provided a good breakfast. As it turned out, we were not charged for the upgrade to an ocean-view room. I hope the Penguin didn’t end up eating a loss caused by DRI’s interference.

group

Important points this week:

  • Although I will not attribute the change in our room reservation to malice or perversity (but what’s left?), I will note that I had explained at some length our interest in the Penguin as a historic hotel as well as our interest in an ocean-view room to everybody I talked to, and our reservation had been emphatically logged.  Calling the change an “upgrade” was a little perverse, however.
  • The Crescent Resort is a DRI property. The Penguin Hotel and the President Hotel are “Club Affiliated” properties.  DRI does not mention the President Villa at all; apparently they prefer to surprise unsuspecting guests with it.
  • Renovation tip: never hire DRI to oversee or approve of a building makeover.
  • Except for the meddling in Miami – which was the only real opportunity DRI had to screw things up –  the Dream Holiday, once underway, went well, despite the fact that it involved a seven-day Carnival cruise (which, apparently amazingly, came with an ocean-view stateroom).  My lovely wife and I thought the Dream Holiday was a good value at 7,500 points, and we saw no need for DRI to misrepresent the potential retail value of the hotel room.
  • Subsequent mentions of the tablet computers and the purported maintenance-fee adjustment to DRI customer service indicated that DRI had never discussed them with the front people at all.  Upon escalating the issues, it turned out that the tablets were supposedly an inducement for brand-new members, rather than an amenity for existing members.  One of the people I talked to said it sounded like I should get a tablet, and he would check into the matter and get back to me. (He never did.)  Based on several reactions at escalated levels of customer service, the supposed maintenance-fee adjustment was a total fabrication.
  • More concierges!  (DRI seems to be a tad lenient in bestowing the title of “concierge”, if my understanding of the office is correct.)

plane

Well, there you have it. David Franks, our intrepid travel writer, is safely back home no doubt planning his next Diamond adventure. Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to share your Airbnb, Diamond, Bluegreen or Wyndham travel experiences. Canadian postings tell us Diamond is allowing some users to use their Diamond points to book AirBnb. As they say, if you can’t lick them, join them. More on that as we investigate further.

Contact Inside Timeshare or Diamond and Bluegreen member supported Facebooks if you would like to become an Inside Timeshare contributor.

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

This Bluegreen Facebook page of 1,670 members, Sales Team Reviews & Update/Sales Presentation Experience, is for the benefit of the members, corporate Bluegreen personnel and sales agents working towards a more honest and transparent sales process.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1718664518412381/

This Bluegreen Facebook page seems to be a sort of self-help Facebook for members helping members.

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

So there it is, the end to another week, Inside Timeshare again thanks all contributors to the articles, we also thank those who have sent in details on their dealings with some of the companies that have featured. Without that information it would be difficult to give you the facts.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week for more news and truthful facts on the murky world of timeshare.

weekend02

timeshare-rentals-by-owner-287

Monday, The Start to Another Week.

We finished last week with the announcement of 6 sentences from the courts against Anfi, we start this week with news just in from our contact in Madrid. We also start this week with an article from Irina Allen, who has featured before. But first the Judgement.

The Supreme Court has made yet another ruling against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this ruling the court has awarded a british client a substantial amount, reportedly around £32,000. At the moment we are not sure what the ruling was comprised of, but going by previous ones it will probably be for the perpetuity contract. When the sentence document becomes available we will publish it here.

So we wonder what is in store for the rest of the week, now on to Irina’s article.

Diamond Resorts Suspended my Account worth over $500,000

For posting one RedWeek rental ad as my sales agent advised

ethics

By Irina Allen

July 17, 2017

Inside Timeshare first published my Diamond Resorts story January 2017 after Diamond suspended my 139,000 points, falsely accusing me of renting points for commercial purposes.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

I was expected to make monthly mortgage payments of $2400 a month and pay $29,000 in maintenance fees during the one year suspension. Diamond is able to rent my points for promotional purposes during the suspension period.

