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Barclays Partner Finance

Silverpoint in the Courts: Criminal Action Vs Civil Action

At the start of this decade the first cases against Resort Properties / Silverpoint were being formulated, at that time there were two schools of thought, Criminal Action and Civil Action using the Timeshare Law 42/98.

First we take a look at the Criminal Action, this was proposed by the law firm Kaehler Abogados, he believed that what Resort Properties / Silverpoint were selling was classified as a fraud. This involved the selling of multiple timeshare weeks as “investments” in property, with a view to renting for an income and eventually going on the resale market with a return of around 15% to the purchaser.

As it turned out, the hundreds of consumers found out too late that what was actually happening was they were being continually upsold to higher standards of apartments / weeks. The reason they were given was what they had originally purchased was not selling as it was not what the market wanted. The only way to secure their “investment” was to pay even more money to upgrade to the better quality apartments.

Many of these transactions were funded with loan agreements brokered by Resort Properties / Silverpoint using Barclays Partner Finance agreements. The promise was that after two years the weeks would be sold and that would then cover the loan amounts and settle the agreements.

In reality this did not happen.

The first cases went to court and a long drawn out legal battle ensued, with the CEO Mark Cushway being indicted along with many managers and staff on charges of fraud. At the time it was dubbed as the largest fraud in timeshare history.

Unfortunately these cases floundered, Silverpoint successfully argued with the courts that these were property investments and not timeshare, therefore the purchasers were not consumers of timeshare but investors in property. As we know property can go down in value as well as up.

The courts at the time agreed, that these purchasers were buying into property investment, so they believed that no fraud had been committed.

At the same time the other school of thought was beginning to use the civil courts and the timeshare laws to pursue Silverpoint. The most notable case being that of Mrs Shirley Wilson, who instructed the proponent of civil action Miguel Rodriguez Cabellos to fight her case.

Mrs Wilson, argued that she at first believed she was investing in property, but it turned out it was in fact timeshare as there were maintenance fees attached along with other aspects of timeshare.

(Click on the link below to see the original trial)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksff6yofqJs

Again a long drawn out legal battle was underway, with the case eventually going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Then in January 2017, the Supreme Court made its historic ruling, that what Resort Properties / Silverpoint had sold was indeed timeshare. That the purchasers were indeed consumers of timeshare and not “investors”, which also meant they now had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

For the hundreds of clients who had been part of the criminal action this was very good news, it now meant their cases could be converted to a civil action using the now many rulings on timeshare law from the Supreme Court.

Canarian Legal Alliance under Miguel and his team of lawyers were now responsible for representing these clients. They were offered the chance of converting their cases to the civil courts.

One of the first client to do so has now had his case heard and the courts have found in his favour, according to the rulings of the Supreme Court. The Court of First Instance No 5 in Arona, Tenerife has declared this clients contract null and void, his original claim was for 60,000€, the court has awarded him 88,113€.

This is obviously good news for the hundreds of clients who took part in the original criminal cases, they now have the chance to receive the justice they have for so long sought, with many of them having already converted to the civil action. So we can be sure that there will be many more stories such as this in the coming months.

Below is another link to a Youtube video which shows the then Sales Director David Taylor giving another “investor” the run a around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oNdi4NT4O8

In another twist, Silverpoint have another product which is very similar to the original “investments” deal, this they call the “Company Participation Scheme”. It is a very clever attempt to bypass the timeshare laws, although looking at the documentation it certainly looks like an advanced form of timeshare. More on this at a later date.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank CLA for the background information used in this article.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any article published, then use our contact page, we look forward to hearing from you.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with Irene, today we welcome yet another new contributor Mike Yelton, edited as always by our very own Irene Parker. This article will also be of interest to our readers in Europe, as many have been victims of similar tactics, so we are asking our readers, both members and hopefully developers, to weigh in on the discussion questions posted throughout Mr. Yelton’s article.  

The deception that prompts the presentation, as happened to Mike and Joyce Yelton,  is often the reason why the ultimate end is the timeshare exit company when the developer will not address these issues.  

If the developer would clean up the sales process, the back end of the timeshare exit problem would go away, or at least be reduced. Until the developer owns up to their being a part of the problem, the angry and desperate timeshare owner is here to stay..

Is Freewheeling Credit Card Lending Here Again!?

The Over Reliance on Credit Card Lending

Our Stormy Point Village, Summerwinds Experience

By Mike Yelton, Army and Air Force Vietnam Veteran

May 22, 2018  

Introduction by Irene Parker

Was this Elder Fraud?  

Was this Credit Card Fraud?

Was this an Unfair and Deceptive trade practice?

Was Summerwinds resolution to the Yelton’s offer fair?

Inside Timeshare has been receiving an increase in complaints about timeshare credit cards opened onsite and credit card charges made without authorization. This is exactly what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau worked so hard to put a halt to when Wells Fargo agents opened credit card accounts without the cardholder’s knowledge. Undeterred, Wells Fargo moved on to a $1 billion penalty announced April 20, 2018. This penalty was levied due in part to interest rate-lock promises. Mike and Joyce Yelton’s timeshare upgrade experience is somewhat similar, although they were promised a rate lowering.   

Another Wells Fargo Settlement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) announced a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in a coordinated action with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). As described in the consent order, the Bureau found that Wells Fargo violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) in the way it administered a mandatory insurance program related to its auto loans. The Bureau also found that Wells Fargo violated the CFPA in how it charged certain borrowers for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions. Under the terms of the consent orders, Wells Fargo will remediate harmed consumers and undertake certain activities related to its risk management and compliance management. The Bureau assessed a $1 billion penalty against the bank and credited the $500 million penalty collected by the OCC toward the satisfaction of its fine.

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/bureau-consumer-financial-protection-announces-settlement-wells-fargo-auto-loan-administration-and-mortgage-practices/

Here’s what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Yelton. I have interspersed discussion questions hoping our readers will offer their input in our comment section. We encourage responses from the industry in addition to reader responses. We hope meaningful dialogue will help bridge the gap between the angry timeshare member and the timeshare provider.         

By Mike Yelton

My wife Joyce and I, both 79 years of age, bought a Stormy Point Village timeshare in Branson, Missouri in 2015 and upgraded in 2016. We enjoyed our stays there and had no major complaints until December 2017 when we attended what they said was a ‘mandatory update meeting’. We were told that if we did not attend we would lose our benefits. At that meeting we feel we were deceived and lied to. We may be older, but we are not stupid.

Discussion Question 1

Do you think it is fair for a timeshare member, who has made a prior purchase of a deeded week, be required to attend an update, threatened with the risk of losing their benefits if they did not attend? The Yelton’s would not have become angry owners had they not attended the meeting and we would not be writing this article.    

At this mandatory update, the salespeople presented what they described as a “change in need” or an exchange in benefits. We were led to believe it was not an upgrade. They said they could lower the interest on our loan if we opened a new lower interest rate credit card.

Discussion Question 2 & 3

Do you think this was more an attempt to open credit card accounts and sell an upgrade, rather than actually addressing the customer’s needs?

Was the “change in need” enough of a reason to tell the Yelton’s they would lose their benefits if they did not attend?

Due to our health we cannot travel far from home. We don’t live far from Branson. We were told if we wanted to limit our use to just Branson, two weeks could be broken down into four parts. We signed the papers, but later we found out we had purchased an upgrade which we did not want or could afford.

