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Friday’s Letter from America

Once again welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker interviews yet another military veteran family about their experience with Diamond. Joshua and Nichole Parker are just another couple in a long line that have reached out to Inside Timeshare in the past few months, we do not expect them to be the last.

First we have a quick look at Europe, we begin with a warning about a company cold calling Diamond owners in the UK.

cold call

One of our regular readers who is a member of one of the Diamond facebook pages, received a call from a company claiming to be called Scottish Heritage. It seems that the caller knew our reader is a member with Diamond Resorts, the offer was for a stay at a choice of hotels in Scotland for 5 nights for the knockdown price of £99.

This sounds like the old “flybuy” offers that we have warned about in the past, cheap stays along with the obligation to attend a presentation usually to purchase either a timeshare or holiday club package.

When we searched for any company called Scottish heritage we drew a blank other than the official Scottish organisations, which we very much doubt would be making these type of calls.

The number used for the call is:

01244470152

Which is a Chester number, when we did a check on this number it did show some rather interesting results, on Who Called Me,

https://who-called.co.uk/Number/01244470152

there were many entries about this number, including the name Scottish Heritage. It also belongs to a website called

http://loyaltyweeks.com/

In their About section they go on to say:

“As a guest of Loyalty Breaks, you would receive heavily discounted accommodation in a selection of leading hotels and resorts around the world that would otherwise cost a considerable amount of money.  All that is required from the guest is that during their stay, they take a morning or afternoon of their time to learn about the benefits of the resort in a relaxed environment, and donate valuable feedback to improve customer care and satisfaction.

The developers will heavily subsidies the accommodation for up to 7 nights, with the intention on enlightening their visitors on the benefits and perks of their exclusive residences in some of the most sought after destinations around the world.”

Which does confirm what we expected, discounted breaks with a presentation. Unfortunately we can find no company registration for either Loyalty Weeks or Loyalty Breaks, and the website does not give a name of who is behind it, although it was only registered on 29 July 2017, so it is only around 8 months old.

The question now is who is behind it and how did they get the information, especially as they knew they were Diamond owners. Could it be that some unscrupulous sales staff who knew that they were going to be laid off, got hold of the members data either selling it on or starting their own little enterprise?

It has also been a busy week with sentences from the Supreme Court in Madrid being issued against Silverpoint, Palm Oasis and Puerto Calma, a good week for the lawyers and their clients.

Now on with this weeks Letter.

A Veteran’s Family Bought Diamond Points

Dismissed by Diamond Hospitality Consumer Advocates because,

“You signed a contract”  

An Interview with Joshua and Nichole Parker

vets

By Irene Parker

March 16, 2018

Joshua “Josh” and Nichole Parker attended a timeshare sales presentation that lasted from 8AM in the morning until 8PM at night at Diamond Resorts Mystic Dunes resort in Orlando on November 8, 2017 after attending a Diamond’s Event of a Lifetime. “Why didn’t you just leave?” the critics ask. Joshua explains why on his YouTube. They purchased 4,000 Diamond timeshare points. Joshua and Nichole say they were told their points would go up in value. Now, expecting twins, they do not have enough points for a family of five to vacation and have learned, not only did their timeshare points not increase in value – there is virtually no secondary market for Diamond timeshare points. Josh’s YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Josh suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Josh is the second 90% disabled, PTSD diagnosed, Iraqi veteran Inside Timeshare has assisted this year. The other veteran and his wife had been subjected to a five hour predatory and fraudulent timeshare hard sell. They recorded an hour of their ordeal which has been turned over to law enforcement. After listening to the recording, I can firmly say there was no alleged about it. Their timeshare dispute was quickly resolved after a copy of their YouTube interview was sent to the timeshare company. Others who allege fraud, but did not record their alleged fraudulent timeshare sale, face an uphill battle of repeated denials and dismissals. Timeshare companies often respond, “You signed a contract.”

The FBI disagrees with this reasoning, and has advised timeshare members to file complaints with the FBI at IC3.gov and orally through the FBI field office nearest to where the timeshare contract was signed, if their allegations meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” The FBI agent Josh spoke with advised Josh to also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (option other – timeshare sales).

Post-traumatic stress disorder

The tragic events that took place at the Veteran Home in Yountville, California, Friday, March 9, a formerly safe place for Veterans suffering from the effects of PTSD, reminds us that the effects of war or a traumatic event can live long after the event or the battlefield. It’s not an easy topic, but one timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents should be aware of, if they care.

My interview with Josh and Nichole

Irene: Josh, tell us about your military service.

Josh: I joined the army in 2005, partly for the health benefits, and because joining the army was what I always wanted to do. I became a military police officer. In Iraqi I was part of a Police Transition Team. We taught Iraqi police how to be police because they lacked training. I was part of Operation Iron Maiden in 2006 when an attempt was made to catch Ayman-al-Zawahiri. We knew there were weapon caches and hostiles. We performed an outer cordon searching for hostiles. We were out there three days. I hurt my lower back from a fall while on this mission. The weight I was carrying made the injury worse. It is considered a combat injury because it was in reaction to incoming rounds.

Irene: You suffer from PTSD. Explain how that has affected your life.

Josh: The experience of combat changes the way you think from that time forward. During those three days, at one point I came to the realization that I was going to die. That moment changed me for the rest of my life. I have a high priority for security. Most people get up in the morning and think about what they are going to do that day, food, work, entertainment and security. For me it is food and security. The first thing I ask myself when I wake up in the morning is if what I am going to do today is safe.        

Irene: I too suffer from PTSD, so interested in the subject from a personal perspective. I followed the role model of John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted channeling my anger and grief into advocacy. Mr. Walsh lost his six year old son Adam, a victim of a homicide. I revisited the topic again and found this symptom:

You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal.

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

It’s hard enough for anyone to endure an eight hour hard sell timeshare presentation, but PTSD, combined with a high risk pregnancy carrying twins, obviously made your experience even worse.

Josh: Nichole has had several miscarriages, and has gone through eight years of fertility treatments. So expecting twins, we are in a constant state of worry. In addition, they forced us to leave our crying 4 year old in the kids club because they could not proceed with the sales presentation with her there. Our daughter was born with a genetic disorder called Klippel-Feil syndrome, a bone disorder that also affects her heart and kidneys. She also has many food allergies. It was unfair to leave a child in the play area for hours, told by our sales person Tiffany that she would only be there two hours.

Nichole: They don’t really feed the children. They only offer snacks and our daughter Vanessa could not have some of what they offered. Had I not have almost passed out from low blood sugar due to my pregnancy, they would of expected us to leave our child there thru lunchtime.

Josh: We didn’t leave because they would not return our credit card and driver’s license, even to leave for lunch, telling us to just drive to the restaurant on property. The reality is, you ask and they say yes, I’m going to get it from so and so. Then 10 minutes later someone else arrives and they start over saying, “I let him know and he’s going to bring them.”  There is a constant push off to delay getting the IDs and credit card. It’s relentless.

It was like being tortured, being held hostage, and they did the same to our child. When the sales people were talking, they refused to let us check on our kids saying, “If there was a problem someone would come get you.  Meanwhile, you hear kids screaming.”

Irene: As mentioned earlier, those with PTSD are jittery and on the lookout for danger. You are prone to be angry or irritable.

Josh: Yes, and around 5 PM I went out to the car to get something. I have handicap parking, but the handicap parking had been blocked off with cones. I rolled my ankle stepping between the cone and the cement block.

Nichole: This was why we did not get the papers signed until 8 PM. We reported the incident at the front desk. They called security to file an incident report. While waiting for security, Robert, the sales manager and Omar, the sales center manager, continued to pressure us to buy points even though Josh was in visible pain, with ice on his ankle.

Josh: We kept saying we could not afford the points, even though I was visually in pain. My ankle was starting to swell right before we signed the documents. We were not even on the sales floor. They kept saying, sign this and this, including the Barclaycard that we did not want in the first place.

Irene: So, after all this, why did you buy?

Nichole: The same children’s hospital I know that my four year daughter old goes to, to see maternal fetal medicine they said we could stay by. So they really got us when they were saying we would be able to be closer to the hospital. But the fact remains, at the time of purchase, even if this is an option, we can’t afford this timeshare and were told it was an investment and could be easily sold.

Irene: When are the Parker twins due?

Nichole: July 18 is 40 weeks but twins are full term at 37 so June.

Irene: I love babies! We would love to visit after they arrive.

Irene: Back to timeshare – Some have asked why you did not just call 911 when they refused to return your driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Josh: The biggest thing was to get it over with. We knew we could not afford it but they kept saying it was an investment and it was good for our children, and they said if we purchase it now we would be assured our children could always take vacations. As an investment, we thought we would not lose money on it. I didn’t count, but I am sure I said 100 times, “I can’t afford this.”

The next up-sell attempt at Polo Towers:

Josh: Next, we were told we had to attend a new member orientation. We had told our sales agent Robert we did not want to attend any more presentations. Robert said we would not have to. When we went to Diamond Polo Towers November 2017 we were told we had to attend a new member orientation to learn how to use the tablet and how to navigate the Diamond website. My wife lost her mind. They called Robert and their demand to attend was dropped.

Irene: When did you realize the hopelessness of your situation?

Josh: We started to question the legitimacy of what we had experienced December 2017.  We know 4,000 points are not enough points to travel with a family of five. We will be struggling with the double expense of two newborns instead of one. The answer for us is not to buy more timeshare points, only to get deeper in debt.  We would have never bought Diamond points if we thought we were obligated to pay maintenance fees for the rest of our lives for a timeshare that could not be sold.   

Nichole: We are stressed beyond endurance over what Diamond Resorts has done to our family.

Josh: We have filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There has been no response. We have filed a complaint with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. We did receive an email today with further instructions.

We filed a Better Business Bureau complaint. There has been no response. We will file a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General. We intended to file a complaint against our sales agent Tiffany with the Florida Real Estate Division, but when I called Diamond, they would not tell me her last name. We do have the names of Robert Gonzales, Director of Sales and Mario Hernandez, the highest person there.