Ironically, I replaced the points I had promised to friends and family by renting points on RedWeek. I also lost thousands of dollars on airfares that had already been booked as my account was suspended without warning. I am not the only member hurt by Diamond’s change in rental policy.

I was accused of opening an Airbnb account. I have never had an Airbnb account, but Diamond Resorts told me they were not required to provide any proof despite my common last name. My attorneys are working with Airbnb to prove I never had an Airbnb account. I have given Airbnb permission to share my story with their international news community.

I don’t want to get bogged down in details so suffice to estimate I paid $5 per point for my vacation points and with closing costs the figure is closer to $6 per point. According to our Facebook posts, a Diamond point sells for about $4 a point so I also feel I overpaid. At 139,000 points we are talking about a serious amount of money – over $500,000.

After contacting an attorney and filing complaints with the FTC, CFPB, AGs and the Real Estate Departments of AZ, HI, NV and CA, I found our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook. At least this provided some support as all the regulatory agencies ignored my complaint.

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

Alarmed that others could be victimized, I became an administrator for Timeshare Advocacy Group ™, hoping timeshare owners and members from other timeshare companies will reach out to us when facing problems or have concerns about their timeshare membership. I have learned Diamond Resorts is not the only timeshare company exhibiting what I feel is predatory behavior.

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

It is unfathomable any corporation could exhibit such blatant disregard for a customer. My situation is very bizarre. In addition to a suspension, I experienced a 17% increase in maintenance fees while the actual increase was only 6%. I only found out about this by reading a post on our Advocacy Facebook page. Diamond automatically corrected their “error” (only for 2017) after receiving correspondence from my attorneys.

Many do not even believe me. I am grateful to Senior Correspondent Jeff Weir of RedWeek for the two hours he spent interviewing me, even though he initially decided not to publish our interview. After Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to RedWeek, Mr. Weir requested a copy from my editor Irene Parker indicating he would publish our interview.

One can find hundreds of Diamond rental ads on several commercial websites. I do not know why I was targeted for placing one ad without providing any evidence of commercial use. I am a professional. I bought Diamond points to share with my friends, family and clients.

Here is the current Diamond rule:

2.5.1 A Member is not prohibited from periodically renting the Accommodation reserved for the Use Period or the reserved Other Redemption Opportunity pursuant to these Club Rules.

However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited.

Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.

Members who are primary developers of Club Resorts (that is, members of the Diamond Resorts International group of companies) and providers of Other Redemption Opportunities are specifically exempted from this restriction, and are entitled to use their reserved Accommodations and reserved Other Redemption Opportunities for promotional, rental, or other commercial purposes.

Here are a few of the Diamond rental ads on the RedWeek online website. Not only are there hundreds of ads, but many of them are for prices greatly above maintenance fees and could therefore be considered “for profit”.

Timeshare Rentals – Timeshares for Rent By Owner | RedWeek

https://www.redweek.com/timeshare-rentals

Diamond Resorts International

Kaanapali Beach Club

Lahaina, Hawaii

stars 51 reviews

255 rentals available

$132 – $500 /night

12 resales available

$600 – $15,000

Daytona Beach Regency

Daytona Beach, Florida

stars 7 reviews

I don’t expect Ebay, VRBO or other non-informational platforms to post a warning. However, RedWeek is an informational resource for vacation timeshare members and owners. I feel RedWeek should post a warning that Diamond Resorts does not allow rentals given the consequences can spell financial disaster.

Diamond’s policy is clear. Either there is a rental policy or there is not a policy. With the consequences of violating the policy so severe, why does RedWeek not post a warning? More importantly, why does Diamond not allow members, many struggling to pay maintenance fees, to post rental ads on RedWeek?

“RedWeek advises members to check with the resort before renting,” stated Gary Prado, spokesperson for RedWeek.