We felt we had become a victim of the unauthorized opening of credit card accounts and unauthorized charges made. We were not aware the cards had been opened or that an amount had been charged. We didn’t know the cards had been opened until not one, but two Bank of America credit cards showed up in the mail! We had agreed to one card being opened because they said it would be at a lower interest. It was never mentioned the card was being opened for the purpose of buying an upgrade. The cards have been canceled as Bank of America agreed they were opened without our knowledge.

Discussion Question 4

Was it deceptive to tell the Yelton’s the card was being opened to lower their interest rate if charges were made to make a purchase? What could have been done so that the Yelton’s would have been aware the card was being charged to purchase a timeshare product? From members young and old, we are hearing about credit cards opened and charged, and even loans taken out when the member was not aware. It seems the first thing a sales agent does is to run the card to determine the credit limit and then back into the maximum point purchase.  

To our utter dismay we learned that the sales agent charged $7,000 on a card opened in my name and $4,000 on a card opened in Joyce’s name! The salesperson told us we could charge up to $11,000 on the card but he NEVER said he was actually charging that amount of money or that he was opening two cards. He just charged it without even asking! We both were there. He told us we would get a check in the mail, which we should sign and send in, in an envelope that would be included with the check. We have no idea what the check was about, but no check ever arrived.

Discussion Question 5

Should the sales agent have explained to the Yelton’s why they would receive a check in the mail? This question was asked to encourage timeshare buyers to challenge vague statements like this. For example, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from members purchasing additional points because they say they were told “You can pay your maintenance fees by charging purchases on the new credit card.” The problem is – the consumer typically does not ask the next question: What is the actual value? If 1% is credited, a family would have to charge $100,000 in one year to pay a $1,000 maintenance fee bill.    

We expected Summerwind to cancel the deceptive upgrade. We sent a letter of complaint to Summerwinds which they ignored. We then filed a complaint with the BBB which did get a response. Summerwinds asked us to take down the complaint so we could discuss the issue without a third party. They offered us a cancellation on the upgrade but not a full cancellation of our timeshare, which would have required the prior outstanding loan be cancelled.   

Discussion Question 6

Do you think the offer Summerwinds proposed was fair?

We will allow the cancellation of the last upgrade.

The debt prior to this purchase is still your responsibility.

We will start the first year of use for 2019 on the new contract. We will give you one free week in a 2 bedroom unit for use in 2018.

We will refund the amounts placed on the cards and any payments made to the lender since the time of your upgrade.

They never apologized for opening the second card or charging the credit cards without our knowledge. We had some good times at Summerwinds, but because of this experience, we have lost all faith in Summerwinds. We dread checking in.

Discussion Question 7

Should Summerwinds have apologized for the mistakes? Lawyers will be quick to respond….but not so fast. Hug your Haters author Jay Baer, obtained this answer from attorney and litigator Michael Laskey of Davis and Gilbert law firm in New York City.    

“In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’”

Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hug+your+haters

So there you have it. Mr. Yelton has produced lots of food for thought. This is the YouTube Mr. and Mrs. Yelton produced. https://youtu.be/a1XCF479oa8

We hope you will express your thoughts on our comment section.

Summerwinds Resorts Services, LLC has a BBB rating of F

https://www.bbb.org/stlouis/business-reviews/timeshare-companies/summerwinds-resort-services-llc-in-branson-mo-29040/reviews-and-complaints

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from all branches of the military as well as law enforcement. We have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, Active Duty military and government workers. We encourage those who have been assisted by our efforts to make a donation to this worthy organization. https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

I have never served my country, but I am honored to serve those who have by providing the means to let their voices be heard. Thank you to Mike for joining Inside Timeshare as a contributor and for your service to our country.

Additional self-help groups that can aid in your due diligence:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

In Europe we have not yet seen this use of credit cards, but we are familiar with finance being arranged by the sales staff, the main provider of theses loan agreements is Barclays Partner Finance. We have many readers who have informed us that they told the sales staff they could not afford the timeshare as they were only on pensions.

Yet after many hours of high pressure sales tactics they eventually agreed to finance being provided, the unfortunate thing is the usual due diligence checks such as income versus outgoings reports have never been done. Eventually this has ended in severe financial hardship.

It has also been the case that many of these loans have been brokered by unauthorised and unlicensed staff and companies. Yet the banking industry still allows these agreements to take place, putting yet more people in financial crisis.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome once again to the Tuesday Slot with Irene, today we share with you A Timeshare Warning to Military and Law Enforcement by another retired military veteran Joshua Parker, no relation to our very own Irene Parker, this article continues our series of timeshare whoes revolving around veterans.

Over the past few months Inside Timeshare has been highlighting many stories of retired military and law enforcement vets who have succumbed to the sales patter of highly skilled rogues. Some have seen their entire life savings whisked away and now facing financial ruin, all due to the predatory sales tactics of timeshare sales agents.

Inside Timeshare and all our contributors send out the same warning, beware the sales agents!

Following on from another article by one of our new contributors Meryl Reyman, whose article we published on 17 April, it is with great joy we mention her article is now being published in The Spectrum. Meryl has also made it to USA Today, so Inside Timeshare with your help and contributions is certainly making the headlines and bringing the despicable tactics of the timeshare industry to a wider audience.

https://www.thespectrum.com/story/opinion/mesquite/2018/04/30/reyman-beware-nevadas-predatory-time-share-companies/564676002/

Over the past year it has not been just vets that we have highlighted, it is also the elderly who have also been targeted as easy prey. It is not just in the US this is happening, Europe is also seeing the same thing. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many enquiries on how to get out of timeshare and the loan agreements which they have been sold. One of the main culprits in providing these loans is Barclays.

We have in our case books many pensioners who have been coerced into purchasing “investment packs”, all financed by Barclays Partner Finance, arranged by sales agents, even though the purchasers have stated they could not afford it. Yet loans of upto £30,000 have been granted, without even a check on income versus outgoings reports, with only small pensions as their income!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight these practices, along with all the rogue resale, claims companies and fake law firms, it is you the readers that provide us with the information to warn others of what is going on, for this we thank you.

Now for Joshua’s article.

A Timeshare Warning to Military and Law Enforcement  

A Public Service Announcement

Timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of Security Clearance

By Joshua Parker, US Army, Ret, OIF

May 1, 2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is a group of volunteers advocating on behalf of consumers victimized by predatory timeshare lending, sales and marketing. These tactics have caused several members of the military to fear the loss of their Security Clearance. This poses a threat to our national security in that anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points with the intent to see Security Clearances revoked.

If a military member must foreclose, the chain of command considers that member a security risk. A military member in severe financial distress is vulnerable to acts of desperation and is at a high risk for career termination.

Few timeshare buyers are aware the timeshare contract is perpetual, often unable to be sold and accompanied by rising maintenance fees. The timeshare contract is one-sided. Benefits can be changed or eliminated at any time for any reason.  