I have joined a group of 34 members of active duty and retired military/law enforcement claiming they were defrauded by timeshare sales agents, seemingly targeting the military. We have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, an organization that seeks justice for military and government workers, active duty and retired.  

We contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare because we were going to sign up with Primo Management Group and had a conference call scheduled for February 15. Below are the documents PMG provided, including a Diamond release from Eric and Angela Wood, as a testimonial and an illustration of our Diamond liability projected out 40 years.  Irene told us to cancel the conference call and not sign up with PMG. She advised us to contact Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy. She said she felt confident DRI Advocates would be able to help us. She explained the Diamond program CLARITY about transparency, accountability and respect for the customer.

The history of our vacation nightmare:

Sampler purchased 20,000 points for $4000 Parkway International Celebration Area 7/2017

4000 annual points were purchased at Mystic Dune November 8, 2017 Event of a Lifetime. We were told our Sampler points and money paid would be credited towards the purchase of annual points but it wasn’t.

Purchase price $15,133

Amount financed $12,636

Sales agent Tiffany

Robert Gonzales, Director of Sales

Mario Hernandez was the highest person there

Javier was QA

We were told the new thing is that all your points are worth money.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it because the points are worth money. We were told points can be converted to dollars to pay maintenance fees because fees will go up 10% every year and the inflation on the fees won’t match our fixed income.

The Timeshare Exit Company we contacted to get us out of this nightmare:

PMG (Primo Management Group, Inc.) quoted us $3,000 to $6,000 to get us out of our Diamond timeshare.

Thank you for considering PMG, the country’s most respected timeshare relief agency, for assistance in completely cancelling your timeshare obligation.

We have a 100% success rate.  Your deed cancellation is backed by our 100% guarantee and we guarantee to protect your credit throughout the entire process.

Our program includes:

  • Timeshare Contract Cancellation
  • Immediate Cancellation of Payments
  • Cancellation of Maintenance Fees
  • Mortgage Balance Cancellation
  • Protection from Harassment
  • Credit Protection/Correction

 Subject: *PMG Consultation Email

Your Financial Obligation to Diamond

ILLUSTRATION WAS PROVIDED SHOWING A 40 YEAR PROJECTION OF $95,710 BEGINNING WITH OUR $243 MORTGAGE PAYMENT

Please feel free to ask your Consumer Advocate any and all questions you may have.  Best wishes and again, thank you.

Grand Lodge_Michael & Barbara Wagner.pdf

Holiday Inn-Orange Lk_Vanessa Pena

Summer Bay_Shovan Anwar & Aniva Zaman.pdf

Wyndham_Tiwuanda Howard.pdf

Diamond_Eric & Angela Wood.pdf

Best Regards,

Ken Crawford

Sr. Consumer Advocate

Irene: What a mess! Will timeshare companies that do not allow a secondary market ever realize they are causing the problem? Never pay anyone or any company money upfront to get you out of your timeshare. If you are contacted by such a company contact one of the groups listed here.  

These are US self-help, member supported groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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/

thanks vets

Thank you Joshua and Nichole for sharing your story, also thanks to Irene all the volunteers for all the hard work they are doing to help those such as the veterans and the elderly.

If you have any questions, comments or need advice on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare from our contact page, please state if you are US or European based.

That’s it for this week, it’s Friday and the weekend is calling, have a good one and join us again on Monday.
friday dog

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome once again to Friday’s Letter from America, this week is Earth to ARDA, it is an open letter to Mr. Clements, Mr. Nusbaum and Mr. Roth, it is jointly written article by Eron Grant and Irene Parker. Inside Timeshare can also report that the US team have had three resolutions this week. Diamond  is Listening. So well done all the US volunteers.

justice2

This week has been a rather busy one for the courts in Spain, with three sentences from the Courts of First Instance, two from the High Courts and ruling number 90 from the Spanish Supreme Court.

Anfi have had three judgements against them this week two at the Court of First Instance and one at the High Court. In the first two, Court Number 3 at Maspalomas, GC found for the clients, declaring their contract with Anfi null and void. This case was highlighted in the Tuesday Slot with Irene on 6 March.

The second case, held at Court Number 4, again in Maspalomas, another Anfi member had their contract declared null and void. Ordering the return of over £15,000 plus legal interest.

In the High Court Number 5 in Las Palmas, the judge again declared an Anfi contract null and void, with the return of over £14,000 plus appeal legal fees and interest.

In the same court another timeshare company Airtours has had one of their contracts declared null and void, with the judge ordering the return of over 12,000€ plus legal interest.

At the Court of First Instance Number 4 in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, Club la Costa has been ordered to return over £19,000 including legal fees and legal interest. The contract was also declared null and void.

In the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, another historic ruling, bringing the total number made by the Highest Court to a whopping 90!

This was against the Tenerife operation Silverpoint, again the contract was declared null and void with the return of over £10,000 plus legal fees and interest. There will be full article on this and another Supreme Court ruling next week, so keep an eye on these pages.

All these case have been brought on behalf of the clients by the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, no doubt the clients and the lawyers will be celebrating this weekend.

cla-brochure

In other news, we had an enquiry into another company contacting Club Class members, this call was from a Madeline Swann of Gateway Services, apparently based in Telford. In the call she is telling the client that there is a payment due from the banks for being mis-sold his Club Class membership. All he needs to do is pay a certain amount by bank transfer to a Santander account to have the money released.

Haven’t we heard this one before?

On searching for this supposed company nothing came up, no company house records, nothing. So if you get a call from this Madeline Swann or anyone else saying they are from Gateway Service, do let us know. Remember, there will not be any money waiting for you from the banks or the courts.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Protest photo

This photo was posted on a Diamond sponsored member Facebook page, but removed. If you see these members at a resort near you, please send them to:

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

Earth to ARDA: WE GIVE – ARDA ROC – A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. BLUEGREEN DOES TOO

TO: Robert Clements, Lobbyist and General Counsel, Regulatory Affairs,

Howard Nusbaum, ARDA CEO,

Peter Roth, media contact

From: American Resort Development Association‘s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”

Inside Timeshare will be following Platinum Diamond members Roy and Lillian Simmons as they make their way through Vacation Ownership’s highly regulated industry. Mr. and Mrs. Simmons are worried about losing their home, up-sold at age 69 and 70 to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. They are one of 23 Diamond Platinum members alleging they were fraudulently up-sold into financial disaster. Roy and Lillian Simmons first submitted their demands to Diamond’s Consumer Advocacy Department on January 8. Tuesday’s article describes what happened:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

Next, they filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau the end of February. The BBB closed their complaint in two days because a Diamond Hospitality agent from the Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department responded, “They signed a contract.” As Mr. Simmons describes on the YouTube, they were told Diamond shares were going to go up and split and they could make $3,000 to $4,000 a week renting Hawaii points because Hawaii points are so valuable. Mrs. Simmons is too devastated to have taken part in the YouTube production. Fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons have a daughter. On March 6, their daughter Angela filed a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov against three Diamond sales agents, one in Hawaii and two in Orlando. She also filed a complaint with the FTC. Today she will refile a complaint with the BBB again asking, “What?”

You can file a complaint with the weakened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but since companies like Diamond and Bluegreen service the timeshare loan, members don’t even know the name of the lender unless the borrower has a lower credit score. Quorum Credit Union handles the lower score people. You have to select a lender from the CFPB drop-down menu. Timeshare companies are not an option.

Onward with complaints, they will file with the Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota and Nevada Attorneys General. The Florida Timeshare Division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014. Then there’s the state real estate division in Florida and Hawaii against Diamond’s Hawaii sales agent John Jessup and Florida sales agent Rafael Carerra.

If Diamond won’t help them, it’s possible the Simmons will lose not only their vacation points, but also their home, according to their daughter Angela. Angela said the $2,700 a month Diamond loan is a significant portion of their retirement income. It’s doubtful any of the filings will have an effect. Angela is surprised all of this is like a ten hour a week part time job.

Like Kevin and Brenda Hopkins, the Simmons are supported by Whistleblowers of America, an organization dedicated to seeking justice for military and government workers.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Kevin and Brenda Hopkins describe their extraordinary sales pitch:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-39/

Some Peasants Revolt

By Eron Grant and Irene Parker

Friday March 9, 2018

meeting in office

Mr. Clements, Mr. Nusbaum and Mr. Roth,

We are educated professionals, two among thousands demanding accountability, transparency and respect. Two of 44 Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates who have listened to 326 Diamond members allege predatory sales tactics that has caused financial disaster for hundreds of families, the possible loss of Military Security Clearances, ruined vacations, ruined honeymoons, damaged credit reports, members alleging they were over promised and oversold on availability, the ability to sell points, pay maintenance fees with programs that do not exist, the ability to rent points and the ability to lower interest rates, as in the case of Active Duty Navy members Amanda and George Jones. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Lawmakers are beginning to listen, a few Attorneys Generals are listening (not Florida or Nevada), regulators are listening, and the FBI is listening. ARDA is not listening.     

Sure, there are 9 million happy timeshare owners who own and enjoy their timeshare. They might not have been affected by a life crisis, only to learn their timeshare has no secondary market, or been sold or up-sold by a deceitful bait and switch. By your own accounting, 83% of timeshare owners are happy. That leaves 1,530,000 members that are not happy. Over 900 Diamond members complained to the Arizona Attorney General’s office accusing Diamond and their sales agents of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act. Complaints to our Advocacy Group have not diminished since Arizona Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. The AOD is linked at the bottom of the press release.

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

Early complainers consisted of over 1,000 British Diamond members crying foul.

DRIP Enjin: http://drip.enjin.com/

Our Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook launched by an economics professor has over 1,000 members. It’s hard to find Disney Vacation Club complaints.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Here’s what happened to Mark and Eron   

YouTube produced by Doctor and Ms. Mark Grant

Our Timeshare Nightmare of a Lifetime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMk_45zRzk&feature=youtu.be

My husband Mark and I have kids. We are working professionals. We said we need to travel close to home. Our Diamond sales agents said, “No problem!” Grapevine, Texas Great Wolf Lodge sounded great! It was a bait and switch….

