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letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Here we are again, another Friday and another letter from America, yes, this week we are back with our cousins across the great lake. Irene Parker gives us another article in the series Nightmare on Timeshare Street. Irene and her Husband have evacuated from their coastal home due to Hurricane Irma, which is set to hit over the weekend, we hope that you all remain safe.

nightmare

Now on with some news from Europe, as we have shown in the past there are many types scams to rob you of your hard earned cash, this is the latest we have been informed about.

It begins with a telephone call supposedly from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, from a Mr D Clarke, he informs the timeshare owner they have received from the Spanish courts several million pounds, which is to be divided up and paid to owners. In this case the lucky owner is to receive over £24,000, but as it is over the £10,000 limit the owner has to ring the number given and quote the supplied reference number.

The numbers supplied by our reader are 003460209896 which is a Spanish mobile number and 033558663 (the reader has missed out some numbers).

No doubt the next phase is when you do call, there will some “tax” that you need to pay first, once this is paid then you will get the money. Well, we have heard that one before!

hmrc

Firstly, HMRC will not make telephone calls or send emails, they will contact by post, they will also not be working for the Spanish courts to hand out “compensation” especially for timeshare. If you have employed a lawyer or law firm to take legal action in Spain, then once your case has been heard and the court awards you payment, this will be dealt with directly from the court. The court will pay you through a bank transfer direct to your account. They will not be sending it to HMRC or any other third party.

CLA have also published a letter from one of their Norwegian clients, in this case they purchased from Anfi 2 floating weeks in 2005, for around 34,000€. They explained that after 4 years they found what they had purchased was not for them, it wasn’t working in their interest. They also found out that it was difficult to get out of the contract, selling would not get them anywhere near what they paid.

They came across CLA who then took on their case, their case was heard at the Supreme Court, their contract was declared null & void on the basis of the illegality of the floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Eventually, in June this year the awarded amount was transferred to their bank by the court. This does show that contrary to claims made by Anfi that no one gets paid out, clients do eventually get their money.

So, now on with our Friday’s article from Irene.

Triple Nightmares on Timeshare Street!

Diamond Resorts says Marjorie Menacker’s claim is without merit

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Closes Case

A Victory for the Oral Representation Clause

back hander

By Irene Parker

September 8, 2017

Marjorie, Ann and Marcia share their experience

Inside Timeshare has received 130 Diamond Resorts complaints from US members. The following three timeshare dream vacations nightmares are allegations, but with 119 out of 130 complaints alleging deceit and bait and switch, in our opinion, a compelling and compounding pattern seems to have developed.

As in any industry, the bad apples make things difficult for timeshare sales agents trying to compete honestly in a world where Master Closers earn $1 to $2 million a year working at sales centers that can book $10 million a month. I have interviewed nine former and current timeshare sales agents and managers who assure me “pitching heat” is endorsed and encouraged top down and industry wide by sales agents that hop from resort to resort as they make their way up the ranks.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?mcubz=3

This came as a shock to me. I built my business as a stockbroker, myself hopping from timeshare resort to resort in Hawaii, signing up timeshare sales agents for retirement and stock trading accounts. Back then many sales agents were independent contractors. “So we’re the units!” they would jokingly say. They were good people and one of those sales agents is still a close friend today. She too is shocked by the escalation in aggressive tactics, assigning buyers to a perpetual contract, often with no secondary market.

Today’s Triple Nightmare on Timeshare Street includes Marjorie, Marsha, and Ann. Marsha called me on the eve of what would been her 51st wedding anniversary, attempting to file a Mark Herring Virginia Attorney General complaint online. Marsha told me she was literally having Diamond Resort nightmares. All three direct their complaints against Diamond’s Virginia sales centers. Inside Timeshare has received twelve complaints against Virginia sales agent. Six of the members have reported a positive outcome feeling Diamond, after many rebuttals, listened and took appropriate action. Diamond Resorts Advocacy Department has resolved issues for a total of 31 out of a total of 74 formal complaints filed by our readers. Ann and Marjorie’s complaints are against the same Virginia sales agent.

Inside Timeshare has reached out to AG Herring and to Diamond Resorts for comment. To date they have not responded. Diamond has introduced a program called CLARITY ™ which they say offers transparency, accountability and respect for members.

I will call the following nightmares allegations, but Marjorie, Ann and Marsha would argue this is what really happened. Ann and Marsha have asked not to be identified, but they want to show Marjorie their support, having experienced up-sells similar to what Marjorie alleges.

3 women

Marjorie’s story

Elle and I purchased an additional 6000 Diamond points December 26, 2015 having been told about an exciting one day promotion if we purchased that day. The sales agents said we would not have to pay maintenance fees for 2016 or beyond. We had been struggling to keep up with rising fees as a result of medical expenses. Our contract lists a William Humphries as our sales agent, although we spoke to Brian and his supervisor Jeff at Diamond’s Greensprings Plantation Resort. We were encouraged to open two Diamond Barclaycards to finance the purchase. The finance rate is 25.74%.

The  sales presentation was very high pressure. We repeatedly stated that we could not afford anything that would require a loan, and did not like the difficulty we encountered finding availability. Maintenance fees were rising faster than we expected.

Brian repeatedly assured us that if we took advantage of the promotion offered that day, we would not have to worry about any maintenance fees ever again. He illustrated in chart form on paper how this program would save us money by trading in part of our total points each year. He said the remaining points would actually get “treated as double points.”

We were told this promotion would have been offered to us had we participated in dinner meeting offers over the previous year. I’ve learned almost all Diamond presentations begin with, “You should have been invited to a dinner meeting.” Out of our sight, Brian obtained special permission from his supervisor Jeff to extend the offer only for the day (12/26/2015).

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

Ann S

First, last January, when meeting with Brian Humphries at an ‘Owner Update’ in Virginia, we were told FLAT OUT  that if we bought 7500 more points we would now be part of an ‘ELITE’ group of Platinum owners who are credited 30 CENTS PER POINT when ‘recycling’ annual points back to Diamond so that Diamond can bring in potential owners. We were told that the conversion at 30 cents per point would be more than enough with all our points to pay our annual fees and still have points on which to travel. We restated the claim back to Brian several times to make sure we understood correctly. Brian now denies that he made any such promise. When I called Diamond and even the Platinum Department no one had ever heard of such a program and kept referring us back to Brian. He had even told us “When you get your bill and it’s time to pay your maintenance fees just contact me and I’ll explain how you do this.”  We would NEVER have purchased that day had that not been our understanding. But then nothing was ever given to us in writing (they even somehow took our personal notes from us and did not return them) and repeated emails and phone requests only ended in denials or flat out ignoring of our questions. After hearing what happened to Marjorie, I will be filing a complaint with the Virginia Attorney General’s office.

