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Canarian Legal Alliance

The Tuesday Slot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In all the 12 other sentences were against:

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

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

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

The telephone numbers being used are the same as before:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

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

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

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

A Buyer Beware Timeshare Experience

Diamond Resorts

By Wilma Miller

October 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They did not tell us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of our readers contacted Inside Timeshare to inform us that an ex sales Rep from Silverpoint had cold called them regarding getting them out of their Silverpoint contract with a view to gaining compensation. How did our reader know he was an ex-sales rep, simple, he was one of those that sold them the Silverpoint in the first place! The Caller stated he was from Harlow Consultants SL, again there seem to be links with two companies based in Sterling and Aberfeldy, which we have already mentioned in previous articles.

The worrying thing here is we already know from other readers that these companies are cold calling Silverpoint owners, we also know that Silverpoint has made arrangements with them to cancel contracts. So it is safe to say that they are working from data supplied by Silverpoint themselves, we also know that the whole purpose is to get these contracts cancelled so those owners then have no recourse to any legal action. Any compensation that is promised will not materialise and you will also be paying for the pleasure of having the contract cancelled. (In other words paying them and Silverpoint)

Now for our Letter from America.

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

By Irene Parker

First Draft September 16, 2018 for Friday September 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Vietnam soldiers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

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

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

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

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

46.130,66 €

28.391,60 €

14.186,18 €

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

The Rodriguez Family Share their Marriott Timeshare Experience

September 18, 2018

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

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

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

By the Rodriguez family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, tomorrow is 9/11 and we shall be publishing another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from Veteran George Yamada. He will be sharing his experiences at the hands of his timeshare company and also with a timeshare exit company, so join us tomorrow on The Tuesday Slot.

Veteran George Yamada

Last week was the first full week the courts were open after the August break and what a week it was for the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance. The courts issued 12 sentences from previous trials, the first 7 involved Silverpoint, with the Tenerife Courts declaring all contracts null and void along with ordering Silverpoint to repay a massive £536,118.00 a very costly week for Silverpoint.

In Gran Canaria, the Courts of First Instance issued sentences against Anfi Del Mar, 5 in total, once again the contracts have been declared null and void. The amount that Anfi have been ordered to repay clients totals £175,442.00 so in total CLA have secured over £771,086.00 could we be seeing the million pound mark in one week being reached soon?

As well as the sentences, CLA reported many pre-trials had also taken place in various courts around Spain, so it does look as though this is going to be a very busy few months.

Some of the many CLA Lwyers

On the subject of Silverpoint, we have been receiving many emails over the past few days from owners of Silverpoint and Azure in Malta, who have been cold called and offered accommodation at Hollywood Mirage, The company being Centaurus Mediations, a company that we know is linked to Silverpoint, (see link below for previous article).

https://insidetimeshare.com/centaurus-mediations-silverpoint-connection/

All readers have the same story, for a substantial payment of around £9,000 (average taken from all readers) with at least £1,500+ taken as a deposit on the day, Centaurus will cancel your contract with Silverpoint. There has been no mention of any compensation, well we know even if there was, none would be forthcoming.

What a joke this is, first you have been sold illegal contract by Silverpoint, this is borne out by the hundreds of court cases that have been filed against them, 7 reported above, now a company set up by Silverpoint is attempting to take even more money from you to cancel their own contracts!

Well we do know the reasoning behind this don’t we, once the contract has been terminated, then they are safe from being taken to court by you!

If you have a Silverpoint timeshare purchased in Spain and want to know how to get it declared null and void (not cancelled) along with all the money you have paid, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Another of our US colleagues Lisa Ann Schreier, also known as The Timeshare Crusader, has asked that we publish the following link to a webinar she is co-hosting later this month.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/timeshare-crusader-ficlub-present-wont-get-fooled-again-repair-dont-repeat-your-mistakes-tickets-49253974965

This is entitled “Don’t get fooled again – repair don’t repeat your mistakes”.

The webinar is being arranged jointly by Lisa and Fi Club, it should prove valuable to our many US readers, obviously any European readers are also invited to attend.

Lisa Ann Schreier The Timeshare Crusader

Inside Timeshare will bring you an update from Lisa once this has taken place.

Well that’s it for today, I am on Vacation in sunny Malta enjoying the wonderful history that Mediterranean Island has to offer, do join us tomorrow for our Tuesday Slot.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America by Irene Parker, who has submitted her name for election to the Diamond Resorts US Collection HOA board. As you all know Irene is a very tenacious campaigner for timeshare members and consumers rights, so for those who have vote, Inside Timeshare urges you to cast them for her.

Back in March 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article on how resorts and resort owners manipulate the votes to suit themselves.

http://insidetimeshare.com/manipulation-votes-resorts-resort-owners/

Before we go to Irene’s article a quick update on news from the Spanish courts who returned to full swing this week and Canarian Legal Alliance sent us this review of sentences issued this week.

In the High Courts in Tenerife there have been FIVE issued against Silverpoint, a company that still denies that their contracts are illegal

There was ONE in the High Court against the Gran Canarian Resort ANFI DEL MAR, with SIX issued in the Courts of First Instance , again another company that insists it is not losing in the courts.

A total of 11 victories with a combined value of 371,882.14 € going back to their clients.

They have also had the courts enforce a cash embargo on Silverpoint in order to secure the funds for their clients. This in itself ensures that the funds cannot be diverted.

CLA have also informed us that they have already lodged 54 new cases with various courts all over Spain just as the courts reopened, so we can expect more news on that front in the future. Now for this weeks article.

My Diamond Resorts Campaign for the U.S Collection HOA Board

By Irene Parker

September 7 2018

Chantal DesjardinesDiamond Embarc/Intrawest June 2018 election results:

Five times more members voting for Chantal than closest rival places her in third place due to weighed voting.

James Orr (incumbent)    421

Robert Reyes                       361

Chantal Desjardines           2293

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-10/

A timeshare member thinking they can actually win an HOA election is preposterous, but if throwing my name in the ring can shed some light on the plight of over 500 angry Diamond members, many saying they are financially devastated by their decision to buy Diamond points, I will suffer the humiliation of loss. When attorney friends suggested I submit my name to the list of candidates for Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection HOA board, I laughed. They didn’t.

Our member sponsored Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group Facebook has over 1800 members, less industry observers, trying to understand what happened to them and why.  

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

As of September 2nd, 509 Diamond members have contacted Charles Thomas or me, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Barry Gingrich did not contact us, but his YouTube below accurately summarizes the mantra of complaints reported by members who feel they were subjected to unfair and deceptive trade practices.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjcgw0dAIKk&feature=youtu.be

Lt. Gingrich’s grievances:

  • Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
  • Told the last sales agent sold you the wrong package,  
  • Told the timeshare is a good investment, will appreciate in value,
  • Failure to address the lack of a secondary market,
  • Poor availability,
  • Sales agent will be your personal representative, but they never call back,
  • Use of a credit card will offset maintenance fees (many members complain of being able to pay maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point, but when a complaint is filed, the response back is the actual 20/20 or 30/30 program that has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point).

Sales agents defend themselves by saying members lie. The typical response from some timeshare companies to customer complaints is, “You signed a contract,” echoed by the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. When one member asked a Florida DBPR supervisor, why other states take timeshare complaints seriously based on member complaints, the response was that what other states do has no bearing on how Florida reviews timeshare complaints.

We actually liked our Diamond points until we experienced a bait and switch, easily proved. In our case, we purchased additional points in Williamsburg, VA, told Diamond was adding New York properties. We purchased for just that reason because our daughter lives in NYC. If you check Diamond’s booking site, it would take about $8,500 worth of maintenance fee equivalent dollars to stay one week at the same hotel that could be booked online for $950, checking year round. When I asked a Diamond representative about the poor value, the response was, “That’s for members who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them all.”

I filed a complaint filed with the New York Attorney General’s office that resulted in an offer to refund the purchase, but I refused after reading the non-disclosure agreement. It seemed harsh and unwarranted. Had I not been required to sign an NDA, I would have written it off as maybe the sales agent didn’t know about the poor value. I’m not saying Diamond does not have a product or that there are not Diamond sales agents selling the product honestly. The complaints directed against Diamond are not unique to Diamond. There are many lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations and settlements, not to mention thriving timeshare exit scams.

Rather than address member complaints, the goal is to behead the messenger.  

As a result of what I consider to be retaliation, for listening and responding to readers, my husband and I attended the Whistleblower’s Summit in Washington D.C. held in July of this year. The summit slogan was:

Speak Truth to Power       

 For full disclosure, my legal name is Peggy Irene Steckert.

Twice my husband and I exchanged a timeshare and ended up buying a house at our exchange location. One of our kids now asks us if we are coming back when we let her know we are going on vacation. We exchanged a week in 2001 and bought a house in Petoskey, Michigan. While on vacation, I ended up getting hired as a Director of Music for a church in Petoskey. Given the conservative nature of the church, I thought it best to use my husband’s last name of Parker. As a result, I became Peggy Parker of Petoskey, who played the pipe organ for weddings, 25 a summer. I got tired of reading it in the paper, the reporter apologizing.

Next, we exchanged a timeshare for Diamond Caverns (no relation to Diamond Resorts) and bought a house in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I ditched Peggy and switched to Irene. Given my bio describes how I opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii, I wanted to explain my name changes in case anyone, like Edward Jones, actually looks into who opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii.     

Ironically, I built my brokerage business cold calling real estate agents and timeshare sales agents. At one of my timeshare sales agent presentations at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, when I asked if there were any questions, one sales agent raised his hand and asked, “So we’re the units?” They made a ton of money, especially if they spoke Japanese.

The American Funds mutual fund company informed me in 2001 that I was the top American Funds producer for the entire west coast and Hawaii, among all brokerage firms. I also taught classes for the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers, University of Hawaii, Kona, Hilo and Maui campuses, teaching small business owners how to understand financial statements and make use of financial ratios. I team taught with a CPA classes on business structures. I gave endless seminars at Tutu’s House, which means grandmother in Hawaiian.

Fast forward to 2018 – after developing all those client relationships and great friendships with timeshare sales agents in Hawaii, it pains me to continually hear complaints directed against sales agents. Diamond Resorts considers me an enemy, not the sales agents with multiple, similar complaints.

I guess that’s not much of a campaign speech, but it doesn’t matter anyway. You can’t win.    

RECOGNITION

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/06/10/business/bizbriefs.html

>> Edward Jones investment representative Peggy Steckert has been named to the President’s Club of The American Funds Group. Steckert, who works out of the company’s Kaimuki office, was honored for superior service to customers and dedication to principles of sound investing. A 15-year veteran in the financial services field, she has been with Edward Jones since 1995.

Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. She holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.

 

Thank you Irene and we all wish you the very best in your election campaign. Well that’s all from me as I’m now on vacation, so there will not be many articles published until October, although The Tuesday slot and Friday’s Letter will go ahead as usual. If any important information arises then I try to get it published.

Have a good weekend.

Start the Week: Major International Fraud Smashed

We start this week with a report from La Provincia, a Spanish newspaper published on the 25 August 2018. It reports on Operation Bankog by the Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil based out of Puerto Rico in the municipality of Mogan, Gran Canaria, they have broken an international ring which was dedicated to defraud foreign nationals.

The organisation was based in the Balearic Islands and Malaga, with five people being arrested, two spanish citizens, one Austrian one British and one German, with the seizure of twenty bank accounts which recovered more than 15,000 euros.

The members of the organisation represented themselves as Spanish Justice Administration officials, receiving payments into Spanish bank accounts for payments and public taxes in respect of a bankrupt timeshare located in Austria. These took place between 2014 and 2015, and involved around twenty members of the organisation from seven different countries.

During the initial stages, a complaint was verified which proved that victims had transferred around 20,000 euros into Spanish bank accounts. These accounts were located in Palma de mallorca and Malaga, with the Guardia Civil reporting that many of the account holders were foreign nationals with criminal records some having outstanding warrants from their home countries.

The Guardia Civil is also investigating the forging of official documents which were used to perpetrate the fraud. The case has been submitted to the relevant courts with the investigation continuing and further arrests have not been ruled out.

According to the Guardia Civil the investigation has take three years due to the complexity of the organisations infrastructure, the number of nationalities involved and the many bank accounts. They believe that the amount could be well in excess of half a million euros. It also involved the collaboration of various Interpol offices around Europe.

Inside Timeshare received information from a reliable source that the investigation was initiated by denuncias issued to the Guardia Civil in Mogan,  by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of many of their clients.

As more information comes to light Inside Timeshare will bring you the news.

Click on the link below to see the original article, if using google the page can then be translated by right clicking on the article and selecting Translate from the menu.

https://www.laprovincia.es/sucesos/2018/08/25/guardia-civil-mogan-neutraliza-organizacion/1091317.html

The summer holidays are now at an end, so we issue our usual warning on doing your homework before dealing with any company that contacts you out of the blue, or even one you have found yourself on the internet. With maintenance fee bills about to be issued, the many scam companies will be in full swing to get your hard earned money. These will come in many guises, from resale scams, claims and cancellations, before doing any business, check, check and check again.

If you are unsure about any company and require help in find out about them, use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction. Inside Timeshare would also ask you to send any information about these companies to us, that way we can inform others of what is happening.

Press Release from CLA, Plus a Quick Look at the Biggest Timeshare Fraud in History

As August is very much the summer holiday month, there is not a lot of news from the courts in Spain, but it is a month when some of the new names and old ones will be making a comeback on the scam front. We will be keeping a watch on these and will start reporting them as and when they do become active.

Following on from Start the Week on Monday, we reported the news from the Royal Courts of Justice regarding the case of the Financial Conduct Authority and the validation order issued to Barclay Partner Finance:

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-13/

We have been given the following press release from Canarian Legal Alliance.

On 19 June 2018, a representative from Canarian Legal Alliance attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Upper Tribunal, Tax and Chancery Division, to represent the interests of one of our clients.

These clients had been sold timeshare in Malta by Azure Resorts and were financed by loan agreements with Barclay Partner Finance. It transpires that these loan agreements were brokered by an unauthorised agent Azure Services Ltd. As such these agreements breached the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

This affected 1,444 credit agreements with a total value of £47 million, in the period between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016.

This made the agreements unenforceable, which entitled the borrowers to recover their money and have the agreements cancelled. Therefore BPF applied to the Financial Conduct Authority in May 2017 to have a validation order issued to rectify this. The FCA on the evidence and information at the time issued the order to validate the loan agreements in February 2018.

This validation would then entitle BPF to retain money paid to them under the agreements, also allowing BPF to enforce payments by any consumer who defaulted.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement, in his ruling he stated the FCA should re-examine the original order and take into account “client detriment”, a factor which the FCA had not considered in the original order.

In the case of our client, this “client detriment” is very clear, they were mislead into purchasing the timeshare as an investment with the promise of income rental and then resale, which never materialised. They were pressured into signing the loan agreement after hours of high pressure timeshare sales tactics, even though our client explained they could ill afford the timeshare.

They were not explained the terms and conditions of the agreement or the full extent of the cost, the product they were purchasing was not suitable for their needs and would not fulfill the promises given. They were also mislead as to the length of the loan agreement, being 2 years and not 15 years which it turned out to be.

There were no proper credit checks made with regards to affordability or the ability to afford the repayments, they were not asked to provide any proof of income (bearing in mind they were both in their 70’s and on pensions), or any proof of outgoings.

Once the validation order is overturned by the FCA, this will leave our client able to recover all money paid to BPF and have the loan agreement declared null and void.

This ruling may also have an effect on loan agreement for timeshares purchased via loans even by an authorised broker. As a law firm we have many clients who have gone through the same process, lengthy presentations, high pressure sales and no proper checks regarding the ability to afford the repayments. We believe this may give clients an avenue to have these agreements cancelled and be reimbursed the money paid.

Canarian Legal Alliance

Our thanks to CLA for that information, now a quick look at an old story which was prompted by an item on ITV News, this was an interview by the wife of John “Goldfinger” Palmer who was shot and killed at his Essex home in June 2015.

In the interview she expressed her disbelief at the inability of Essex Police to find her husband’s killer, which the police believe was a professional hit. She also claimed she felt “sorry” for those who lost thousands in the timeshare scam. This is after she started the interview with “It was a wonderful Lifestyle” and “We had everything we possibly could want”. On whose money is the question?

The timeshare scam involved 17,000 victims and was worth over £100 million, it revolved around the multiple selling of timeshare units, resorts that had not been built or ever going to be built and ones without any planning permission.

It has been regarded as the biggest timeshare fraud in history.

Palmer was eventually jailed for 8 years in 2001 in the UK after being convicted for timeshare fraud. He was also ordered to repay around £33 million to his victims, but as the Crown Prosecution Service bungled the paperwork this order was overturned to the consternation of the police. He was released in 2005 and returned to Tenerife.

He was eventually arrested on the runway and bundled into a military transport and taken to Madrid to await trial by the Spanish authorities, he spent 2 years in jail and was then released on bail returning to the UK. The rest as they say is history.

Click on the link below to see the interview and the second link which is a report by Roger Cook made around 2 years ago on the full story of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, from his involvement in the Brinks Mat bullion robbery through to his timeshare frauds.

https://www.facebook.com/ITVWestcountry/videos/2076879189011352/

Join us tomorrow for our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker reports on the Whistleblowers Summit which she attended in Washington DC in July, you will certainly find it a revelation.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, this article is based on a report released by the St Louis Better Business Bureau, it is based on their full report published on the BBB website which we have included as a link. The full report carries some very sound advice along with recommendations for Government and the industry. Whether they take note is another matter.

August is the month for Spain to basically close down, so there is no news from the courts, but this little snippet from the RDO website news section and published on 24 July caught our attention.

“We never sleep”

During this particular break-out session the RDO legal panel will provide attendees with an update on a range of issues, including the latest developments in the Spanish Supreme Court rulings and the on-going lobbying programme.

Other issues that will be covered within the session will be ongoing collaboration with UK authorities to take fraudulent individuals/companies to court and new legislation that is being developed to curb the activities of claims companies. Attendees will also learn how ARDA is dealing with similar issues in the US and whether there are lessons for RDO and its members.

Well one thing is for sure, the RDO obviously believe that the Spanish timeshare laws are not good for the industry, with the judges getting it wrong, along with their belief that they will be able to change things in their favour through the lobbying programme. Well somehow I don’t think the Spanish authorities will be looking to changing their laws to return back to the bad old days!

In the end these court cases that are being brought are of the industries own making, if they had abided by the laws in the first place they would not be paying for it now. A very good case to remember is Silverpoint, whose CEO Mark Cushway was at one time also a director of the RDO, this company is being pilloried by the lower courts in Tenerife and the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Why?

Quite simple, they sold a product that flouted virtually every article of Law 42/98, especially with their promise of the “investment” weeks, where unsuspecting purchasers, many of them on the verge of retirement, were sold under high pressure and very misleading sales pitches a promise that these weeks would be sold or rented out. These never materialised and are the subject of many of these court cases. All this while Mark Cushway was one of the directors of the industry trade body, there to ensure that members operated in a legal and ethical manner.

On the legal front, Canarian Legal Alliance has just published their mid year report, it is certainly impressive and really does put the above statement from the RDO in a different light. Follow the link for the full report direct from the lawyers themselves.

https://canarianlegalalliance.com/canarian-legal-alliance-mid-term-successes/

Now on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

A St. Louis Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report

Released July 24, 2018

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

August 3, 2018

Inside Timeshare has received complaints against Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Hawaii, California, and Virginia sales centers. Missouri is no worse than the other states. We appreciate the St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau taking timeshare complaints seriously.

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.”

From the St. Louis Better Business Bureau report:

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

(BBB) RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred  to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

Inside Timeshare has received 515 timeshare complaints from our readers, 271 since January 1. All but a handful report their complaint was dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our advocacy efforts have had an effect. After publishing this last statement a few times, the defense has been changed to, “It sounds like a he said, she said” still relying on the oral representation clause. About 200 complaints were copied to ARDA / ARDA ROCbut were ignored.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official policy, and the regulator’s position in some states, the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Florida and Nevada, all our readers’ complaints filed with those state Attorney General’s timeshare divisions have been dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” An upcoming article examines proof and why FBI agents and several attorneys don’t buy this response.

Inside Timeshare contributor Sheila Brust reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market. By steering complaining members to licensed real estate agents, when turned down, members often end up the contacting a scam that will charge the member upfront money promising to sell or cancel their timeshare. Often that promise falls short.”

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints against Branson, Missouri sales centers. Our researchers discovered one Branson timeshare sales manager was selling points at the same time he was working for a timeshare exit company named Mutual Release a suspicious name for a company, as mutual release is the form signed when a timeshare issue has been resolved.

Our Advice

DON’T FINANCE A VACATION or any Luxury Item AT 12% TO 19% and don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. As the St. Louis BBB recommends, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare. There you will receive straight answers.

 http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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/

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the positives when it feels like the battle is all uphill. All we can do is reach out to those who feel lost to let them know Inside Timeshare and real advocacy groups are there for them. Consumer and advocacy are two words members should take with a grain of salt, used and abused by scam artists. We are real advocates.   

That’s it for this week, Friday is here and the weekend is about to start, for those in Europe beware the heat wave, especially if you are travelling to Spain, Seville is reported to be facing temperatures of 48º C or 118º F.

Join us next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, don’t forget if you have any comments, questions or just need to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and don’t get sunburnt!

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

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

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

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

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

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

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link to the original article:

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

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

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

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

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker looks at Whistleblowers of America and their report to the Veterans Affairs Committee. As we have reported in previous articles, we have received many complaints from veterans who have had very bad experiences with timeshare sales agents. These practices are unexceptable and need to be stopped, but that can only come from the top of the timeshare companies, if they have the will to do it!

Now for some news from the Spanish courts, more legal history has been made at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Silverpoint has had another 2 judgements made against them, bringing the total of rulings from Spain’s Highest Court to to 126!

The tally this week is:

2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;

3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;

3 Provisional executions of sentence against Anfi del Mar, (this has secured over 93,000€ for clients with Anfi depositing the funds at the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana);

2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.

In the Diamond sentences, the clients have been awarded their full purchase price plus double deposit for a total of 19,504€ and 30,000€ respectively. These and the contracts for the clients above have all been declared null and void.

In total the 7 sentences amount to over 370,000€ another expensive week for the timeshare industry in Spain. All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients from all over Europe by none other than those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance.

As we near the end of July, we only have one more week where the courts are working, August is the annual close down, so we will see no new cases being heard until September.

Now on with our Letter from America.

Whistleblower Retaliation against Government Workers, Employees, Timeshare Members and Timeshare Sales Agents

62 out of 500 timeshare complaints we have received are from veteran and active duty members of the military and law enforcement

A Whistleblower Summit in Washington D.C. July 30 – 31

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

July 20, 2018

There are several federal and state laws in place to protect government and corporate employee whistleblowers from retaliation, but whistleblowing is never easy and can take a personal toll. A whistleblower friend of mine suggested I attend the Whistleblower Summit linked above, because of threats and accusations our advocates, Charles and I have received over the past two years. I have heard the following false statements made about Inside Timeshare and our advocates through the timeshare grapevine:

  • That our articles are based on false information. Many articles are submitted by our readers, which I edit, or the content provided by our readers.
  • Our advocates are compensated financially for assisting members,
  • Our advocates are practicing law,
  • Our advocates are compensated for soliciting business for lawyers,
  • We’re targeting certain timeshare sales agents (we call repeat offenders)

Articles written by timeshare members describing their timeshare experiences are revealing and important. One of the Whistleblower Summit presentations I am looking forward to attending is titled,

Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story

Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW

“Story is what defines us and set us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each other. Story is powerful. Story is grossly misunderstood. A good story has conflict, but ultimately resolved. A story is messy and full of confusion, but there is meaning and completeness to it. Stories have natural momentum to them, fueling our passion to find out more from the teller. Stories are laden with bait and intrigue, with suspense and tension. Stories are provocative.” Jeff Goins

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Founder Jackie Garrick will moderate a panel discussion at the upcoming Whistleblower Summit that will address resilience after retaliation

“My numbers are going up with new reports every day,” says Jackie Garrick, founder of Whistleblowers of America (WoA). Garrick created WoA earlier this year after discovering firsthand how difficult the process of reporting wrongdoing can be, and the personal toll it can take on the people blowing the whistle. By offering up the help and insight of former government insiders and whistleblowers like herself, Garrick is hoping to not only encourage more people to come forward, but also to simply support them once they do so.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/10/va-whistleblowers-under-threat-seek-help-from-outside.html

So far the only information available on timeshare whistleblowers concerns a lawsuit in which a jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams $20 million.  

She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.

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

Despite several relatively recent Attorneys General investigations and settlements, lawsuits galore, and a flood of internet complaints, the timeshare industry continues to place blame on their customers and on advocacy groups. In other words, the industry believes Inside Timeshare either invented 500 timeshare complaints or that the 500 members would be happy timeshare members had they not read Inside Timeshare articles or joined one of several members sponsored advocacy Facebooks and websites. Almost all of the 500 members are highly educated, professional, high credit score citizens. At least they had a high credit score until they were sold or upsold into timeshare insolvency.

It doesn’t matter how many millions love their timeshare. What matters is that the majority of the 500 families have alleged they were fraudulently sold a timeshare product. All but a handful received an automatic “You signed a contract” dismissal from the timeshare company.

Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:

How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims

Here are a few steps that you (a corporation) can take to reduce the risk that your company will be subject to such a lawsuit. In parenthesis are my observations as they apply to timeshare:

  • Don’t retaliate — Try to remember not to treat employees (timeshare members) that have complained about your company any differently than those who have not.
  • Have a complaint policy in place and be sure to use it — It is a good idea to have a complaint policy in place, even if it is not required by law. Train and educate your employees in using the system. Once you have your complaint policy in place be sure to abide by it. (According to member reports, the timeshare complaint policy has been to provide the complaining member with their initials on fine print and dismiss them with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”)
  • Investigate all credible complaints — If you receive an internal complaint about alleged wrongdoing, be sure to investigate it, so long as it is credible. If you find that the complaint was truthful, take the steps needed to remedy the situation.(The timeshare member has often reported that they were told they were wrong and the timeshare sales agent judged truthful)
  • Be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for other misconduct — If you have a whistleblower in your company that needs to be disciplined for other conduct you must be very careful. Get evidence to support your claim that you are disciplining for reasons other than the whistleblowing and make sure the employee knows the reason he or she is being disciplined.

 

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/whistleblower-retaliation-could-land-you-in-trouble.html

Following the above advice would eliminate the need for timeshare advocacy groups and whistleblowers.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004

Jackie presented testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. She included Timeshare Advocacy Group’s veteran timeshare fraud report in her statement. Several of the 62 veteran timeshare members we have assisted struggle with disabilities and PTSD as described in the report. Jackie believes that retaliation can cause PTSD.     

  • The veteran population has very complex needs due to unique exposures/injury during military complicated by having two plus significant medical problems in one patient.
  • Veterans experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD). According to the CDC, about 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year making it the 10th   leading cause of death. (Several of the veterans we have helped struggle with PTSD and TBI, one is a decorated Marine, and another a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts.)
  • Agent Orange exposure – For example, eye cancers are a continuous issue. (Two of our disabled veteran timeshare members are disabled from Agent Orange exposure)
  • Gulf War Illness – Illness haunts Gulf War veterans. (One of the timeshare members served in the Gulf War and is on 25 meds)
  • Camp LeJeune: Due to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base, Camp LeJeune, increased reports of cancer in veterans and their families have been documented over the last several decades related to the solvents in water.
  • Burn Pit Exposure: Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 were exposed to a concoction of burning substances on military installations that has caused them to raise health concerns from cancers to respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. (One of the members we assisted was diagnosed with blood cancer having lived next to a burn pit in Basra)

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Jacqueline Garrick is a former Army social work officer who has worked in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as well as for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She is a subject matter expert in mental health and program evaluation. She is an advocate for disabled veterans and the use of peer support to improve resilience in traumatized populations.  She founded Whistleblowers of America in 2017 based on her experience reporting attempted fraud with DoD Suicide prevention funds.

We thank Jackie and Whistleblowers for their support. It is our hope that through public awareness and knowledge, the consumer will be better able to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare, especially one financed at 17%, is a good idea for the family.

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

That’s it for this week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, on Monday we will be publishing the court cases against Diamond and how Spanish law is protecting consumers, we will be comparing this with what is happening across the Great Lake with our US cousins.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all contributors to these articles and also to those who supply the evidence and information on the “fake” companies that are trying to rip you off. It is your valuable information which goes to help and save others from these unscrupulous charlatans.

Remember to check, check and check again, doing your homework will save you your hard earned cash. If you are unsure how to check, then use our contact page, we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week at Inside Timeshare.