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Canarian Legal Alliance

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Inside Timeshares Irene Parker reports on a Lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 former Wyndham employees. This suit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblowers Act in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division. This follows on from a previous article first published in 1 December 2016, where Whistleblowers exposed timeshare sales tactics, it was also where we reported on Trish Williams being awarded $20 million by a San Francisco jury for unfair dismissal after she exposed Wyndhams tactics. But first the latest news from the Spanish Courts.

For one British family they are nearing the end of a long road in their fight against Anfi Resorts, the Court of First Instance Number 4, in Maspalomas Gran Canaria has declared their contract null and void. The basis of this decision is the contract did not follow that stated under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

The Hope family are now timeshare free and will soon be able to enjoy the money awarded, as the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance has already begun proceedings to enforce the sentence and have the money paid out as quickly as possible.

Mr & Mrs Hope

On the subject of enforcing sentence, one Norwegian family have now been awarded 49,226€ with their contract with Anfi Resorts being declared null and void, on the grounds that it did not include any tangibility and was detrimental to the consumer.

After enforcement of sentence proceeding by their lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, this money is now safely in the clients own bank account.

So contrary to many posts on various forums and claims by timeshare companies, clients are receiving payment, so congratulations to both families.

Now for today’s article.

A Lawsuit Filed on behalf of 10 Former Wyndham Employees

Filing #82214691 filed 12/17/18

Timeshare Exit Team Responds to Manifesto

Arizona Timeshare Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers Opposed by Timeshare Lobbyists and Developers

By Irene Parker

February 22, 2019

A lawsuit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (Florida Statute 448102(3)) on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division against Wyndham Vacation Club. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal timeshare sales practices. This lawsuit parallels the former Wyndham California sales agent Trish William’s lawsuit in which a jury awarded Ms. Williams $20 million November 2016.

According to the Florida statute, “An employer may not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee has….Objected to, or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation.”

Florida House Bill 435, introduced by Freshman Representative Wyman Duggan seeks to protect timeshare members from unfair and deceptive sales practices perpetrated by timeshare exit companies.

The timeshare industry lobbyists and developers lump legitimate law firms and lawyers in with lawyers employing questionable business practices, with a goal to prevent members from seeking any legal counsel if they feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Timeshare Accountability Group™ maintains a member need not retain a law firm or an exit company. Our Supporters answer questions about regulatory filings as the process can be daunting. However, some members do not have the time or temperament to withstand our process, which we admit is arduous.

In Manifesto Part I the author compared third party exit companies to Ponzi Schemes. This prompted a response from Timeshare Exit Team:  

“For the past seven years, as Timeshare Exit Team has grown from a local, Seattle-based company to a national brand, we have remained focused on honesty, integrity, and transparency. We exit burdened timeshare owners legitimately by facilitating transfers, voluntary deed-backs to resorts, or using attorneys to litigate against timeshare developers when necessary, and offer a 100% money-back guarantee. To date, we have successfully exited 16,000 timeshare owners. Our goal is not just to provide a valid exit for owners who find themselves with no realistic solution to get out of their timeshare, but also to transform the industry. For that reason, we are proud to be a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare. In solidarity with our Coalition partners, we are pushing for a Consumer’s Bill of Rights for timeshare owners–and would-be owners–that seeks to create a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract, to  lengthen rescission periods to 14 days, to force full disclosure in timeshare presentations, and to give timeshare owners booking rights over the general public. Our passion is to be able to serve every single one of our clients AND to support those who wish to keep their timeshare, but just want a level playing field with the developers.”

Given Timeshare Accountability Group™ recommends not paying anyone to get out of a timeshare, we find ourselves an unlikely ally with Timeshare Exit Team as we are also a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare.

There are many timeshare exit scams, but there are also many scam timeshare sales agents. Inside Timeshare has heard from 705 families reporting allegations our ten Wyndham former employees say they were forced to employ or be “starved out” of their jobs.

In the Wyndham lawsuit, plaintiffs were employed by Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort which opened in 2017. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents, a business operations coordinator and a community marketing agent. Plaintiffs say they were enticed by a supposed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the opening sales team where they were promised yearly profits in excess of $500,000.

The allegations described in this December 2018 class action read like a broken record to Charles Thomas and me. We hear on a daily basis, identical complaints from timeshare buyers from a variety of timeshare companies. Many were existing members who trusted the company, buying more points in order to be eligible for programs that did not exist, like the ability to sell back points to the company. Timeshares have virtually no secondary market.

We also have received many complaints from timeshare buyers who said they did not realize a credit card had been opened or charged. They report being told to “fill this out so we can determine if you are eligible” when in actuality a credit card was opened and charged. Electronic signing doesn’t help as initials are stored and then, tap, tap, tapped to completion.

According to the Wyndham December 2018 complaint, allegations (edited for brevity) in violation of Florida statutes, include:  

18. Plaintiffs allege supervisors regularly instructed them to intentionally confuse and mislead buyers or “wear them down” so they would buy property.

19. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to misrepresent the price of the timeshare through the use of point charts, specifically Wyndham’s “Clearwater Beach Resort Points Chart” fraudulently showing buyers the “RCI Points Chart” which depicts substantially cheaper points – in many cases less than half the actual cost.

20. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the timeshare was an investment.

21. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the property was not a timeshare.

22. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently misrepresent to buyers the effect of completing a credit application. Plaintiffs were instructed to advise buyers that the credit application would only be a “soft hit” or that it was not a credit application at all.

23. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently alter the buyers’ income level on their credit application, if needed, for them to be approved for credit financing.

24. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that Wyndham would buy back their property if they were not satisfied with it.

25. Supervisors intentionally preyed upon the elderly in the use of unethical and illegal sales tactics.

26. Out-of-state residents not eligible to purchase Clearwater Beach Resort properties directed plaintiffs to fraudulently advise such buyers to purchase “Club Wyndham Access” that would give them access to other Wyndham properties, and that they could transfer their interest to Clearwater Beach Resort, even providing a form letter explaining this, knowing it was not true.                                                   

27. Potential buyers were told the property was not a timeshare, but a “vacation ownership.”

28. Supervisors routinely overstated availability due to Wyndham renting out rooms, reducing availability.

29. Supervisors directed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise timeshare owners on their refinancing options advising existing owners that they could keep making the same monthly payments and pay off their loan by the same time, when in actuality repayment terms were simply extended.

30. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to do “whatever they have to do” to close deals, even if it was unlawful or unethical.

The suit also alleges unlicensed real estate agents engaged in the unlicensed practice of real estate by selling properties to buyers.  

Plaintiffs say they complained numerous times to supervisors, Human Resources, and eventually to corporate attorneys and investigators. Plaintiffs stated at least one supervisor stated he would “starve out” Plaintiffs that objected and/or complained if they did not do what he told them to do, or would fire them. Plaintiffs were constructively terminated. According to the complaint, one supervisor advised Plaintiffs to “forget everything (they) just learned” as they would never make a sale that way.

According to attorney Tom Roebig of Florin Roebig trial attorneys, representing the Plaintiffs,

“All too often corporations think that an employee who reports wrongdoing is trying to start trouble, when they’re really just trying to protect the company and other innocent victims. Unfortunately, as we can see here, all too often the employee is punished for doing the right thing.”    