Marsha Y

I only purchased additional points because the sales agents at Diamond’s Powhatan Resort in Williamsburg said the maintenance costs would go down if I purchased more points. I have since learned this was not true. I had told the agents I could not afford the rising maintenance fees. I was also not told a $7,100 charge would be charged to a Barclay card for a down payment. The same thing happened in Hawaii. I was not told a Barclay card was being opened to charge a Sampler. I later learned the agent in Hawaii was later fired for this.

The hospitality agent in Williamsburg, when I told her about how I had been deceived previously, told me she understood and that is why sales were stopped at the Williamsburg center for a while until the CLARITY ™ program was put in place. Still, when I attended the Williamsburg presentation, I was charged $7,100 on a Barclaycard without my knowledge.

My husband (now deceased) and I originally owned three deeded weeks. We had no complaints about the agents that sold us those weeks. Up until this point, what I owned was within my budget. The additional charges have caused a great hardship. I am a widow on a teacher’s pension. The actions of these agents have taken away my financial security. I feel trapped. My credit score has dropped from over 800 to the 700s. I had no intention to buy points as it is not as easy or enjoyable to travel without my husband. I can still travel with friends and would be able to remain a Diamond customer if I would be returned to Silver status.

Will the timeshare industry ever admit to deception on the front end of the timeshare sale? Are these customers really not to be believed, along with so many other identical complaints? All three attended the presentations with their families and are adamant what they heard was what they were told.

The following Facebook pages consist of members helping members. Contact Inside Timeshare or join with others members working towards reform if you have a timeshare story, positive or negative, to share, or need help with a timeshare concern. After this Attorney General’s ruling, it really does seem the only court available is the court of public opinion. We posted below “Do you know your Consumer Rights?” Are there any Consumer Rights?

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

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

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

consumer rights 1

Thank you Irene, Marjorie, Ann and Marcia for your contribution to this week’s article, as you can see, timeshare can become a nightmare, it all sounds so great in the presentation.

It just leaves us to say have a good weekend, and for those of you in the path of Irma, stay safe.

weekend cat

monday

Start the Week: The Monday Briefing

Yes its Monday and the start of another week, over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received many more enquiries regarding companies owners have been contacted by. They range from so-called legal companies offering cancellation of contracts and the promise of possible compensation to “Lifestyle Credits”, offering massive discounts if you join their club.

On the point of cancellation of contracts and compensation, this is one area that you should be very careful of. One reader was offered this for a cost of £8000, upfront payment. The cancellation or relinquishment would be done within a year, and then a claim would be made for compensation. Only one problem here, the claim is to be done through section 75 of the credit consumer act, against his card company.

We have said this before, this will not work, the card company will argue that you have used the timeshare, therefore you have received the goods and services paid for. Mis-selling is not covered, the fact your contract may be in perpetuity is not a basis for a claim under section 75. Also why would you pay this huge amount to get out, when you may be able to do this yourself for a fraction of the cost direct with your timeshare company or resort.

credit cards

Lifestyle Credits, this is where you join a club for a huge amount of money with the promise of huge discounts on holidays and other goods. You will receive a number of “credits” which you use to pay for the goods, these may include discounts at major stores and outlets. For example, a holiday will be advertised by the company for £2,500, using ex amount of credits, the holiday will cost £1,800. Looks good on paper, but don’t forget, you have probably paid over £10,000 to join. Also do a search online, you may even find the same holiday and at a fraction of the cost.

These clubs are not regulated, they do not come under timeshare laws, so you have very little in the way of consumer rights. So remember, it may sound like a good deal, but it very rarely is.

consumer rights

Following on from Friday’s Letter from Australia, the following video has been found on youtube, it is a rather comical look at timeshare, with a very good spoof presentation. Yes you’ve guessed it, it comes from Australia. Have a look, it is one of the best timeshare videos we have seen in a long time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICpOrsQcKT8

After publishing on Friday the following announcement was made by Canarian Legal Alliance, two of their clients have been paid out by Anfi. one for over 34,000€ the other for close to 43,000€. Again this goes against what Anfi claim, that they are not losing and people are not getting paid out. What do you believe?

CLA also announce that they have 54 new cases at the courts in Gran Canaria along with 4 new cases at the courts in Malaga. These represent a total claim value of 2,436,000€, the courts are certainly going to be busy.

Now September is upon us, we should be seeing more announcements from the courts, but also the “bogus” companies will be out in full swing. To protect yourself, do your due diligence and your homework before engaging with any company, especially in the field of claims. The promise of huge amounts in “compensation” are designed to draw you in, check and check again. If in doubt contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction and show you how.

too good1

letter from australia

Friday’s Letter from Australia

We start September with another Friday’s Letter from Australia, just to give our American cousins a rest. Today Justin Morgan, looks at the the role private equity plays in timeshare, with the introduction and comments by our very own Irene Parker. But first a little from Europe.

europe

Earlier in August we said that it tends to be a quiet month, well this was not the case this year, as our roundup of the month article yesterday showed. We also mentioned that September usually sees the start of new companies, changes of name or even resurrected ones. Well they have started to surface already.

Doing our usual daily rounds of the internet, one site, mindtimeshare, since the beginning of August has published the names of 6 that have come to their attention. 3 of these were published yesterday. We begin with:

Appointing Consultants, with the following website, which was only registered on the 14 August, as usual, the registrant is hiding under a privacy service.

http://appointingconsultants.co.uk/

According to the website, they are a company that offers the following services:

  • Appointment Setting; We can provide your business with qualified appointments for your sales team.
  • Lead Generation; We can offer bespoke leads from both websites and telemarketing operations.
  • Customer Service; Create the best customer services team for your business.
  • Online Marketing; Run an online marketing campaign. We can help you with SEO or e-mail campaigns.
  • Data Sourcing; Source the best possible data to make your business thrive.
  • Sales Training; Teach your team with one of our professionals to be the best. (Their spelling mistake)

The thing is they are informing timeshare owners that they have grounds to make a claim, which for a telemarketing company making appointments for another company is a little worrying.

They also do not appear on any company house records.

The next one is Barlow & Scott, with the telephone number 01904 501 389 which is a York number. When checking on who is calling, one name comes up First 4 Legal, there was a company of this name registered in London, but it was dissolved in February 2012.