The most common complaint is deceit and bait and switch. Some examples of what prospective buyers or existing timeshare members have been told:  

  • It’s easy to refinance an 18% timeshare loan or there are special military offers that do not exist. Banks do not finance timeshares.
  • Timeshare points can be easily resold or rented. While Disney Vacation Club maintains some resale value, many timeshares have virtually no resale value. When an owner wants to get out of a timeshare, he or she may go to a timeshare exit company. These services charge money upfront offering to list or sell your timeshare. Members of an organization called Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association (LTRBA) charge nothing upfront to list a timeshare for sale. Check with a member of this organization before paying anyone to sell or get you out of a timeshare.
  • Those desperate to get out of a timeshare may pay thousands in upfront money, relying on a “guaranteed exit” only to be told foreclosure is considered a guaranteed exit. It is not necessary to pay anyone to foreclose.
  • One pattern of deceit is to sell a package that is family-affordable although it is not the package the family needs.  After complaining, the family is told the answer is to buy more timeshare points.
  • Deceit occurs when a prospective purchaser is shown a Presidential quality unit that is not available to them based on what they actually purchased.
  • Another deceitful practice occurs with the upsell of existing owners. Those members are told that additional points are financially advantageous.If the member pursues a contract rescission, they must prove to layers of corporate employees that, in their case, there has been a deceitful or predatory practice. It is the job of those employees to convince the owner/member that he/she has misremembered how the program works. The owner, by persisting with a gauntlet of letters, interviews, rebuttals, and regulatory and law enforcement filings, may convince the company to accede to their case. If there is a predatory lending loan, the owner can include in his/her arguments a reference to the FBI’s description of White Collar Crime, Mortgage Fraud, and Fraud for Profit.
  • Timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents can dodge the state contract rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site, or tell the new timeshare buyer maintenance fee relief programs/ability to sell points will be effective at a later date.

If you or someone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare http://insidetimeshare.com/. There is never a charge. Those helped are encouraged to make a donation to Whistleblowers of America, an organization seeking justice for active duty military, veterans and government workers. https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

That’s it for today, Inside Timeshare is closing early as it is May Day (Spain has closed down), or as some call it International Labour Day, personally I call it “Early Happy Hour”. See you all tomorrow.

Silverpoint Announcement to Club Paradiso Members

As usual nothing really surprises us when it comes to Silverpoint, so it was only time before they announced they would not be offering a resale service for their Club Paradiso members. Many of these people have bought into this club via the ever upgrading of the “investment weeks” peddled by Resort Properties and then Silverpoint. Inside Timeshare explained this in the 12 March article “Silverpoint a Costly Experience for Some”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-costly-experience/

This practise has been going on for years, with many losing out on thousands of pounds, in these so-called investments, many funded through finance agreements arranged by Silverpoint sales staff with Barclays Partner Finance. There have been and still are ongoing class actions by clients of Silverpoint against Barclays in the UK, these have been brought by two law firms, Stewarts Law and Edwin Coe.

Considering Silverpoint announced in April last year it had withdrawn its membership from the industry trade body the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), along with the announcement that it was no longer going to be selling “timeshare”, it comes as no surprise that they have stopped the resale program, if it even existed in the first place!

So the questions that many are now asking including the enquiries received from our readers are very simple ones:

What is now going to happen to all that money we paid for these so-called investments?

Now that we know there is no resale market, what other “investments” are they going to offer us to save what we have already paid?

Are they going to ask for even more money?

saleman

Well we do know that many have been coerced into paying and transferring to what is being termed the “Company Participation Scheme”, sounds good doesn’t it?

But what is this scheme?

Well, all we can say is that it is just another way for them to get your money, according to some of the evidence we have seen, and we are still going through it as it is all wrapped up in jargon, the basics of it appear to be that you now buy shares in a company, with the contract being signed at the notary.

The thing is if you are now a shareholder in a company, what are the implications if anything should happen, are you then going to be liable for any costs if the company goes into liquidation or fails to pay taxes?

So there we have it, Silverpoint have finally admitted that all those with their weeks listed on the resale programme for Club Paradiso, are not going to get them sold. These were originally sold to them with the promise of a return on their outlay when they are sold, a promise that we have seen is full of hot air.

The final part of Silverpoints email reminds these members that they “can still use your membership, even if listed for resale, to enjoy great holidays around the world”. Signed Silverpoint Vacations SL.

Hang on, they have stated in the same email they “will no longer be able to offer this service”, so how can it still be listed for resale?

As usual Silverpoint can’t seem to get their own story straight, do they actually know what they are doing, somehow we think not!

If you are a member of Club Paradiso with these investments and had them listed for sale and are worried by this latest development, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

help1

Spanish Timeshare Laws Simply Explained

Over the past few months Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries regarding timeshare claims, in this article we look at the law in Spain and what constitutes a valid claim.

In December 1998 Spain passed Law 42/98 which came into effect on 5 January 1999, this was a result of the European Timeshare Directives which were put into place to protect consumers. Under these directives each member state had to put into their own domestic laws regulations governing the sale of timeshare.

Spain was one of the first to do this, as a result they have some of the strongest regulations in Europe.

For a long time many resorts / developers failed to abide by them, continuing to sell the same way as before. This has now resulted in many cases going to court with resorts / developers being penalised for their failure to comply.

At first, many cases taken to court by consumers were being lost as the resorts successfully argued that they were in compliance of the laws. This all changed in March 2015, when the Supreme Court in Madrid ruled on the very first timeshare case.

justice

This case involved a Norwegian lady who had a case against Anfi in Gran Canaria, the case took around 5 years to complete, but it had a profound effect on cases to follow.

The timeshare laws which have been the subject of consistent breaches have been the taking of deposits or any payment within the cooling off period, this also includes by a third party. Many resorts tried to get around this by using Trust Companies, but the court has also ruled that this is indeed a third party.

The other main area of contention was the perpetuity contract, the law states that contracts should be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum duration of 50 years.

Both of these have been ratified by the Supreme Court on many occasions, which now puts them into jurisprudence. What this means is that they are no longer up for discussion and all courts must abide by them.

There have also been some other significant rulings made by Spain’s Highest Court which have strengthened the law and benefited consumers.

The points and floating week systems is another which the Supreme Court has also ruled on and is now enforceable by all courts in Spain. The reasoning behind this ruling is that these systems have no actual substance, unlike the fixed week fixed apartment system which was the original timeshare model, there is no week number or apartment number attached.

With the old fixed week system you were guaranteed the week and apartment assigned, this could be changed using either the internal exchange system or one of the major exchange companies. So it was actually flexible. It also made it impossible for the resort to oversell membership, as they could only sell 51 weeks of each apartment.

With the points and floating systems you actually own nothing, you are a member of a vacation club with the right to use subject to availability. This also allowed the resorts to oversell the membership as they were not governed by the 51 weeks in each apartment. This has obviously led to many complaints of not being able to book the weeks that members actually wanted.

Another major breakthrough came in January 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled against Silverpoint. This came about due to many cases against Silverpoint for selling packs of weeks as an investment.

The theory behind these sales was purchasers would buy a series of weeks, which the company promised to sell within 2 years, with the purchaser making a profit. Very few if any ever achieved this, usually the story was that what they had purchased was not selling well and they would need to upgrade to a better resort in order to sell. This has left many with huge loans as these were financed mainly by Barclays Partner Finance, with the loan agreements being completed by the sales staff.

There were many cases taken through the courts but Silverpoint successfully argued that the purchasers were investors not consumers.

The first case involving a UK purchaser ended up at the Supreme Court, the total time from start to finish was around 5 years. This court ruled that these purchasers were indeed consumers of a timeshare product and not investors. The thinking behind this ruling was that maintenance fees were also part of the purchase, also the court believed that to be classified as investors, this must be a primary source of income. This resulted in these consumers having full protection of the timeshare law, which also maintains that timeshare should not be sold as an investment.

Since the first ruling in March 2015, there have been 84 rulings made by the Supreme Court, each and everyone backing up the previous one. At present there are still around 100 cases pending and waiting to be heard by this court, some of these will also bring new changes and clarification to the laws.

cropped-TRIBUNAL_SUPREMO_DE_ESPAÑA4

There has also been an update to the 42/98 law with the introduction of Law 4/12 which has included the changes brought in the Timeshare Directive of 2008.