Allegations from the Trish Williams lawsuit:

In the Trish Williams lawsuit, the elderly were also targeted. Allegations in the Trish Williams lawsuit include:   

1.     The effect or even existence of a credit card application;

2.     That current owners could increase their points at no cost;

3.     That Wyndham would buy back points or property in certain circumstances;

4.     That monthly payments would be reduced when they were simply being extended;

5.     That current owners were making smaller payments than they were, in an effort to persuade them to purchase more points;

Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations made this statement about unscrupulous timeshare exit companies’ sales practices:

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of.”

Having heard from 705 timeshare families, 98 active duty service members or veterans, alleging unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, we contend both sides of the timeshare sales and exits are problematic.

Arizona has proposed a bill (linked above) to safeguard timeshare buyers against practices alleged in the Wyndham lawsuit, numerous Attorneys General investigations, Better Business Bureau complaints, and other lawsuits. We will be reporting on this bill in an upcoming article.  

Thank you to the bravery and courage it takes for employees and former employees to “Hold the Powerful Accountable” and as I can personally attest – it’s not easy!  I look to Whistleblowers of America (WoA) for support because you can’t do it alone. WoA is a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, active duty service personnel and government workers. A veteran introduced me to WoA.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/h

Self-help groups we feel are not 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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share. We know there are honest agents who refuse to buy into the “pitching of heat” which means telling consumers anything they can think of to get a potential buyer to sign on the electronic line. They too are harmed by the actions of sales agents with questionable business practices.

Thank you Irene and to all other contributors this week, with your help we are able to give others a glimpse of what is happening in the world of timeshare.

Please use our contact page if you have any comment or questions on any of the subjects covered on Inside Timeshare.

Have a great weekend.


The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, this week we publish Part 2 of Manifesto, by another Industry Insider, with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

At the end of last week we received some news from the courts in Gran Canaria, first was the news that the Enforcement / Embargo Team of Canarian Legal Alliance had once again secured a payout for one of their clients. Anfi Del Mar were ordered to deposit with the courts the sum of 49,226.57€ which is a few thousand more than they originally paid. They also received back their legal fees and legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.

Then it was announced that the Courts of San Bartelomé de Tirajana had declared another 8 Anfi contracts null and void, with a total claim amount of over 400,000€. So some very happy clients indeed.

Now on with our Tuesday Slot.

Another Industry Insider Responds to Manifesto

Manifesto Part I:

Manifesto Part II upcoming: Our author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Introduction by Irene Parker

February 19, 2019

As we learned in Manifesto Part I, considerable effort went into restricting the secondary market. One developer will not allow participation in the company’s voluntary deed-back program if the timeshare points were purchased on the secondary market. The goal is to get and keep the timeshare points in house employing any means possible.

As documented in Manifesto Part I, publicly traded timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to (their) investors. As baby boomers especially are learning about this timeshare hostage scenario, some families are financially devastated. They are left with no choice but to foreclose. Of the 702 families that have reached out to us, 98 are active duty service members or veterans, several disabled. The vast majority have high credit scores. Having to withstand the intimidation and humiliation of foreclosure can be overwhelming, especially for seniors having spent a lifetime paying bills on time.  

A Second Insider responds to Manifesto in today’s article. Insider analysis allows timeshare members and owners a glimpse into what goes on behind Wall Street’s timeshare scenes. Wall Street has made light of the well-orchestrated restricted secondary market. It’s just a loan loss provision number. I wish they could spend a day on the front lines listening to family after family explain how they were driven into timeshare insolvency, alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices, a few even to the point of bankruptcy. Most complain they bought additional points promised maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points that was not forthcoming.

Following are comments from Industry Insider #2 to Manifesto, with responses from Industry Insider #1 (our Manifesto author) interspersed:

Commenter: I appreciate the well-formed Manifesto published last Tuesday, but would like to add some key points. A very important group of companies and individuals played a significant role in helping the timeshare ownership industry evolve/shift into the (points based) industry. The distinction being; now there are very few owners with “real property rights” as the majority of people own a beneficial interest in a club in the form of “crypto-currency” or points.

Anonymous responds; In Wall Street parlance; the Timeshare industry monetized utilizing a derivative – a very smart move. The term “luft” comes to mind. Luft is the German word for “air”. We’ve termed this derivative an RTU or “Termed Length” – Right to Use contract. Right to use timeshare contracts are the most popular forms of vacation ownership sold today. However, right to use (RTU) timeshare, and their agreements, operate differently from traditional deed ownership. Right to use timeshare is exactly as it sounds—you purchase the right to use the timeshare during the period on which you agreed. Unlike deeded timeshare contracts, you do not actually own any part of the property. Instead of a deed or title, you are bound to the timeshare by the terms of your contract. Right to Use contracts often takes the form of a club membership.

The right to use may be lost with the demise of the controlling company, because a right to use purchaser’s contract is usually only good with the current owner, and if that owner sells the property, the contract holder could be out of luck depending on the structure of the contract, and/or current laws in foreign venues. A more important question is; how many points can a (resort) issue to new buyers as 100% of the points are “derived” from the (resorts) land trust ownership of the original deeds? Secondary purchasers of RTU/Points have reported that many (resorts) strip owners’ privileges, access, exchanges and other perks of ownership to discourage and deter secondary market purchases.

This question begins to examine why Club /RTU owners often find that they cannot successfully book accommodations or exchanges unless they plan far in advance (24 months + prior). Because the points/RTU contracts are basically selling ‘air’, the resorts sell many multiples of Points /RTU’s than could ever be accommodated at any given time.  As we can see, this Club /Points/ RTU method allows the (Resorts) to sell an infinite number of points when compared to the prior physical simple-deeds.

Commenter: The industry, which upgrades up to 70% of its existing owner base, misleads owners into trading in their deeded intervals for some expansion use of a multi-site developer under the guise of convenience. This opportunity was something that was already afforded to them by the exchange companies.

Anonymous responds; Indeed, the industry quickly saw the future in selling air and swapped out owner’s valuable real estate property deeds for RTU contracts.

Commenter: The industry, already renting some 11M nights and adding 2+Billion in rental revenues (mostly to non-owners), could only be achieved by taking away the “sticks & bricks” of ownership.

Anonymous responds; Thus, creating extreme amounts of actual real inventory that could be rented out without benefitting RTU /Points Owners. Simultaneously, major resorts banned aggregations or collections of Points that could be used for business ventures; I.e. renting the points out.

Commenter: To accelerate this effort of transition, a modernization of laws needed to be created. This started in 2012 when ARDA drafted a sponsored a bill known as the “Timeshare Resale Accountability Act”. What few knew then was that the secondary market was collapsing right along with the primary market in the “Great Recession” – Timeshare developers began stripping various benefits of owners, selling into the secondary market, and imposed great “use” restrictions on those who acquired timeshares in the secondary market (like on eBay or through another resale channel).

As the economy began to improve and timeshare sales rebounded, a new subset of companies emerged. Those companies were called *Trade-in/Transfer groups and many of them worked on the same tables alongside of the teams of resort reps waiting to help those existing owners getting into an upgraded and competitive timeshare program.

Anonymous comments – These were the earliest aggregators working in contact with the developers who were filling their land trusts with the deeds as owners got part exchanged or traded into upgrading for RTUs.  