Most people don’t pull their kids out of school to take them to Great Wolf Lodge, so we searched Friday to Monday three nights:

April 6 – 9 Family Suite (6)

19,700 DRI points required @ $.22.5 maintenance fee $ = $4,432 for three nights.

As opposed to Booking.com April 6 – 9 Family Suite

 $819.97

101.67 ($33.89 per night service fee)

106.59 (13% tax)

$1,028.23 for three nights

This is not an ARDA’s Code of Ethics concern? I ask again:    

red dress

What ARDA Code of Ethics?

The ARDA Code of Ethics was designed to encourage an honest and fair competitive landscape for the vacation ownership industry, while upholding the highest forms of integrity, dignity and propriety.

Let’s review this Code. I actually read it.

Code of Ethics: Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Answer:  ARDA and its members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation ownership. To demonstrate that commitment, all ARDA members as a condition of membership must agree to comply with the ARDA Code of Ethics. The Code consists of not only general conduct requirements, but also specific requirements for members to adhere to when transacting with consumers, standards for disclosure of information to the public, rules regarding resort management, base guidelines for resale activities, as well as administrative procedures for interpretation and enforcement of the Code.

Note from Eron and Irene: Diamond points have no resale activity. We think this is something a consumer might like to know before signing a perpetual contract.

Question:

What can be done to a (an ARDA) member whose actions are in violation of the Code?

Answer:  If a member is determined to be in violation of the Code (of Ethics), ARDA may take the following actions:

  • Privately or Publicly Admonish the Member
  • Prepare a Letter of Censure
  • Place the Member on Probation
  • Suspend the Member from ARDA Membership
  • Terminate the Member from ARDA Membership

Note from Eron: In addition to Diamond members giving ARDA ROC a million dollars a year, Diamond President Ken Siegel sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors. Diamond members are billed $7 for a “voluntary opt-out” donation from members who in all likelihood cannot even tell you what ARDA ROC stands for. I know I had no clue what the letters ARDA ROC stand for.    

Question:  Who do I contact if I have questions about the Code?

Answer: After reviewing the provisions of the ARDA Ethics Code, if you have questions, please call 407-245-7601 and ask to speak to the ARDA Ethics Administrator, or e-mail [email protected].

Note from Eron: After waiting 4 months for a response from Julie Schwartz (not Lobbyist and General Counsel Robert Clements because he would not take my call), I’m not feeling optimistic about making a phone call to ARDA’s Ethics Administrator. The fact you have to email customer service is not a good sign.

Note from Advocate Irene: I have sent ARDA about 100 of our most grievous complaints from Diamond Resorts members, seniors in fear of losing their home, military members in fear of losing their Security Clearance, alleging they were victims of fraud for profit. Not a word other than through the timeshare grapevine, “She’s writing articles for people.” No I’m not. I edit articles submitted to Inside Timeshare.

Inside Timeshare has received 340 reader complaints, 78 since January 1. Our Diamond Advocacy Facebook page has over 1,000 members, Bluegreen members’ Facebook 800 (they are trying to keep their membership below 800).

Question: Does ARDA support the consumer?

In our opinion, only when the issue at stake is in line with developer’s wishes. One Advocacy Group banned ARDA from attending their meetings after a 2015 Florida bill was passed making it more difficult to get out of timeshare contracts due to nonmaterial errors.  

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

If the wishes diverge, lobby dollars go to work:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

Question:  What does ARDA do with the information it receives from the general public regarding the potentially unethical conduct of its members?

Note from Eron: Nothing – My non-response from Julie Schwartz, ARDA-ROC Consumer Support representative serves as an example:

Answer:  ARDA does not mediate or arbitrate individual disputes between consumers and ARDA member companies. When we receive information regarding a potential violation of the Code we forward those complaints to the company for their consideration and resolution.

Note from Eron:  Who sits on your board and gives you a million dollars a year.

It is then up to the respective parties to resolve any potential dispute. Information submitted by the public may be used by ARDA to act against members when there is a consistent pattern of business practices that are in violation of the code.

Note from Eron: What about the 900 Diamond members who complained to the Arizona Attorney General? Better Business Bureau lists over 1,000 complaints.

Don and Irene Parker’s Diamond experience:

Like Eron, we purchased points for a specific location, New York City. Our daughter lives there. Like Eron, we learned it would cost approximately $8,500 in  Diamond maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at the same hotel, same time for $950 through an online booking service. I checked year round.

Next, we attended a predatory sales presentation at Diamond’s Grand Beach in Orlando. I spent three decades in sales selling everything from pianos to stocks and bonds. I know a predatory sales agent when I meet one. Thoroughly disgusted, we went back to our room at Mystic Dunes, turned on the television, and saw the Queen of Versailles, a FOX News Property Man segment about Jackie and David Siegel, the owners of Westgate timeshare building their 90,000 square foot home. We were in the process of moving from Kentucky to Venice Florida, so it just seemed natural to write an article called “The peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles” describing wealth out of touch with reality.

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

One true benefit of owning Diamond points has been developing relationships with other professionals, over 1,000 of us, who have bonded together like a band of brothers and sisters, to fight widespread timeshare corruption we feel is so ingrained in the timeshare industry, it is accepted and considered normal, kind of like #metoo or sexual abuse, as happened at Michigan State. Look how long that went on.

At least timeshare members are finding each other now, no longer silenced and isolated. When timeshare members need a voice, they can contact Inside Timeshare. We can help.

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/

 

If you need any information about this or any other article, company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or advertising in the press, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

It pays to do your homework and due diligence before engaging with any company, not all are what the say.

Have a great weekend and join us next week.

weekend

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot with Irene has been submitted by Angela Simmons Sandstede, as you will see the story of what her parents have been through is not a happy one, it is another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

First some European timeshare news.

Yesterday, the Court of First Instance Number 3 in Maspalomas announced yet another Anfi Contract null and void, the judge sitting on the trial was new and this was his first ever timeshare case. He awarded the UK clients £11,923 for the purchase price along with £13,248 for double the deposit paid within the cooling off period. The clients have also been awarded their legal fees and legal interest. Again this judge was following the rulings by the Supreme Court.

The case was brought on behalf of these clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, the lawyer representing them is one of their newest and youngest lawyers Eduardo Álamo, who only obtained his law degree in 2014, he then went on to study extra courses in 2015 and became a member of the Las Palmas Bar Association in 2016. Definitely a lawyer to keep an eye on.

eduardo

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been receiving enquiries about a company called RSB Legal, these readers have paid this company for relinquishment and to lodge a claim on a no win no fee basis. Unfortunately they are are unable to contact them.

In another twist it has just come to light that another company Stanton Mortimer which we believe are linked to RSB run by Ricky Walker, Kevin Walker, Kevin O’Connor and Matt Lowe have now shut down and seem to have disappeared with many clients making criminal complaints.

RSB have also been the subject of many discussion forums, the one below goes back to late 2016.

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5510732#topofpage

If you have dealt with either of these companies contact Inside Timeshare and we will give you information on what you can do.

Now for this weeks article.

March 4 – 10 is NOT Consumer Protection Week for Timeshare Members – Part I

An Extraordinary Diamond Investment Opportunity that Wasn’t

Part II – Friday “Earth to ARDA” by Eron Grant

couple

By Angela Simmons Sandstede on behalf of my parents

Please help my Mom and Dad Diamond Resorts, AARP, ARDA, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin

March 6, 2018

I am writing this article because my mom and dad had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. When my mom, who is diabetic, started slipping into a diabetic sugar shock during a sales presentation, the Diamond “Hospitality” representative at Mystic Dunes, Randy Siegel, told my parents to sign papers to lock in a price per point. What they really signed October 2017 was a purchase agreement to buy a Sampler (trial) package for $3,995. They already owned 78000 points. Why would they need a trial program? Diamond refunded all but the down payment. For this they had to sign an NDA? But guess what – this was nothing compared to what happened next. If you do the math, there is no alleged about what happened.  

Roy and Lillian Simmons, ages 69 and 70, Minnesota residents

My dad is a Navy Veteran

Our YouTube: You have to listen to the YouTube for this to make sense

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

My parents, Roy and Lillian Simmons, had been loyal and happy Diamond Platinum members for almost 20 years. By 2014 they had purchased three or four US Collection Diamond vacation point packages ending up with 27000 US Collection points. In 2014 they bought 25000 Hawaii points transferring their US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection now owning 52000 Hawaii points. Everything was fine up to this point.  

The horror began in 2015 when they were told they needed to transfer from the Hawaii Collection to the US Collection, buying 25000 more points for $151,192.  Now they owned 77000 US Collection points. Why back to the US Collection?

In Orlando Florida Diamond sales agent Rafael Cabrera told my parents they should not have bought Hawaii points. They were transferred from the Hawaii Collection back to the US Collection. The reasons:

  • Maintenance fees will go up because Hawaii is so expensive
  • They have hurricanes in Hawaii so they can have special assessments

March 31, 2016 they went to Diamond’s Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Hawaii. There they met with DRI sales agent John Jessup. Mr. Jessup told my parents they should transfer the US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection to take advantage of a remarkable investment opportunity my dad described on our YouTube. It was remarkable, but it didn’t exist.

Transferring 77000 US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection involved a weird 1000 Hawaii point purchase and transfer fee costing $32,840 or over $32 per point. You have to buy some points to transfer from one side of the ocean to the other. In other words, they were charged $32,433 for the non-existent investment opportunity. Diamond points, according to member reports, sell for $3 to $4 per point. Sales agents are quick to point out the list price is $9 going up to $11.     

According to my dad, he was told:

“Hawaii real estate is so valuable! Diamond can’t buy any more property. The “shares” are going to split! You can double your profits! You can get $3000 or $4000 a week for renting out your points!” said Mr. Jessup. “Being able to pay for maintenance fees and rent points is what sold us,” explained Mr. Simmons.