There is no mention of a website and they seem to be contacting Club Class members, stating that they are a solicitors office and that there is money being held for the client by the courts in Spain!

They claim that the purchase of membership was never completed as the client never had an NIE Number, no problem for £500 we can get this for you then you can get your money back.

This is however untrue, you do not need an NIE number unless you are going to live in Spain or for any of the following:

  • Open a bank account
  • Buying, selling or insuring a property
  • Arranging a mortgage or credit
  • Pay taxes
  • Being employed
  • Registering with employment agencies
  • Registering to study
  • Applying to start a business
  • Registering with social services, receiving social security benefits
  • Applying for a driving licence
  • Inheriting assets

The NIE is a Spanish Tax Number for foreigners. So beware these types of claims.

The next is called Stapleton Consultancy. Once again they claim that the Spanish courts are holding money owed to the consumer from a previous fraud. Now to get this money paid out Stapleton Consultancy will need to be paid in order to do the work. There are no contact details available, so very little is known.

There is a company called Stapleton Consulting Limited, but they are chartered building surveyors, so absolutely nothing to do with timeshare. As and when new information comes to light, we will publish it here.

This really does show that you must do your homework before dealing with any company that calls you out of the blue, especially when they inform you that you have a payment waiting to be released by a court!

homework1

Just to finish off the month of August, Canarian Legal Alliance announced yet another sentence from the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, once again it is against Anfi, who still deny that they have any cases against them.

In this particular instance the court declared the contract null & void, the infraction was again a contract over the stipulated period of 50 years. The court awarded this consumer over 23,000€, they also awarded over 4,000€ as double the amount that was taken as a deposit within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period.

If August was a quiet month, what will the next few months bring? Keep an eye on these pages and you will see.

So here we go to the land down under and this weeks article from Justin.

What Role Does Private Equity Play in Timeshare?

we the corporations

By Justin Morgan

Introduction and comments by Irene Parker

September 1, 2017

Private equity firms, traditionally providing capital to fund high growth start-ups, may be shortchanging timeshare consumers in their quest for returns typically targeted to reach higher returns than those of the public market.

Timeshare in general has been facing increased pressure due to overly aggressive sales tactics. This warning about escalating default rates was published February of this year by American BankerDiamond Resorts and Wyndham under pressure due to aggressive sales tactics. Wyndham is a publicly traded company. Diamond is owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Diamond Resorts ABS under Pressure from Company’s Sales Tactics

https://asreport.americanbanker.com/video/diamond-resorts-abs-under-pressure-from-companys-sales-tactics

The question is – how are higher returns for private equity investors won?

Is timeshare even an appropriate venue for private equity investment? Can higher returns be earned without strangling the timeshare consumer with excessive maintenance fee increases, reduced availability and other unsavory tactics driven by such demands?

Former Diamond CEO David Palmer explained this concept to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript, “Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee, That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Meanwhile, timeshare members received this notification:

“Timeshare owners of the Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.”

I asked Advocate Justin Morgan, our Australian Contributor, his thoughts:

This is the ‘Super Profits’ issue that I questioned years ago… I pointed out that retail prices for vacation points were sometimes four to six times retail value across Asia and Australia. But the real focus involves turning vacation ‘currency’ into more fiat currencies at super profit level. In my opinion, they are not interested in member value at all. It’s an early version of cryptocurrency! My sentiments are no different today…even worse.

In my case, I found my Diamond Resorts account terminated for renting, although my contracts clearly gave me in writing the right to rent. If they changed the rules, that’s unfair, but virtually all timeshare contracts state the rules can be changed at any time for any reason.  It is now apparent we were ‘all-in’ against the Vegas House that takes all it can get.

Irina Allen agrees. Irina is a professional who ended up with 139,000 Diamond points alleging she was up-sold to that level by deceit. Inside Timeshare previously reported on how Irina’s account was suspended for posting one ad on RedWeek. Rental ads for Diamond points on RedWeek abound.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monday-start-another-week/

The timeshare point’s product is a cryptocurrency that offers no backing other than your promise to keep paying ‘whatever it is this year’ maintenance fee increases. Some timeshare companies force maintenance fee increases for any reason…They can then pick up default points.

Timeshare developers pocket millions and millions this way. Most members are not allowed to leave. It’s like ‘Hotel California’s’…you can check in anytime you want, but you can never check out.

“Last thing I remember, I was

running for the door

I had to find the passage back

to the place I was before

“Relax, “said the nightman,

“We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like,

But you can never leave!” The Eagles

It doesn’t matter much whether they are public or private, though I feel private equity firms have far less scrutiny. The problems lie in the legal structuring of these entities, and how they can basically bill members for whatever tab that they find is allowable. If they control the HOA, and therefore budget approvals, the rest of the structure is usually just a financing and ‘dividend’ pay out model. Wages can be like a hidden dividend, if they are simply looking to pull money from members over to those they seek to pay out:  i.e. usually management, vs the actually financiers, who are often at the back of house in the financing structure.

In my opinion these private equity firms are targeting the timeshare industry now because they understand that they can raid them by simply jacking up maintenance fees by 20%, or even their required rate of 30% return, by simply hiding cost allocations within their structure, or simply paying their executives directly from the Club. There’s no stopping what they can do under some structures. It is a license for them to take what they want.

dollar man

As reported by Business Wire, “A class action lawsuit has been filed against timeshare developer Diamond Resorts International, timeshare owners associations Bali Condominium Association and Parkway International Owners Association, and auditor RSM U.S. L.P. alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and professional negligence over billing practices for maintenance.”

The plaintiffs allege that the language addressing maintenance and management fees in the condominium association’s governing documents were outdated and ambiguous. The outdated language allowed the defendants to include subsequent amendments to:

  • Charge inappropriate maintenance fees.
  • Inflate management fees.
  • Hide inappropriate fees.
  • Charge costs unrelated to the maintenance and management of the timeshare development including an “indirect corporate fee.”

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170629005705/en/Finn-Law-Group-Files-Suit-Timeshare-Maintenance

Bluegreen is exploring a possible Initial Public Offering. I asked Bluegreen member and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer if Bluegreen BBX Capitol falls into this private equity category.

http://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/BBX/news?id=167811

BBX Capitol is not a private equity firm. Alan Levan has had a significant ownership interest in Bluegreen since at least 2008. Something like 85% of BBX revenue and 75% of their income comes from Bluegreen.”  

squiggle

What falls from the mouths of timeshare company public relations departments in their message to the investment community often sounds like a foreign language to beleaguered timeshare members. New York, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona Attorneys General settlements against timeshare companies are but the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you Justin, we look forward to more from our Australian cousins and your insights into this worldwide product called timeshare. No matter where you are, the story seems to be the same, you are the UP’s, you have the money and we will take it from you, but give you nothing but hassle in return!