Commenter: What to do with these competitive intervals? Most of these companies ultimately failed as a result of a suppressive business model that was never shared with owners regarding how this created the nominal value factor which some even call negative value. Examples of companies: (Fireside Registry – Catalyst – SumDay Vacations – ALL ARDA members, assisting to provide inventory recovery/aggregator services for resort developers. Each acquired inventory for literally a penny to five cents a point, or sometimes at no cost.

Further, the writer suggests that attorneys are not effective and cannot make the resorts release their owners. This is simply untrue. There are thousands of owner/members who have successfully used attorneys to negotiate a release or litigate for return of monies paid and further, many multi-plaintiff or class actions in which resorts have paid multiple millions back to owners. These all were settled out of court and protected by settlement agreements that have confidentiality clauses and/or have been sealed by the courts, designed to protect developer secrets and activities of unclean hands, they simply do not want owners to know about.

Anonymous Comments – Attorneys that were early were certainly very effective.

The industry richly deserves its worst courtroom defeats. Many large defeats were on the basis of sales misrepresentation, contract misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent credit card/credit line applications and many other examples too numerous to mention.

Most effective examples are when the attorney/client relationship is limited to one timeshare case. Thousands of people have been willed unwanted timeshares as beneficiaries and literally 100% of these get redeemed with no issues and nominal fees. In 2008/09/10 owners who went bankrupt got redeemed without any issues, their personal credit was already damaged. The resorts could not use the leverage of personal negative credit reporting to force payment so “attorneys of merit” handled all of that work, therefore “yes” attorneys of merit are effective in dealing with unwanted timeshare assets.

Sadly, not all Attorneys are cut from the same cloth. Attorneys working on behalf of TPE’s represent a type of faux-Legal Mill. Rarely do attorneys working with TPE’s ever meet, counsel, or in fact speak to the customers. In fact, attorneys working in conjunction with TPE’s seem to be ineffective, due mostly to the overall felonious strategy.

Commenter: Finally, timeshare developers are finding it harder and harder to conduct business around the world *(UK, Spain, South Africa, Canada, others) except here in the United States where powerful lobbyists have used timeshare owners monies thru voluntary contributions to ARDA-ROC, Orange Lake Resort Alliance and other funds from developers to ensure passage of laws that protect the industry from angry consumers who unfairly have not been told the truth about their lifetime vacation ownership purchases.

Anonymous Comments – These lobbying attempts indubitably and with little doubt demonstrate how the industry desperately clings to its massive residual cash-cow after decades of selling a clearly worthless, illiquid luxury product to giddy, undefended, vacation minded, innocent members of the public.

Thank you to both our Insiders. We would appreciate input from the industry, but to my knowledge have refused to admit the secondary market is a problem and that there are thousands, if not millions who have wanted or want to be rid of their timeshare. There are some developers who have responded when we have sent an article for comment. We appreciate developers who will at least respond after members report being financially harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. We hope more dialogue ensues.

Thank you Irene for your introduction and for editing the article, we would also like to thank both our Industry Insiders for their contributions, no doubt we shall receive many more from them.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare invites you to use our contact page, or join our Inside Timeshare Facebook Group, use the visit group box to log in, or use our contact page to send in your comments or questions.

If you have a timeshare issue that you would need help with or want to know what you can do, again contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide you.

Start the Week: Latest News

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin with some news being passed around various forums regarding Anfi. As we know Anfi is contacting members to change their contracts, but the latest is rather disturbing.

The change in contracts is to try and bring them within the law, the new contracts will be for a maximum of 50 years, with apartment numbers and week numbers being allocated to the floating week contracts, although they will remain “floating”.

According to information received, the new contracts will also penalise the members for “early termination” of their membership. Any early termination of the contract will be seen as a serious breach of contract on part of the member, Anfi will then apply a retrospective charge on the member for “hotel Costs” of around 350€ per night for all weeks used.

They have already used this threat to members who may be contemplating legal action in regard to illegal and missold contracts. This is also the subject of an ongoing legal argument, which has yet to be finally resolved.

Another point that has come to our attention is the number of members who have just ceased to pay their maintenance, especially with the new contracts. It is reported that around 100 members in 10 countries are about to have legal proceedings made against them for recovery of the maintenance fee arrears. Plus to have the mentioned “hotel costs” charged against them.

Another point which is irritating some of the members posting on the forums is the problem of resale. According to many posters, Anfi has the right to refuse the buyer of any timeshare sold privately. Again this is to ensure that all resales go through the resale programme, which we know is not very effective and will only command a very small resale price.

As with any timeshare advertised for sale, the price you see is what the owner believes they will get, remember, when purchased, many were under the impression they were investing in property. The sales staff openly told them it would go up in value, as we know this is definitely not the case.

So what do we make of this change in contracts and the other tactics being used?

Simple, by changing to the new contract, you lose all rights to take them to court, this is what Anfi want, after all it is costing them a fortune in payouts. (Which they will deny).

The threat of the “hotel costs” with legal action against maintenance arrears and making it more difficult to sell privately, is again to stem the tide of a significant loss of membership. This loss hits them in the pocket with reduced income of maintenance fees. After all, they are not selling like they used too, people are very wary of purchasing timeshare today.

Canarian Legal Alliance has issued some figures for the last week of January and the first week of February.

At the Court of First Instance, in Maspalomas, they had 19 (nineteen) victories against Anfi del Mar alone.

There were also 2 High Court wins in Las Palmas, again against Anfi del Mar.

Again at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Palm Oasis lost 3 cases.

Over in Tenerife, The Court of First Instance again found against Silverpoint in 2 cases.

In another First Instance hearing, Club la Costa were the ones on the receiving end of a judgement.

In all a massive 27 victories against the biggest names in European timeshare, the total amount claimed on behalf of clients is over 648,000€ with all contracts being declared null and void.

CLA have also issued this video, which shows their impressive record so far, it was made at the end of 2018.

That’s it for today, join us tomorrow for a very special article, this was received by another timeshare insider after we published the article on the Florida Bill 435, tomorrow we publish Part 1.

If you need any help or advice regarding your timeshare, about any company that has contacted you or you have found either on the internet or advert in any publication, then use our contact page. We will be pleased to help.

Also if you have any comments, views or information you would like to share with other timeshare owners, then again use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

The Mid Week Report

Welcome to The Mid Week Report, today we highlight a some of the breaking news in the world of timeshare, first we have some news from the High Court of Justice in London, regarding ITRA or International Timeshare Refund Action.

On 30th January 2019, the High Court wound up the company ITRA, this followed many cases brought against them in various courts around the UK from many clients who paid for services to extricate them from timeshare contracts and claim compensation.

This case brought before the High Court was made by a couple that had previously taken ITRA to court. Their grounds in the original case were unlawful conduct which involved misrepresentations and failure to provide the promised services. The services were relinquishment of the timeshare contract and a claim for compensation. It turns out even though the couple had won their case, ITRA failed to refund the money paid for the services as ordered by the courts.

ITRA were by no means unknown by the UK authorities, they had been investigated on many occasions for being involved in various deceptions. The UK authorities named them as being the main instigators of a classic bait & switch tactic, where consumers were invited to meetings for legal assistance. They were then sold concierge services or holiday club, which has also been described as leisure credits.

INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE REFUND ACTION LIMITED (ITRA) _ Petitions to Wind Up (Companies) _ The Gazette

As far as the relinquishments are concerned, it is well known that many of the timeshare resorts did not recognise these, a case in point is our own Mrs B, who paid ITRA many thousands of pounds to relinquish her Dona Lola timeshare. As we know, ITRA transferred the timeshare to a named person for the nominal sum of 1 euro. MacDonald Resorts have never recognised this transfer, and Mrs B is still being threatened with court action for maintenance arrears, she is 90 years old!