So unless you purchased or upgraded in Spain after January 1999, have at least one of the major points ruled by the Supreme Court you may not have a valid claim. You will also need to employ the services of a Spanish Registered lawyer, preferably one with the experience of timeshare claims.

At Inside Timeshare we have heard from one consumer who decided they wanted to employ the services of a lawyer registered to practice in Spain but of their own nationality. His claim failed. The lawyer did not have the knowledge or experience of this complex area of law, believing that because of the Supreme Court rulings it would be an easy case to win. This client has now taken on the services of another lawyer with the experience in this field to lodge an appeal as he was not given the correct legal advice. This has obviously cost him more, hopefully he will win the appeal.

This does go to show that just because the Supreme Court has made these rulings, it is in the end down to the lawyer or law firm that you engage, if they do not have the knowledge or experience in this field then you may end up losing a lot more.

If you have any question on this subject or wish to check if you have a valid claim contact Inside Timeshare and we will give you the facts.

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday! Time for another Letter from America, this week one of our advocates writes an open letter to an industry advocate, Irene Parker provides the introduction, but first some news from Europe.

Those nefarious fake lawyers from Tenerife are at it again with another new twist to secure your money. This time it is from Armando Gareca Abogados, one of the new names in the Litigious Abogados family, thank goodness this reader decided to search the web before paying any money and found our articles.

armando-gareca-abogados-logo-1

This particular reader was contacted by Armando Gareca and informed that a case had been lodged with the court against their timeshare resort, not bad considering the courts are closed in August. They were informed they could become part of this case and once they paid the Procurator fees of 1,012€ the case would proceed. It all sounded very good, they were told how much they would be getting back and when they would receive it. Obviously this law firm has a crystal ball and can tell the future!

As we said the courts are closed in August, but also they have expanded their jurisdiction, the Spanish courts and these so-called Spanish lawyers now have the power to take a Greek resort to court in Spain. Not only that Spanish law is applying to a purchase made in Greece!

So just to recap, if you purchased your timeshare in Spain or any of its territories, then Spanish law will apply, if you purchased in the UK, Malta, Portugal, Greece or anywhere else in the world, then Spanish law will not apply. Also it takes at least 12 to 18 months to get a case to court, there are some lengthy procedures to go through before it gets to trial, so the promises of this particular group that the case is being heard within weeks are false.

We have also had some enquiries regarding finance for timeshare purchases arranged by the sales staff, many of these are with Barclays Partner Finance or Hitachi. Some of our readers who have been contacted by various claims companies are told that once they sign up for legal action, they will have the loan stopped and the interest repaid.

This is a false claim, the timeshare resort acted as a broker for the finance, your agreement and contract is a personal one with the finance company and nothing to do with who sold you the timeshare. If you are taking legal action against your timeshare company, the loan is a separate issue, which can only be dealt with after a successful outcome against your resort. By stopping any payments to the finance company you are then leaving yourself open to legal action by debt collectors and subsequently receiving a CCJ, or County Court Judgement. This will have a devastating effect on your ability to get any credit, even being able to get a mortgage.

So beware of many claims, these people will play on your emotions, make promises that are not there, it pays to to check and double check. Do your homework!

homework

Now we move on to this week’s Letter from America.

An Advocate’s Open Letter to an Industry Advocate

greed1

By an Advocate

Introduction by Irene Parker

August 25, 2017

The following is a letter submitted to Inside Timeshare written to a timeshare industry proponent by one of our Timeshare Advocates. The letter is in response to an article the author wrote posing the question as to whether the timeshare industry needs to look in a new direction.

The letter writer asked that he not be identified and that the title of the article not be mentioned as this was a personal letter written to the author. One thing sorely lacking is dialogue between critics and proponents of the right to use timeshare product which can be financially devastating for a family when the resort denies their release and when no secondary market exists.

Following the article I have offered comments agreeing and disagreeing with both the author of the article and the letter writer. We encourage others to weigh in.

Thank you to our Advocate reaching out to the industry. We hope he receives an answer.

QA

In your article you state, “Timeshare is definitely not a real estate investment and apart from the occasional overzealous sales associate, timeshare companies long ago stopped pitching it as such an investment.”  While I agree with your assessment that it is not an investment, I must ask, are you saying timeshares are not real estate or are not an investment?  I also read other timeshare articles you wrote. You are knowledgeable, but I believe you missed some of the key issues a potential buyer of the product needs to understand. You are not the only financial timeshare writer glossing over two important issues:

  • Timeshares have no viable secondary market,
  • The timeshare product has evolved to no interest in real property.

Consider the potential impact on the industry, or better stated, why the issues have not yet impacted the industry.

You rightly state in your article, timeshares are overpriced and there is no appreciated value in the real estate. I wish you had made it clear, that once purchased, a timeshare has no value. You must be aware of the fact that there is no viable secondary market. With little data available (the industry controls it), I find the “sale” of most timeshares on the secondary market require the seller to bring money to the transaction. That equates to a negative value.  

Recently, in an effort to avoid increasingly ugly publicity, many of the largest players are offering a “give back” or “surrender” option to older owners, not actively using or able to use their timeshare, provided the associated home facility is viable and the product is fully paid. These guys are such good sales people they have actually been successful in improving their image, offering certain members in select properties the opportunity to give back their timeshare to the developer with nothing in return other than to escape their burden. The timeshare interest they bought for $20K to often well over $100K is given up for nothing so the developer can resell as new.  

The non-viable secondary market environment is no accident. It certainly is not caused, as ARDA would have you believe, by an oversupply of inventory, or the result of advocacy groups and “sell your timeshare” type organizations that illegally prey on owners. ARDA has long acknowledged the lack of a viable secondary market and has for years committed to fix it. While out of the public eyes, ARDA does nothing, even works not so secretly against efforts to raise a secondary market.

I am sure you have read industry 10Ks. In most every 10K I have read for the past 15 years, the existence of a secondary resale market would have a significant negative impact on developer earnings. It’s no surprise the industry is active in suppressing the market to eliminate their perceived risk. I just wish our consumer protection guys, wherever they may be, would mandate the same level of discourse for the individual timeshare buyer.      

I also wish you had not implied a timeshare interest is necessarily tied to a real property interest (and again the industry should be required to disclose this to potential buyers). The classic deeded timeshare is today by far the minority of sales. Timeshare consumers buy either an interest in a “user rights” trust, not the underlying real estate, or simply buy into a timeshare “club” arguably not a timeshare at all. Many in the industry call them vacation clubs.

Please understand my criticism of your piece is meant to be constructive and more importantly, intended to spur some additional interest on your part by examining the member’s perspective. Few consumers really understand the product and/or business model. The consumer protections guys are asleep at the wheel or have no mandate/political incentive to get involved, and the industry will not speak up for fear of risking a very profitable business model born on the backs of timeshare buyers fallen victim to the oral representation clause, locked into a perpetual contract. It’s tough for the consumer or the industry to get the real picture.

Have you had a chance in the past several minutes, as you struggle through my letter, to consider my question about the implications of the issues presented?

  • No secondary market,
  • Inadequate regulation,
  • ABS markets,
  • Cash flow should the issue of a non-equity product make the light of day,  
  • Inadequate disclosure as to the lack of a secondary market.

I am right?  No?

Well, I will end now and hope you do consider the implications of what I touched on. If I have sparked any additional interest on your part I’d like to talk more. Please call or write.

Respectfully,

An Advocate

gps cartoon

I would like to add a few comments to some of the issues raised or not raised by the letter writer and the article’s author.