It now just leaves us to say thank you to all who contribute to Inside Timeshare, a very big thank you to all the volunteer advocates of our advocacy group, who do a splendid job of helping others with their problems. Have a great weekend and we’ll be back again next week with more from the murky world of timeshare.

BBQ chef

 

end month

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta, as well as colleague of the CEO Mark Cushway. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

 

tribunal supremo

Timeshare In the Press

Following on from some of the previous articles regarding court cases and the fact that many of the timeshare companies are denying they have taken place, El Diario, a Spanish newspaper has published an article which confirms these cases are genuine.

(Bring up the link below, right click on the article and choose translate)

eldiario

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/sentencias-Supremo-contratos-timesharing-Tenerife_0_677182619.html

In their article entitled “Eight Supreme Court rulings annul in one month `timesharing´ contracts in Tenerife for more than 400,000 euros”, they explain the cases against Silverpoint. El Diario explain that the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court issued in the space of 10 days, between Monday 10 July and Thursday 20 July, a total of eight judgements against Silverpoint.

They go on to state that since the start of the year Canarian Legal Alliance has accumulated 18 rulings from the Supreme Court against this one company alone. Many of these cases had been won at the Court of First Instance, were then taken to the High Court on appeal and eventually to the Supreme Court, which returns a verdict in favour of the customer.

Silverpoints contention that these consumers are “investors” has in the past been accepted by the High Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with the Supreme Court overturning that verdict. Silverpoint still contend that they sold a product which consumers eventually would sell and return a “profit”, making them “investors”.

What the Supreme Court has stated is these “consumers” for a substantial amount of money have purchased the right to use with annual maintenance fees, along with the addition of the possibility of resale. The court believes that this firmly brings the product into the scope of the law 42/98 on timeshare, and therefore they are afforded the full protection of the law as consumers.

The difference between what Silverpoint have been selling and that sold by other companies is quite simple, Silverpoint have on their presentations sold the product with the express promise of a sale in two years, in which the consumer will make at least a 15% profit. We all know that part of the sales pitch is “when you no longer want to use it you can sell it”, “that it will go up in value”. The fact is, according to the EU directives on timeshare it should not be sold as an investment.

Silverpoint have stated that they will take these cases to the High Court of Justice of the European Union and the Constitutional Court of Spain. From our understanding, the Constitutional Court only deals with matters regarding the constitution and not civil matters, which the timeshare law is. As for the EU High Court of Justice, will they not be bound to uphold the Timeshare Directives issued by the European Union?

Another publication to highlight the rulings of the Supreme Court, is the English language newspaper The Canary News. Last Friday 18 August, they published a translated version of the article in La Provincia, another Spanish newspaper.

the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

http://thecanarynews.com/supreme-court-ruling-continues-to-tempt-thousands-of-timeshare-clients-to-file-lawsuits-for-fraud/

It starts with a recap of the groundbreaking case of Mrs Tove Grimsbo against Anfi, brought by the CLA lawyer Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos. This case opened the door for thousands of timeshare owners to annul their contracts and seek justice, following years of flouting the law by the timeshare companies.

miguel1
Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos

So once again we have to ask the question “who is telling the truth, do you believe the timeshare companies who have for years misled consumers, or do you believe the news from the courts published in various journals”?

We know who we believe, the evidence is there in black and white, not just published in newspapers but by the courts themselves in the official bulletins which make the rulings public. The timeshare companies have only themselves to blame for their present predicament, for too long they have believed they were above the law, by continuing their denial of these facts they are just destroying for good a once decent product.

http://insidetimeshare.com/supreme-court-rules-silverpoint-twice-one-week/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

If you have any questions about this subject, or want to know if you have an illegal contract and are eligible to bring a case and how to do so, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Do you have a story about your experiences and would like to share, then we would like to hear from you. This is your forum to be heard, with your contributions we can publish the truth about what is going on in the world of timeshare.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish Part II of Karen Garello’s Secret Shopper report, but as usual we look at what is happening in Europe.

During our daily searches of various timeshare websites and forums this particular article made us chuckle. It was published on the Travel & Leisure Group (timeshare resale) website under information and Timeshare Blog, it is an interview with Gavin Brown and his recent stay at Anfi, he is manager of the said company, obviously written by one of the employees who conducted the interview.

The piece starts out with Anfi Beach Club is known throughout the timeshare industry as a real gem”. It then goes on to describe the location, “Ideally located on a heart-shaped island in Gran Canaria”. Well straight away that brought everyone down laughing, the heart shaped island is a man made island which is situated between the beach and the marina. It does not have the room for the huge resort called Anfi! It does however have sunbeds, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. You can also hire the island for weddings, if you can afford the 12,000€ for the basic package.

heart shaped island Anfi
The heart shaped island at Anfi

It turns out that Mr Brown, who has been in the timeshare industry for years, has never owned a timeshare, (I wonder why?). Mr Brown stated that he always booked with online travel agents and package holidays, but due to sometimes being disappointed with room location and the standards of the hotels, he felt that timeshare resorts offered better standards.

Well, we can agree with that, so why did he choose Anfi? As he put it he has a great knowledge of Anfi, having sold so many resale weeks, so when “A fantastic week and apartment became available at a great price, and I couldn’t pass it up”. Although we couldn’t help wondering if he would have bought at the ridiculous prices direct from Anfi?

He then goes on with a wonderful sales pitch on how great the place is, the wonderful facilities and the great restaurants, with reasonable prices compared to other 5* resorts. Well sorry Mr Brown, but you can get even better food at even better prices by leaving the resort and heading to some of the local restaurants.

The article then ends with “If this has made you consider Anfi Beach Club, or any of the other Anfi resorts, why not call Gavin himself or one of his colleagues to discuss further”?

Could it be they have that many weeks on their books they need to do a sales drive to get rid of them?

The other point to remember is that when you buy resale you don’t get all the benefits as you would buying direct from Anfi. See the link to the previous article on Resale Vs Direct.

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=anfi+resale

It has also been announced that ABC Lawyers Ltd, another Mark Rowe company has bought Lansdown Financial Ltd, a claims company registered with the Ministry of Justice. This is another acquisition following that of Tucola Ltd and Justice4 Ltd, Mr Rowe is certainly expanding, the question is why?

