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The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor Wilma Miller with her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” and her Buyer Beware article. First we have a quick round up of European news.

October is now with us and in the next few months the annual maintenance bills will be arriving, this will also bring in many calls from “companies” offering cancellation of contracts and claims against timeshare resorts. The warning is beware the fantastic offers these will come out with, from the guaranteed cancellation and the promise of no win no fee claims.

As usual it is important to do your due diligence before engaging with any company, that means check and check again. There are many questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. How long has this company been operating, can they actually have done what they state in the time they have been working?
  2. If they are offering “no win no fee” claims, how are they going to claim?
  3. In order to do the claim do they want money upfront to cancel the contract first?
  4. Are they going to sell you another product?
  5. What lawyers are they going to use if taking the case to a Spanish Court?
  6. Can these lawyers be verified as genuine and registered with their relevant bar associations?

If you need help in answering any of these questions, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

The Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas began the month with another ruling against Anfi, in his ruling the Judge of Court No 4 declared the contract null and void, this was on the basis that the contract was longer than the stipulated maximum of 50 years as required by Law 42/98. The judge also awarded double the deposit paid within the cooling off period as this is also in breach of the law, in this case the German client has been award over 66,000€ plus legal interest.

Right click on image and select open in new tab to enlarge

Last month ended with a bang for Canarian Legal Alliance with a total of 18 sentences being issued in various courts ranging from First Instance to High Courts, there were also 6 provisional executions of sentences whereby Anfi has been ordered to deposit  over 184,000€ with the court. These provisional executions of sentences will speed up and ensure prompt payouts for the clients.

In all the 12 other sentences were against:

All contracts were declared null and void and the total awarded was over 286,000€

It would also appear that Abogados Lopez another fake law firm has become active again, with calls to existing CLA clients telling them that they have taken over their case from CLA. Beverley Pritchard is another new new name along with Ricardo Sanchez.

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-on-wednesday-more-warnings/

The telephone numbers being used are the same as before:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code, although when trying to call this number back a recording states the number does not exist.

If you are an existing client of Canarian Legal Alliance and receive a call from any of the names or numbers above including the original name of Hope Brugge, do not pay them or give them any information, they may sound credible, but are a complete scam.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

A Buyer Beware Timeshare Experience

Diamond Resorts

By Wilma Miller

October 2, 2018

We first encountered Diamond Resorts while on vacation June 2017. Their people knocked us off our feet with free tickets to a show, and switched us from the Stratosphere to Diamond’s Polo Towers Suites. They even picked us up in a limousine! All we had to do was attend a 90 minute presentation. It’s easy to catch people off guard while on vacation.

Looking back, I believe the presentation room was designed to be noisy and crowded. The 90 minutes turned into hours. I am 78 and my husband James, a Vietnam Army veteran, is 75. As the hours wore on we became more tired and more confused. The presentation began about 11 a.m. and lasted all day.

James has health issues. He was not feeling well after several hours had passed, but the sales agents just kept on. It did not even register when we mentioned his health issues. Sales agents Ninmar N and Diana C were vague on how the program worked. They were vague on the cancellation procedure, and the payment procedure. We felt pressured into signing and we were not allowed enough time to read the documents. They showed us the documents as they explained what was in them, but did not give us a chance to actually hold or read them before we signed. They hurried us through the signing process by placing papers in front of us, telling us what it said, asking us to sign. We later received a copy.

They had said we were eligible for a senior package. We’ve learned there is no such thing called a senior package. We did not know the maintenance fees would be so high. We did not even know we had purchased a timeshare. Jim kept asking if this was a timeshare. They never admitted it was.

We bought 3000 points. They charged $14,000 to two Diamond’s Barclaycard. We were not aware we had opened the cards, much less that the cards had been charged. We repeatedly told the sales agents we were not interested, but they kept insisting we sign the contract.

After the signing process, they placed the Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Public Offering Statement in our packet. We were not given an opportunity to even see what it was, much less read it. They said no one ever reads it. When we looked at it later it said right on the front – THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER SHOULD READ THIS REPORT BEFORE SIGNING ANY PAPERS!

In our opinion, the biggest deception of all was when they told us the payment would be $80 per month with no interest and Diamond Resorts would invoice us for the payment. This is in complete contrast to what has since transpired. Instead of one payment of $80, there are two payments, making it double the price they told us.

We received two Diamond Barclays Bank Credit Cards in the mail. As I mentioned, we were not even aware the cards had been opened. One Barclaycard was in my name and the other in James’ name. Neither agent mentioned credit cards during the presentation. They said we had to fill out an application to see if we would qualify. We never received a copy of the application.

To add insult to injury, the credit cards had no interest charges until now. Now the two payments are too much for us to afford.

After we received the high maintenance fee bill and credit cards, we went back for our orientation August 2017. We told them several times that we wanted to cancel or sell the timeshare. We said we wanted out.  When we told one person, they would get another person to talk to us. They tried to sell us an upgrade even when we said we could not afford what we bought! We talked to several sales people, but they ignored our concerns. It was obvious to us they did not care.  We never saw our original sales agents. Despite being told it was an orientation, we received no training or explanations.

We complained to Diamond Resorts directly. They dismissed our claims out of hand. They expect us to pay for something based on being told:

  • This was a great financial investment that would increase in value,
  • There were tax benefits as owners,
  • We could easily sell it,
  • Diamond had a buy-back program but recommended we never use it because we would lose all our points,
  • We would have a personal representative or coordinator assigned to us. They said this several times.  We never heard from anyone, much less a personal representative or coordinator.

They did not tell us:

  • How much vacation time we would get. We kept asking the sales agents but never received an answer. They bypassed every question.
  • We received 3000 points, but when we asked how we could use them, they gave us a confusing run around.
  • When we asked about maintenance fees and other fees, they avoided answering our questions by changing the subject.

We have sent a letter saying we cannot and will not make payments. We received a lot of collection calls. We sent a letter asking that the calls be stopped. They did stop. We had a high credit score before this. We stopped making payments around March. We received a form saying they would settle for a lower amount. They were talking about the Barclaycard.  

James has been diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard enough growing older without having to go through this. How many seniors will be harmed and harassed before lawmakers and Nevada regulators do something to stop this?  We fear it will never stop, so the best we can do is write about our experience, hoping it will help others.

When I submitted this article to Inside Timeshare, I was told about this member sponsored Diamond Resorts Members’ Facebook page. I wish I knew about this Facebook before we got ourselves into this. It’s been a disaster.

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

This article was written and submitted by Wilma Miller. We invite Diamond Resorts and Barclays to respond. We publish member accounts, good and bad, in an effort to warn the general public to know what they are signing and what they are buying.

That’s it for today, remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet. It must also be pointed out that just because a company advertises in a prestigious publication, the radio or the TV, this does not mean they are genuine, these are sold advertising spaces, the marketing companies that sell them do not check on the authenticity of the company advertising. They will also publish a disclaimer, that they are not responsible for the content or authenticity of the advertiser.