“I don’t know anything about Hawaii special assessments?” Mr. Jessup added.  

http://www.poipuowners.org/News.html

YOU CAN’T SELL OR RENT DIAMOND POINTS UNLESS YOU RENT TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY. DIAMOND DOES NOT ALLOW RENTING FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES. THERE IS NO SECONDARY MARKET FOR DIAMOND POINTS.

My parents are about to lose their house over this! Their monthly Diamond loan payment is $2,750 per month.  

My mom and dad live mostly on my dad’s pension from the US Post office plus Social Security. My mom teaches piano part time. My dad works part time as a substitute in a school kitchen. They were able to manage 52000 points before the last fraudulent up-sell but can in no way afford 78000 DRI points.

Three Barclay cards were opened – two in my mom’s name and one in my dad’s name to charge the down payment. The interest rate jumped to 13.9% for the Hawaii points, but was 9% or 10% previously. When filling out the Barclaycard application, the sales agent crossed off with a black marker all their credit card/Diamond loan expense information, I assume so they would qualify. “We don’t need that information. We just need your home mortgage and car,” he said. I just found this out as well. Mr. Jessup also suggested my dad pay off the Diamond loan by taking the money out of his retirement plan. “I worked as a Financial Advisor. This would only be an 8 to 9% penalty,” Mr. Jessup advised. When my dad spoke to a real Financial Advisor, he was told taking money out of his government retirement plan would have cost over 40% in taxes and penalty.  

My mom is so stressed over this pathetic attempt to make them STAY VACATIONED she is losing her health and so upset she could not participate in our You Tube. Her sugar levels are worse, affected by stress.

Through Social Media I have learned this “ping pong” upsell is a common and deceptive false claim – sales agents working for the same company telling members you should not have bought this or that collection, depending on what side of the Pacific Ocean you are on. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get confused about the back and forth transfer up-sells.

hands in hand

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

Diamond at first acted like they cared. I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy January 8, 2018. They asked for income verification because of the up-sell dispute. My dad sent income verification three times, but they couldn’t find it even though it was faxed. Each time Diamond’s hospitality agent would say they didn’t receive it, but then would say they did. Then they told my parents they were making over $100,000 a year. My parents did not even make that much money when my dad worked for the US Post Office.

A Better Business Bureau report was filed the end of February. A few days after filing, the Better Business Bureau closed out the complaint because Diamond responded, “They signed a contract.”

The FBI advised a recent Diamond member, those who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in addition to filing at IC3.gov and orally through the FBI’s public access line calling your local FBI field office (#4 then prompt #3 white-collar crimes). Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions.

With all the complaints Inside Timeshare is receiving and passing over to the US team, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Irene and her other volunteers are inundated with formulating complaints ready for filing with the FBI, as we get results we will be informing you on these pages.

Remember, if you don’t know what to do whether it is similar to the above story, or you have been contacted by any company or just found a company on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice available. It will also help if you let us know if you are US or European based, this way we can point you to right team.

us-eu-coop

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today’s article is not from our very own Irene Parker but submitted by another contributor Kevin Hopkins and his wife Brenda Hopkins, ex-Air Force, in the light of this article and the recent news regarding the President’s son in law, Inside Timeshare asks our readers the following:

How do you feel about Apollo‘s $184 million loan to Jared Kushner, no matter the side of your political aisle, knowing there have been over 30 members of the military and law enforcement who have filed complaints similar to Kevin and Brenda Hopkins, people who have put their lives on the line for us, alleging timeshare deceit.

Scotty Black, retired Navy, currently working in law enforcement, worried about his Security Clearance. Active Duty Navy couple George and Amanda Jones, worried about their Security Clearance,  previously published articles. Terry and Roxanne Hurley, 26 years Canadian army lost their entire life savings. Does Diamond care? Does Apollo? “You signed a contract.” It doesn’t matter what the sales agent said. Too many others to mention in an introduction.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/business/jared-kushner-apollo-citigroup-loans.html

Roxane and Terry Hurley lost their entire life savings

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

Samuel Melendez

http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

Amanda Jones

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Use our comments section to leave your thoughts, now on with Kevin’s story.

Diamond Apollo Points – An Investment Opportunity!

Think Again!

conference

March 2, 2018

By Kevin Hopkins, Retired Air Force, Electronic Warfare

And Brenda Hopkins, Prior Air Force, Avionics

Our Diamond ownership:

Liki Tiki Orlando FL, deeded week with 2250 points (4500 every odd year)

Purchase price in 2010: $10,971

Maintenance fees: $747

Our Diamond membership:

3000 Diamond points purchased Jan 15, 2017 in Orlando

Sales agent: Sofiane Mannai

Purchase price: $14,100 including $2,951 charged to a Barclay card the same day

Amount financed through Diamond Financial Services: $11,643 @ 16.99%

Maintenance fees: $960

About a month after purchasing 3000 Diamond points, we realized things were not quite right. After a year, we realized we made a bad mistake. Yes, we signed a contract. The thing is though; almost everything we were told was NOT TRUE.

What Happened to Us – Our YouTube:

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

In January 2017, when we met with sales agent Sofiane Mannai at Grand Beach in Orlando, we told him that our biggest complaint about our Liki Tiki timeshare was increasing maintenance fees, over $700 for points we rarely used. Mr. Mannai had introduced himself as an Apollo Customer Service Representative. Mr. Mannai said we could lower, or even eliminate, our maintenance fees if we bought 3000 additional Diamond points. He said that with the additional points, we would become Platinum Members because we would be over 5000 points. “As Platinum members you will be able to sell back annually unused points at a rate of $.50 per point. The money can be used to pay your maintenance fees or whatever you want to do with it,” he explained.

However, Mr. Mannai wasn’t done. He went on to tell us that if we were not happy, starting January 2018, DRI will buy back our points because Apollo wants happy investors. Apollo Global Management is the private equity firm that had recently purchased Diamond. Mr. Mannai said Apollo wants Diamond members to feel that their Diamond points are more of an investment than a prepaid vacation that you may or may not use. Apollo/Diamond loves to buy back points at the price we were paying for them ($4.70) because Diamond can turn around and resell the points for $8 or $9. “It is free money for them. Also, Diamond points are going to be easier to use because Apollo is so big – travel sites are going to start using them like currency. All the major travel sites will have an option to pay for services using Diamond points instead of credit cards!” he added

We asked how much our maintenance fees would go up. “With 3000 more points, your fees would likely double, but think about it – if you sell back all 5000 of your points for $.50 a point, that is $2,500. You’ll be able to pay all of your fees and still have some leftover. Where else could you get such a good return on your investment? But you have to be at Platinum to use this program,” he further explained.

Let me backup at this point and say that we enjoyed our Liki Tiki timeshare but we rarely used it. This would provide a way for us to keep Liki Tiki and use it only if we wanted to. When we didn’t use it we could sell back points to avoid maintenance fees. This would be perfect for us.  

He gave us a timeline that Apollo would be rolling out these changes. This was done verbally of course. I remember because I wrote it down so that I would remember. I now suspect this timeline was a way to ensure that we waited past the rescission period before we complained. The “points as currency” program was scheduled to begin March, 2017, the $.50 per point buyback option June 2017, and the buy-back program January 2018. “These programs are still being implemented by Apollo, so it will not be in your paperwork,” Mr. Mannai added. He also said we were lucky to be receiving this offer now, before Apollo’s new benefits are announced, because the price will certainly go up once that happens.

hook

Yeah, we fell for it. We fell hard. We spent $14,100 for 3000 points.

Our first surprise came about a month later when the additional points showed up in our account. We were not Platinum members. We did not have one account with 5250 points. We have two accounts, the original Liki Tiki 2250 points and the additional 3000 points. The phone calls began. We learned 5000 points is not Platinum loyalty level. Platinum requires 50000 points. The accounts cannot be merged because they are vastly different, one being a deeded account and the other a US Collections account. You cannot combine the points. I have tried. Also,

  • There is no program to buy pack points at 50 cents a point
  • There is no program to buy back timeshares from unhappy owners
  • All travel sites do not accept Diamond points as currency

The only honest thing Sofiane Mannai told us was that our maintenance fees would double. They actually more than doubled.  Furthermore, there is absolutely zero resale value for Diamond points. We can’t even unload it.

We are not alone

EW

Since January 1, there have been 31 similar complaints filed by Active Duty Military, Military Veterans and members of law enforcement or retired law enforcement. Some of their stories are chilling. All of their stories should be a major concern as some of our older veterans are tricked into losing most, if not all, of their retirement income. Some Active Duty members are in, or near to being in foreclosure, affecting their Security Clearances and careers. Many of their stories can be found on insidetimeshare.com such as this one by former Navy member, Scotty Black. In it, he also links several more stories. Note that the number of complaints he refers to has gone up since his article was published.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-36/

These 31 complaints are just the ones I know about. Many more report aggressive Diamond timeshare sales tactics. If you have been reading Inside Timeshare articles, then you probably know that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich launched an investigation against Diamond Resorts in which a settlement was reached and an Assurance of Discontinuance issued.

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

Members who filed complaints described the same sales misrepresentations that we experienced in Jan 2017. Another class action lawsuit was filed against Diamond, this one in Nevada where Diamond’s headquarter is located.

https://www.insidethegate.com/2018/02/major-developer-sued-for-alleged-violation-of-securities-act-of-1933/

For us the hits kept coming… Since we bought the 3000 points early in 2017, we had to pay the 2017 maintenance fees. In March we got a bill for $956.

In November 2017 we received a bill for $960 for the 2018 maintenance fees on the 3000 points and of course the $747 for the timeshare bought at Liki Tiki.  

Alas, there was good news coming our way. In January 2018 I began talking to Diamond employee, Amanda Rody. She said we could finally merge our accounts.

All I had to do was purchase 2500 more points. We’re not making this up.