Why would anyone check with Diamond Resorts before renting, especially those who had been renting for years, and why would anyone check if there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rental ads all over the internet?

I opened a RedWeek account on the advice of a Diamond Hawaii sales agent and attempted to rent some points. I had not even heard of RedWeek until the sales agent recommended the site based on her personal experience. She said many Diamond employees rent on RedWeek to offset maintenance fees. I was never paid for the RedWeek rental so I gave up the idea of renting.

I am one of 18 Platinum members who have contacted Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ alleging deceptive and bait and switch up-sells. Like the others, I accumulated 139,000 Diamond vacation points due to aggressive selling. I agreed to take over 42,000 Diamond points from the secondary market on one condition – I do not have to buy any additional points. As the Diamond agents promised, “due to my Platinum status, owning at the time 75,000 points, I would be allowed, as a onetime courtesy, to transfer contracts without being required to purchase additional points.” In 2013 this was a common practice.

Diamond refused to honor their promise after the transfer. I was told I had to buy 23,000 points in order to use the transferred points without the secondary market restrictions. I could not use the points due to layers of restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points. Diamond is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association as the members feel Diamond’s secondary market restriction are more onerous than Diamond’s major competitors.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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Speaking with other families affected by the sudden change in Diamond’s rental policy, I asked:

  1. Are you not allowed to rent or has DRI just made it more difficult?

They have made it very difficult because we can’t advertise.  They also tried to ban us from using upgrades for rental weeks (making it harder to rent for more than cost) and they also started charging a fee to add guests.

Diamond maintains that they have the right to change the rules.

This is the crux of the matter. Would you buy a timeshare if you knew the timeshare developer could change the rules pretty much at any time for any reason?

Diamond stands to make a huge financial gain by forcing owners who relied on rental strategies into foreclosure. This is financially devastating for families because they are required to pay maintenance fees they can no longer afford for the high volume of points these members own. Diamond then “takes back” the points and resells for full value.

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If you or someone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

Bit of a horrendous story, doing only what she was advised, how many times have we heard this type of thing from sales agents? You believe them because you trust them, they sound so genuine, then bingo! You are the one to be made out to be in the wrong. So thanks Irina for that little insight, we look forward to your next article.

Timeshare needs to change, it is not the product most of us thought we were purchasing, the truth is hidden, is any wonder that timeshare has a bad name and reputation?

If you would like to share any of your experiences contact Inside Timeshare and we will work with you.

Have you been contacted or thinking about contacting a company about your timeshare, but don’t know if they are genuine? Then send us an email or comment and we will point you in the right direction, remember it is better to spend time checking than even longer regretting!

 

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Timeshare and Barlcaycard in the US

The Barclay MasterCard and US Timeshare Lending

By Irene Parker

May 17, 2017

Inside Timeshare published an article about Barclays Bank and the predatory nature of timeshare lending. Author Charles Thomas asked me to provide some input on how timeshare credit card lending works in the US.

Barclays Bank article by Charles Thomas May 11, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-finance-barclays-hot-water-high-court/

Linked in the article, Money Marketing reported the following March 2017:

Barclays Bank consumer credit arm Clydesdale Financial Services is being sued for more than £1.5m by 106 consumers over a holiday home timeshare scheme.”

According to Consumer Affairs, the Barclay Card is rated one star out of five based on 63 ratings out of 585 reviews (May 15, 2017).

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/credit_cards/barclays.html

Charles provided the following figures as an illustration of how imprudent it is to finance a vacation at 17%. The cause: Sales agents extremely well trained and consumers suffering from a relaxed vacation brain.