This news was broken by Timeshare Business Check, which is part of KwikChex, funded by the Resorts Development Organisation (RDO). Which we know that it is their own members who did not recognise any of the transfers, if indeed ITRA did actually do them. In a way it is the industry that has brought about this sorry state of affairs where timeshare consumers can be taken in by companies such as ITRA.

As for KwikChex, Inside Timeshare published an article about them and Chris Emmins the director, in March 2016. This was when they were awarded the contract to take over from the discredited Alberto Garcia, who directed the Enforcement Programme along with mindtimeshare on behalf of the RDO, forming Timeshare Business Check and the “Timeshare Taskforce” (bit of a hollywood name). You will see from the article that Chris Emmins does not have a very good track record as a director.

Chris Emmins KwikChex

http://insidetimeshare.com/kwikchex-chris-emmins/

We now move on to the trial of the late  John “Goldfinger” Palmer associates at the Audiencia Nacional, National Court in Madrid, highlighted in previous articles, (links below).

It appears that the Anti Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has reduced the highest penalty of imprisonment to 24 months, a far cry from the 8 to 12 years originally called for. The reason is that the Prosecutor’s Office applied a mitigation of undue delays as the investigation which actually began 20 years ago.

However, the defendants will be liable for a subsidiary civil liability of 1,890,000 euros. A rather paltry amount considering the millions that was scammed from their victims.

The defendants in court

The largest sentences of 24 months were given to Richard Cashman, Palmer’s lieutenant, for illicit association, fraud and money laundering.

Darren Morris was hand 10 months for unlawful association, 10 months for fraud and 4 months for money laundering. He was also handed a further 1 year for a firearm with the serial number erased, which was found in his home.

Paul Murry, Keith Peter Davies, Neil Campbell Lockie and Dean Wells, all involved in supporting Palmer’s business when he was jailed in the UK, face 10 months for illicit association and 10 months for fraud.

Christine Ketley who was jailed for 2 years on 2001 in the UK along with palmer and the lawyer Ramón Solano seem to have been spared sentence.

The prosecutor had also asked for a sentence of 8 months for Jacobba Visscher who ran the headquarters of Dinastia Resorts for 44 charges of fraud, this is reduced from the 8 years originally requested.

In the end although they have finally been brought to court, somehow the victims will not think that justice has actually been served.

Link to news report in Canarias7.

https://www.canarias7.es/siete-islas/tenerife/la-fiscalia-rebaja-a-24-meses-la-pena-maxima-por-el-fraude-de-la-multipropiedad-de-john-palmer-en-canarias-IC6510831?fbclid=IwAR093WufWmxBrdd8-pAd7sbEmeubBSdeDvPviPvruPS6CgSKNNJB90rN_t8

Links to previous articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-associates-of-john-goldfinger-palmer-now-in-court/

http://insidetimeshare.com/update-the-john-goldfinger-palmer-saga/

Canarian Legal Alliance has announced the following, which will be good news for their clients.

In Gran Canaria the Judges in Maspalomas have been consistently declaring there is no need for cases against Anfi to go to a full trial. These Judges have decided to pass their resolutions at the preliminary hearing, yesterday 5 January, 5 preliminary hearings took place with all 5 having results announced without the full trial. For the clients this will mean no travelling for the trial and a much speedier resolution to their case.

In Tenerife a cash embargo has been placed to the value of 44,494.20€ against Silverpoint. Great news for this particular client, as the original claim was 32,791.75€, 11,702.45€ more. They will also get legal fees and legal interest.

Back to the courts in Gran Canaria, Another embargo has been placed against Anfi to the value of 12,882.79€ on behalf of a German client. The enforcement team consisting of the lawyers Judith Diaz Pascual and Cristina Batista are obviously doing a fantastic job on behalf of their clients.

In January the state of play was:

  • 76 trials in all Spanish courts 
  • 18 appeals
  • 28 appeals from the opposition
  • 1 supreme court hearing
  • 21 provisional executions
  • 9 provoked interventions
  • 1 cash embargo against Anfi
  • 47 sentences all in favor of our CLA clients
  • 1.600.000 € in claim amounts

Once again this does go to show that contrary to some posters on various forums and websites that have an axe to grind that CLA does not do what it says and along with the timeshare resorts and RDO who deny they are losing, or that the courts have got the law wrong,  that is certainly not the case. These are all a matter of public record and can be verified.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any article published then use our contact page, we welcome the feedback.

Also if you have had dealings with any company or are about to with regards to a possible claim against your timeshare resort, but are not quite sure if it is genuine, then again use our contact page and we will give you the best advice possible.

Consumer Warning from Canarian Legal Alliance: Silverpoint Company Participations

A warning has been issued by Canarian Legal Alliance to all clients who have purchased the SilverpointCompany Participations” scheme, another twist has now come to light.

It would now appear that clients who purchased into this scheme, which has already resulted in many cases being taken to court, are being contacted by the very people who sold it to them in the first place.

As we know Ali Farhoud and his brother Mike Farhoud were actively selling this scheme, which involves clients paying thousands of euros, in some case upwards of 150,000€, for so-called “participations” (shares) in apartments which are registered as SL companies, along with promises of rental income and eventual sale with a return on the “investment”. (see link below)

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

Clients of CLA have informed them they have been contacted by the Farhoud brothers with the express offer that they will relinquish their contracts, obviously for a hefty fee. This will result in all these clients losing out on their “investments”, leaving them out of pocket by thousands of Euros. The sole purpose is once the contracts are terminated, Silverpoint is then free of the threat of being taken to court by the clients.

Mike Farhoud

 

Now the question is, how are they getting the clients information to contact them?

The answer is very simple, as we stated, if these contracts are terminated, the client then has no recourse to take the case to litigation, so what has Silverpoint to lose by supplying the client information, absolutely nothing, but all to gain, free of the threat of legal action and at the same time making more money through the termination.

At present, there are many cases already at court waiting for trial dates, with many more at CLA lawyers undergoing case preparation. The first case to reach a conclusion, which we reported on these pages in November 2018, Silverpoint and their lawyers admitted to the court that the “Company Participations” were indeed timeshare. Obviously, the whole scheme was to dupe the consumer and circumvent the strict timeshare laws. (see link below)

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-company-participations-is-timeshare/

According to Canarian Legal Alliance they have only just scraped the tip of the proverbial iceberg, there are still man many clients from all over Europe who have been drawn into this scheme. Most don’t even realise that they have purchased nothing but promises and fresh air.

CLA are once again leading the way, Anja has been researching this scheme for almost 2 years, she is their leading expert of this “product”, if you have purchased into the “Company Participations Scheme”, then for more information contact her on the following number or email address:

+34 616 243 309

[email protected]

 

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome Pete Gibbes, with another Secret Shopper report. Pete as Secret Shopper Coordinator, has revised the secret shopper questions, this is part 1.

But first a quick summary of some news from the Spanish Courts. Canarian Legal Alliance has reported that last week they received eleven (11) new sentences, these were against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint and Petchey Leisure. Once again the courts have declared the contracts null and void, plus ordering the return of substantial sums of money to the clients, with this week alone over 340,000€ having been awarded.