After all, his past is not what you could call squeaky clean, there has been a lot in the press and on TV about some of his past enterprises, Monster Credits springs to mind. By purchasing a company already regulated by the MoJ it does save him the problem of applying to the MoJ for authorisation, then having to pass the competence and suitability assessment, which is not a simple task.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481751/CMR_Applications_for_Authorisation_Guidance_WEB.pdf

Going back to Anfi, although the courts are closed during the month of August, some staff are still working and issuing sentence papers from cases heard previously, this particular case was heard on 6 July. The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas awarded the former Anfi member 42,625€, again the infringement of the timeshare law was the length of the contract, being over 50 years in duration. So Anfi, do you continue to deny that you are losing in the courts?

So on with this week’s Letter from America.

Link to Karen’s first report.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Secret Shopper Questions and a Secret Shopper Report

two meeting

By Karen Garello, Secret Shopper Coordinator

August 18, 2017

Inside Timeshare encourages its readers to submit positive articles about timeshare experiences, so I was relieved to have attended a positive sales presentation at The Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri. Unfortunately, the presentation was followed by a less than positive customer service experience.

My Diamond saga began when I purchased a trial Sampler program I had not realized I had purchased until I returned home and saw a $3,995 charge to a Barclaycard. Diamond would not reverse the charge.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to attend a presentation as this is required when purchasing a Sampler. After I returned home from a Branson presentation, I attempted to access Luxury benefits but was denied access. Luxury benefits include luxury hotels, shopping and wine. When I contacted customer services at the Sampler department, asking why I was denied access, the customer service agent put me on hold for a long time while he called Branson. After completing his “investigation” he told me the reason I could not access Luxury benefits is because Branson reported me as a “NO SHOW”!!!

Had it not been for our Diamond Resorts member supported Advocacy Facebook, I probably would not have gotten the sales agent’s name, and I certainly would not have prepared a report.

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

Admitting deceit it seemed, the customer service agent said, according to the notes during the presentation (he initially said I had not attended), I had told the sales agent TK I had complained about the unauthorized charge to purchase the Sampler. I pointed out that I had used my American Express for all the charges I made at The Suites. Customer service said they will investigate further and get back to me.

Now onto my original article

buttons

Many timeshare companies already have Secret Shopper programs. Still, it doesn’t hurt for timesharing member Secret Shoppers to evaluate for other members how near or far a timeshare sales agent ventures from his or her script.

I guess I am not that secret of a Secret Shopper in that my name is on this article, so I hope the good experience I had at Diamond ResortsThe Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri wasn’t because they were aware of my Timeshare Advocacy Group™ position, Secret Shopper Coordinator. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

My presenter was TK Armstrong. She used to work for Bluegreen but joined Diamond because she said they have more resorts. TK and I talked for about 45 minutes. I went over my Polo Towers experience. She seemed sincerely concerned. She showed me a description of CLARITY™ Diamond’s new Enhanced Quality Assurance program. She was supportive of the program and said she was going to abide by it. She went over the Sampler product I did not realize I purchased until I returned home from Polo Towers. At least I know what I bought now.

We have three new Secret Shoppers. We will not identify them because they are, well, secret. After compiling over 100 complaints from readers who have reached out to Inside Timeshare for assistance, we have determined the most popular complaints involve the following:

  • Maintenance Fee relief program that do not exist,
  • The ability to sell points or weeks when there is no secondary market,
  • The value of travel awards,
  • Misrepresenting the value of using a credit card to offset Maintenance Fees,
  • Stating a lower loan interest rate can be obtained from a bank or credit union in order to escape high timeshare loan interest rates,
  • Oversold availability

We arm our Secret Shoppers with intelligent questions that, maybe because of being on vacation brain, people forget to ask. These are questions of course that any timeshare consumer can ask, so we share them with our readers. Transparency, honesty and accuracy are rated on a scale from one to five with a five being the most honest. Results are tabulated quarterly and sent to our team for review. After we complete our pilot program, we hope to submit the data to the respective resort for review.

Suggested Questions

  • May I take notes?

Qualifications

  • How long have you worked at this resort?
  • Have you worked at other resorts?
  • What did you do before you sold timeshare?

Consumer Protections

  • May I call my lawyer to discuss your proposal?
  • May I take the contract to my room so that I can have an adequate amount of time to review such a major purchase?
  • Are you a member? May we log onto your account so I can check actual availability and value? I am spending a significant amount of money on something I have not even attempted to use.

Resale or Exit Program

  • What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?
  • If I can sell it, how can I sell it? Who do I call? Can you give me a reference?

Note: Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask about the benefits or lack of benefits buying on the resale market and to see if they will accept a listing for the timeshare you own.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

  • Please show me in the paperwork the cap on maintenance fee increases. How much does a maintenance fee go up on average annually? Does it go up every year?
  • Can you provide a five year history of Maintenance Fee increases?
  • Is there anything I can do to offset Maintenance Fees?
  • If I can use my points for maintenance fees, how much per point are they credited?
  • Where in the paperwork can I verify this information?
  • If I offset Maintenance Fees with credit card purchases, please provide an example of the value of a $1 purchase and how many purchases it would take to pay off my annual maintenance Fee? (One member reported it would cost over $270,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,700 Maintenance Fee!)
  • Can I rent my timeshare to pay Maintenance Fees?

Travel awards

  • If I can use my points for hotels, what is the value per point?
  • If I can use my points for airline tickets, what is the value per point?
  • If I can use my points for a cruise, what is the value per point?

Loans

  • Where in the paperwork does it state my loan interest rate?
  • How much will I pay for the timeshare if I carry the loan for the maximum term?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce my interest rate?
  • What is the interest and penalty if I miss a payment?

risk

If consumers must take out a loan to buy a timeshare, consider carefully the actual cost of financing a vacation at 12 to 18%. America is a buy now pay later society. I don’t think many financial planners would recommend financing a luxury item without comparison shopping. Well over half of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received involve high interest rate financing.

We hope Secret Shoppers create smart shoppers asking the right questions before plunging into a purchase so many of our readers have come to regret. Societal changes are influencing the wants and needs of today’s traveler. Are timeshares more flexible or less if you are locked into usage and maintenance fees increasing annually.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper report. She reported some good and not so good observations. Of merit is the warning to timeshare buyers to take the promise of travel awards a step farther and ask, “At what value?” In general consumers should buy a timeshare for its intended purpose which is to vacation at a resort. Here is Laurie’s report:

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have interest in becoming a Secret Shopper or would like to share a positive or negative timeshare shopping experience. There are several member supported Facebooks and websites where members can reach out to other members to share experiences. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ posts information from all sites. Our motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is –

knowledge speaks

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

Thanks to Karen for her Secret Shopper part II, also thanks to Irene as usual for the editing and coordination from the other side of the great lake. We have many more articles coming up in the next few weeks with part II of Hug Your Haters and a piece about the Castle Law Group lawsuit with Orange Lake. We will also be having another article from our Antipodean friends from the other side of the world.