First, I disagree with the article’s author in his statement that only a few overzealous timeshare sales agents sell a timeshare product as an investment, as the US side of Inside Timeshare continues to receive complaints almost daily from our readers reaching out to us for assistance after they allege being sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch, meeting the definition of White Collar Crime, Financial Institution Fraud. Timeshare sold as an investment, told it would be easy to resell, is still one of the top five complaints.

We always want to acknowledge sales agents and developers trying to exist in a timeshare world so ingrained in deception on the front end of the sale. The 7,000 plus timeshare members belonging to five Bluegreen and Diamond Resorts Facebooks are filled with posts concerning allegations of deceit.

Second, surrender programs are no help to the majority of timeshare members that have reached out to Inside Timeshare because these members allege they were duped into signing up for high interest rate loans and credit cards. High 25% interest rate credit cards now can pop out on site like toast out of a toaster. Multiple credit cards are often opened.

As to a secondary market, we have heralded Disney Vacation Club as a company that allows an acceptable secondary market.

http://insidetimeshare.com/mid-week-report/

This is where the letter writer and I disagree. Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Judi Kozlowski of RE/MAX would argue Hilton also has a solid secondary market in that they don’t punish the secondary point buyer to the extent other developers do. Judi has been working the Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare resale market since the beginning of their current resale program.

“In my opinion, Hilton has the best resale market out there – the developer does not punish the resale deeded points buyer. Buyers of points on the secondary market are rewarded with the ability to join the Elite Club. They are still allowed to use the open season rates, trade internally and use RCI through Hilton.”

Third, I disagree with the letter writer in that he states ARDA has stated they want to fix the secondary market problem. I think that is old news from a 2014 RedWeek article. In recent statements, ARDA CEO Howard Nusbaum has stated timeshare is a right to use produce so members should not expect any value back. My rebuttal is that if timeshare is now defined as a country club of sorts, why is the contract perpetual? What country club is out there you can’t quit? What country club, except for the likes of Mar-a-Lago, requires an initial payment of often $50,000 or more?  What about the consumer that has turned over $50K to sometimes over $100K only to learn two weeks later they allege they were lied to as showcased in several of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street articles.

The letter writer mentioned Advocacy groups. I would like to make a distinction between real advocates and scam artists that call themselves advocates, including some law groups. We have 93 timeshare members helping other members I consider real Advocates. We also have 55 Advocates, including several attorneys and professionals, who donate their time pro bono to offer an assessment or opinion after the resort has denied the member relief.

Thank you to our letter writer and to all our Contributors. Your voice is important because one or two voices alone do not a concert make. Contact us or one of the Bluegreen or Diamond Facebook pages if you need assistance, would like to share your timeshare experience, or express your opinion.

pin up

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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

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

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

There we have it, the end of another week and the start to what we hope will be a great weekend. Inside Timeshare thanks all those who contact us with information and enquiries, it is with your help we can bring those issues to a wider audience. Keep them coming.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend01

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this Friday’s Letter from America, first a recap on the past week.

On Monday we wished the National Timeshare Owners Association a happy anniversary. For 20 years this organisation has been the voice of US timeshare owners, it is a totally independent body, not governed by the industry. Greg Crist the CEO works very hard to create a dialogue with the industry, he believes as we do that without dialogue there can be no changing of attitudes.

We also warned about another new addition to the Litigious Abogados family, Abogados Amable & Garcia.

Their website http://www.abogadosamablegarcia.com/ is the same as all the others, except for new photographs of the so called “lawyers”, (probably just downloaded from the images on the web), even the names are variations of the others used. We have yet to see what the paperwork is like and what names appear on those and the emails, somehow we think the “Departmento Legal” will have the same ladies names as all the others.

Yesterday we publish the story about the legal action by the London law firm Edwin Coe, who are representing around 106 clients against Barclays Partner Finance. This case is being held at the High Court in London, it revolves around the issuing of loans for the sale of timeshare as an “investment” by Resort Properties / Silverpoint, with a claim of over £1.5 million.

This article has already prompted a huge response on both sides of the great lake.

On another matter, it would look like that MGM Muthu (formerly Petchy) are being very aggressive in chasing “arrears” in maintenance. Many of these that we are hearing about are those who believed they no longer owned as they “sold” years ago.

These demands are coming from “Customer Services” and signed by Luliia Sulovei. They threaten court action if they are not paid and also demand around £3000 plus the “arrears” to be paid for them to grant a surrender. Most of those contacting Inside Timeshare are elderly and some are widows. This is not a nice situation and in our view amounts to bullying and extortion!

extortion

We will be publishing a full article on this in the next week or so.

Now, on with this weeks Letter from America.

Don and Irene are making their way back home today from Arizona. Irene met many new and old Diamond Advocacy Group friends during her stay and two baby rattlesnakes. (These may have been trainee sales agents). Irene has a degree in biology and said she used to teach a class on reptiles. Irene says she likes snakes and alligators (you would need to to survive a timeshare presentation). Yes, they were rattling.

Irene would like to thank Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, intervening on behalf of the ailing pool table at Spoke and Wheel restaurant at Los Abrigados in Sedona. Kyli, the restaurant manager, contacted Irene informing her that the antique Brunswick pool table (and I thought Brunswick only made pin spotters) is to be restored to its original glory and another manager, that same day, went out and purchased additional pool sticks (we call them cues). Don and Irene ate at the restaurant. The food was superb. While dining, the Diamond Advocacy Group gained a new member. Many of the guests staying at Los Abrigados are original ILX owners. Now they are Diamond members.

Eron Grant is not a pool table, but she hopes Mr. Flaskey will show her family the same compassion.

Diamond Resorts was a Huge Mistake!

Good choice

By Eron Grant

May 12, 2017

I have asked Inside Timeshare to publish an account of our experience with Diamond Resorts. We hope to warn others to not fall victim to high pressure same day sales and encourage readers to become involved with our Diamond Advocacy Group before buying something they will live to regret later.

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/

Many Diamond members are happy with their Diamond membership. I believe if sold properly, Diamond’s vacation program could be of benefit to some families. In our case the program was grossly oversold in terms of availability. The Diamond program will not work for us as we have all the basic timeshare benefits we need as Marriott timeshare owners.

Here’s what happened

We stayed at Diamond’s resort, The Ridge in Sedona Arizona, over Thanksgiving 2016. We booked our stay through Interval International. At the time, I had not heard of Diamond Resorts.

I called the concierge at The Ridge to ask for restaurant recommendations. She said she would get back to me. I thought it odd that a concierge needed to get back to a guest about restaurant reservations.

Later that day the concierge called back asking if anyone had scheduled us for a presentation with a DRI team member. She told me about a few restaurants she thought we would enjoy, adding that Diamond would give us a $150 gift card if we agreed to attend a 90 minute sales presentation. We agreed.

When we arrived we told the sales representative, Karen Calvano, we had a tee time scheduled in a few hours. She seemed irritated and said we would not be finished in that amount of time. Puzzled, we told her the concierge told us the meeting would only take 90 minutes. She wanted to know who told us that. She complained about the tee time when we followed her to the presentation area. She kept saying that she felt rushed going through the presentation. The presentation lasted six hours.

Ms. Calvano told us that Diamond owns numerous properties and that finding something in our local Texas area would not be a problem. We specifically asked about Texas and Louisiana because we are both working and with the kids, we can’t easily fly to take vacations due to the expense and trouble flying entails. We did say we could drive to New Mexico to ski with our kids, and added that we wanted to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.