Over the next 30 days, CLA have informed Inside Timeshare of the number of trial and pre-trials they have in various courts around Spain, it is a staggering 101! That is certainly keeping the judicial system busy.

Their execution of sentence department headed by Cristina Batista and Judith Diaz Pascual, have filed “provisional executions”, with a total worth of over 6 million euros against all major timeshare resorts. The total value is over 6.000.000,00 € and is against all of mayor timeshare resorts.

These execution orders are made in the interests of the clients and ensure that the resorts payout what they have been ordered to.

Now for this weeks article.

Secret Shopper Questions Revised, the Backstory – Part I

Part II – Friday February 8, Secret Shopper Questions

By Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

January 29, 2019

I previously wrote about a positive timeshare sales presentation I attended not long ago in Sedona, Arizona. I mentioned that my Diamond Resorts sales agent and manager expressed shock and dismay at the misrepresentations we told them we experienced at a November 18, 2016 Virginia sales presentation. The Sedona agents stated that they were appalled and determined they would go to bat for me by contacting headquarters. I was asked to write out my complaint. Wary but hopeful, I waited. As expected, nothing happened.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-29/

To recap what happened at the 2016 Virginia presentation, we attended a member update hoping to learn about how to get rid of 11,500 timeshare points we had previously purchased. After several hours our sales agent had an epiphany. He recalled a new program that would give us the option to sell ALL of our points back to Diamond Resorts! We listened to three more hours of this agent’s version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. After the sixth repetition, we became convinced this program existed. He told us, (and wrote down on a paper), a figure of $108,000 which was the amount he said we should be able to sell our points back for in three years. While I presently cannot locate the paper with $108,000 written on it, I do still have this agent’s “pencil pitch” indicating a “value” of $72k ($72,420 to be exact if you multiply the 8,500 points proposed times $8.52 per point). A formal proposal containing the exact numbers was presented, but that document is proprietary so we cannot present in this article. Diamond will argue that $8.52 per point represents “retail” not “resale” value, but I contend not disclosing Diamond points are virtually worthless is a material omission. Licensed timeshare brokers I contacted, who do not charge upfront money to list timeshare points, will not accept a listing for Diamond points.

Diamond Resorts has launched a program called CLARITY™ promising clear, concise, transparent and accountable information.  This is what I was provided:

At the bottom of this unclear pencil pitch, you see “G 2” and “S 3”, and below that ‘Loyalty 3 ys’. This meant that in 3 years we would have earned enough loyalty to sell the points back at a handsome profit. If we became Gold, we could sell back in two years. According to the sales agent, this new buyback policy was not available to mere Standard members like us who owned less than 15,000 points. We agreed to buy 4000 points for $15,500 to become coveted Silver members in order to qualify for the buyback program.

When I complained to Diamond I was told I did not have sufficient written evidence. I made up G2 and S3?

I remember asking the sales agent how Diamond could afford to offer a $108,000 buyback which could have exceeded our cumulative purchase price plus maintenance fees. He mentioned investment returns Diamond makes on sales. As an MBA and a CFP this made sense to me, as it made sense to George Yamada, a pension administrator who purchased Diamond points thinking he was making an investment. George is an Army veteran, Agent Orange disabled.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-5/

It appears I was not the only member excited about how this ingenious new buyback program was going to make their product more attractive to buyers. The sales agent, Mark Wilkerson, no longer works for Diamond, but he explained the program as a brand new Apollo related deal. Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, acquired Diamond Resorts.

Does Diamond think I would go to this much trouble if I was making this up? Under threat of perjury, I have filed a complaint with the Virginia Attorney General’s office that has been under review.

Unfortunately, I do not possess a video tape of the presentation. This has prompted me to volunteer to be our Secret Shopper Coordinator. I’m on a media binge to warn other timeshare buyers to RECORD THE SALES SESSION! This is legal in Virginia as Virginia, like some other states, is a one party state. I feel this is the only road to true clarity.

https://www.justanswer.com/law/4cemo-illegal-audio-record-someone-virginia-without.html

Not only did we pay $15,500 for nothing, we incurred additional ongoing maintenance fees and $2,250 in income taxes on a retirement distribution I had to make to pay for the purchase.

I asked for the contract to be cancelled and my down payment refunded. I am asking nothing for my permanent loss of faith in humanity. Like several members of our 2,400 member sponsored Diamond Facebook page, I am disabled. My sole source of income is my SSI disability income. I have learned from our Facebook other timeshare companies also respond to complaints with, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” and “You signed a contract.” I received a certified letter from Diamond’s legal department (Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Officer) asking for written evidence. I provided the pencil pitch above, but even that does not break through the oral representation clause.   

Timeshare sales agents are not supposed to deviate from company approved sales strategies, but complaints from timeshare buyers continue to flood the internet, Attorneys General offices, the Better Business Bureau and other regulatory agencies. With little enforcement, we feel members need to take matters into their own hands by becoming Secret Shoppers so we can evaluate for other members how near or far a timeshare sales agent ventures from his or her script.

We have about a dozen Secret Shoppers. We arm our Secret Shoppers with intelligent questions timeshare buyers often forget to ask. It is our hope we can publish some positive Secret Shopper experiences. After compiling over 500 timeshare complaints, we have determined the most popular complaints involve:

  • Maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist,
  • The ability to sell points or weeks when there is no secondary market,
  • Misrepresenting the value of using a credit card to offset maintenance fees,

Having run on for many words describing what was supposed to be a brief introduction to our Secret Shopper questions; Friday, February 8 we will publish our revised Secret Shopper questions as a Part II to this article.

Contact me at Inside Timeshare if you would like to become a Secret Shopper.

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Pete, we look forward to part 2 next month.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare, we welcome your input.

Do you have any questions regarding your timeshare, how can you get out or if you have a valid claim, then again use our contact page, we will try to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Remember, not everything you will be told by many of these companies touting for business will be true, most will only be after your money, so do your homework and do your due diligence.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish revised instructions on how to file a complaint, this has been revised by one of our readers who was successful.

First a quick piece of news from Europe.

The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued another judgement, Spain’s highest court once again has defended the rights of timeshare consumers, in this case British, by declaring a Diamond Resorts contract null and void. As in all other judgements the court ruled that the contract was in contravention of Law 42/98, as the contract had no end date, known as perpetuity. The law clearly states that timeshare contracts may only be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years.

The court also awarded the clients all money paid in the first three months in double, this reaffirmed the court’s stance on the illegal taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Along with over £11,000 they were also awarded back their legal fees and legal interest. (click on PDF below to see court document)

Supreme Court Diamond Ruling

This is yet another victory for timeshare consumers brought on their behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (January 25, 2019 revision)

By a Timeshare Member who Followed our Complaint Process

Step 1 GATHER INFORMATION

  1. Read Your Contract and any documents given to you at the time of signing. If your contract offers a rescission and you are still within the offered period you should take the steps necessary to rescind immediately.
  2. Educate yourself! There are many resources in place that are meant to protect consumers (most of which I was completely unaware of until I had to tackle this issue). The more you know the better you will be able to stand up for yourself.

LIST OF RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH  

a: AG: Attorney General – You will want to file a complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. If you can connect with other buyers in your state of residence, file a complaint with your own state Attorney General. See instructions below. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file your complaint with the state real estate division against the sales agent.

b: ARDA-ROC: American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners Coalition

ARDA Timeshare Consumer Protections Page : Did you receive one of the three required “disclosure documents”? Is there a rescission period? When did it begin/end?