If in doubt, use our contact page and we will be pleased to help you with your checks.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, it is yet another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” by Irene Parker involving yet another Veteran, this story is on that will make your blood boil! But first for some news from the Spanish Courts and more disasters for the timeshare industry.

Anfi were yet again on the receiving end on the 18 September, They had to deposit into the court the sums of 48,735.82€ and 16,222.68€ in respect of sentences issued in the favour of clients. In two days that brings the sum Anfi have had to payout to a massive 184,650.14€.

On the same day, the Courts of First Instance in Masàlomas issued another sentence against Anfi, at the same time in Tenerife, Silverpoint had two sentences issued against them. In all the total awarded is a massive 215,000€. All contracts were declared null and void and all clients received back double the deposit paid which was in breach of the law forbidding the taking of payments within the cooling off period. One of the sentences against Silverpoint was issued by the High Court in Tenerife.

In another case which was held last week, the Judge at the Court of First Instance number 5 in Arona, decided that the case would not be sent for a full trial, he decided that as the case was in flagrant breach of the timeshare laws, he would issued the sentence in due course. On 19 September that sentence was issued, the contract with Silverpoint was declared null and void, with the client being awarded more than 23,000€.

Good news also came from the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, The judge presiding over Court Number 3 had several pre-trials this month, he then decided that these cases need not go to a full trial and he would issue sentences in due course. That now make Courts numbers 1, 3 and 4 no longer sending cases for a full trial, this is obviously good news for the clients bringing the cases as it now speeds up the judicial process.

All these cases were brought on behalf of clients from none other than those determined lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, so congratulations the lawyers and their clients.

One of our readers contacted Inside Timeshare to inform us that an ex sales Rep from Silverpoint had cold called them regarding getting them out of their Silverpoint contract with a view to gaining compensation. How did our reader know he was an ex-sales rep, simple, he was one of those that sold them the Silverpoint in the first place! The Caller stated he was from Harlow Consultants SL, so another new company has appeared.

Now for our Letter from America.

A Fourth Vietnam Veteran, Agent Orange Disabled, Fights a Timeshare Battle

By Irene Parker

First Draft September 16, 2018 for Friday September 21

Inside Timeshare has heard from 587 U.S. timeshare members, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices. Of the 587, 78 are veterans, active duty military and law enforcement. Many of the vets are disabled. Four, like Mr. Gomez, are disabled from Agent Orange. The volume of timeshare complaints submitted by readers has established the following facts and opinions:

  • Fact – Many of the 584 families are financially devastated by their decision to buy a timeshare. I have listened to many tears.
  • Fact – All but a few complaints have been dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”
  • Fact – All the complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and the Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, have been met with the above defenses.  Other states have taken complaints seriously, based on the volume of complaints and the similar nature of the complaints.
  • Fact – There are several repeat offending sales agents, with three to six identical or similar complaints.     
  • Fact – Not one of the 584 families knew their timeshare had virtually no secondary market.
  • Fact – A significant number have been ripped off by a timeshare exit company.
  • Opinion – Lawyers with no timeshare experience have no business taking a timeshare case.
  • Fact – The dollar amounts of many complaints lost to timeshare exit scams pales in comparison to the dollar amounts lost believing timeshare sales agents, according to member reports.

One resort has accused me of creating complaints. In other words, if the member had not talked to me, they would not have had a complaint. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. Gomez, this is true. I’ll explain. We will not name the timeshare company, hoping they will help the family, but the Gomez family said they would like their story told. Mr. Gomez is 71, Mrs. Gomez 63. They are Arizona residents.

Like George Yamada, from last week’s article, Mr. Gomez is a Vietnam Veteran, disabled from the effects of Agent Orange.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Let-s-Honor-our-Veterans–by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180908-59.html

Mr. Gomez is 100% disabled. Mr. Gomez earned two Purple Hearts. He has been informed his pancreatic cancer is terminal.   

   Vietnam soldiers

Mr. Gomez called a week ago and said he was struggling with a $28,000 timeshare mortgage. After listening to his comments, I concluded there had been no deception. A timeshare mortgage is just like a home mortgage in that you can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say, “I can’t afford this.” Mr. Gomez said he had switched some old points into a newer category of points. At the end of our conversation Mr. Gomez mentioned his Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I advised him to request a release based on medical hardship.

That night I woke up with one of those lightning bolt 2 A.M. moments. I called Mr. Gomez first thing the next morning and asked WHY had he switched from the old points to the new? He said it was because his resort had gone bankrupt.

I know for a fact that it is not mandatory to switch from his old points to the new. Mr. Gomez went on to tell me the sales agent in Las Vegas knew he had pancreatic cancer because he had explained to the agent why the four hour presentation was so tiring. He was suffering the aftereffects of his treatment. “They said our maintenance fees were $2,200 for 2018 and would go up to $3,000 January 1, 2019 if I did not convert, but if I upgraded to the next loyalty level I could turn in 10,000 points to pay $2,000 of the $2,500 maintenance fee,” he added. This is nonsense of course.  Mr. Gomez’s maintenance fees will go up more than $2,500 because of the additional points he purchased. Maintenance fee invoices have not been sent, but I seriously doubt the increase in his prior points will increase this dramatically. I own the same points.

So yes, you could say I created this complaint. Without my informing Mr. Gomez it was not necessary to switch from one set of points to the new, he would not have been aware of the deception. Only at the highest loyalty level can maintenance fees be paid with points (at pennies on the dollar).    

Whether this complaint is resolved or not resolved, it doesn’t change the turmoil this timeshare has caused the Gomez family by believing they had to transfer from one program to another. Mr. Gomez has been accepted for Hospice.

Mrs. Gomez called me. I had already surmised Mr. Gomez is an easy going person. His reaction seemed more disappointment than anger when I told him he could have kept his prior timeshare with the $6,000 loan balance, as opposed to the $33,000 purchase with $28,000 financed and $4,500 charged to a credit card. Mrs. Gomez reaffirmed my suspicion of Mr. Gomez’s easygoing nature saying,

Leo is a very easygoing person. But I’m a teacher!” A common complaint we hear, “I don’t like being made a fool of.

We encourage member accounts of their timeshare experiences, good or bad. We hope consumers and the industry will listen to the voices of those who wish to be heard.

So there we have it, another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this is probably one of the worst that we have yet come across, it makes you wonder if these sales agents and company directors have any moral bone in their bodies.

Stop press

Inside Timeshare received the following email from Wayne C Robinson, Author of Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale. We asked him if we could publish and he was more than happy for us to do so, please share this on you facebook pages and other social media.

Timeshare Author Challenges Diamond Resorts CEO Flaskey to “Do The Right Thing.”

I am not sure how to react when Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts International, views my profile on LinkedIn.