If I didn’t, our accounts would stay separate. I would have them FOREVER, and at least one of them would be passed on to my children along with the maintenance fees. We did not purchase more points, but we still have her offer in an email.

calling cs

So….what did we do?

I started doing a lot of research and, like I said, we are not alone.  Eventually, I found this Facebook group.

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

There are literally hundreds (983) of members in our advocacy group with similar stories. If you are reading this and have an experience with Diamond, this group is worth a look.

We have gained the interest and support of Whistleblowers of America, an organization that seeks justice for military and government employees.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

On January 27, 2018 we filed a complaint. We asked for a refund. It was immediately shot down with the typical “Sorry, you signed a contract.” The DRI Hospitality Consumer Advocates even scanned in little pieces of the contract I signed to show me what I signed. Diamond must instruct them to hide behind the contract’s fine print to side-step the true issue of sales agent misrepresentation.

A little more research and it turns out that what we experienced meets the FBI’s definition of white-collar crime, defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” The FBI has advised timeshare buyers who feel they were a victim of a bait and switch of a serious nature, like ours, to file a complaint at IC3.gov and to file a complaint orally by contacting their local FBI field office (prompt #4, then prompt #3 white-collar crimes). It is not legal for companies to use fine print to allow sales agents to make false claims. In addition to filing a complaint with the FBI, we have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

We will file a complaint with Florida’s Attorney General since that is where we purchased, and the Nevada Attorney General since that is where Diamond’s headquarter is located. We will file a complaint with Florida Real Estate Division against Sofiane Mannai. We are looking into how to file with the Military Complaints Board because there are protections that can and should be put into place to protect our Military and Veterans from predatory sales practices.

We are military. We fight back.

support troops

Thank you Kevin and Brenda, your story is becoming a recurring theme at Inside Timeshare, on a daily basis we are receiving more and more complaints. The US team are becoming overwhelmed with similar cases, so a great big thank you to all the volunteers who work so hard to get some justice.

If you need help or advice then contact Inside Timeshare, please let us know if you are a US or European member so we can direct you to the right team.

Have you been contacted or found a company on the internet and need to know if they are genuine and will what they say, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to check them out. Remember doing your homework will keep you and your money safe.

Have a good weekend and join us next week.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

This week’s Letter from America is not the one originally planned by Gay Hart-Brewer, as usual Irene Parker sends draft copies in advance to the company involved in the article. In this case the company contacted the person concerned with the dispute and we may just have a result. So first a little extra from Europe.

Inside Timeshare has had a number of enquires about Resort Management Direct, this has nothing to do with the running of your resorts, they are in essence what is known as a flybuy company. See the article from March 2016 which explains a flybuy in detail.

http://insidetimeshare.com/what-is-a-flybuy/

Basically a flybuy is a cheap discounted holiday offer which provides clients to resorts for the purpose of attending a sales presentation for either a timeshare or holiday club. These presentations are for a minimum of 90 minutes (if you can believe that), but will usually last several hours and involve the usual high pressure sales tactics.

saleman

Failure to attend the presentation will result in either removal from the resort or being billed full price for the accomodation, which may be a couple of thousand pounds. So the moral of the story is beware the cheap deals.

The new “fake” law firm Martin Zabala Abogados, based out of Madrid, is still contacting Palm Oasis owners and stating they have been “APPROVED” by the court in Las Palmas to act for owners of Palm Oasis. They are now using a Spanish mobile number:  0034693671006

Remember, COURTS DO NOT APPOINT OR APPROVE ANY COMPANY TO CONTACT TIMESHARE OWNERS.

Anfi have again this week been on the receiving end of two more sentences from the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas.

In the first case, the client has been awarded over £26,000 plus legal interest, with their contract being declared null and void. The same court on the following day declared another contract null and void with the client being awarded 15,738€ for the purchase price plus a further 15,951€ as double the deposit paid within the cooling off period.

Two very happy ex-timeshare owners and a costly two days for Anfi.

judge

Inside Timeshare has also been handed a verdict from the Audienca Provincial of Palma de Mallorca, this case goes back to 2016 and involves no less than eight clients of Marriott Resorts.

The court found against MVCI Management SLU and MVCI Holidays SL, for breaches of the timeshare law 42/98. The total amount awarded by the court is 357,481€. when we get the court papers translated fully we shall publish it here.

Now for this weeks Letter from America which has been revised in light of the news that the company had contacted the author.

Seniors (and others) Driven into Timeshare Foreclosure

By Gay Hart-Brewer for Consumer Protection Week

State of Residence:  CA

Abuse

I made a YouTube that was posted above to warn the elderly and the young to be aware of predatory timeshare sales tactics, appearing to be widespread in the timeshare industry, with the exception of Disney Vacation Club.

March 4 – 10, 2018 is Consumer Protection Week

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/national-consumer-protection-week

The Federal Trade Commission has asked us to:

  • Plan an event
  • Write about it
  • Blog about it
  • Spread the word

I understand I am supposed to say “alleged” and “in my opinion” but my husband Ed and I know what we were told when we invested in a timeshare. Supported by lawsuits, Attorneys General investigation, Better Business Bureau and internet complaints too numerous to mention, I will offer our devastating timeshare experience as a lesson for all Tuesday if our differences are not resolved.

“You signed a contract,” in essence endorses and encourages the actions of these agents employing tactics that are predatory and criminal. They don’t even deny the lies. When a timeshare agent tells an outrageous lie, instructing the member to call him or her to accomplish something the agent knows full well can’t be accomplished, the member is told, “It doesn’t matter what I said. All that matters is what is in the contract.” It’s a sordid partnership between the sales agent and corporate.

This type of white-collar crime is known as fraud for profit, as defined by the FBI.

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

The actual article scheduled for today has been pulled because someone from the timeshare company reached out to me yesterday, after months of insufferable agony over this dreadful experience.

Part II of What is Elder Abuse will air February 27, Tuesday, with or without my YouTube, depending on if the timeshare company will do what is right, just and honest. We pray it will be a positive article about a positive outcome.

Timeshare bait and switch must stop. Social Media is here to stay.

We may be elderly, but we will no longer be victims.  

Thank you Gay, we all hope that the outcome for you is a good one.

Inside Timeshare once again thanks all contributors and readers who contact us with information, it really does help others to avoid many problems. As usual, we repeat our warning, before engaging with any company that has contacted you or that you may have found on the internet, check them out and do your homework. This due diligence will save you more than just money.

If you need help in looking for the information you need, contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you find it.

Have a great weekend.

weekend

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday, so time for another Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a look today’s major news in Europe.

El Diario a prominent Spanish daily newspaper published the following article today (see link for full story).

The article reports on the current legal actions against Anfi and tells of the 1.35 million Euros they have had to repay to consumers, in the execution of around fifty judgements. It also goes on to say that there are over 395 live cases at court with a value of over 27 million Euros, with over 100 having had decisions in favour of the consumers. Some of these are firm decisions with the sentences yet to be executed, others are awaiting confirmation.

With even the Spanish press publishing articles such this, it does make the claim by Anfi that they have not lost or the Supreme Court has got it wrong rather flimsy!

In fact on Tuesday yet another sentence was announced by the Court of First Instance against Anfi, again the clients contract was declared null and void with the judge ordering Anfi to return over £20,000 plus legal interest

(if using google. Right click on the article for a translation to English)

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Grupo_Anfi-condenas-negocio-timesharing_0_739477033.html

The same article has also been published in Canarias7, one of the major Canary Islands Newspapers.

https://www.canarias7.es/economia/turismo/anfi-paga-ya-1-35-millones-por-condenas-YK3590405

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

 

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (first published in three parts)

Timeshare Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund, Foreclosure

Magnify

By Irene Parker

February 16, 2018

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare, but rising maintenance fees, high interest rate loans and higher interest rate developer issued credit cards can spell financial disaster, especially when an individual or family is hit with an unexpected life crisis. Not one of the more than 300 Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us realized the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract (in the US), or that their timeshare had little or no secondary market. It is not uncommon for a family to have spent $100,000 or more on a timeshare.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone, or any firm, money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, like being in the middle of buying a house, may result in a referral to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help the individual or family.   

Our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because we don’t win them all. No one does, not even lawyers. “We can guarantee you release!” boasts the exit timeshare ad. We have had reports of people paying scammers large sums of money for a guaranteed release, only to learn the guarantee came about because of foreclosure or non-payment.

Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

The goal:  Convert from angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused into empowered. Timeshare Advocacy Group™   has 44 core advocates and 10 technical support advocates to help you. All of our Advocates are unpaid.

The First R: Relinquishment

dont like

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees. It is difficult to determine how many surrenders requests are granted, compared to the number of surrenders requested.

There is nothing wrong with deeding back a timeshare if you have used and enjoyed the timeshare for several years. However, if you find out just days or weeks after purchase that you bought a timeshare not matching what you were promised, walking away from even $5,000 doesn’t seem right.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their 64 members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:

refund

A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund can be achieved.  Inside Timeshare has heard from so many members alleging fraud, we can sometimes guess the name of the repeat offender sales agent before we are told. The fact that some of the same agents are committing the same “fraud for profit” over a period of years is telling.

The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort. Anticipate a knee jerk “you signed a contract’ reaction. Next, begins the filing of regulatory and law enforcement agency complaints. This is where our advocates are ready to assist because just figuring out online forms can be daunting. Check our complaint form for the list of appropriate agencies to contact.

Eron Grant has become our resident ARDA Code of Ethics analyst. In all likelihood, timeshare members are not even aware they are collectively giving $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opts-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member.

Despite our advocates and members forwarding a volume of complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response. Inside Timeshare has learned two of the worst alleged offenders each give $1 million a year to ARDA ROC, surely a disincentive to enforcement.   

Here’s Eron’s article: Why Does ARDA Have a Code of Ethics?

red dress

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-14/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including 19 Attorneys General like Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, as reported by Chris Parker.  