We agreed to purchase 3500 Diamond points. When I tried to book Great Wolf Lodge, I learned it would take approximately $11,000 in equivalent DRI maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at Great Wolf Lodge when it could be booked online for $3,300. The same holds true for New York City and other big cities because Diamond does not own these properties. They are “affiliated” properties so never discounted.

I recently got in contact with another Diamond member on our DRI Advocacy Facebook group who reported an almost identical complaint. According to a DRI customer service representative, the only property available near Boston was Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg.

The Fitchburg property was available August 14 – Aug 18 for 16,000 points.

Diamond only had availability for a Deluxe Queen.

Searching the Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg site directly, Great Wolf had availability for a Wolf Pup Den for four nights for $1429.96 plus 270.31 tax totaling $1700.27.  At $.23 per point DRI maintenance fees, this equals $3,680 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars so $3,680 for the same property, the same week, could be booked directly with Great Wolf for $1700.

Back to our Diamond experience

Ms. Calvano told us we would be assigned the Platinum loyalty level due to being Marriott members. We own a three bedroom Marriott timeshare in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Therefore, Ms. Calvano said we could book a studio room and upgrade three times at no additional fee. Later we were told this was not true.

As we were leaving, Ms. Calavano said to contact her at any time if we had questions or needed anything at all. I emailed her on December 1, 2016 with a question but never heard back.  

In December 2016 Linda Barton, Member Marketing Agent called us and asked to attend an “orientation for new members”. She said we would learn all about our new membership, and told us to be sure to bring our tablet given to us by DRI. The orientation took place January 13-15, 2017. It was called a Diamond “Once in a Lifetime Event” in Orlando, FL. My husband had asked what this event of a lifetime entailed. He was told we would learn all about our new membership and possible upgrades. “But we just purchased our membership! We are not going to spend any more money,” my husband informed Ms. Barton.

Looking back, we should have suspected the orientation would end up a sales presentation. At the orientation the sales representative, Chris, told us we would only be allowed to upgrade one time at no extra fee. This contradicted what Karen Calvano had initially told us.

Chris said at the orientation we could sell our points back for 30 cents per point if we were platinum, but the brochure we had been provided said it was 10 cents per point. When my husband asked Chris to show us on paper where it said $.30 cents per point, Chris pointed to his handwritten notes to show us where he had written that number down. My husband demanded he show us somewhere in the DRI paraphernalia where it said points could be sold back for $.30 per point, but Chris said, “Never mind if you’re not interested. I don’t want you to have hard feelings.”

Next, we were handed over to another DRI employee who repeatedly said, “I am not sales.” He then proceeded to encourage us to purchase more points, because we could get them at a low cost of $4 something per point which, according to him, was unheard of. The fee to purchase the additional points was over $3,000 with another $4,000 something due in a year or so after that. We turned it down. This ordeal took over 3 hours.

We contacted the Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group at Diamond that promises “to assist Diamond member from Day One should a member have questions or concerns about their purchase!”

Diamond refused to cancel our contract. We filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General after learning Diamond had been issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” as a result of over 400 complaints filed against the company just in Arizona. Diamond automatically denied our claim, but after filing a rebuttal the Arizona AG said we are eligible for consideration.

In response to the Arizona AG action, Diamond has introduced a new program called Clarity that is about Accountability, Transparency and RESPECT for the customer. As far as we are concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here’s a bit of information about one of our local Texas businesses owned by Jim McIngvale. Mr. McIngvale has owned Mattress Mack since 1981. It is a hugely successful business in Houston.  

Gallery Furniture believes in being on the right side, in other words, to be on the Gallery Furniture customers’ side instead of defending the industry. Advocate for the customers! Gallery Furniture makes it very clear, that we’re here for the Gallery Furniture customers, to better their lives with high quality furniture sold at the best price possible, not to pad the pockets of our manufacturers. Come out to Gallery Furniture TODAY for the best customer service in the business… (August, 2015):

http://www.mattressmack.com/macks_weblog/satisfied-customers/

Mr. McIngvale can be booked for speaking engagements.

Customer care

Perhaps Diamond would like to book him soon?

Thank you Eron for your contribution and another thank you to Irene Parker for coordinating it from the States.

Inside Timeshare welcomes contributions outlining your experiences, it helps other to know that they are not alone. Together you can influence the industry, changing the way they view the owners / members, along with the NTOA, the advocacy facebook pages and this publication you do have a voice. The industry is taking note, we know that for a fact, it is just a matter of time before they actually implement real changes.

All it leaves us to say is we hope that Irene and Don have a safe journey home from vacation, that all of you have a great weekend.

weekend cat

 

Timeshare Finance: Barclay’s in Hot Water at the High Court.

We all know about how timeshare has been sold, the long drawn out presentation to wear you down, the oral misrepresentations to entice you, which then never materialise or appear in the contracts. Then we have the sales staff offering finance agreements if you cannot afford the timeshare, with these same sales staff arranging the loans and completing the application forms.

One such timeshare operator, Resort Properties / Silverpoint even went as far as selling packs of weeks as an “investment”, with an “oral” promise that these weeks would be sold at a “profit”, or even rented out to make the owner money.

Many of these were funded by Barclays Partner Finance (formerly Clydesdale), Edwin Coe is representing around 106 of these timeshare customers in a suit worth more than £1.5 million.

edwincoe  barclays

https://www.edwincoe.com/our-expertise/group-action-litigation/resort-properties-barclays-partner-finance/

https://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/barclays-credit-arm-sued-106-holidaymakers-timeshare-deals/

The claimants say Resort Properties / Silverpoint arranged these loans indicating that by renting out the purchased “properties”, the incoming rentals would easily cover the repayments. As far as anyone knows this never materialised, if they were rented out the income just about covered the management fees on those weeks.

As for the reselling of those weeks for a “profit” which again they said would more than cover the cost of the finance, never happened. Everyone now knows that timeshare is not an investment, it is a drain. One only has to look on ebay to realise that people cannot even give them away, let alone sell them. We also see some very inflated prices from the many resale companies, after all those prices are what the owners want for them, not what they are worth.

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

  • Cost of the timeshare                   £10,900.00
  • Credit facility fee                           £65.00
  • Interest                                             £18,465.00
  • Total amount payable                  £29,430.00
  • Interest rate                                     17.6%
  • APR                                                     17.7%

So with an outlay of £29,430.00 it is not hard to see you will never recoup the “investment” promised.

It is also known that many of these sales staff falsified some of the applications, Inside Timeshare knows of one elderly couple who were pressured into signing up for one of these “investment” packs. When they purchased she was 76 and her husband was 78, both on small private pensions topped up with state pensions. Yet somehow they were given a loan through BPF for around £40,000!

The application was made out by the staff, they signed for the timeshare and the loan after around 6 hours of persuasion, also the husband was in need of his medication. It was not until several years later when they got into difficulty and the finance agreement was being looked over that it was found the income had been falsified.

When speaking with them they were asked, if had they gone to their own bank for a loan of this amount, did they think they would have been given it? Their answer was as you rightly suspect, a big affirmative NO! Their case against Silverpoint is waiting to be heard at the courts in Tenerife.

Another aspect of falsifying these loan applications is the purpose of the loan, on many we have seen it has gone down as “home improvements”. This was done to break the link with “timeshare”. Unfortunately, it could be argued that the people signing the agreements have been coerced into committing a fraud without their knowledge.