But, whatever his reason, I would like to share a few words with him, now that I have his executive attention.

My purpose in writing the book is not to attack companies such as Diamond to gain something in my own corner. I am merely pointing out areas that I feel require your attention to improve on customer relations.

These areas have certainly been highlighted with the multi billion dollar lawsuits against Diamond Resorts, and the level of customer dissatisfaction from the people who befriended and trusted your OPCs, sales reps, and VLOs. Remember, your members are the people who provided you the privilege of representing a company that has so much potential.

Rather than spend millions of dollars hiring fancy lawyers to help improve on customer service, you hire them in an attempt to destroy a woman in her 70s who is spending the remainder of her life helping families get their lives back on track for the damage your company has allegedly caused.

Were you aware of 83 year old retired Marine Raymond Mori, a two time Purple Heart recipient who has been battling with Diamond Resorts with a serious heart condition?

Were you aware of Roy and Angele Simmons, a U.S. Navy veteran whose mortgage to your company is $2,700 monthly with Maintenance fees of $4,780, and their social security check goes to pay Diamond? Just in case you didn’t see it, here is their story. https://youtu.be/j_nca6lMA4U

Shame on you, Flaskey for focusing on how to keep afloat your ship while the likes of Marriott and Disney and other reputable resort chains are watching you.

I am asking you to “man up,” and be the leader that your company and the general public can respect and appreciate by “doing the right thing.”

Spend your money and time trying to improve your customer relations and presenting your company as something Americans can be proud of, or find somebody else who can do the job.

As far as viewing my profile, I appreciate your interest in me and my book project. I also viewed yours. Congratulations on getting the position. Now that the world is watching, what are you going to do with it?

Well that’s it for this week, remember if you have any questions or comments about any article, company or just need some sound advice, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, we once again publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” with the Rodriguez family. As Inside Timeshare is still on vacation there is not much to report from Europe, but this news was sent to us by Canarian Legal Alliance.

They began this week with 5 more sentences being issued at the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, with over 235,000€ being awarded and the contracts being declared null and void.

Four of the sentences involved our old friends in Gran Canaria, Anfi and there was one against Airtours, all were also sanctioned by the courts for illegal deposit taking within the cooling off period, which means the clients will receive double what they originally paid.

In another release from CLA, it looks like the team of lawyers who are responsible for enforcing payments are having great success. In three cases filed at court to enforce Anfi to payout they have secured the following amounts for their clients, this money is now with the courts ready to be transferred to the clients accounts:

46.130,66 €

28.391,60 €

14.186,18 €

So we have some very happy ex-timeshare owners and it is only the start of the week, now for our Tuesday Slot.

The Rodriguez Family Share their Marriott Timeshare Experience

September 18, 2018

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. When sold honestly, the consumer knows what they bought. Timeshares sell on the secondary market for a fraction of their purchase price, so when buyers are told the timeshare would be easy to sell – a rude awakening ensues when they learn the truth.

For those who purchase a timeshare that has a limited secondary market value, knowing what that value might be in advance of a purchase is a disclosure that would be beneficial for the consumer, but a disaster for the industry.

Magical Realty in Orlando specializes in Marriott Vacations Worldwide resales. I have advised the family to call Magical Realty to find out an estimate of how long it would take, and what it would cost, to sell a timeshare that was clearly not right for this family. Magical Realty charges nothing upfront to list a timeshare. We recommend avoiding companies that charge any money upfront to list or sell a timeshare. https://magicalrealty.com/

By the Rodriguez family

We bought two Marriott Vacations Worldwide timeshares in 2014, one in the Virgin Islands, and a second in 2015 in Addison, TX. Our intention was to spend quality family time together. Our actual experience has been one of anger and frustration over limited availability and false promises.

Our first 2014 St. Thomas timeshare presentation was stressful.  It dragged on for hours. I felt the sales reps played my wife against me. I said “no” the entire time, but eventually told my wife, “Fine, I know I have horrible credit, so let them run a credit check, I will be declined, and we will walk away.” I was recovering from a bad business deal at the time so my credit score was in the low 500s. My boat had been repossessed and my house was in foreclosure.  I was sure we would be turned down. Well, they said I passed with flying colors! With my wife there, I felt I had to go through with it. Bad mistake! I told Marriott we would sign up, but told them I will have to get the loan refinanced. They assured me that I would be able refinance, but I would need to wait until a year of payments had passed. When I talked to my bank, they told me I could NEVER refinance.

I complained to our rep. He suggested I attend a question and answer session in Addison, Texas. It wasn’t a question and answer session. It was another sales presentation. I could kill myself, but we signed up for a second purchase because of representative’s Benjamin J’s promises:

“We will make it right. You can have my direct phone number and I will make sure you are taken care of. I don’t make anything off of this sale. I am just here, dedicated to you so that you are happy with this experience.”

Benjamin was no help. We feel that man lied to us. He showed us charts that illustrated how the timeshare would appreciate in value. That’s not true. This presentation was also long and stressful. Benjamin said we would get extra points but we never did. He told us he would be our personal representative, promising to make reservations if we needed help, but he never returned calls.

Marriott locations have never been available – we tried to book Hawaii, Aruba, Florida, Orlando, San Diego, and New York. The properties are always booked, even if we tried booking a year in advance. We don’t even have good vacations to show for this miserable experience. Vail, Colorado for two summers in a row was about it, when we really wanted to go skiing in winter. Branson, Missouri we booked out of desperation, ending up vacationing at the senior citizens capital of America. St Kitts was absolutely the worst vacation we have ever taken – all rocks and no beach access. Our room was downgraded four times before we checked in. They never told us we could be “bumped” out of our reservation to a lesser room. We reserved an ocean front room, were downgraded to ocean view, then to pool view and by the time we checked in we were downgraded to a garden view.

The statements made by the Marriott representatives that led to this:  

  1.     They said it was a great investment,
  2.     The value would increase,
  3.     It had built in equity,
  4.     It would be a tax write off.
  5.     We could rent it out to cover annual fees.
  6.      Our maintenance fees would not increase every year,
  7.     We would have no trouble booking locations.

When we asked more about the rental income and the amount of appreciation, the reps said it would be easy to sell because of the income potential and appreciation, or Marriott would buy it back. So why don’t they buy it back?

They are correct we could pass the timeshare onto our children, but in no way would we want to burden our kids with this useless thing. When we contacted MVC about them buying it back, they told us we would be put on a waiting list, but that it’s unlikely it would be bought back.

I complained to the Better Business Bureau. Marriott’s response was not to address the behavior of their sales staff, but to refer me to our signatures and initials on the contract. I was told 90% of their customers are happy with their vacation choices and availability. Needless to say, my BBB complaint was administratively closed before any real dialog could take place. It’s funny that BBB assigns the company one star out of five, based on customer reviews.

https://www.bbb.org/us/fl/orlando/profile/vacation-timeshare/marriott-vacations-worldwide-0733-202116

This has literally been one of the worst experiences we have ever had in terms of deception and aggressive sales tactics that seem geared to wear you down while playing spouses against each other.

Have you had an experience like this, would you like to share with it with others, if so contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to publish your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

Inside Timeshare will be running back to normal from Monday 1 October when we will be in full swing bringing you more information and revealing the latest bogus companies that come to our attention. In the meantime, if you have any contact with a company and you are unsure if they are genuine, please do use our contact sheet and let us know. We will research them for you and point you in the right direction. We will also publish the results to warn others, it is through your help that we can identify these people and save other from losing thousands.

The Tuesday Slot

This week’s Tuesday Slot is an update by Teresa Laird first published on 23 March 2018 in Friday’s Letter from America, it tells the story of Double Purple Heart recipient Raymond Mori and his wife’s “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. This article has also been published by OEN, opednews.com with an introduction by Irene Parker.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Raymond-Mori-83-Two-Purp-by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180828-295.html

At the moment Europe and especially Spain is very quiet on the timeshare front, mainly because we are in the middle of the summer holidays, with the courts in Spain on close down. But one reader did pass on a piece from one of the Anfi members forums, it poses a very interesting question on liability when it comes to private renting of timeshare apartments and weeks.

The writer starts by mentioning that members can’t help noticing that apartments are being privately rented at Anfi and the question arises of who would be liable if that renter had an accident in the apartment?

Would the resort be liable or would the person renting it out be liable if any legal action were to be brought, a very interesting point as the resort could claim that as they are not members but have rented from a private individual they are not covered by their public liability insurance. That would mean the owner of that week and apartment would theoretically be liable, but as an owner renting it out for whatever reason, be it no longer using themselves but covering the maintenance fees, they are unlikely to have any insurance cover for this eventuality.

The writer also goes on to say that this wholesale renting was not what was originally intended, it was for the sole use of members and their families, he believes this is just another nail in the timeshare coffin and would not be surprised if Anfi became a hotel in the future leaving members with little redress.

On that last point, we do know that IFA Lopesan has set aside millions of euros with the intention of buying the Cazorla shares giving them full control. It is also a known fact that IFA Lopesan have no interest in the timeshare model, they favour hotels which are mainly all inclusive and of a very high standard.

If you are an Anfi member what are your feelings on these points, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, now for this Tuesdays article.

Retired Marine Raymond Mori, Two Times Purple Heart Recipient, Alleges Timeshare Fraud at Age 83

An update since my original article March 23, 2018

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

Tuesday Talk Member’s Forum August 28, 2018

  

By Teresa Laird,  

Purple Heart 9/29/68

“I am writing this at my parent’s last Diamond Resorts update March 13, 2018, I am convinced my parents, at age 83 and 79, would have purchased 30,000 additional Diamond vacation points for $234,295 had I not been with them. This offer required a down payment of $69,993. I kept the paper of these terms under the table because members are not allowed to walk out with hand written notes. My dad was not feeling well. He falls asleep in his wheelchair and had spent six months in the hospital after a heart attack. The stress over this expense has caused my parent’s health to deteriorate further.”

Raymond Mori before being shot down twice, a gunner,  earning two Purple Hearts.

I changed their phone number to avoid Diamond’s collection calls. My mom still shakes when she hears the phone ring. She has never been late on paying a bill in her life, so this has caused her to lose weight and lose sleep. I learned my mom’s entire Social Security check goes to pay the Diamond mortgage. We have learned Diamond points have no secondary market value, so unlike your home, you can’t sell the points if you have a loan.

My parents today, Lillian and Raymond Mori, married 61 years

I have reached out to Angela Sandstede as her parents are going through exactly what we are going through. Roy Simmons is a Navy veteran. His Diamond mortgage payment is $2,700. He is a Navy veteran and a retired letter carrier.

Roy Simmons and Angela Sandstede Simmons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.be

Like many, my parents used their Monarch Grand Vacation timeshare for years without complaint. They said they were told they had to give up their deed and buy points. I’ve learned they did not have to do that. Since Diamond acquired Monarch, their annual maintenance fees have increased from $2,600 to $4,600.        

I first learned of their purchase when my mom told me they had purchased an investment. She said they had invested in property. I called Diamond Resorts when my dad said they wanted to sell some points. When I asked how to go about selling points, the DRI hospitality agent laughed at me.

What they bought

4,000 Diamond points 3/12/2013 for $20,416  

2500 Diamond points 6/25/2013 for $8,325  

2500 Diamond points 7/29/2013 for $8,616

5000 Sampler points 5/4/2014 for $2,995

At ages 79 and 75 they were sold a Sampler trial program?

I called Diamond and told them that they needed to take back this last Sampler purchase at the very least. They said they would work with us but had to talk to my parents directly. What did they do – they sold my parents 17,000 more points over the phone at then ages 79 and 73 for $49,492. My parents said they were told they cannot cancel the Sampler, but the points could be added to something else. This is why they are in foreclosure. The caller said they would attach the Sampler points to another program. I could not believe it. Their new maintenance fees are $4,780.

My mom worked as an interpreter for the Ontario California liaison. She speaks Spanish. My dad is diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. To think their lives have been financially ruined by this company is unforgivable. I am an advocate now. I am a veteran. I am working on a graduate degree and am active in the Veteran’s Resource Center. There is a Veteran’s Resource Center in every university. As soon as I finish my degree, I plan to make it my life’s work to warn veterans about predatory timeshare sales that can financially ruin the lives of those who served to protect us, including those who intend to do us harm. I am one of 72 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement who have reported alleged timeshare fraud.  https://www.csun.edu/vrc

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

Thank you Teresa for the update, it is despicable that the timeshare industry allows its sales agents to behave in this manner, we have said it before and will continue to say it, you as an industry

ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR SALES AGENT SAY AND DO!

It is your products they are selling, you employ them to represent your companies, the buck stops with you. If the industry can’t change its practices, then maybe it is time for major legislation forcing them to change. We have seen this in Spain, consumers there are now given the full protection of the law, the strongest in Europe, with other countries starting to follow their lead.

If you have any comments or would like to share your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, then contact Inside Timeshare, remember you are not alone.

Have you been contacted by a company offering resale, claims or relinquishment and are not sure if the company or what they are offering is genuine, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction. Doing your homework before engaging with any company dealing with timeshare will save you money and a whole lot of stress.

Start the Week: Anfi Make the News Again; A New Contributor Joins Inside Timeshare

Welcome to Start the Week, on 11 August El Diario published another article surrounding the controversy of the man made beach at Tauro, which is part of the Anfi Tauro Beach Project.

El Diario has had access to a report on the ecological impact of the importation of sand from the Western Sahara, which under UN and EU sanctions is illegal. El Diario gained access to this report under the freedom and transparency regulations.

The report is from a study by the Biodiversity and Conservation Group, which is part to the EcoAqua University Institute of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It looks at the impact of the Special Zone of Conservation (ZEP), Known as the Marina Strip of Mogan, an area about 300 meters offshore and covering an area of 30,000 hectares which extends along the southwest coast of Gran Canaria.

Due to the sedimentation caused by this sand, visibility is affected which will have an effect on the ecosystem as light is drastically reduced. This reduction is causing problems for the plant life as it affects their photosynthesis capabilities. There is also concern as to the introduction of minerals and other inorganic material which is also having consequences on the marine life of the Zone.

It was originally believed that the 70,000 tonnes of sand was actually coming from Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas, but as we know it was actually imported illegally from the Western Sahara, with work starting in May 2016. This work was also started without the necessary documentation, licences and permissions in place, these were then falsified by the then head of the Coastal Authority months after the work began.

José María Hernández de León, was then sacked and is now facing trial, which the State Prosecutor is demanding a minimum of 3 years jail. The investigation is also involving Anfi as it is that company who has the concessions to the beach and also is undertaking the work to build it.

No doubt we will be seeing more prosecutions and possibly some very heavy fines, once the investigation is complete. For the full story click on the link below, open in google and use the translate facility.

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/aportacion-Tauro-Franja-Marina-Mogan-playa_de_Tauro-arena_saharaui-Franja_Marina_de_Mogan_0_801419852.html

PDF file of the University of Las Palmas Report.

ANFITauro_EDIFIL20180809_0001

We have also had the following story from one of our Anfi readers, it transpires that the Anfi Charge Card which members can use at the various concessions at Anfi, is no longer being accepted by certain bars and restaurants.

This charge card allows Anfi members to pay for food and drink without the need to use cash or their own credit cards, they are then charged at the end of their stay and clear the card with Anfi.

This is not a bad idea, but it does seem as though the businesses concerned are not having their bills paid by Anfi immediately, according to our information, they are having to wait several months before they are paid. This is obviously not good for the businesses, especially if the majority of members are using the card, the businesses still have their own bills to pay such as stock and the high rents for the locals. As we get more information on this subject we will inform you.

Inside Timeshare would also like to welcome a new collaborator, Wayne C. Robinson, an Inspirational Speaker, Author and Film Producer, you can see more about him on his website:

https://waynerobinsonproductions.com

Wayne is a former timeshare sales executive with many years of experience in the industry, he is also publishing a book called The Red Week Timeshare Book, covering everything you need to know about timeshare before, during and after the sale. It will also cover how to be rid of your timeshare for free. We will certainly be looking forward to reading this.

He has also sent us a copy of his publication entitled 13 Shocking Secrets; The timeshare industry does not want you to know. We have added a PDF copy below for you to read.

13 Shocking Timeshare Secrets

Or to subscribe click on the link below

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwaynerobinsonproductions.us16.list-manage.com%2Fsubscribe%3Fu%3D44c27217e62190e8ab52dc418%26id%3Da30a1ab1e0&h=AT2iQOYhL4_-aX_VBWKlWNXUlQIPvzjm2gEf_WCUm7ybAqiH-bVPp6dJfyfJna2tGxYgIY9RWIfrsDAgPPqfz4zQdQYzwHbakLP8CvHDZXLHkGBoGs20SHZxCXoP2ol4xyKsL0wsY1jkcgFFVoJY5mCeu6o5ea7ic8c

We hope to be able to publish some of his insights on these pages in the near future, so once again welcome to Inside Timeshare and the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy facebook page.

Tomorrow we publish another new contributor Della Morris, an Americano Beach Resort owner in foreclosure, with the introduction by our very own Irene Parker, so join us tomorrow for more on the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series.

Start the Week

Summary of the Royal Courts of Justice Tribunal Ruling by Judge Timothy Herrington.

This case was heard on 19 June 2018 and  revolves around a validation order made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which validates (makes legal) loan agreements taken out by clients of Azure Resorts Malta, using Barclays Partner Finance (BPF).

The loan agreements were made by Azure Service Ltd between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016, with this company not being authorised as a licenced broker to arrange or introduce clients to BPF. On finding out that these loan agreements were made by an unauthorised entity, BPF applied to the FCA to have the loans validated or made legal.

This validation order was issued, affecting some 1,444 clients and could cost Barclays around £47 million.

An appeal by the clients and their legal representatives forced the FCA to apply to the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing on the legal implications and guidance to overturn the validation Order.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement.

He ruled that the FCA did not take into account “Client Detriment” when they issued the validation order, his ruling was that the FCA re-evaluate that decision and take into account the client detriment.

He stated that the client detriment revolves around the following:

  1. Clients were not given sufficient information as to the terms and conditions of the loan agreement required by law;
  2. There were no major credit checks made as to the affordability of the repayments such as income versus outgoings reports;
  3. The length of the loan agreements were not explained, with client under the impression that they were for two years;
  4. Clients were pressured into signing these agreements;
  5. False representations were made to clients relating to the financial impact of regulated agreements;
  6. Clients were subject to long high pressure sales tactics to purchase the timeshares;
  7. Clients were sold timeshares which were not appropriate for them;
  8. Vulnerable consumers were treated inappropriately;
  9. Concerns about commission arrangements and disclosure thereof.

The FCA must now re-examine the original validation order and take into account the client detriment statements of the borrowers.

With this ruling it makes it almost impossible for the FCA to uphold the original validation order, therefore it must overturn the previous decision and rule that these loan agreements cannot be validated and are thereby unenforceable in law.

This means that all 1,444 clients will be entitled to be repaid all the money plus all interest paid.

Once the FCA issued a cancellation of the original validation order, this will no doubt have an effect on any loan issued by a timeshare company through BPF. Although the company brokering the agreement may be authorised, the points listed above may make it possible for any loan to be contested.

This will be of significant interest to all Silverpoint clients who entered into contracts under the investment weeks scheme.

At present it is not known how long the FCA will take to issue their findings.

Latest news surrounding Tauro Beach.

The scenes witnessed a few weeks ago of the destruction of homes situated on Tauro Beach have been the subject of many news articles, the local people are understandably very angry.

The destruction was carried out by a private demolition company with a not too savoury reputation, Desokupas, who were hired by the Cazorla‘s and Anfi to clear the area which they claim they own.

This was done without any apparent court orders, which leaves us to believe that the destruction may just be illegal, even if the land is owned by the Cazorla’s.

It does leave us to wonder how the members of the Anfi resort must feel about this, that the company they pay high annual maintenance fees can behave in such a manner?

Do they actually understand what is going on?

It also begs the question how the Ambassador for Anfi David Silva, the renowned footballer and local boy must feel about how the company he represents in advertising is treating his own people and neighbours?

Click on the links below.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/situacion-vecinos-Desokupas-chabolas-Tauro_2_799340062.html

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/politica/Nueva-Canarias-Ayuntamiento-Mogan-Tauro_0_800020281.html

For the full story of the whole project search Tauro Beach in the search box.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this or any other article, or if you need to find out about any company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Marriott Change Contracts to Bypass Spanish Timeshare Laws

Since January 1999, when Law 42/98 came into force, many timeshare companies continued to sell their product as they had before, this all change when these laws were challenged and the Supreme Court ruled on the definitive interpretation. This interpretation made many contracts illegal, especially on two main points, the duration of the contract was limited, allowing only for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years, the Supreme Court also ruled that floating weeks and points systems were also illegal as they lacked any substance or a tangible product.

The unfortunate thing is that many timeshare companies still sell floating weeks and points, one company Anfi, has added a week number and apartment number in an effort to get around this, but the courts still rule that it is floating as the contract actually states that. Others are using another ploy to get around Spain’s strict timeshare laws.

Inside Timeshare has received from one of our German readers a new contract that Marriott tried to get him to sign in May, to replace his existing contract for Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program.

This would not be a problem if it were to comply with the law as it applies to Spain, but as we explain it is not designed to do this, it is purely a way to circumvent the strict laws on duration, points and floating weeks.

What Marriott have done has already been tried with contracts sold by Diamond Resorts and Club la Costa, in the past these two companies have used UK, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands or other offshore havens and registered as  Limited Companies. The contracts also have a clause which states that the laws of the United Kingdom and the Jurisdiction of UK courts applies. Even if the contract was sold, signed and paid for in Spain.

With the case of Marriott, they now use a United States Florida address on the contract, 6649 Westwood Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, 32821-6090. They have also included in the terms and conditions a very unfair clause, this relates to the possibility of taking any legal action against them. This clause is placed in section 8 on page 5 of the contract we have seen, below is a translation from the German contract.

“By joining this program, you waive your right, under applicable law, to go to court for any legal action or lawsuits that may be brought by or against MVCEC or its affiliates in any way as to its interpretation, design, validity, enforceability, or instruments, related to the program (including replacement procedures)”.

The original in German.

So what does this mean?

You as a purchaser will no longer have any recourse to take legal action against Marriott, when you find out that your contract is illegal in Spain and would be declared null and void in a Spanish Court.

This is obviously a blatant attempt to surpass the laws of Spain, which have been put into place to protect consumers from unfair contracts and purchases.

Points which are the basis of many timeshare contracts are illegal in Spain, but they are still legal elsewhere, the duration of the contract is limited to a maximum 50 years in Spain but perpetuity is still allowed elsewhere. By using this method to bypass the laws of the country where the purchase is made, does not protect the consumer. It goes back to lock them into never ending contracts and a points system that most find are unusable due to no availability.

This can be born out by many comments on various forums, below are just a couple found on Tripadvisor; (spelling mistakes are from the originals).

“Unless you live in the US, forget about investing in a Marriott timeshare. I have bought one weeks ownership in in the resort in Phuket. The resort as such is beautiful and it seems well managed. However if you dont want to go to your home-resort every year exchanging it through Interval becomes extremely difficult especially if you are looking at resorts outside the US. Interval has very few properties of similar standing in Europe or Asia, even the Marriott property in Marbella Spain is almost impossible to obtain in exchange.

I am so frustrated with the investment that iI am considering selling the ownership. Marriott offered my app. 15% of what I originally paid inspite of the fact that property prices in Thailand have gone up considerably. I can only say that buying ownershi at Marriott Vacation in Phuket was the worst investment I have ever made in my life.”

“It is difficult to give feedback on the use of it when the places you want to go are never available unless you book 13 months in advance. That is ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who books their vacations that far in advance. So, I’ve only used it once in Florida (Panama City Beach) which is on the bay side. It was nice, but not convenient being I wanted to be on the beach. I agree with the others, it’s not worth the money. I can stay in places just as nice for the $ and book closer to the date which is convenient for me.”

So for those who have in the past purchased in Spain, if your old contract shows that it was signed in Spain and indeed comes under Spanish law, you have a right to claim the purchase price back and have your contract declared null and void in a Spanish Court. If you sign the new contract you will lose this right, if you are a new purchaser, then the advice is don’t bother as you will have no consumer rights at all.

If you have any questions or comments on this subject or wish to know if your contract is illegal under Spanish law, then use our contact page and get in touch, we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot we publish yet another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this highlights their Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many such stories from Veterans, serving members of the military and law enforcement officers, some of these have been published others have just related their stories and asked for help. The author of tomorrow’s story has requested anonymity we have complied with their request. So join us again tomorrow.

The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners Round 2

Back in March 2016, Inside Timeshare published the article The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners, this highlighted the long running arguments between the Lyng family and Santana Cazorla, the 50% partner in Anfi, who also controls the Board.

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

It centered mainly around the disappearance 8 million Euros between 2012 and 2013, the diversion of these funds was apparently noticed  by the Lyng’s while a lawsuit was pending between Cazorla and Lopesan. This lawsuit revolved around a 14 million Euro debt, which Lopesan claimed was owed to them by Cazorla as they had bought the debt from the Cardenas family. This debt it is claimed was for the land which Cazorla purchased from Cardenas for the golf course and complex at Anfi Tauro.

Well the story has not ended there, round 2 is up and running.

Just recently the Spanish press has been running several stories on the continuing battle between Cazorla and Lopesan, it also involves the new head of the Costas, Rafael López Orive, who is facing charges of “Prevarication”. (For the full story on this click the link below).

https://www.elconfidencial.com/empresas/2018-07-22/anfi-canarias-direccion-general-costas-juez-investiga_1595609/

http://espiral21.com/santana-cazorla-demanda-a-ifa-por-fraude-en-la-compra-de-anfi/

In another twist in this long running dispute between the two major players in the tourist sector in Gran Canaria, Santana Cazorla has issued a lawsuit filed in June 2018 at the Mercantile Court in Las Palmas, involves Bankia, the public bank of the Spanish State and 6 million euros.

http://espiral21.com/bankia-rebajo-6-millones-a-lopesan-la-compra-de-creditos-de-anfi/

Apparently it looks like Bankia lowered the price for the purchase of credits from Anfi del Mar by Lopesan by 6 million euros and according to the lawsuit Cazorla states:

“Lopesan ha estado comprando créditos existentes contra las sociedades de Anfi y contra las empresas del grupo Santana Cazorla a diversas entidades bancarias”.

“Lopesan has been buying existing credits against the companies of Anfi and against the companies of the Santana Cazorla group to various banking entities.”

The situation between the factions is complicated and we will no doubt be seeing many more lawsuits and counter lawsuits being filed, this now begs the question, what does this actually mean for those members of Anfi?

When IFA Lopesan purchased their 50% share, it left many wondering where Anfi would be heading, would Lopesan if they do take full control turn Anfi into a hotel and do away with the timeshare model?

Looking at the history of Anfi and comments from members, since the Cazorla’s purchased their 50% share and took control of the board, Anfi has been seeing a slow decline in standards, a series of scandals and lawsuits, with the latest being the Tauro Beach Project. It must also be remembered that Anfi are also losing heavily in the courts for the past mis-selling of their timeshares.

What the future has in store for this once great resort, no one really knows, what we can say however is that it is going to be at a cost of millions of euros in legal bills, something the Anfi members should be very much aware of, yet we believe that they will as usual be kept in the dark and fed whatever “spin” Anfi can put on it.

https://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-sandwich-holandes-lopesan-incordia-santana-cazorla-anfi-mar-201806210739_noticia.html

If you have any questions or comments on this article or even want to know if you have a valid claim to retrieve your purchase price and have your contract declared null and void, then use our contact page. Inside Timeshare will get back to you and endeavour to answer your questions and concerns with facts.

Tomorrow Friday’s Letter from America asks what the future holds for Americano Beach Resort after the hurricanes Matthew and Irma, this is from another new contributor Meryl Stefan, with the introduction by Irene Parker.

So join us for our last article of the week for more news and information on the world that is timeshare.

 

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

On 7 July, Market Exclusive published an article reporting on the financial statements issued by Marriott. (See link at the end). After the preamble they began by announcing they had identified Fraudulently Induced Electronic Payment Disbursements”, which resulted in $9.9 million resulting from unauthorized third-party access to their email system. They duly notified law enforcement and relevant financial institutions, commencing an investigation.

They have managed to recover $3,2 million, but are hopeful they will recover the rest. Now this is just a start in their report.

They have also acknowledged they are recording pre-tax litigation expenses of $16.3 million, these are to settle in principle, two actions in their North American business with the Petrick action and an owners action brought by those with fractional interests at the The Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe. It will also include actions by owners of Marriott timeshare interests in Spain.

The litigation on their Spanish business is a result of the laws Spain has brought in to protect consumers, this law known as Ley 42/98, was enacted in January 1999 and invalidated many timeshare contracts sold after that date.

Marriott, as many other timeshare operators believed, that by filing a deed of adaptation they would be able to continue as before, but they were sadly wrong. It took many years and court battles to get to the stage Spain is at now, the strongest timeshare laws in Europe.

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

Many timeshare operators continued to sell perpetuity contracts, when the law stipulates they should be of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. They also continued to sell the floating weeks and points systems, which gives the purchaser no actual rights apart from the right to use subject to availability. With the fractional ownership, the Supreme Court clearly regarded this as timeshare, as usage was dependent on a points system being allocated. Fractional was designed to “replace” timeshare with the promise of “purchasing shares and investing” in a real estate property, but again in Europe timeshare should never be sold as an investment.

We have seen over the past few years many other companies falling foul of this legislation, Anfi, Palm Oasis, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma and the Diamond run resort Cala Blanca in Gran Canaria, Silverpoint in Tenerife and a host of others all over Spain. Marriott is just the latest to be hit by timeshare owners becoming aware of the laws and finding they now have a way out of the never ending cycle of upgrades and maintenance payments.

Marriott, have also conceded that this litigation is going to cause them to incur considerable and “material and litigation” costs, along with the settlements and judgement costs. They have also admitted that it will have a severe effect on their results in the European sector and will have repercussions on their business and financial condition.

The one thing Marriott along with others in the industry are still saying, is they all disagree with these rulings, that the law as interpreted by the 126 rulings of the Supreme Court are wrong, they are seeking to introduce legislation “that will implement a more balanced approach”. More balance, or do they mean going back to when they believed they could not be touched and did exactly as they wanted.

Although they do go on to say the following “The timeshare laws, regulations and policies in Spain may continue to change or be subject to different interpretations in the future, including in ways that could negatively impact our business”. Negatively impact their business, well they only have themselves to blame, had they sold within the regulations, they wouldn’t have to worry about negative impact!

On this point of Marriott and others in the industry lobbying for a change in the law, this has now been set by the Supreme Court, the only way that the law can be changed now is for the Spanish parliament to pass new ones. This is very unlikely to happen, even if it were to happen, then we would end up with many years of court cases and appeals to the Supreme Court to clarify any new laws.

At present the law firm which is responsible for the clarification of the law with now 127 rulings from the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance, has many cases upcoming against Marriott. These cases are only now just starting to take place, CLA have at least 2 cases already presented at court with around 30 in the final stages of presenting to court. They are also looking into new clients cases, all these contracts are in perpetuity and use the point system, so this figure is surely set to rise.

On the point of the Supreme Court rulings, Canarian Legal Alliance began seeking clarification from the Supreme Court well over 7 years ago, they eventually received their first victory against Anfi in March 2015. This case involved the Norwegian client Mrs Tove Grimsbo, it was a long drawn out case, but the precedent had been set. Within weeks of this first ruling, many more followed, setting in stone the laws that for many years had been interpreted differently depending on the court and the judge presiding.

It will be interesting to see whether Marriott go the same way as Anfi, Silverpoint and others in constantly appealing against any rulings made against them, or will they just payout and cut their losses?

Only time will tell, we will certainly be keeping an eye on these cases.

Link to the original article:

https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/amp/

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker-marriott-racketeering-lawsuit/

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

If you need any further information on this subject, whether it be a Marriott, Anfi, Silverpoint or any other timeshare, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Have you been contacted by a company that tells you that you have a claim, and want to know if it is genuine and they are a legitimate company? Then contact Inside Timeshare for the facts.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Sheila Brust gives us an update to her previous article “Pencil Pitch”, again edited by Irene Parker.

It would seem that Darth Vader has sent in his Imperial Stormtroopers and Inside Timeshare is under attack from the dark side, no problem, the force of the good is with us. Keep your stories coming, the truth will always prevail!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

“You have no Proof” and we were not allowed a rebuttal

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Many potential timeshare buyers have watched timeshare sales agents scribble timeshare promises on a piece of paper. Buyers are not allowed to keep a copy of the “Pencil Pitch” but Sheilah Brust managed to walk out with hers.

Sheilah listened to her pencil pitch in Daytona presented by Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie. She filed a complaint with Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) and was told the following,

As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures.  In terms of evidence we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida.  Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not surely, if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own.  If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.

By Sheilah Brust

My husband Thomas and I have been Diamond timeshare members since Diamond acquired our resort. Our original timeshare was purchased in 1994. Things were fine until we fell for the Pencil Pitch.   

On February, 4, 2017, we attended an update meeting at Diamond’s Daytona resort The Cove. We wanted to attend the update because Diamond had been sold to Apollo Global Management. We are Platinum Diamond members so already had more points than we needed, but wanted to hear about the changes.

Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie said that he had just returned from training in Orlando and had learned about a new program that would allow us double point usage. We patiently followed Brad’s presentation. He wrote the numbers upside down. I remarked at how he could he do that. He said practice.

We feel Diamond must not understand the Pencil Pitch or they would cancel this purchase. I have learned Diamond retained the law firm Duane Morris to write a letter implying our article was defamatory. I have submitted this article as our rebuttal. We understand the figures we were presented. We were not confused. I have an accounting background. I wrote down everything Brad Leslie said.

Here’s the pitch. We hope you post a comment expressing your interpretation.  

The actual Pencil Pitch is three pages long. Page 2 of the Pencil Pitch is based on 15,000 additional points instead of 25,000 points pictured above because we said no to 25,000 points. The numbers below reflect 65,000 points instead of 75,000.  For those not familiar with the point system, a Diamond timeshare points sells for around $4 a point.

Timeshare members incur annual maintenance fees. For Platinum members the annual maintenance fee is $.15 per point, or $8,631 for the 50,000 points we owned before the purchase of 15,000 additional points.

From the original illustration above, to offset maintenance fees, on the right side of sheet, Brad said and wrote:

  • Own 75,000 points
  • Ability to get (Double Usage) 150,000 points – 50,000 points is what would be left for travel
  • 100,000 points would be available for point redemption @ 10 per point through a Travel Reimbursement program. Brad told us to book hotels, etc., and then cancel the reservations. We would receive a reimbursement check back for $10,000. The 50,000 points tendered would not be credited back. Brad said we would be reimbursed via check in about 30 days or 72 hours if via a reloadable debit Visa card. Without the double points, this program is of no value. If we used all our 50,000 points for redemption at $.10 a point, we would receive a reimbursement check for $5,000 that would only pay $5,000 towards a $8,631 maintenance fee bill with no points left for travel.

Brad said we could use the reimbursement check to pay maintenance fees but he said he could not tell us that. He said, “It’s your money!”

Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017.  Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program.

65,000 own                 $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000

65,000 given              2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points            $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

80,000 left                 $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed       

x $.10 reimbursed     EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

Brad said Diamond was working on a new member page for the new program that would have a split screen and that we would be able to see our newly acquired 15,000 points in the background. He said the 65,000 points “given” (Brad’s word) would also appear on a “split screen” on our member account page.

When I asked about the maintenance fees on the new 15,000 points, Brad said, “If you don’t use them you don’t pay maintenance fees on them. They will be kept in the background. If you want to use them then you will pay maintenance fees.”

I specifically asked Brad, “So if I had all 130,000 points reimbursed, they could all be redeemed for a check? Brad said, “Yes.”

I asked Brad why this program was developed. He said Diamond wanted to make sure we STAYED VACATIONED.     

We met with Brad again in May 2017. Brad said the program had changed. Brad said Diamond was getting rid of the debit cards because there were problems. He said DRI was working on the split screen. He said now we would need to generate the reimbursement checks by participating in the Travel Reimbursement program. I was familiar with this program and had used it before. This was a benefit we already had as Platinum members, but only beneficial if we were to lose points. We feel Brad adulterated the Travel Reimbursement program, incorporating it into his February Pencil Pitch.  

Brad’s reply to our complaint submitted to the Florida DBPR was that 15,000 points in the background was for a Dream Vacation. He said I was confused! Dream vacation points were not in any background account. They were added to our account February 17, 2017 so these could not have been the points in question. Brad sent us a $2,621 check to reimburse us the maintenance fees on the newly purchased 15,000 points. If it wasn’t for the NEW 15,000 points, we never would have gotten a $2,621 reimbursement check for the maintenance fees. Diamond representative Brandi said sales agents are allowed to reimburse members for their first year’s maintenance fees. Dream Vacation points don’t have maintenance fees.

Of course Brad was selling a double point program. He wrote down 130,000 and called the 65,000 points “given” points. I had told him that this program better be right because we are retired and living on fixed incomes and that we had NO extra money if he was not telling us the truth.  His answer was that he hoped to rebuild our trust in Diamond. We had told him we had been duped previously, told we had to buy 4000 points to prevent our heirs from being stuck with Diamond points.

Diamond’s response to us was that the information as presented was confusing, but not illegal. This is the CLARITY promise Diamond launched in response to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an Assurance of Discontinuance.  

The CLARITY Promise: With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. She said our complaint had been escalated to the legal team and they found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.

I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create a savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

Summary

As a result of this upsell and lack of clarity, we have less time to travel because we have to work to pay for the additional points that increased maintenance fees to $11,252. We have a loan with Diamond for $31,000 and $26,000 Barclay Card balance.

Brad charged on two Barclay Cards $14,000 in my name and $12,000 in Thomas’ name. He had us fill out a credit card application to see if we qualified for the new program. He returned and said, “Barclays loves you! You got $26,000 credit!” I was livid after I learned we had been charged these amounts. We could have used a different credit card that would have gotten us rewards points.  

This whole deal was based on having 130,000 points using points at $.10 a point for a Travel Advantage reimbursement service taking advantage of 65,000 bonus points. You can book a lot of vacations with 50,000 points that would vastly exceed a measly reimbursement check for $5,000. You can stay a week for roughly 2500 to 5000 points. At an estimated 4000 points per week, about 12 weeks.       

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

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:

 

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. 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

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jun/17/whconsider-when-buying-time-share-vacatispot/472994/

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help with a timeshare concern or would like to share your experience.   

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Sheila for your candid story, it just amazes us that this type of sales practice still goes on, yet the companies involved deny all responsibility for their sales agents actions. In Europe timeshare is very much on the decline, partly due to the antics in the past of unscrupulous sales reps, not all I hasten to add, I do know many who abhor the deceitful practices and are genuine in their approach to selling the product. They believe that telling the truth sells the product.

We have said this on many occasions, timeshare was and could be a good product, it may not suit everyone but sold properly and truthfully will only strengthen it and give it a future.

So we say to all timeshare companies, get your house in order, reign in your sales agents / reps, stop these types of sleazy sales presentations, take control or you will lose a product that could work.

News has just come in from Canarian Legal Alliance of this weeks court cases, on the receiving end are Anfi in Gran Canaria once known as the flagship of timeshare resorts in Europe and Silverpoint in Tenerife.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, has had NINE sentences passed against them this week. The clients will receive back all their money and have had their contracts declared null and void.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint, who are well known on these pages has lost another case in the Court of First Instance in Arona. Again the court ordered the return of all money and the contract declared null and void.

In total these 10 cases will cost these timeshare resorts over 325,112€ plus legal interest and in most cases the return of the client’s initial legal fees.

So the week ends with another “Black Cloud” hanging over the timeshare industry. Will they ever learn?

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and stories, if you would like to share these with the rest of the timeshare world, then use our contact page and get in touch.

So that is all for this week, join us on Monday for more news and views of the timeshare world, have a great, enjoyable and safe weekend.