These are the figures from one loan agreement over 15 years Inside Timeshare has been given for a 1 week timeshare, it is from Barclays:

Cost of the timeshare                   £10,900.00

Credit facility fee                           £65.00

Interest                                             £18,465.00

Total amount payable                  £29,430.00

Interest rate                                    17.6%

APR                                                     17.7%

 

Timeshare is certainly not the only industry that has led consumers into credit card debt up to their eyeballs. As a former investment representative working with approximately 1200 families, looking back, I would say about 10% of the families I worked with managed their money properly. Certainly, rule number 1 should be:

DON’T FINANCE A VACATION AT 12% TO 19%

Wyndham and Diamond both use the Barclaycard as a means to finance a timeshare. Just to compare ratings, Consumer Affairs gave Club Wyndham a one star rating based on 74 ratings out of 495 reviews.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/wyndham_vacation_resorts.html?page=3

As if the interest rate isn’t bad enough, consumers also must worry about falsified information used to open the card.  Lisa Etienne, a Diamond Resorts buyer, found herself in hot water claiming the company added a 1 before her actual annual earnings, as reported by Amanda Porterfield, CBS58 Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

http://www.cbs58.com/story/35376892/milwaukee-woman-says-timeshare-company-scammed-forged-her-documents

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from timeshare owners claiming the Barclaycard was used in a predatory fashion. Actions speak louder than words, so I took the time to review the complaints we have received. Out of about 70 complaints, almost half involve a claim of deceptive and predatory lending. Most said they purchased because they were offered buyback or maintenance fee redemption programs that do not exist.

Michael Nuwer, on our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook, posted the following in answer to one member’s query. Over and over we receive complaints about a 30 cent per point maintenance fee redemption program that does not exist. Members are upsold, told they have to be at a higher loyalty level, often through the Barclaycard, in order to gain access to the nonexistent program. Historically Diamond points have sold for $2 to $4 per point.

“Platinum members can pay a portion of their maintenance fees using their points from November 1 through to the annual bill due date at the current redemption rate of $.04. The non-refundable processing fee is $100.00.” (Page 23 Benefits Guide)

This is an excerpt from the very first complaint I read. Stunned, I vowed I would do something to warn consumers. Since this first complaint, Inside Timeshare in the US and the EU has received dozens of complaints concerning the same tactics described below. Dozens may not sound like a lot, but given how difficult it is for members to contact other members, clearly a pattern exists as you will see later on.

“I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options due to their (Monarchs) bankruptcy. I have been looking to get out of Monarch for over a year. They said that was not an option and as an owner, I was proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. I am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now. I am really scared though. Please help!”

As Diamond is not able to be sold through a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, and relinquishments are evaluated “case by case”, members find themselves stuck, running in the “hamster wheel” timeshare trap. The member is foreclosed and points are then resold to the next consumer at full value. Even if a relinquishment is granted, when the purchase is recent, but regretted due to abuse of the oral representation clause, families can find themselves financially devastated.

I revisited the cases of members who contacted Inside Timeshare. We have many complaints about the tactics used at Diamond’s Polo Towers Resort in Las Vegas. Diamond has resolved issues for some of the members, but we continue to receive complaints about this sales center. Sales agent Rick Casper even made the RipOff Reports in 2015.

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/diamond-resorts-international/las-vegas-nevada-89123/diamond-resorts-international-rick-casper-vacation-counselor-we-were-told-that-we-would-1269511

Other Complaints

Plaintiffs Gisele Fournier and Rejean Fournier of Riverside County, California May 12, 2017. Their credit card was allegedly charged $2,000 for the membership upgrade, and the upgrade caused their monthly membership dues to nearly double, according to the Diamond Resorts class action lawsuit. They claim they were pressured again into purchasing a membership upgrade and were reportedly mocked by Diamond Resorts’ agents because they did not bring a credit card to the meeting.

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/670995-class-action-diamond-resorts-pressures-buyers-timeshare-contracts/comment-page-1/#comment-439596

Kathie Olds on December 6, 2016 reported being told she could redeem points for 50 cents a point to pay maintenance fees. The sales agent promised the Olds they could open a Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees without explaining the reimbursement was on only 1.5%.