So that’s it for this week, have a great weekend and we will be with you next week.

 

 friday dog

 

6-pillars-with-text 1

A Customer Service Message

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees

“who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest”.

Today we publish another article by Irene Parker, this is entitled Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message. It is a look at Jay Baer’s book of the same title, which will be available at most airport bookstores through September. Irene already has her copy, Forbes has an article reviewing the book written by Shep Hyken:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2016/02/20/love-your-customers-hug-your-haters/#6c2d2bfa1573

But first some other news.

It has been announced that RCI the timeshare exchange company,which is part of part of Wyndham Worldwide, is set to take over the Australian exchange company DAE, Dial An Exchange. This has been an independent exchange program for many years, it is popular for one simple reason, there are no annual membership fees. Owners only pay when they make an exchange, which does seem to be the fairest method, as you may pay a membership fee and never actually use it every year.

Obviously with the link to RCI, it may be that will benefit those who use DAE, as it should increase the number of resorts available to them. Many owners in the UK like the DAE system as they were rather disappointed with RCI and the annual fees on top of their ever increasing maintenance charges.

According to RCI, DAE will still be a stand alone company, with no interference from RCI, the questions is for how long?

Since the article Truth, What is Truth , was published last Thursday, Inside Timeshare has been receiving many more enquiries from confused Anfi members. It would appear that Anfi has stepped up its campaign to spread the falsehood that they are not losing cases at the Lower Courts or the Supreme Court, by contacting members and laying the seeds of doubt. What must be remembered is the simple fact these cases are public record and can easily be verified. Somehow Inside Timeshare gets the feeling that not is all well at Anfi, from our sources there may just be a rather important announcement about to be made. We will keep you informed as and when news becomes available.

Truth, What is Truth?

Next week in our Tuesday article we will be looking at the flurry of lawsuits being brought against timeshare attorneys in the US, Irene again gives the US, along with her own view on this subject. It does look as though the timeshare industry on both sides of the great lake are on the offensive.

So now to Irene’s latest contribution.

Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message

A timely message and a needed customer service handbook

catdog

http://www.jaybaer.com/hug-your-haters/

By Irene Parker

August 15, 2017

Hug Your Haters was written before the violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over this past weekend. The event was planned by white supremacy demonstrators. I was trained by a financial planner from Trinidad. He shared with me this story about knocking on the door of a white man. When the man opened the door he took a hard look at my mentor and said, “I shoot black people.” My mentor responded, “I’m not black. I’m from Trinidad.” After a second hard look this white supremacist laughed and said, “You want a beer?”

No matter the color of skin, the amount of wealth you possess, or your determination to make a sale, people are people. Even kings interacted with peasants. Jay Baer’s book could not be timelier. Communication is the key, author Jay Baer asserts. Inside Timeshare agrees.

New York Times bestselling author Jay Baer is to be the keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1951406

The title of Mr. Baer’s book, Hug Your Haters, is also the title of his keynote speech that he will deliver to developers, investment bankers, private equity firms and other capital investment firms.

Our Timeshare Advocates are hopeful, as the only response our 400 plus member supported Diamond Resort Advocacy Facebook group has ever received from Diamond was from one brave sales agent who joined the group. Basically, his conclusion was that we are irresponsible whiners unwilling to fulfill our obligations. He ultimately had to be removed for driving away already financially shattered members.

In preparation for Mr. Baer’s keynote address, I have invited him to join our Facebook hoping he may be our bridge to communication. He would at least be provided a microcosm of timeshare comments and complaints to study. I don’t know if I would call us Haters. I think seekers of accountability and transparency describe us better.

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/

We are not alone. DRIP is a website launched by over 1,000 British members trying to find a way out of their timeshare contracts.

http://drip.enjin.com/

A Club Intrawest Owners Group Facebook has over 3,400 members

https://www.facebook.com/Club-Intrawest-Owners-Group-921012087982547/

A recently launched Gold Key Diamond acquired resort Facebook

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

Acquired resorts are on a campaign to reach out to other members in an effort to convince owners not to give up their deed in exchange for non-deeded right to use points.

Eight hundred Bluegreen members call this Facebook Bluegreen Class Action

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

Wyndham lost a whistleblower lawsuit when a jury awarded former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams $20 million. Ms. Williams mentions TAFT days – tell them any fxxx thing to sell points on slow sales days.

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

hater

I could go on, but clearly Mr. Baer has his work cut out for him.

The timeshare lobby organization ARDA will be quick to point out that 83% of 9,000,000 timeshare owners are happy with their timeshare. Mr. Baer I’m sure will be quick to point out that the 1.15 million who responded they are not happy with their timeshare should not be ignored, even on social media sites. Mr. Baer’s primary thesis is:

Haters are not your problem…..

Ignoring them is.

In his book, Mr. Baer goes on to say that choosing to stay silent speaks volumes. Not responding is a response that says “I don’t care about you.” He talks about how it is psychologically difficult to engage with Haters, especially when they shine a giant spotlight on their perception of your shortcomings.

It’s not all gloom and doom though, at least not for Disney owners. We published this article analyzing why Disney has so few Haters.

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

As far as us chalking us up as disgruntled grumblers that don’t know how to use our points properly, here is one of our Advocates offering his analysis, previously published as a stand-alone article, why the timeshare industry has so many Haters;

It appears the industry has long depended on “self-regulation”. It has not done a great job of that but there have always been just enough companies that seem to try and deliver a quality product and quality customer experience at the same time they balance trying to make a healthy profit.

I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience. I am sure there are other good examples.

In the past, the actions of the bad eggs of the industry (the industry’s worst examples), the negative impact was always minimal and able to be managed before it metastasized. But the potential problem as I see it is that in the last decade it appears what may be described as large predatory financial engineering companies almost “posing” as timeshare companies have risen and aggressively worked every loophole and non-regulation to their own advantage and now are probably guilty of gross violations of their fiduciary responsibility to their customers / owners. These companies have created vast fortunes for a very small network of individuals at the top of the pyramid.