Barclay’s are not the only financial institution who are supplying the finance for  timeshares, Hitachi and Shawbrook Bank provide such loans. In the case of Shawbrook, they announced back in July 2016, that they had set aside £9 million to cover defaults on these loans. They admitted they had not carried out their due diligence when accepting and granting them.

credit check

As far as “due diligence” is concerned, one has to ask how has this been done when the loans are agreed on the day?

  • Have the correct credit checks been made?
  • Has the income been verified?
  • Has an income versus expenditure been done to check if the applicant can actually afford the repayments?

Somehow with the number of people Inside Timeshare has been in contact with, it would seem not. It looks like the only “checks” that have been made are ones that show your credit rating, such as Experian.

This has also been a problem in the US, where Irene Parker, Inside Timeshares US partner has been highlighting the problem.

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

Timeshare is going through a very big upheaval, with the likes of Resort Properties / Silverpoint, Anfi, Palm Oasis / Tasolan, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma to name a few, all being pursued through the courts. All of these companies have also had judgements against them from the Supreme Court in Madrid, the highest court in Spain, which have strengthened the Spanish timeshare laws. These cases are costing them dearly, we are looking at millions of pounds in repayments and declaring the contracts null & void.

If you have any questions or comments on this subject or would just like to know if you have grounds to make a claim, Inside Timeshare will find out for you and point you in the direction of reputable law firms.

Remember, there are many out there who say they are law firms but in reality they are not, many are just after selling you another product or even just out to steal your hard earned cash. A prime example of this is Litigious Abogados in Tenerife, which we have published many articles about.

As we have said before and will keep saying, doing your homework is vital.

homework

The 3 R’s of Timeshare: Part 1

Today we start with the first of a three part article on what Irene calls the 3 R’s of Timeshare, although this first part begins with “F”.

In the US this is Foreclosure, which to those of us in Europe would just be Relinquishment or Surrender. What we have to remember in Europe is that for our American cousins, timeshare tends to be governed by Real Estate Law and financial agreements are usually associated with a mortgage rather than a personal loan or finance agreement. So foreclosure will be similar to repossession of your house for not keeping up with mortgage payments. Failure to keep up payment on a loan does not result in the timeshare being “repossessed”, as the finance is separate from the timeshare.

As for relinquishing or surrendering your timeshare in Europe, this very much depends on who you purchased with, some companies are better than others.

As a very good example of the bad, we only have to look at MacDonald Resorts, this particular company has been the subject of many press articles, including some published here on Inside Timeshare. This company is renowned for not allowing people out of their contracts even after death, so this means the children inherit the timeshare and the subsequent maintenance bills.

A very good case which Inside Timeshare has been working on is that of Mrs B, an 87 year old lady in ill health, who used a company to relinquish her contract. This was done by selling to a third party, MacDonalds refuse to accept this, stating they do not recognise the transfer, even though we have notary documents proving the transfer. Consequently they are pursuing Mrs B for arrears in maintenance, passing the debt onto a debt collecting agency who are threatening court action if it is not paid. Inside Timeshare is now lodging a formal complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority as the debt is “under dispute” and should not be chased by the agency.

This company also “offers” a limited number of members to hand in their timeshares every couple of years, but only on the payment of 4 years maintenance fees.

Another company that is renowned for being very difficult to get out of is Petchey Leisure, now owned by MGM Muthu. As far as they are concerned your contract is in perpetuity and that means never ending, so even your grandchildren will end up with the maintenance bills.

Diamond Resorts in Europe on the other hand seem to be getting their act together, for several years now they have allowed any member over 75 to hand back their membership. They also allow others to hand back in what they term as “exceptional circumstances”. These are the death of a partner, illness and financial difficulties. For those who do not fall into these categories they will allow surrender on payment of upto 3 years maintenance fees.

So now on with Irene’s Article.

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare:

Part I Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund or Foreclosure

What will happen when you decide your timeshare decision was a mistake?

Part II: The 3Rs of Timeshare

Part III: 2 More Rs  – Timeshare Rentals and Resales

By Irene Parker March 28 

Contract picture

Except for failure to pay child support, there is no debtor’s prison. Anyone feeling desperate, angry, worried, ashamed or scared about their timeshare situation can rest assured they can put their timeshare troubles behind them through the 3 Rs or F of Timeshare.

The words I used above are how I describe timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare or to me through our Advocacy Facebook Page, burdened by high interest loan payments and rising maintenance fees. Our goal is to convert this owner into an informed and empowered owner.

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

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

Often, life without timeshare can be achieved without legal assistance, but we have a crew of able bodied lawyers there if you need them as a last resort. Advocacy works but has its limitations. All of our Advocates are unpaid, helping individual timeshare owners and members while working towards timeshare reform.

Last week we quoted Mr. Nusbaum’s feelings about the secondary market. Mr. Nusbaum is President and CEO of ARDA, the timeshare developer lobby.

“This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  June 2014 RedWeek

On the other hand, here is another Nusbaum quote from the same article sounding somewhat contradictory:

“The developer community is not without some dirt under their nails in this. We’ve created a business model that needs recycling. We want to help the secondary market. For self-perpetuity, it’s insane not to have a healthy secondary market.”

But most of all, according to Nusbaum, the long-term outlook is improving because the largest timeshare companies are developing programs that offer exit strategies for their owners. The complete RedWeek article:

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshare-resales-arda-predictions

“Exit strategies” are voluntary surrender programs. Requests are evaluated case by case. It is difficult to determine how many requests are granted compared to the number of requests overall. Are these programs just media window dressing to make it look like the industry is responding?

Michael Kosor has worked with Nevada Senator Becky Harris in an effort to propose legislation that would allow better disclosure as to the limited, or sometimes non-existent, secondary market.  

“Actions by the timeshare industry, regulators, and legislators, are analogies to firefighters rescuing the elderly trapped in a burning building. Until the cause of the fire is identified, consumers will continue to be lured into these burning (defective) timeshare products that are not supported by a secondary market. While I applaud the rescue, we should not allow the industry and those responsible for consumer protection to hide behind said rescue efforts while they inexplicably fan the flames. Ambulance chasing fraudulent transfer agents is a back-ended solution – a Band-Aid reaction.”

Treating symptoms without studying the cause can be problematic for medicine or timeshare. The cause in the case of timeshare is the active destruction of the resale market for the benefit of immediate developer profits.

“Where are the association Boards we elected to represent our timeshare interests”?

“Owners clearly would like to see more done to advance and advocate for an improved resale market,” continues Michael. “Why is it our advocacy group is the only voice in this discussion? With the exception of a few legacy associations, virtually none of the industry affiliated associations have an active resale program available to owners to assist in exit and preclude foreclosure, if a voluntary surrender is denied”.

I approached my association a few years ago, the Wyndham Grand Desert, and was told “this was not their responsibility.” Instead, my (and most all) associations’ leaders throw owners wishing to exit (which we all do eventually) to the wolves of the current resale environment or transfer agents. They then enter into very lucrative repurchase contracts with and for the developers. These repurchase contracts provide the association pennies on the dollar of outstanding assessments, then give the developer very low cost inventory to sell as new to the next owner.

The real issue is not merely failing to fix the resale market. Worse, the industry is actively working to build the recycle model which requires the intentional undermining of the resale market. Advocate owners and members understand the cause and the fact the industry has no desire to fix the problem. It’s sad that we as advocates have to educate and walk the elderly, the ill and those burdened financially, through the foreclosure process when all else fails.

The developers consider themselves benevolent when they allow the surrender of a $25,000 to over $100,000 vacation plan in exchange for a surrender of zero value. As long as the vacation points or weeks stay in the hands of the developer, there is no free market system. Lenin would be proud.