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http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Fast forward to May 12, 2017 Kathie reported:

Yesterday in St. Martin sales agent Riza Young and her manager said that through travel services we could cash in 20,000 points for $.30 per point to pay for $6,000 in maintenance fees. We were also told at Grand Beach Resort in Orlando that if we bought 10,000 more points for $38,000 we could cash in 20,000 points for $10,000 to totally cover our maintenance fees of $8500 +. Both are total lies! She told us she “hates it when agents lie to us.”

Oddly enough, the Better Business Bureau rates Barclays Bank Delaware an A+, given out of 43 reviews, three were positive, one neutral and 39 were negative. There were a total of 988 complaints.

https://www.bbb.org/delaware/business-reviews/banks/barclays-bank-delaware-in-wilmington-de-22002677/reviews-and-complaints

Our readers warning other readers

Inside Timeshare Chronological Articles

Marjorie Menacker – Marjorie says her Diamond timeshare sales agent said she would not have to pay maintenance fees anymore thanks to a one day secret offer.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Eron Grant May 12, 2017 reported she was told about a non-existent 30 cent buy-back program.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017 reported she was not aware until she returned home $17,000 had been charged to a Barclaycard to buy $143,000 of Diamond vacation points. She said she was told to open the card because it would help pay maintenance fees. Polo Towers Resort

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

A Filipino Family April 13, 2017 reported they are in foreclosure.  At a meeting, the sales pitch was, we need to completely get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch. Four Barclaycards were opened. Cancun Resort in Las Vegas

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

A Military Family March 6, 2017 reported “Jose, the Supervisor, recommended we buy more Points as that would lower our Maintenance fees by taking back the Sampler. We were also financing the Sampler, so he said they could keep my monthly payment the same”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

Irina Allen January 13, 2017 reported she must pay $2,400 a month in mortgage payments at 18% and $29,000 in maintenance fees while her account is suspended. She was accused of posting an ad on RedWeek to rent her points. She was also accused of opening an AirBNB accounts. Irina has never had an AirBNB account.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

Sylvia Saldana October 25, 2016 reported being told to open a Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees and to buy more points. The Saldana’s gave back $60,000 worth of points and still have a $33,000 home equity loan which their sales agent advised them to take out to reduce Diamond’s high interest rate.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

The Hurleys, a retired Canadian military family January 25, 2017 reported their struggle with maintenance fees having been convinced to invest their entire life savings thinking they were buying something better than a second home.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Related articles

The Arizona Attorney General issues an “Assurance of Discontinuance”, essentially placing Diamond under state supervision March 1, 2017  

http://insidetimeshare.com/arizona-attorney-generals-assurance-discontinuance/

Our Diamond Member Sponsored Advocacy Group February 15, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/owners-coming-together-help/

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

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

Chicken Soup for Timeshares Soul February 7, 2017 on how to file a complaint

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Billion Dollar Lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts February 1, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/1billion-law-suit-diamond-resorts-international/

Shawbrook and Barclay Bank Inside Timeshare July 11, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/shawbrook-bank-announce-irregularities-timeshare-loans-similar-activities-usa/

Sometimes it is hard to focus on the positives when it feels like the battle is all uphill. All we can do is reach out to those who feel like they are lost and alone to let them know Inside Timeshare and our Advocacy Groups are there for them to reach an outcome, whether positive or negative, through the 3Rs or F of Timeshare – Resolution – Relinquishment – Refund – Foreclosure –

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

Once again thank you Irene, this article is just one in a long line of how the banks are colluding with timeshare developers and sales agents to line their own pockets at the expense of you the consumer. This type of lending does and has caused endless misery and financial difficulty for many.

In some respects, we believe that this is verging on the criminal, with no thought or concern for those who are affected.

If you have been a victim of this type of operation contact Inside Timeshare or our Facebook Advocacy page.

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