Excerpts from ARDA Code of Ethics: Read this code and make note of any parts that were violated during your purchase.  ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that may be violated. The full code of ethics can be found here.

http://www.arda.org/ethics/

c: FTC: Federal Trade Commission-Protecting America’s Consumers There is a timeshare tab not easy to find. Follow these instructions: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-13/

d: BBB: Better Business Bureau: This is the organization that most people are familiar with and the link to file a complaint is found right on the homepage of their site. You may need to edit your complaint to 4,000 characters, sometimes no easy task. The good thing about the BBB is that they often allow you to log in and file a rebuttal if you disagree with the company’s answer to your complaint.

e: SEC: US Securities and Exchange Commission: You will only file a complaint with the SEC if you were falsely led to believe that the purchase of a timeshare was a good investment. The sale of an investment product must be registered with the SEC.

f: FBI: Sound serious? That’s because it is serious to report a complaint to the FBI. The definition of White Collar Crime is “Deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” File an online complaint at IC3.gov. Select Internet Crime from the three choices available. It’s confusing because your timeshare complaint doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal.

g: Legal Action: Retaining a lawyer is something you can do after you have exhausted the above resources and still feel as though you are getting nowhere. It is a last resort option and it will cost you; make sure that the cost is worth the possible worst-case outcome. There is a compiled list of law firms that specialize in timeshare cases on one Advocacy Facebook page. Law Firms Doc You do not have to use one of these lawyers but it is recommended that you use someone who has specific experience with timeshare, and do not do business with a lawyer or a law firm you do not know. One timeshare lawyer has recently been disbarred

h: TUG: Timeshare Users Group TUG Forums: These forums are incredible for gathering information from other timeshare owners. You can search specific questions to see if anyone else has already asked and received answers.

i: Timeshare Exit Firms: BEWARE! A lot of these firms are scams. Some are not, but you can do the lion’s share of what any exit company can do. Beware especially of money back guarantees. Some companies consider foreclosure an exit. Obviously, you don’t have to pay anyone to get foreclosed. Also, it is important to note that some timeshare companies will not approve voluntary relinquishment of a timeshare if you have contracted with an exit firm.

j: Most would agree The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not offer the consumer protections it once did, they still regulate banks. File a complaint with the CFPB if your complaint involves a credit card. Remember to dispute the credit card charge, even if the transaction extends beyond 30 days. Some companies will extend the period if you can present a compelling case for fraud.  The Secret Service also investigates credit card fraud.      

Step 2 HOW TO WRITE A COMPLAINT LETTER

    1. Create a Record of Events: The very first thing you should do is make a list of everything that you were told by timeshare representatives (i.e. salespeople, managers, receptionists, concierge services). Write down every detail that was said even if it seems insignificant; you can always weed out details that are less important later. Your memory of the event will start to warp and change over time so it is important that you write down this information as soon as possible so that every complaint you file has consistent information.
  • Organize the information:

a: Create a Timeline: Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong; it at this point you should be as detailed as possible.

What was your first encounter? (phone call, concierge, sales agent)

  • What resort or location did the presentation take place?
  • Date and time of presentation.
  • Names of all sales agents/managers that you dealt with (names will typically be listed somewhere on your contract)
  • How long did they tell you the meeting would last vs what was the actual duration of meeting?
  • Did they offer you food or beverages during the duration of the meeting?
  • Did they take your ID and credit card? Did you ask for these items to be returned?
  • If you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, describe your experience.
  • When did you first realize your agent misled you?
  • Was it possible to learn you were deceived during the rescission period? Sometimes an agent will say a bogus program won’t be available until after the first of the year, or wait a few months before refinancing. Banks don’t finance timeshares. Sometime over promised availability can’t be determined until allowed onto the booking site, after the rescission period has expired.  
  • What steps did you take after realizing you were misled? Did you contact the agent or the company? What was their response? List dates/times if possible. Keep all emails.
  • Did the sales person ask you to apply for any credit cards/loans or take any other extraordinary measures (refinance home, equity line of credit, etc.) in order to cover costs? Transferring to a third party lender complicates things.

b: List Relevant Complaints: Here is a list of some common complaints from timeshare owners.  Certain misleading statements are more serious than others:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points. To find out if your timeshare has a secondary market, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no upfront money to list a timeshare. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
  • The agent presented maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened
  • The agent told me this would be a good investment. At least 49% of the cost of your timeshare is attributed to marketing costs (source a major timeshare company’s annual report)
  • The agent said that I could rent out my timeshare for money when the company rules do not allowed renting
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees
  • The rescission period was dodged

Step 3 EMAIL AND SEND YOUR LETTER OF COMPLAINT

Below is an example of a sample layout with some ideas of information that you might want to include in your letter. Copy and paste your complaint into the body of an email (do not send as an attachment). Email or send to all interested parties, including customer service, ARDA ROC (if their Code of Ethics has been violated), the credit card company if a credit card is involved. You will send your complaint to regulatory agencies if your request is denied, so make sure you take the time to present your grievance clearly and factually. Have a friend or family member read your complaint before submitting to see if they understand the complaint.

Include the following information:

Name(s) of Member(s)

Phone Number

State of Residence

Today’s Date

Member Number

**List the following information for each contract you are disputing**

Date and Place Purchased

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Information to include in the body of the complaint:

  • What do you want? Do you seek a refund, cancellation of contract, or relinquishment?
  • Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?
  • This is your written timeline. Provide a chronological account of what happened during the sales process that makes you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices.
  • Consider citing the ARDA code of ethics and what articles of the code were violated.
  • Making emotional statements will most likely not help your case.
  • In conclusion, restate the main complaint and what it is you are asking for.

**Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded and so will requests based on not being able to afford the timeshare.

**If there was no deceit then request relinquishment. This is only an option if your Maintenance fees are current and you have no outstanding loan. Contact your resort for more information about voluntary surrender.  

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

  1. File your complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. In “Part 2” of the link below it explains how to find the correct AG and file a complaint. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file a timeshare complaint with the state’s real estate division.   

Steps for filing an AG complaint

  1. Always send copies of important documents and keep originals
  2. If not filed online, mail your complaint via Priority Mail with tracking.

OTHER CONSUMER PROTECTION RESOURCES

  • Seniors should consider contacting the AARP Fraud Hotline. Weigh their advice as they are not timeshare experts, but it is important for them to be aware that a significant proportion of complainants are age 60 or older. Click HERE to visit the AARP site.
  • Remember to pay no money upfront without reaching out to other members, or a resource like like TUG Timeshare Users Group
  • Forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.          AVO Contact Us Page

Contact Inside Timeshare if you are interested in helping other members or have questions about the filing process. Our goal is to make consumers more aware of the financial pitfalls that can result if you buy a timeshare you don’t understand or was not presented truthfully. We know there are many who use and enjoy their timeshares and sales agents that sell the product honestly. Honest sales agents are also negatively affected by predatory sales and lending.    

Timeshare Accountability Group™

Well that is all for this week, remember, before engaging with any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or through adverts in publications, do you homework and stay safe.

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor, known only as “Industry Observer” as he wishes to remain anonymous. The introduction is once again by our very own Irene Parker, who was very excited to have this published, as it is from someone who has watched the industry for many years even though he has never purchased. It is certainly a very welcome independent insight into the timeshare industry and sales presentations.