Ironically though, and looking at historical examples from other industries, it is these very companies likely to bring the whole industry into the national spotlight and to its knees eventually. Some of these appear to have walked to the edge of doing that already.

As these quasi financial engineering / timesharing companies become increasingly more brazen in chasing profits by any means possible, raising fees rapidly at the same time they are reducing owner benefits, due to their increased sheer size the public outcry will likely increase and just the odds of random probability suggests there will be a “Gotcha” moment or event that will bring increased scrutiny and increased legislation.

If the good timeshare companies try to ignore what the bad ones are doing, they may find someday that their systems and profits and share prices are negatively impacted by the future regulations forced on the industry from the egregious actions of the bad actors in their industry.

challenge

We will continue our discussion in a Part II Hug Your Haters article examining two of the eleven points Mr. Baer said customer service professionals will learn by reading Hug Your Haters.  

The two types of Haters and what they want from you when they complain.

Why you need to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time.

Finally, why am I so critical?

It all started when my husband and I attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation, lied to in order to get us to attend. We had not been happy with availability so in no way were we going to purchase more vacation points. We make due but, like many others, we feel we were oversold on availability.

Next, I learned when we tried to sell our points, because our contract said we could, not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will accept a Diamond Resort listing, although they will accept virtually all major competitor listings.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

As I started publishing articles for TheStreet, Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Investment News Service and then Inside Timeshare, I began to hear from timeshare Haters the world over, including the Philippines and Australia. Families allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. To date I have heard from 114 families of which 101 would fall into the Hater category. The others were simply seeking how to go about relinquishing their timeshare.

You can Hug Your Haters all day long but if a timeshare company violates their trust and respect by siding with the sales agent over the customer when the customer knows what they were promised and what was not delivered, Hugs won’t help. Change will.

As our online information site Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ states,

Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens (Jimi Hendrix)

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

This certainly looks a very interesting book and I personally will be looking out for a copy, thanks again to Irene for her insight into this subject, with part two being published next week. Maybe, just maybe, the industry will take note of this.

Over the next few weeks we have some very interesting articles in the pipeline, with one article giving the results of our Timeshare Advocacy Group and the results achieved so far.

If you have any comments on any article published or need any help and advice on any timeshare related matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction. Inside Timeshare is committed to giving you the facts and not fake news.

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

Digging deeper to the truth this person finds nothing but lies.

Truth, What is Truth?

Over the past few weeks, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries regarding Anfi and who is telling the truth regarding the court cases and Supreme Court rulings. Many of these questions have been coming from Anfi members themselves, having received emails and letters from Anfi who deny anything is going on. So the question is what is the truth?

According to a letter sent by the CEO of Anfi Group in June, which we published in the following article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-ceos-letter-members-desperation/

mahatma-gandhi-quote-an-error-does-not-become-truth-by-reason-of

Anfi deny any wrongdoing, they continue to state they are not losing court cases, that the Supreme Court stated that Anfi were acting in good faith when selling perpetuity contracts. This in itself is a little strange as the Supreme Court has verified that the law 42/98 which states that contracts must be of a maximum 50 years, is correct. In other words why would this court say that perpetuity contracts are illegal, then on the other hand that Anfi acted in good faith?

According to the CEO, Anfi members are asking for their help in getting out of court cases instigated by various law firms, again this does not ring true, after all having used legal services in the past, you employ the law firm, if you wish to withdraw that is your right. You don’t need any help, especially from Anfi. Is this yet another deception?

In another section of his letter he goes on to say the Supreme Court agrees that any member who has had their contract declared null & void should in principle pay for past holidays taken. Inside Timeshare has not seen any evidence of this, in fact this point has been going on for some time, with even the RDO publishing their support for this. Again it is another ploy by the timeshare industry to save itself!

We won’t dwell on the CEO’s letter as you can read the previous article.

Another couple contacted Inside Timeshare after receiving an email about their own membership. It would seem this particular couple are not happy with their purchase, and wish to terminate the agreement. It starts by stating that Anfi does not consider their contract to be illegal until a court deems it so.

Again this flies in the face of previous statements, that their contracts are legal and it is the courts that have got it wrong, the truth is, the courts have found the contracts have infringed the timeshare law, is this another untruth?

In this email Anfi state once again that they are not losing, that cases which have been lost at the Court of First Instance are going to appeal. Yes they may be going to appeal, but only to prolong the process. After all, now that the Supreme Court has made 57 rulings against various timeshare companies, of which around 32 have been made against Anfi, all the courts must abide by them regardless. If the law has been broken then that is that!

On the point of one part of the law, the taking of deposits within the 14 day cooling off period, in this particular email, Anfi deny taking any deposit for the sale of the timeshare. They say they have a signed reservation form for so many nights accommodation at their Hotel Gran Anfi. Hang on a minute, is it not a timeshare resort?

Regardless of that point, according to them there is no mention on the documentation that it forms part of the payment for membership. Bit of a moot point there, after all the timeshare law states that no payment shall be taken on the day the contract is signed, even by a third party. So one could interpret that as the payment taken at the time of signing, even for accommodation, is payment to a third party! We’ll leave that one for the judges to decide.

legal clipart

The tone of the email is not very pleasant, the writer states “Our company is strongly focused on the future, and the goal is to have only loyal members”, well not very conducive to customer relations, would you not agree?

Well, let’s get down to some facts, Inside Timeshare during its investigations over the months has come up with the following figures. These may just be a little out of date as they were compiled some months ago and many more court cases have taken place since.

Cases lost by Anfi upto June 2017

Court                                              1st Instance                2nd Instance           High               Court Supreme
2015                                                      11                                      2                         18                               3

2016                                                       8                                      0                         17                              27

2017                                                       9                                       1                           4                               2
______________________________________________________________________
Total                                                     28                                     3                         39                              32

Remember, it was in March 2015, that the first Supreme Court ruling was made against Anfi, this was the case of the Norwegian lady Mrs Tove Grimsbo. Or is this another fact that Anfi are not acknowledging?

It is estimated that since January 2015 the courts have awarded over 3,435,974.56€ to former Anfi clients.

Only last week one client was awarded their purchase price back, 27,895€ by the Court of First Instance Number 2, in Maspalomas. That same court also ordered that double the deposit was to be paid back which amounted to 28,611€. Plus the legal fees, so this client receives back more than they originally paid. The infringement was again for a contract in perpetuity, longer than 50 years, so again another untruth told by Anfi that their contracts are legal!

Also we must ask about the recent Anfi vote, which asked members to vote for new contracts which comply with the law, it goes against what the CEO and the writer of the email state, that their contracts are not illegal.

Follow the links below for previous articles on this vote.

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-sgm-what-are-they-up-to/

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-special-general-meeting-vote/

In the article on the last link there are figures that were supplied to Inside Timeshare that show payouts, cases won, closed and ready for execution. We leave it to you the reader to decide what the truth is, we already know.

truth

clarity meaning

Tuesday Review: Clarity

Following on from previous articles on Diamonds Clarity Program, Inside Timeshare welcomes today’s article from Bonita Hill, edited by Irene Parker. Bonita explains her experience of this program which is suppossed to “clean up” the sales process, it does appear to fall rather short.

But first a quick round up from Europe, as we said before August is usually a rather quiet time, especially in Spain, so at present there is little news coming from the courts as they are on vacation.

It would also seem the family of “fake” law firms, Litigious Abogados are continuing to claim they have cases waiting to be heard at court, with thousands in compensation waiting to be claimed. Well we do know there will be no money coming from this little crowd.

Inside Timeshare is also working on another Anfi story, they still seem to be denying that they have lost and are losing in the courts. Is it possible they are that worried of more litigation they are conducting a damage limitation exercise? More on this story when we publish.

Now on with today’s article.

Diamond Resort’s CLARITY™ Program

Battles the Oral Representation Clause

clarity

By Bonita Hill  

August 8,2017  

Diamond members on our member sponsored Advocacy Facebook page are confused about an email all US members received earlier this year describing a new Diamond CLARITY™ program being rolled out nationwide designed to provide members with enhanced transparency, accountability and RESPECT for the customer. Diamond’s CLARITY™ program was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

The response my husband and I received fell short of the CLARITY promise. Basically, the company said it doesn’t matter what the sales agent told us because of the oral representation clause, yet the requirement of the AOD clearly states DRI sales agents shall not deviate from approved sales materials. Instead of CLARITY, the company should just provide a person in advance of a sales presentation the answer we received after we filed our complaint:

“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”

Here is what the Assurance of Discontinuance says. The complete AOD can be found linked at the bottom of the press release.

IV Assurances

Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:

  • Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  • Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

We attended a sales presentation in Las Vegas in 2017 after CLARITY had been introduced in Arizona. Our sales agent was Adam Drell. There my husband and I were told by Mr. Drell that because we had so few points we were paying more in maintenance fees and that if we bought more points we would pay less. Mr. Drell also said he was going to add in a Westgate week so that we would be Silver. We did not own a Westgate week.

Mr. Drell said our new maintenance fee would be $1,124. However, I received a bill for $661 for the new points. I had already paid $880 for the old points so the total of $1,541 did not match. Adam did not respond when I tried to contact him.

family

I am 30 years old and my husband is 32. How can we pay for maintenance fees that will go up every year for life? We bought the additional points because we were told it would make our maintenance fees go down. Our loan is financed at 17.15% on top of the maintenance fees. Mr. Drell opened Barclaycards. I was approved initially with a limit of $2,100. Adam offered the Silver plan with a down payment of about $3,400. We did not want to put more money into timeshare that day. He then asked me to call Barclay’s reconsideration line. We were denied due to our high ratio balance on other cards, Diamond’s response tells us nothing prevents a Diamond sales agents from saying anything they can think of to sell vacation points because they know the company can and will fall back on the oral representation clause. This makes it easy and convenient for sales agents to tell falsehoods. I’m sure Mr. Drell’s response would be, “I didn’t say that.”

On our DRI Advocacy Facebook I learned of several others who posted that they were told things by the Diamond sales agent that weren’t true. Marjorie Menacker previously published an Inside Timeshare article.

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

Marjorie Menacker’s letter to Mr. Michael Flaskey, Diamond CEO (excerpt)

I just listened to your podcast No Vacancy with Glenn Hausmann. We were told in Virginia by Brian Humphries that if we purchased more points on the day we were there, we would not have to pay maintenance fees again.  Why does Diamond allow their sales agents to say anything, no matter how outlandish, to sell points?  Since the Diamond contract is in perpetuity, the repercussions are even more disastrous.

When we explained this (our medical bills) to Mr. Humphries, he told us about a one day opportunity that day that would allow us to trade our points to pay off maintenance fees.  When we attempted to use the program he described to us, we learned no such program existed.

I was a satisfied Timeshare owner for over 15 years until, in our opinion, we were deceitfully up-sold at our last update. Instead of poisoning another Diamond customer, isn’t it best to do what is right by standing up for the customer instead of advocating for the sales agent? Another Diamond member not only posted an identical complaint, it was against Brian Humphries, the same sales agent.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Menacker

Marjorie had been hit by a construction truck while walking. The family was struggling to pay maintenance fees due to this and other medical issues. Diamond refused to cancel their loan and refund because of their allegations of deceit, but offered a voluntary surrender for medical hardship. However, more and more timeshare members like Marjorie and I are standing up to timeshare companies offering to take back their points in exchange for nothing when the member feels they were sold based on promises not delivered. There are so many complaints. It has to stop.

conference

Diamond’s Advocacy Department has helped several members resolve their complaints. Out of 80 complaints filed, 29 have reported a positive outcome. Out of 80 complaints, 71 allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. Several of our member Advocates belong to this Facebook page.  

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

Members are concerned CLARITY is nothing more than a window dressing for the media.

Through social media timeshare members are finally able to get together to share experiences. This has produced a pattern of complaints that is compelling and compounding. It is hoped all timeshare companies will recognize the need to sell their product professionally and honestly rather than punish the buyer for life stuck in an unending contract with no secondary market often sold based on false promises.

fair trade

Through Inside Timeshare and our Advocacy facebook pages we have been asked about costs for legal services, we reached out to Mike Finn of Finn Law Group and this is his reply.

Hello all, thanks for your interest in our services.

We do try to charge a fixed fee because that provides a lot of certainty for the client as these cases sometimes take quite some time for resolution.

A couple of factors that we consider in setting the fee, is the date of the purchase, as that has statute of limitation ramifications, and also the amount owed to the resort and perhaps other third-party credit providers. Another factor is whether or not there is more than one active contract.

If I have this information I can provide a fixed fee and even offer terms in some cases.

Mike Finn

Thanks Mike, that has certainly made things clear, a lot more clearer than Clarity!

Remember, Inside Timeshare is here to give sound and accurate information, these are your stories, they are from owners experiences, the industry will eventually take note.

It just remains for Inside Timeshare to thank all those who contribute and help with the proof reading.