“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”

“Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private,” writes Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause. However, as we have stated in several previous articles, according to the FBI and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind the fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points.      

The most common deceit and bait and switch complaints

  • The agent said I could sell my points.
  • The agent said my points were an investment, so easily sold, at a profit.
  • I can turn in points to pay maintenance fees but no such program exists
  • The value of airline and other travel awards is zilch. A common complaint is being told you can use a credit card to offset or pay maintenance fees in their entirety, when a member would have to charge $200,000 to pay an annual $2,000 maintenance fee.
  • The interest rate is 18%. They said I could get better financing but I can’t.

The Third R

resolved

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

One amusing complaint was a buyer whose complaint was that they bought a trial program, but they were promised a lifetime membership. I explained, in the case of the timeshare company they bought into, the last thing they wanted was a lifetime membership. I encouraged them to become a Secret Shopper since they were not locked into perpetual maintenance fees.

 foreclosure  Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. Timeshare Advocacy Group has a foreclosure support group, with members offering each other tips on how to withstand the grueling up to 180 days or more of collection calls. Calls are relentless and members have reported many violations of debt collection consumer protection laws.  

We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed on Better Business Bureau reports, Attorneys General Settlements, and Assurances of Discontinuance and lawsuits. There will be a hit to your credit score of course, but if you feel you are a victim of fraudulent timeshare sales practices, provide the rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan or credit card. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process for an article we published previously. Mike’s answers are worth repeating. Some common questions:

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

Remember, “I can’t afford it,” is not a valid reason to cancel a loan for a timeshare any more than it is a reason to be able to cancel your home mortgage loan. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and ask them to cancel your home mortgage because, “I can’t afford it.”

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to evaluate and work together to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

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/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

fix prob

That’s it for another week, remember if you require any information about any article published or any company that contacts you, Contact Inside Timeshare and we will get the information for you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this weeks article is the first of a series which will cover some useful tips on how and who to file a complaint with, but as usual a quick look at Europe.

beware

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published an article about Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited based in Lowestoft Suffolk, with the website

https://www.timeshares-unlimited.com/

Registered to the “infamous” Antoni “Toni” Muldoon.

On the website they show 4 logo’s, RDO, RCI, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance, according to the website they claim to work closely with CLA, even having “cut & paste” copies directly from the CLA news section.

Inside Timeshare has had confirmation from the RDO, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance that they have no knowledge or ties with the said company or website. RCI have also been informed, but as yet no reply has been received, but it is safe to assume that they have not given any permission for their logo to be used.

This just goes to show that you cannot believe what you see or read on the internet, just because a website shows a logo or states they work closely with a company or organisation that it is true. Always do your homework, check any company fully before engaging in business, check that their claims to work with or are affiliated with others is genuine.

It would also appear that Anfi is once again on the offensive, this time they have been sending out emails to UK members regarding a recent BBC TV program Rip Off Britain. In this program they travelled to Tenerife to investigate a “fake” law firm, one that Inside Timeshare has been investigating and reporting about for the past 2 years.

Although this is laudable, it is the tone of the email that is the problem, rather than actually naming the “fake” law firm, it has been left open and vague, giving the impression that all law firms dealing with timeshare claims are not genuine.

It is obvious from past emails from the CEO José Luis Trujillo, that the aim is to discredit the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. These lawyers have been instrumental in securing 84 Supreme Court rulings against various timeshare companies, with 39 against Anfi alone.

On the point of the “fake” law firm in Tenerife, Inside Timeshare was asked to provide CLA with any evidence it possessed, to augment their own, as some of their clients had been contacted by this Tenerife outfit. Our evidence along with that from CLA was then handed to the Guardia Civil along with a denuncia, this is now under investigation.

It has also been a little quiet at the courts so far with only one sentence being reported, once again Anfi are the culprits.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared another Anfi members contract null and void, ordering that over 55,000€ which also includes a double deposit be returned to the client, the court also awarded legal interest.

It does make you wonder who is telling the truth, Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to decide based on the evidence presented.

truth meter

Now on with this weeks article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Tips

Due to an Escalation in Volume and Criminal Nature of Complaints

White collar

By Irene Parker

January 28, 2018

IT Timeshare Tips #1

Inside Timeshare has received an astonishing number of reader complaints. Since January 1, 38 timeshare members have contacted us. Since we began counting late 2016, 291 complaints. The majority voice allegations that clearly meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, Financial Institution Fraud.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/mortgage-fraud

Timeshare members should only contact the FBI if the allegations are of a serious nature. For example, “They promised me a cruise, but when I went to book it, it cost $1,000” is not a serious enough allegation. A free cruise that turns out not to be free is a frequent complaint, but would be best reported to the Better Business Bureau in the form or a complaint or a review.

Here is an example of a complaint that has been reported to the FBI and to BBB:

We were sold vacation points fraudulently by XXX sales agent SXXX MXXX Jan 2017 at GBO Resort. We went to a sales presentation. We met with sales agent S M, and told him our biggest complaint was the maintenance fees. Mr. M told us if we bought 3000 more points, to get to 5000 points, we would become Highest Loyalty Level members and we would be able to sell back points to pay maintenance fees at $.50 per point.

Criminal Complaint #1: The Highest Loyalty Level requires 50,000 points

Criminal Complaint #2: There is no program to sell back points to pay maintenance fees

He said, “You do this at the end of the year”

Criminal Complaint #3: By telling the victim to wait until the end of the year, and by not allowing access to the booking site until after the contract rescission period, the agent and/or company can dodge the rescission period.

He said this would be enough to pay all our maintenance fees.

This was what really sold us on the program.

Mr. M also said beginning in January of 2018 there would be a “cash out” option where XXX Timeshare Company would offer to buy our timeshare if we were not happy, we would probably take a loss, but we would be free and clear.

Criminal Complaint #4: There is no buy-back program

Thank you for using the Better Business Bureau’s Online Complaint System.

busted

As this is an active complaint, we will not publish the name of the timeshare member, the timeshare company, or the sales agent, to give the company a chance to make this victim whole again.

Most importantly, do not respond to anyone who private messages you, calls or emails offering to help you get out of your timeshare. Contact Inside Timeshare or your Facebook admin if you are contacted. Teams have been established to gather information to make a determination as to whether the company is legit. Most are not.

There is no federal enforcement other than timeshare advocacy groups. State enforcement is spotty at best. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U S advocacy groups we know not to be industry influenced.

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you to Irene and all those who proofread and edit the drafts, this article should prove to be very helpful to many of our US readers.

If you require any information about this or any article published, or just need help to decide who to trust and how to check them out, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember to do your homework and stay safe.

calm homework

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot with Irene, as you will see from her article this week there is certainly a lot going on across the Great Lake. For our US readers there is some very interesting information, it would seem that Inside Timeshare is certainly making an impact on timeshare consumers in the US.

On the European front, yesterday’s article regarding Anfi members complaints regarding availability, the article had a plethora of hits and likes on the associated Facebook page within the first hour. It also seems as though this topic hit home with our US readers as there were many from across the pond.

Yesterday we also had the first court ruling of the week, the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas found against Puerto Calma, declaring the contract null and void. The client in this case will be returned 16,000€ which is the purchase price, along with 3,600€ as double the deposit paid within the mandatory cooling off period. The court also awarded legal interest.

We will be keeping an eye on any latest rulings that come in and report them here, but now on with this weeks article by Irene Parker.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Proposed Committees and Support Groups

Volunt

January 23, 2018

By Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare is approaching 300 timeshare reader responses, responding to members asking for assistance with their timeshare concerns since we began counting late 2016. There is a need to scale up Timeshare Advocacy Group™ as we now have 44 core advocates dedicated to improving the timeshare sales process by working together as teams. We hope timeshare developers will acknowledge there are problems and work with us, to not only stop predatory backend “get you out of your timeshare” scams, but address the problem on the front end of the sale as well. Numerous calls to the FBI have been made, and they have encouraged timeshare members who feel they have been victimized by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch, to contact their local FBI Field Office public access line to file orally, in addition to filing online at IC3.gov.

Diamond Resorts has taken the lead by launching a Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy department dedicated to helping timeshare members from day one if a member has any concerns about their membership or their purchase. They have also introduced CLARITY, a program designed to enhance accountability, transparency and respect for the customer.

https://www.loyalty360.org/content-gallery/daily-news/diamond-resorts-international-raises-the-bar-on-cu

Inside Timeshare has received complaints directed against four major timeshare companies. If timeshare developers and ARDA would take the time to read the following Better Business Bureau notations of “Government Action” and “Pattern of Complaints”, it is unreasonable to keep the blinders on by claiming there are no problems with the secondary market because sales centers are forever sales centers, and members should not expect value back for their timeshare because it is a “right to use” program. That would be fine were it not for the perpetual contract, often sold by false promises made by sales agents who know there is little chance of enforcement, as there is no federal enforcement, and state Attorneys General are limited in scope.

BBB warnings for Wyndham, Diamond Resorts, Bluegreen, and Vacation Village

Wyndham

Although the government action has been resolved from 2015, we included the warning to illustrate the tenure of the complaints.

Government Action

The following describes a government action that has been resolved by either a settlement or a decision by a court or administrative agency. If the matter is being appealed, it will be noted below.

Wisconsin – May 27, 2015 Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc. entered into a Consent Judgment with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (Case No. 15CX5). The Consent Judgment to settle allegations that Wyndham engaged in the following acts or practices in the State of Wisconsin:

 

  1. Delivering a timeshare disclosure statement that fails to include all statements required by Wisconsin Statute Sec. in a format that can be immediately read and retained by the purchaser.
  2. Representing that incentives are only available to the prospective purchaser for the remainder of the day in which the incentive was offered.
  3. Misrepresenting the resale value of a timeshare.
  4. Representing a timeshare as a financial investment.
  5. Making representations which are inconsistent with the purchase contract.
  6. Misrepresenting the reasonable estimated length of a sales presentation.
  7. Failing to clearly disclose that time shares were being offered at the initial contact with a prospective purchaser.
  8. Sending mail or coupon promotions to Wisconsin consumers that fail to comply with the prize notice requirements.
  9. Failing to inform the individual of the prize that has been awarded him or her, and then giving the individual the prize or another selected item, before beginning a sales presentation.