Firstly a little news provided by Canarian Legal Alliance, they are certainly going to be keeping the courts busy over the next month.

At present they have in various courts around Spain 75 pre-trial scheduled, the three main timeshare companies are Anfi on Gran Canaria, Silverpoint on Tenerife and Club la Costa who have resorts on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Pre-trials are basically a formality and a last chance for a settlement to be reached before the case goes to a full trial. At the Courts in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, 4 judges have been dealing with cases at this stage and issuing sentences without the need to go to a full trial. They have sat on so many cases now that they feel it is a waste of the courts time to set full trials. This has certainly speeded up the process for many clients.

Along with the pre-trials, the are 26 trials to he heard against the same timeshare resorts, again at various courts around Spain. We hope to bring you news of the conclusions as and when the cases are concluded and the judges issue their judgements.

One of the many complaints that Inside Timeshare receives from readers about their timeshares is the number of resorts that are advertising on the internet and the various booking websites.

This was sent to Inside Timeshare from one very angry reader, (see link below), it is for Select Marina Park, Mijas, Costa Del Sol. This is a Club la Costa Resort, which as we know is not a cheap timeshare to buy. It also uses the points system, which has been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court on many occasions, the reason is that it lacks any substance.

What that means is that you do not actually have any guarantee of booking your holiday accommodation, it is subject to availability. Yet this resort is being advertised on hotels.com for a fraction of the cost of the exorbitant maintenance fees that owners / members are required to pay annually, on top of the original extremely high purchase price. Is it any wonder that so many timeshare purchasers want out of their contracts!

https://uk.hotels.com/ho278895/?q-check-out=2019-02-24&tab=description&q-room-0-adults=2&YGF=14&q-check-in=2019-02-17&MGT=7&WOE=7&WOD=7&ZSX=0&SYE=3&q-room-0-children=0&fbclid=IwAR1grWTKZjEyb8FbVqjn5cSw_7EABpY-akPpfUEq9Z51wfQ_LSmrzDgiTVs

Now for our Tuesday article.

Why at Age 70 I Have Never Attended a Timeshare Presentation

Introduction by Irene Parker

Timeshare members are always grateful when a member who has been through the complaint or foreclosure process, thinks beyond their own Nightmare on Timeshare Street to support others. There is nothing more frustrating than groveling before timeshare customer service representatives who dismiss complaints of unfair and deceptive sales practices with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our deepest gratitude to the author of today’s article who has been keeping Charles and me informed of industry developments over the past two years so we can in turn pass that information on to our readers. He has never owned a timeshare.  

By an Industry Observer

January 22, 2019

I have been a timeshare industry observer since 1985. I have concluded that timeshare is not for me. I shun contracts (especially perpetual ones) and I don’t plan very well in advance. For those with disposable income and the ability to plan, timeshare may be a rewarding experience. However, I would advise looking to the resale market for the best bargains. And, I would study the industry before dipping my feet in the resort pool.

In 1985 my wife and I were at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on our first beach vacation. Upon leaving the supermarket, I noticed a flyer underneath our car’s windshield. Similar flyers were under all the out-of-state car windshields. The flyer offered a $40 gift to preview a new resort in North Myrtle Beach. Husband and wife were required to attend. A minimum income of $30,000 was required, as well as a driver’s license and credit card. Military couples with a certain minimum grade level were also welcome. I thought, “Why do they have to pay people to go see something for sale?”  People don’t get paid to look at houses or condos, and condos were quite the rage in Myrtle Beach in 1985.

I filed this experience in the back of my mind. It would reemerge numerous times in the future. On subsequent vacations to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Charleston, Orlando, Branson, and of course, Las Vegas, I would become more than aware of the smiling faces of OPCs who wanted to be my friend to get me to attend a tour, open house, remodel, new resort – whatever. Each approached us at a boardwalk or a booth, often a hyped-up boy or girl who had something special to share with me for only a few minutes of my time (90 minutes). I always reacted poorly to these solicitations since #1: I was on vacation and #2: I am not a real estate guy.

Fast forward to 2012 – I was in the midst of closing a company that I had run for 24 years. The economy had been unkind to the printing industry. I had to close the doors to my tiny empire and move to an early retirement. Fortunately, I could afford to do so. In 2013, finding myself with time on my hands, I decided to study the timeshare industry which had been in the shadows of my vacations. Three of my friends owned timeshare in different systems. I had quizzed them on their experiences. One loved his relationship.  The other two had mixed feelings about whether the process was worth it.

I began to google the names of timeshare operators along with keywords – problems, complaints, regrets, and lawsuits. Come to find out, there were a lot of people who bought timeshares that either didn’t want them or felt they had been duped into buying them. As mentioned, many are satisfied with their purchase, but it appeared many families had been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare.

I have spent five plus years spending an hour or two a day on sites like TUG, RedWeek, Inside Timeshare, Inside the Gate, YouTube, and complaint sites. I developed a theory as to how the timeshare companies succeed in plying their trade.

Here are my simple conclusions:

First:  It starts with a bribe. It may be money, food, gambling, discounts, shows, or trips. Prospects are offered something of value by an OPC (outside person contact) for attending a presentation.  David Siegel, Jr. of Westgate timeshare fame, has termed prospects “mooches.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_gFaO11sNY

Second:  It is seldom the promised 90 minutes. The goal is to play a game of attrition. The longer the interview, the better the chance of capitulation – the customers will buy SOMETHING even when there may be an agreed upon pact not to buy. There is a good possibility that the prospects will break down and sign just to get their gifts and get out the door.

Third:  There will be more than one presenter. First is the “greeter” who will become your friend. They need to see your driver’s license and credit card. The driver’s license is to verify the family relationship and the credit card is to run a credit check. The credit check may be an unwanted surprise. The first sales agent will extol all the virtues of membership. If there is no bite, he/she will get approval to lower the price. After the initial sales agent, comes the manager or “closer.” He/she is out to make sure a sale happens. The friendliness will have worn thin. Prices will be reviewed and maybe lowered again. The sale needs to be made. If no sale has ensues, then comes the “survey person.”  He/she will review the presentation, the offers, and reasons for not buying. He/she will try one last attempt to sell an exit package. It may be a “discovery” “trial” or “sample” package. This will allow the prospects the chance to check out the resorts in the system, but requires another presentation. Trial packages are limited in scope and availability.

Fourth:  The whole job of the sales team is to make a SALE and that sale needs to be made TODAY. They know no one comes back later to purchase a timeshare. The sales team is on commission. They don’t eat if they don’t sell.

Fifth:  Truth may take a back door to the need for a sale. There is a clause in most, if not all timeshare contracts, that says the prospect did not rely on verbal representations to make their purchase. How many of us have relied on the ethics of the salesperson sitting across from us when buying a car, boat, condo or house? In Florida timeshare sales agents are licensed sales agents but they are exempted from the ethics requirement! It’s pretty scary if you can’t rely on ethics.

The terms of the contract are in the contract – not in the words of the salesman. The salesman may say that the company will buy back your timeshare. They won’t. He/she may say that the timeshare will go up in value. It will not.  He/she may say that you can go anywhere at any time. Complaints about availability abound. Attorney Mike Finn called this verbal representation clause a “license to lie,” and the beleaguered buyer unwittingly signs voluminous documents containing this one toxic sentence timeshare companies over-rely on.