Back to the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

We want to avoid the F for foreclosure, but for some owners there is no choice.

Let’s get this last and most unpleasant option out of the way so we can focus on more positive outcomes.

Where do we start? Pull out all those documents and start digging!

Magnify

I hear a lot of “I think” or “I’m not sure” when I ask the following questions:

  • When did you first buy your timeshare?
  • Where did you buy your timeshare?
  • How many points do you own?
  • What was the sales agent’s name?
  • What interest rate are you paying if you have a loan?
  • What do you want to happen?

We begin at the end – Foreclosure

If a member has an otherwise unblemished credit score, he or she can work to have the reason for foreclosure added to a credit report.  I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process.  We use one unnamed resort as an example, but the procedure is similar to all timeshare companies. A common question is:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

According to Charles Thomas, here is how it works in Europe

This resort employs a debt collection agency, one they use is called Daniels Silverman, the debt is passed on to them (usually sold), they now own the debt and will threaten court action – whether they will is another matter. If this does occur, then yes credit rating will be affected as it will then be a County Court Judgement and failure to pay will result with the court bailiffs being sent in to recover either cash or goods to the value. Only they have the right of entry into the home.

As for a loan, if it is with a third party i.e. Barclays Partner Finance, any failure to keep up payments will result in County Court action as above and credit blacklisting.

It is advisable to seek advice from an attorney before just stopping any payments, as by doing this the debt cannot be passed on to an agency as under the Financial Conduct Authority regulations. The debt can be classified as “under dispute”.

According to the Canarian Legal Alliance CLA, when the firm takes on a relinquishment with a loan attached, they also try to have the loan agreement cancelled.

It is advisable to completely check any company that offers relinquishment services, as this is an area which is fraught with con artists.

Below is our Inside Timeshare article on debt collection with links to various authorities, it also includes a list of those resorts who employ debt collectors and a list of those who have taken people to court.

As Charles Thomas reported, Europe maintains a thriving timeshare foreclosure and collection industry as well.

http://insidetimeshare.com/maintenance-arrears-debt-collectors/

Our Advocates, relying on their experience and expertise, are here to evaluate and work together, each bringing a piece of the puzzle to help you find your answer.

Conference table

Next week we continue with Part II – The 3Rs of Timeshare:

Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund

Part III – The 2Rs of Timeshare – Rentals and Resales

Contact us today if you would like to share your story or work with us by becoming a Timeshare Advocate.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

Thanks to Irene, Mike Finn and Michael Kosor for their contribution.

As you already know as owners of timeshare, whether in Europe or across the “Great Lake” in the US, once you purchase timeshare, getting out of it is fraught with obstacles. It does depend on who you own with, some are better than others. In Europe, Spain is leading the way with timeshare law, it is giving “consumers” more protection, making it easier to get out.

Inside Timeshare hopes these articles are of benefit to you the owners, that only through coming together and sharing information can we hope for any change in the industry.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience contact Inside Timeshare or join the Advocacy FB page.

 

Shawbrook Bank Announce Irregularities in Timeshare Loans, Similar Activities in the USA.

For many people their Timeshare or Holiday Ownership was paid for on Finance, these loans were usually arranged on the day of signing the contract by the sales staff. One of these lenders is a bank called Shawbrook Bank, with their head office located in Brentwood Essex. The bank was founded in 2011 and according to their web site works closely with the holiday ownership industry to provide finance for their customers.

 

Unfortunately it was announced recently that the bank had set aside around £9 million to cover any defaults in these loans. This has come about due to the discovery of irregularities in the issuing of these loans.

shawbrook

Shawbrook Bank has admitted that it did not do its due diligence when approving the finance for holiday ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts, whose aggressive style of selling has resulted in many people being over stretched financially, then being lumbered with a product that they find is unworkable. They are also stuck with management fees that are continually rising, also being unable to get out of their contracts.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/28/shawbrook-banks-shares-plunge-on-9m-hit-from-dodgy-lending/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3663651/Shares-Shawbrook-drop-challenger-bank-reveals-loan-irregularities-cost-9m-finance-chief-quits.html

 

What did Shawbrook miss on its due diligence?

 

Quite simple, finance agreements made out by sales staff on the day of the sale have not had the usual credit checks made. Normally when a loan is applied for there are several checks that are made, we all know this as at some point we have had them. Firstly, does the applicant earn enough to qualify for the loan. Secondly, can the applicant actually afford the repayments, after other payments are taken into consideration, i.e. mortgage, living expenses etc. Lastly does the applicant have a good credit history, in other words have they defaulted on any other finance, be it loans or credit cards, or have they had county court judgements made against them

 

All these are the usual checks, being unable to fulfil any of these criteria would normally prevent the loan from going through.

 

Another aspect is how the applications are filled out, Many people spoken to over the years have said that the application had been filled out by the staff. It later transpired that the purpose of the loan had been made out as “home improvements” nothing to do with the purchase of holiday ownership. In some cases, even the income has been falsified. Unfortunately, for the applicant this could lead them to the possibility of criminal charges, after all they have signed the form.

edwincoe

This is not the first time a bank has hit the news in relation to holiday ownership, Barclays Partner Finance has been the subject to action in the High Court on this matter. Edwin Coe LLP, represented many clients of Resort Properties, who had been sold “investment packs” which were then financed by Barclays Partner Finance. On 16 August 2015, Edwin Coe LLP announced that the High Court had decided in favour of the consumer.

http://www.edwincoe.com/our-expertise/group-action-litigation/resort-properties-barclays-partner-finance/

http://www.edwincoe.com/high-court-decides-in-favour-of-the-consumer/

 

Many of these loans did not have the usual credit checks made, in fact Inside Timeshare is aware of an elderly couple who had been given one of these loans. They had been talked into one of the Resort Properties / Silverpointinvestment packs”, at the time he was 8o years old his wife 76, the loan was for £30,000, yet both are on pensions. When Inside Timeshare spoke with them, the question asked was, had you gone to your bank, do you think they would have provided the loan? Well we all know what the answer to that is. They are now taking legal action.

barclays

Unfortunately this is not just the case for Europe, in the United States the same controversy exists.

 

Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation has been highlighting this, on 27 April 2016, he published an article on a Credit Union which has been supplying loans for Diamond Resorts clients. Quorum Federal Credit Union has been in operation for 82 years, as with all credit unions they are member based.

quorum

http://sirf-online.org/2016/04/27/the-enabler-and-the-lifeline-diamond-resorts-and-quorum-fcu/

 

Quorum, has been supplying loans for the holiday ownership industry for years, Diamond Resorts are their largest portfolio. Diamond tend to send the riskier applicants to the credit union, these are those in the lower credit ratings, what the Americans call “subprime”. In other words the banks would not touch them with the proverbial barge pole.

 

According to Roddy Boyd the deal provided around $40 million in loans for Diamond and in return these borrowers became members of Quorum. Sounds like a win win for both, (not the consumer).

 

At least Shawbrook Bank have admitted that it has seen a problem in this area, setting aside a substantial amount to cover any future problems. In the end a loan for a holiday product which will on average be around £10,000 or more, is a huge commitment, not one that should be signed and approved on the day. Especially by the sales staff who have a vested interest in getting the “deal”.

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene Parker of the The Street for supplying the link to Roddy Boyd´s article. Do read it in full yourself as we have only just touched the surface, also read the following link, again it makes interesting reading.

 

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

 

If you have any questions relating to this article or any others published contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answer for you.

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