Wyndham consented to the Stipulation and Consent Judgment to facilitate a settlement and avoid the additional expense, delay and uncertainty of litigation. Wyndham does not admit that it has violated any laws of the state of Wisconsin.

Pattern of Complaints

BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning misrepresentation in selling practices. Consumer complaints report that the verbal representations are inconsistent with the written agreement. According to complaints, claims include representations that the purchase is an “investment” and the same as “real estate” in that it will increase in value. Owners report mandatory meetings that they are led to believe are to introduce new features and benefits but result in a sales presentation to purchase or upgrade their points. In some instances owners are encouraged to complete a survey or questionnaire which results in another sales presentation to purchase additional points.

This Business Is Not BBB Accredited

Trish Williams, a former Wyndham sales agent was awarded $20 million by a jury alleging predatory practices.

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

Bluegreen has this posted on their Better Business Bureau Report

Our file contains a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging difficulties canceling vacation packages booked through Bluegreen Corporation. Consumers claim, although Bluegreen Corporation has a cancel within 30 days policy, their requests for refunds for canceled trips are denied. Other consumers feel they are victims of deceptive sales practices. Consumers claim resorts are never available when they contact Bluegreen Corporation. While yet other consumers claim the “free” vacation Bluegreen Corporation offers is not free and involve fees they were not made aware of.

Diamond Resorts:

On December 23, 2016, the Arizona Attorney General announced that the State of Arizona entered into a settlement agreement with Diamond Resorts. The Assurance of Discontinuance requires the company to pay the State of Arizona a total of $800,000, of which $650,000 is for consumer restitution and $150,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs. The assurance also includes a Relinquishment Remedy Program, which requires the company to allow qualifying consumers to return their timeshares with no further obligations.

Many of the hundreds of complaints received by the State of Arizona claim the company used deceptive sales practices and made numerous oral misrepresentations during their presentations. Some of the misrepresentations regard:

  • Annual increases in maintenance fees;
  • Membership resale and buy-back programs;
  • Timeshare membership resale market;
  • Ability to rent timeshare vacations; and
  • Discounts on other travel needs.

The Attorney General’s Office alleged that the company employees’ actions and statements violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

Vacation Village has a Better Business Bureau rating of F

BBB files contain a pattern of complaints from consumers regarding sales practices issues. Specifically, several complainants have alleged that information provided during sales presentations does not match the terms and conditions in the written contracts that they are asked to enter if they agree to make a purchase following a timeshare presentation.

On March 23, 2017 BBB sent correspondence to Village Resorts requesting their voluntary cooperation in providing steps it will implement to eliminate the pattern of customer complaints.

As of May 12, 2017 BBB has not received a response from Village Resorts BBB will continue to monitor the complaints for Village Resorts and update the review as needed

So where do we go from here?

TIMESHARE TIPPING POINT proposed plan

January 21, 2018

#timesharemetoo

Time to Take Back our Vacations

Vacation

We are grateful to our Inside Timeshare readers and timeshare members who have reported their allegations of predatory and criminal timeshare sales and marketing. Due to the volume of timeshare complaints received, there is a need for Timeshare Advocacy Groups™ to restructure, as we are experiencing normal and expected growing pains.  

Three important goals proposed by Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates:

  1. Reach out to sympathetic lawmakers, Attorneys General and regulators,
  2. Change timeshare developer practices to allow those alleging they were defrauded to be made whole again, by not hiding behind the fine print, but to listen and learn. The enemy is not your customer. The enemy is your predatory sales agent.
  3. Reach out to military Facebook pages and websites to warn members of the military and law enforcement, due to the alarming number of complaints from law enforcement officers and all branches of the armed forces, alleging they were white-collar crime victims.  One Marine lost his air unit command and three are worried about losing their security clearance.

Anthony and Ashley Davis recorded their predatory sales presentation, which has been provided to law enforcement and regulatory authorities. This is our January 13, 2018 interview with Anthony and Ashley.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUjnrIG3bI    

Timeshare Advocacy Group needs sub committees or teams that work independently, coordinating with a central committee. Listed below are nine proposed teams and team leaders, based on their expertise and past willingness to serve.

Please let us know if you are willing to be become involved. Those alleging they have been victimized include doctors, lawyers, professors, law enforcement, the military, even a member who worked as a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison, and many others.    

Proposed Teams

44 Core Advocates

Our Core Advocates are members or former members of Wyndham, Hyatt, Bluegreen, Diamond, Vacation Village  

Reporting: Irene (4 members)

Media/Social Media: Gay Hart-Brewer (22)

State Real Estate Divisions: (anonymous) (5)

Legislative Efforts: Anonymous (8)

Secret Shopper: (anonymous) (5)

Military outreach and awareness: Jeff Diehl (20)

Timeshare Exit Scams: Karen Krokosh (7)

Foreclosure Support Group: Anonymous (3)

California Team: Ken Sylvia (7)

Member supported U. S. Timeshare Advocacy Facebooks

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/

Advocacy team

Contact Inside Timeshare or a member of a member supported, not industry influenced, Facebook or website.

Thank you Irene and all those who helped in this article, especially the legals who ensure that they are legally accurate.

If you require any further information on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help.

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor Karen Krokosh, but first a quick look at what has been happening in Europe especially in the courts.

The year has certainly not started well for the timeshare industry, the first week of January has seen the Supreme Court in Madrid rule on 6 occasions against Silverpoint from Tenerife.

This court has declared these six contract null and void as they were over the 50 year period allowed by law, what is known as perpetuity, they also contained the points or floating weeks systems.

tribunal-supremo

The court also reaffirmed the position of the taking of any payment within the given cooling off period, even if taken by a third party as prohibited. This cooling off period was introduced to protect consumers and allow them to decide whether they wished to continue with the purchase, as these are usually made as decisions on the day.

The total amount the court has awarded in these cases is a staggering 321,274€ with legal fees and legal interest.

In another case against Silverpoint, the High Court in Tenerife has ordered the return of over £31,000 plus legal fees and legal interest to a British client. Again the contract was declared null and void as it contained the points or floating weeks system.

In the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, another British client has been awarded over £19,000 plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. In this case the contract was sold by Anfi and was for a duration of over 50 years, which is not allowed under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

All these cases have been brought on behalf of client by the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, so contrary to what the timeshare industry is is saying, this law firm is doing what it says and winning on behalf of their clients.

As they say the proof is in the pudding!

On with this weeks Tuesday Slot.

Sell My Timeshare Now,

A Timeshare Listing Service for Buyers or Sellers

Diamond Member Karen Krokosh Issues a Warning

face1

By Inside Timeshare Contributor Karen Krokosh

Comments about SMTN follow Karen’s article

January 9, 2017

I responded to a Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) solicitation. Not only did the company over promise the ability to sell Diamond’s non-deeded U.S. Collection points, they told me they could help me recoup expenses by renting my points. DRI does not allow renting through a third party site. As a resource for timeshare members, SMTN should abide by Diamond’s official rental policy by not accepting rental listings. Here is the current DRI rule:

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

However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited. Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.

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

Diamond is not the only timeshare with little or no resale value. While some timeshares like Disney, Hilton and Marriott can be sold, it has been widely reported Diamond’s non-deeded points are especially difficult to sell. I contacted a few members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one would accept a DRI listing, feeling the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are too severe.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

SMTN agent Sandra Van Lanen suggested a list price of $12,000 for 3,000 points. We paid about $12,000, so in no way was that price realistic as I dropped my price from $12,000 to $7,500, $5,000 and $1,000 with no offers. What was SMTN’s response? They said, “It takes time.” There are about 15,000 Diamond Resorts members on a variety of Facebooks and websites and I’ve learned many of them would be willing to give away their Diamond points. I would have been laughed off these sites posting these ludicrous amounts. I am committed to exposing this company and others that are taking advantage of those already burdened by loan payments and maintenance fees.

Here’s what I paid SMTN:

The original “Advertising and Marketing” product was priced at $1,798. I was given a discounted referral of $1,498 USD, but paid initially a deposit of $699, agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $799 when the timeshare sells. Since that is never in almost all Diamond cases, I decided to cancel the lifetime listing. When you cancel, SMTN has the right to bill you for the remaining balance.

promotion

I have also learned many of the listing and resale companies are staffed by former timeshare executives and sales agents. Some are legitimately trying to help those desperate to get out of their timeshare, but others prey on the desperate. This is a Department of Justice report about timeshare resale and release scams:

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

Many timeshare buyers report they were sold a timeshare by deceit. I looked up the definition of racketeering. While timeshare exit plans are not violent crime against property, I see a similarity. The sales agents who sold us the problem are now the ones coming around to “help” us. “A common example of a racket would be if a group of people cut the tires of cars on a specific street, and then that same group, or one in concert with the one cutting tires offered ‘protection’ to the owners of the cars for a price. This fits the definition of a racket because without the organization’s slashing of tires in the first place, the demand for ‘protection’ would be low or non-existent.”

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/racketeering.asp

I have been trying to get rid of this timeshare for years. I was so relieved to find the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Owners Facebook where I learned that Diamond has launched a new program called Transitions and from what Inside Timeshare told me, I am eligible! I am hopeful, waiting to hear back.

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

Comments about Sell My Timeshare Now by Irene Parker

After Friday’s article about the importance of Better Business Bureau ratings, I checked the SMTN BBB rating. My red flag was raised when I learned Karen paid up front money to list her Diamond points. Accepting upfront money to sell your timeshare is illegal in Florida, but it seems companies can work around the law by calling it an ad or subscription fee, or a market analysis.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-31/

SMTN has been sold twice since 2010. Scott Roberts is the owner of Vacation Innovations and SMTN is a wholly owned subsidiary of V.I.

The BBB has assigned SMTN a D rating. I called SMTN and talked to Mike. The first question I asked Mike is, “Can I rent my DRI points through SMTN?” Mike said renting DRI points is no problem. When I informed him DRI does not allow the renting of points through a third party site like SMTN, Mike said he would have someone from legal call me. We did not hear back. Irina Allen is one DRI member who had her Diamond account suspended, accused of renting points on RedWeek.

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

This is what BBB notes on SMTN, providing a good example of how the Better Business Bureau can assist consumers by providing important information.

According to BBB files this company has a pattern of complaints that centers around the company’s advertising claims. Complainants allege they are guaranteed a time frame in which their timeshare will sell. Many consumers allege the company makes a promise that their timeshare will sell quickly. The company responds to the complaints and reiterates the company policy which reads the company does not guarantee when a timeshare will sell.

On March 23, 2016 BBB reviewed the complaints on file and determined the pattern described above has not been eliminated. BBB sent a letter to the company requesting cooperation in responding to and eliminating the pattern of complaints.

BBB received a response from Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) who addressed concerns raised. SMTN has introduced a video that consumers are encouraged to view that clearly outlines their services. In their business model explanation SMTN says that: “…SMTN never promises buyers are waiting; does not request wire transfers, greendot moneypak payment or purchase of prepaid credit cards; does stand behind the services it promises and always strives to deliver excellent service to all of its clients”… Additionally, SMTN hired a law firm to review the complaints and details surrounding each one. This review of these recordings has shown that the communications between SMTN and individual consumers (when they are available) has been shown to differ. SMTN has also instituted training for salespeople. They are to only make promises that are consistent with the guarantees and promises made by the company in writing. SMTN is recording calls made by their sales people to confirm the training is being followed. SMTN now has a policy for their salespeople who consistently fail to comply with the training which results in their dismissal from the company. Finally, they informed BBB that they will be further training their customer care employees to offer to help earlier in the process and be sure to make certain the consumer is satisfied with the resolution.

On December 5, 2017 representatives of SMTN met with the BBB to update us on improvements they are making to their organization. They have taken steps toward improving customer service by hiring a new Customer Service Manager. They have put in place an “audit group” that will contact consumers on the day they sign the contract with SMTN and then again 90 days out as a way to ensure customer satisfaction. It is anticipated that by proactively working with their customers, the number of complaints will be reduced substantially. BBB will work closely with SMTN to follow their progress and to continue to address any complaints that may come in.

Consumers are, once again, requested to contact SMTN prior to filing a complaint with BBB at 1-877-815-4227.

This Business Is Not BBB Accredited

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC

D

Customer Review Rating:

35%

62%

[12] Positive Reviews

[1] Neutral Reviews

[21] Negative Reviews

[34] Total Customer Reviews

[107] Total Customer Complaints

Composite Score:

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC has received 1.93 out of 5 stars based on 34 Customer Reviews and a BBB Rating of D.

This content is provided by the business and may contain advertising. BBB does not review or endorse this content.

https://www.bbb.org/concord/business-reviews/timeshare-resale-and-rental-marketing/sell-my-timeshare-now-in-portsmouth-nh-92008632/Alerts-and-Actions

According to a post found on RedWeek, published on the internet, SMTN does seem to charge a considerable upfront fee. A member had asked whether they should buy timeshare points through SMTN.

Good question. Here is the straight scoop:

ken1193

1 month ago

Sometimes you will find a timeshare of interest on the SMTN site which may be available at a price acceptable to you. HOWEVER, you will have NO say or ANY choice regarding the “closing” entity. Closing costs through SMTN are quite excessive — multiple times the cost of customary and usual closing costs. You have no option to conduct a SMTN transaction “in person”, but that is the case in most any resale timeshare transaction, so SMTN is not unique in that regard. It would frankly be both highly unusual and entirely unnecessary to conduct a resale timeshare transaction “in person”. Objective, third party “closers” who have no association with either buyer or seller (not an available option via SMTN, unfortunately) look out for the interests of BOTH buyer and seller, holding all funds in escrow until closing if necessary. This obviously eliminates any need for any travel or physical presence by either the buyer or the seller just to “close” on a resale transaction.

With SMTN, you essentially have to determine ALL of the collective costs as a buyer and then ask yourself if that bottom line figure is acceptable to YOU to acquire that particular timeshare listing, despite the exorbitant closing costs. Far more often than not, the answer will be NO, but there are (relatively rare) exceptions. In all fairness, in the performance of your due diligence you really have to look at the big picture and ask yourself if the TOTAL expenditure involved justifies acquisition of that particular timeshare for YOU. You obviously first need to accurately determine the bottom line total figure before you can possibly make that fully informed evaluation and personal decision.

SMTN of course has nothing whatsoever to do with maintenance fees, regardless of the resort involved. Maintenance fees are determined only by individual resorts — and they are engraved in stone. That said, I would certainly want to verify the accuracy of any figures SMTN indicates as maintenance fees. This is very easily done by contacting the resort directly for confirmation of any figures claimed by SMTN in their listings.

Last edit by ken1193 on Nov 28, 2017 05:27 AM.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=14010;page=last

Keep calm Homework

Thank you to Karen for her advice! We look forward to hearing more from Karen as our first new Inside Timeshare contributor of 2018.  Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these member sponsored U.S. timeshare groups if you need help with a timeshare. It can save you money.

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/

If you require any information regarding this article or any other published on Inside Timeshare, please use the comments or contact form and we will get back to you. If you are considering using the services of any company and are unsure of how to check them we will also be pleased to help.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter from America of 2018, we may be only 5 days into the New Year, but the Supreme Court has just made another ruling against Silverpoint.

Another client of Canarian Legal Alliance has had their contract with Silverpoint declared null and void, with the return of over £11,000 plus legal fees and interest. This now makes the number of rulings from the Supreme Court made by CLA to an astonishing 83!

Once again it is that time when maintenance bills start to drop onto the door mat, for many this is a difficult time, especially for the elderly who can no longer afford to pay the ever increasing bills.

For one elderly lady which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for some time it has happened again. This is the case of Mrs B, as you will remember, MacDonald Resorts refuse to acknowledge that she no longer owns her timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain.

Mrs B and her sister, who are now in their late 80’s, employed the services of a company to be rid of their timeshares around 3 years ago. This company “sold” the timeshares and transferred them to another person, this was duly notarised by a notary in Spain. The Lanzarote timeshare has caused no problem, but MacDonald’s refuse to accept the transfer.

Mrs B has now received another demand for over £3000 for maintenance, obviously this will end up being sent to a debt collection agency which will incur even more fees.

It must also be remembered that they had not used the timeshare for over 10 years, yet still paid the maintenance until the transfer. Both are virtually housebound and cannot afford to pay these extortionate amounts.

Tony Hetherington has published several articles about MacDonald Resorts and their chasing of maintenance fees, even after the death of the owners or severe illness.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

MacDonald Resorts is one of the worst offenders in the timeshare industry for this type of behaviour, it is companies like this that have given timeshare the reputation it has. Greed it seems is the order of the day.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Hope for Beleaguered Timeshare Members!

Start with the Better Business Bureau

By Irene Parker

January 5, 2018

The Nightmare on Timeshare Street article scheduled for today has been cancelled because the resort listened and responded to the member. We don’t yet know the outcome, but at least the member has not been dismissed or ignored. The customer is not the enemy. The enemy is the timeshare sales agent that “pitches heat” making outrageous claims to sell points, knowing they are protected by the oral representation clause and that there is no federal enforcement.

If you have a complaint about your timeshare, first and foremost, contact your resort. It’s surprising how many who contact us have not tried to resolve their issue with the timeshare company before contacting an attorney or an exit company. It is the opinion of Inside Timeshare, in most cases, a member can accomplish what an attorney or an exit company can accomplish by following our complaint form. We are here to answer any questions for free.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint: Revised

In the U.S. it’s best to begin with the Better Business Bureau, although the BBB is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

A BBB complaint is the easiest to file and can serve as your blueprint as you work your way down the list of appropriate agencies. File a complaint only if you feel you were a victim of deceit and bait and switch. “I can’t afford this” or “there is never any availability” or “you can always book cheaper online” are not specific enough complaints.

We compare the Better Business Bureau ratings among five major vacation point sellers. First, an explanation of the rating process from the BBB website:

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues. BBB ratings are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

Business’s complaint history with BBB.

The BBB rating takes into account the following information with respect to closed complaints that relate to a business’s marketplace activities:

  • Number of complaints filed with BBB against the business.
  • The size of the business.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business appropriately responded to them.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB’s opinion the business resolved the complaints in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business made a good faith effort to resolve complaints, even if the customer was not satisfied with the resolution.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business failed to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
  • The age of resolved complaints. Older resolved complaints have less of an impact on the rating than newer complaints.

⦁ Type of business.

⦁ Time in business.

⦁ Transparent Business Practices

⦁ Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

⦁ Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

⦁ Advertising issues known to BBB.

From Best to Worst based on Stars

BBB Accreditation: If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance.

https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/about-bbb-accreditation/

Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Worldwide, Diamond Resorts International, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

                                                                     # of stars      # of Complaints       # of reviews +      –   neutral

A+ Disney Vacation Club                            5/5                             9                          1        1                   0      0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Accredited since 1991, in business since 1990

 

A+ Marriot Vacation Worldwide          3.68/5               123                                  11        0                   11     0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994

 

A- Diamond Resorts International       3.27/5          1,115                                   89       2                  86      1

Government Action noted

Not accredited, in business since 1996

 

C+ Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited       2.47/5           781                                108         9                 95      4

Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1966

 

C+ Wyndham Vacation Ownership      2.39/5         2,085                             96             4                 92      0

Government Action noted and a Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994    

Next week: The Consumer Protection Agency – What’s left?

A survey of all timeshare appropriate regulatory agencies:

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

Always Remember:

U.S. Self-Help member sponsored groups we believe not to be industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions about this or any other article published, we are here to give you the best advice possible.

 

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