Sixth:  Most timeshare contracts are perpetual. Once the three to ten day state contract rescission period is up, the buyer may have no other option but to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees if they cannot convince the timeshare company to break the agreement. It can be sold or given away, but the marketplace is almost non-existent. A default can have dramatic consequences on one’s credit score.

Seventh:  Sales people will make sure that no hand-written notes leave the room. False promises are not in the contract. The contract is long and initialed in many places. There are three things to be especially aware of.

  1. There is often a clause that says the company can change the terms and conditions of the contract whenever they want. Why even have contracts when benefits can be changed at any time?
  2. Accommodations are subject to availability. There are many complaints about lack of availability. Actual availability often cannot be verified until the buyer has access to the booking site, conveniently after the rescission period has expired.    
  3. These days contracts are often signed electronically, meaning your initials are stored and then tapped, tapped, tapped on a cheap tablet even tech savvy buyers find hard to read.

Eighth:  Timeshare contracts have a rescission period, which varies by state. It may be three to ten days. There are creative ways sales agents and their company can dodge the rescission period. A new program to be relieved of maintenance fees (that doesn’t exist) won’t be available until after the first of the year. While on vacation, sometimes with the kids, reviewing complex contracts can be a difficult chore. Sadly, even reading the contract doesn’t always disclose some of the pitfalls, like availability.

Ninth:  Roughly 50% of the cost of a timeshare purchase is the marketing, promotion, and commission costs. Think about it. If you list your house for sale, you pay 6% or 7% commission. What would happen to your home price if you had to pay a 50% commission to buy? Add that to the false promise that your timeshare is easy sell and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Sellers are lucky to get 10% of their initial investment back, thanks to the lack of an adequate secondary market. Timeshare developers don’t even want the timeshare back. You may even have to pay the developer a fee to take the timeshare back.

Ten:  Timeshares can be purchased on the resale market for pennies on the dollar. Sites like Tug2.net, Ebay, and Redweek have real people selling real timeshares for bargain prices. You can check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has a secondary market value. They can explain the pros and cons of buying from the secondary market compared to buying directly from a timeshare sales center. Plus LTRBA members have knowledge of all timeshares.

Don’t jump. Don’t believe you have to buy TODAY. Research the company. Research the industry. Social Media is here to stay. Chances are there is a member Facebook page out there for the timeshare you are considering, with members reporting positive and negative experiences you can evaluate. Do your timeshare math to calculate the purchase price, borrowing costs, and annual fees, not to mention special assessments. Check the resale market.

Vacation Smart!

Thank you to our Industry Observer for his observations. Here are a few member sponsored sites to check with to determine if you are jumping into your vacation dream so that you don’t end up one of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street authors:

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for the introduction and a very big thank you to our industry observer for this article and all your information over the past two years.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, please use our contact page, we welcome your insights.

If you need any information about any company that has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or from an advert in a publication, then again use our contact page and we will help you do your credibility checks. Remember, doing your homework is one of the most important ways of saving you from losing your hard earned cash.

 

Start the Week

On Wednesday 2 January 2019, we published the article http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-warning-joint-claims-victories-timeshare-resort-rescue/

Since then Mr Reece Turner, who does not seem very happy about the article has been using social media and messenger to make threats against Inside Timeshare and Canarian Legal Alliance, albeit very badly written and atrocious spelling.

This only leads us to believe that what was published is absolute fact, although we do have it on very good authority that it is the absolute truth, we also know that a report has been submitted to the Police and a crime number has been issued. After all, if Mr Turner is adamant that it is all “false”, then why not use legal means to have the article removed and an apology issued, rather than resort to childish and to be honest “criminal” threats, these have been saved as screenshots for evidence.

Turner has also used links to some very old and inaccurate articles which have been used to smear Canarian Legal Alliance in the past, all of which have been or are subject to legal proceedings.

Canarian Legal Alliance is already in the process of issuing court proceedings against Reece Turner.

Canarian Legal Alliance has informed Inside Timeshare that if any client has had any dealings with either of these companies and Mr Turner, that if they feel they have been victims and paid any money, to contact Inside Timeshare. We will pass this on to CLA who have offered to represent you FREE OF CHARGE.

Reece Turner

Tomorrow our Tuesday Slot is by Irene Parker, it is titled The Informed Timeshare Buyer – What to Watch Out For. We think that you will find this very informative, so join us tomorrow.

Canarian Legal Alliance Announce End of Year Results

What a year 2018 has been for the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, they have recently announced their end of year results and it is impressive to say the least.

They have ended the year with 131 Supreme Court rulings, this is unprecedented in Spanish legal history, the last 2 rulings being made against Diamond Resorts. These judgements reinforced the previous ones by Spain’s Highest Court that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and points systems along with the taking of any payment, even by a third party within the cooling off period are in breach of Spanish Timeshare laws 42/98 and 4/12.

In another landmark ruling from the Courts of First Instance in Tenerife, Silverpoint and their lawyers admitted that their “Company Participations” were indeed timeshare. This has now opened the way for many more clients who have been sold these “participations” as “investments” to now lodge claims against Silverpoint. This will result in the contracts being declared null and void plus the return of all money paid. (See previous article)

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-company-participations-is-timeshare/

Here are some key figures for the past year:

  • 3669 clients
  • 1380 live cases in various stages at court
  • 679 court hearings in 2018
  • 516 new claims presented to the Spanish Courts
  • 327 favorable sentences for clients
  • 12.3 million Euros have been awarded (2018 only) to clients by the Spanish Courts
  • 2.8 million Euros in payouts to clients
  • 728.000 Euros in bank guaranteed funds secured for clients
  • 4.5 million Euros are currently in process of being converted into bank guarantees

As the year drew to a close and the courts recessed for the Christmas break, Canarian Legal Alliance also managed to sneak in 10 more results in favour of their clients against the following:

  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             26,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             55,994€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance               9,795€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,800€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             18,376€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             39,590€
  • Holiday Club                 Court of First Instance                4,500€
  • Silverpoint                     Court of First Instance                5,400€
  • Club la Costa                 Court of First Instance              29,768€

This is an incredible 214,590€ secured for these clients, with all contracts being declared null and void.

These figures speak for themselves, no other law firm in Spain has achieved anything near to this, so for those who continue to post on various forums that these are all fake, check your facts before you post. These cases can all be verified through court documents, they are in the public domain.

It is quite clear that 2019 is also going to be a record breaking year, especially now that all courts are subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court. Inside Timeshare will bring you the latest news on cases as and when they happen.

If you require any further information on this subject or would like to know if you have a legitimate and viable case, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Other news which has just come in involves the ongoing case against Eze Groups Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly at Birmingham Crown Court.

December 21st was the final day of a Newton Hearing in the case against Stephanie O’Reilly, Mr O’Reilly was not in attendance as he had earlier pleaded guilty to 27 charges of breaches of consumer legislation and aggressive selling amongst other things.

The reason for the Newton Hearing was that Miss O’Reilly had to explain why she pleaded guilty to Fraud but not as charged. The defense argued that Eze Group had employed the services of a Legal Advisor to ensure that they were compliant with UK law and that this advice was wrong which ultimately led to the mis-selling of the product.

This argument was vigorously rejected by the prosecution, who were also able to produce documentation refuting the argument. This was accepted by the court and a date of 11 January 2019 has been set for what we believe will be sentencing. We will bring you this news as and when it happens.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments.