Browse Tag

Club Intrawest

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker looks at what Canada is doing to protect consumers of timeshare, are the events in Spain shaping the Canadian legislators views?

If so this can only be good thing for consumers, change is necessary, Spain leads the way in this field and the more countries that use their model the better off consumers will be. The industry needs to change, if they will not do voluntarily, then it is up to the legislators to make them change.

While doing our usual browsing of the many timeshare related websites and blogs this morning, we came across this rather interesting piece in Mindtimeshare, regarding a new cold calling company and timeshare claims.

Reclaims Yard, with a caller going by the name of Bob Cosgrove, who calls those who were taken in by bogus holiday clubs and resale companies. According to Cosgrove there is money set aside and waiting for them in respect of what they paid out. That even if the consumer doesn’t have any paperwork, that is not a problem.

According to Cosgrove, they do not expect any money from the consumer (no doubt that will come later to cover “TAXES”), but the consumer will be paid out by cheque, being paid out directly from some fund or other.

The telephone number they use is 0115 8242 356 which is a Nottingham code, they also use the email address [email protected] which as we already know is just another of those free email providers and is not linked to any website.

The interesting fact is that Reclaims Yard Limited, Company Number 07722606, is a genuine company, although according to Company House records has an Active order to Strike off.

This company has nothing to do with timeshare, they are in fact specialist in reclaiming, restoring a selling “interesting and unusual” pieces of the past, reclaiming building materials and architectural salvage.

They have also published on their website a warning regarding the fraudulent use of their name regarding the timeshare claims:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:-

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SPANISH PROPERTIES,  TIMESHARING OR ANY OTHER TYPES OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS OR RECLAIMING FUNDS.

THIS IS A SCAM!

OUR ADVICE IS TO NOTIFY THE POLICE IF YOU RECEIVE ANY COMMUNICATIONS REGARDING THIS.

WE ONLY TRADE IN RECLAIMED (PREVIOUSLY USED) BUILDING MATERIALS AND NOTHING ELSE.

PLEASE SEE OUR NEWS PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…….

https://www.reclaimsyard.co.uk/

Once again, we see a fraudulent operation using the name of a genuine company to give themselves credilbility when the consumer does a quick internet check. We cannot emphasise that when making these checks it is not just to see if they are registered but to actually look at the company name that is being used.

Now for today’s article

Quebec Canada Bill 178: An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection

187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.

Resiliate: fait d’annuler, de résilier un contrat canceling , termination
The verb resiliation means “To draw back from a contract”
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/french-english/resiliation

By Irene Parker
August 7, 2018

Once again the nature of the perpetual timeshare contract comes under the legislative microscope, this time in Quebec. Perpetual contracts are not harmful in the case of your home or car, but with little to no secondary market for unwanted timeshares, the consequences of signing a perpetual timeshare contract has financially devastated many of the 515 families that have contacted Inside Timeshare seeking release. Many members have been scammed by timeshare exit companies and listing agents promising, but not delivering results.  

Among other provisions, Quebec Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract as a service contract. This could have lasting consequences for Canadian timeshare buyers who have felt trapped by the perpetual timeshare product. Many timeshare members are saddled with high interest rate loans and some with higher interest rate credit cards issued by timeshare companies.   

Under Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions. The profound implication boils down to the ability to cancel the timeshare contract if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership. According to those familiar with the legislation, not getting benefits could be due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons.    

This is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to this 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property.

On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now rebranded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club. The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time. All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.

Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks and points, have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court. To date, Spain has ruled in favor of the consumer in a whopping 129 Supreme Court victories.

Marriott Vacation Club (VAC U.S.: NYSE stock symbol) filed an 8-K Other Events, as reported by Market Exclusive July 19, 2018. One of the events was mention of Spain’s Supreme Court rulings invalidating timeshare contracts.

A series of Spanish court rulings over the past several years invalidating timeshare contracts have increased our exposure to litigation and such litigation may materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

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


Notes from the Quebec Bill 178
http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-178-41-1.html

Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly
Passed 6 June 2018
Excerpts from the bill:  

Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract is a service contract and not a purchase agreement involving a property transfer.

Bill 178 (2018, Chapter 14) An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection

The Act proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act to introduce a protection regime governing contracts relating to timeshare accommodation rights.

  • The Act introduces rules specific to the making of that type of contract and sets out the compulsory information such a contract must include. It grants consumers the right to resolve the contract without charge or penalty within 10 days of signing it and specifies the circumstances in which that right is extended to one year.
  • The Act imposes on merchants who enter into a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights the obligation to establish a payment schedule for each year covered by the contract…..Furthermore, the Act introduces a disclosure obligation related to promotion made by merchants engaged in the business of such contract, prohibits certain stipulations and provides that such contracts may not be automatically renewed.   

    Division V.3
    Contract Relating to Timeshare accommodation rights


    187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

    187.14 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights must be evidenced in writing. In addition to the information that may be required by regulation, it must contain or state the following, presented in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation:
  • (h) the term and expiry date of the contract;
  • (j) the fees to obtain an accommodation right, their amount on an annual basis if they are calculated on a basis other than annual, and the total of such amounts for the entire term of the contract.
  • (t) a statement that the merchant may not collect payment from the consumer before beginning to perform his obligation;
  • (u) the right granted to the consumer to resolve the contract at his sole discretion within 10 days after that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract; and
  • (v) the other circumstances in which the consumer may resolve or resiliate the contract, any applicable conditions and the time within which the merchant must refund the consumer.

    187.15 Any stipulation that results in the automatic renewal of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is prohibited.  

    187.16 The merchant may not make the entering into or the performance of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights dependent upon the entering into of a credit contract.

    187.21 The contract may be resolved at the discretion of the consumer within 10 days following that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract.

    That period is, however, extended to one year from the date on which the contract is made in either of the following cases:
  • the contract is inconsistent with any of the rules set out in section 25 to 28 for the making of contracts, or one of the particulars required under section 187.14 does not appear in the contract; or
  • a Statement of consumer resolution and resiliation rights and a resolution and resiliation form that are in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation were not attached to the contract at the time the contract was made.

187.24 Any contract entered into by a consumer, even with a third-party merchant, on the making of or in relation to a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights and that results from an offer, representation, or other action by the merchant who is party to the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights forms a whole with the latter contract and is resolved or resiliated by operation of law at the time the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is resolved or resiliated.

In addition, the consumer may, with respect to a contract entered into with a third-party merchant and contemplated in the first paragraph, exercise directly against the merchant a recourse based on the non-performance of the contract or on the provision of this Act.

187.25 Within 15 days after resolution or resiliation, for the reason set out in section 187.26, of the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, the merchant must refund all sums paid by the consumer under the contract and under any other contract contemplated in section 187.24, including sums paid to a third-party merchant.

229.1 No person may, when making or promoting a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, make representations implying that the contract is an investment, unless the person gives the consumer a document showing the truthfulness of the representations.    

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.


What’s next on the timeshare horizon?

The key word in 229.1 is “may” because in the U.S., the language in one state regulator’s ruling states “should” not make representations implying that the contract is an investment. What a difference one word can make.  

Thank you Irene for this very interesting piece of news, we do hope that others will follow in the footsteps of Spain and now Canada to put into place laws and regulations to protect consumers from the excesses of the timeshare industry. We can only wait wait and see.

From our warning of another fraudulent timeshare reclaims caller, this does really hit home that you must always do thorough company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet. Doing your homework is vital to protect yourself from scammers and fraudsters.

If you need help in checking if a company is indeed genuine, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare will help you find the truth and point you in the right direction.

Remember DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND KEEP YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY SAFE!

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Today’s Tuesday Slot is from Chantal Desjardins with the introduction and editing by Irene Parker, looks at the recent elections at Embarc (Club Intrawest) HOA board of directors. As you will see from this article it does not appear to be very fair. This is something we have seen in various elections at timeshare resorts in Europe over the years, so it is nothing new. In fact back in 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article “Manipulation of votes by resorts and resort owners”. (see link below)

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

Now for Chantals article.

Embarc (Intrawest) Diamond Resorts 2018 Election of Directors

Five times more members voting for me than closest rival –

Gives me a third place finish!

James Orr (incumbent) 421

Robert Reyes                    361

Chantal Desjardines       2293

And the winner is…..!     James Orr and Robert Reyes?

By Chantal Desjardins

June 26, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Diamond Embarc members (formerly Intrawest) had the deck stacked against them in the recent Embarc HOA board elections, due to weighted votes in favor of the developer.  Diamond didn’t set it up that way though – Intrawest did in 1994 when they set up Club Intrawest incorporated in Delaware. Weighted voting provides a stranglehold on the club’s management & governance despite retaining less than 4% of the points.

If you check master declaration and bylaws for timeshares, often the cards are stacked in favor of the corporations retaining control of their boards through weighted voting on declarant points, all while pretending the individual members can influence an election by casting their “vote” in board elections.

When Intrawest researched timeshare governance and operating structure dating back to the early 90s, their governance structure was modeled after Disney Vacation Club, including the weighted votes for the declarant. Many points-based timeshares, especially large corporate ones, operate with very similar rules. Many members don’t realize this. Many pay no attention or don’t care. The member sponsored Club Intrawest Facebook has over 4,000 members. Voter turnout and support for Chantal was extraordinary as the numbers show, but she finished third.

This is legal – yes, but fair, ethical and moral – no, in the opinion of many timeshare members.

Chantal Desjardins’ comments about the election

www.citheownersgroup.org/2018results

Five times more members voting for me than closest rival gives me a third place finish!

How is that fair, you may ask? Well, it isn’t! This election was once again only “window-dressing” on the part of Diamond Resorts to make it appear that members have a say in the running of their clubs.

Nonetheless, Club Intrawest Owners Group members – THANK YOU!

Although I did not get a position on the Embarc Board in this election, the result, given the unfairness of the “weighted” votes, is excellent! Thank you for voting as a block, for not splitting your votes! Because of this, it is readily evident to anyone looking at the results that the candidate who obtained by far and away the most member votes, came in third.

Over 5 times more members voted for me than for the closest “incumbent”, James Orr. Over 6 times more members voted for me than for the second “incumbent” Robert Reyes. Over 3 times more members voted for me than for both incumbents together. In fact, 25% more members voted for me than all 7 other candidates added together.

And yet – James Orr and Robert Reyes are once again Embarc board members for another 3 years!

Although it is said nowhere in the run-up to the election, the declarant, the entity that “holds” DRI points as a member, has 15 times the voting power per point than that of individual members. They are very careful not to state this fact in the emails sent concerning the election – both before AND after. They are very careful to make it appear that members, who have the vast majority of the points, will have a chance to get their candidate onto the board. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Embarc membership. Even as they vote, are engaged, most members don’t understand that when the Declarant (DRI) votes, our member votes are made virtually worthless.

When one breaks down the numbers given in the pre-election emails as well as the results, the chart of the “count/weight” looks like this:     ​

Once we all understand how this all “works”, it becomes evident and imperative that members must join forces to oblige DRI to give us what is our due – the number of board members that correspond to our points owned.

We need to increase our voting power so that it is at least half that of the Declarant (DRI).

Why do we only need half + 1?

Because when the board has elections for incumbent positions, we can cast all our votes (2 positions = double the votes) for 1 person, while they must put half of their total entitlement on each.

How do we do this?

  • By each of us doing our part by recruiting members into our group each time we go to a club
  • By pushing back against the unfair governance of our clubs by email, FB posts and raising awareness of the issues
  • By voting as a block each time we are called upon to vote
  • By demanding that elections information be posted on the Embarc member site, on the Embarc member Facebook pages, at the Clubs! DRI suppresses votes by only sending the information by email or nondescript postcard. It is a proven fact that emails from organisations have an “open rate” of less than 30% on average. Using only emails (and the undistinguished postal card) to announce elections, effectively allows DRI to suppress the vote while claiming to have done their duty.
  • By joining the new not-for-profit Embarc Owners Association when it is launched and consolidating our power.
  • By growing our numbers in the coming years, we can beat DRI at the election polls – and once we’ve done it the first time, we can do it again the following year – meaning that we CAN have 3 members on the Embarc board representing member interests. ​

What is the cost involved? Almost nothing! With a tangible result that doesn’t involve court costs and years of litigation!

That’s why I’m not disappointed in this year’s election results

I’m thrilled with our member engagement.

We WILL overcome – time and determination will allow us to achieve our goals.

Thank you all!

Chantal

Embarc election results are posted at the end of the article.

An update on Diamond’s Flamingo Beach Resort elections in St. Maarten

Diamond owns 72% of all the weeks at the Flamingo Resort and only one seat from the outside (that is not a Diamond employee) is elected each year. So the incumbent endorsed by the board won easily. There was discussion about adding a second seat and the board took this under consideration for future discussion.

Deeded owner Greg Guisti ran for the Flamingo Beach Resort board election held April 19, 2018 in St. Maarten. To paraphrase Greg’s explanation as to why a board should consist of member representations, “Timeshare members and owners have an expectation of what a good timeshare should be. Members are entitled to good communication and feedback, and that communication should include the voice of an actual owner or member.”

With the internet flooded with complaints directed against some timeshare companies, more than ever timeshare members need a more member friendly board to serve as a pipeline for communication.

Embarc 2018 Election Results

Thank you Chantal and Irene, it does make you wonder how the voting works, to get that number of votes and only come in third!

Had that been an election for government there would have been a very loud cry of “FIX” from the press and media. So the question is what happened?

I guess we can only read into it what we want because somehow I don’t think we are going to get any straight answers from the industry.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject or have had a similar experience either in the US or Europe, then use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare is committed to informing all timeshare owners and vacation club members of what is actually going on, it may not please the developers or the industry, but who actually cares if they get upset!

The Tuesday Slot from Canada

Today’s article from Canada by Patrick Cormier is about Intrawest sales practices to Club Intrawest members.  The complaint in the lawsuit concerns the immediate and extreme devaluation of points after purchase from the developer, providing little to no resale value. Diamond Resorts acquired Intrawest Resorts in 2015 and continues the practices leading to this devaluation.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160129005913/en/Diamond-Resorts-International-Completes-Acquisition-Intrawest-Resort

Diamond Resort members in the US have learned their points are virtually worthless on resale. Many Inside Timeshare readers tell us they have been told points would be easy to resell and points will increase in value. In response to one of our reader complaints, a Diamond Vice President’s response was, “We’re not responsible for anything our sales agents say.”

This is the very reason Inside Timeshare is so important and why every timeshare member needs to be an advocate, reaching out to the general public to warn the general public that timeshares official position in several companies seems to be, “We’re not responsible for anything a sales agent says.” This is indeed a green light to lie. With little to no enforcement of timeshare regulation, timeshare sales and marketing fraud continues unchecked.

https://www.citheownersgroup.org/

Following on from yesterday’s article where we identified the genuine lawyers from their photographs used by the “FAKE” Legalidades Abogados, we have now identified another three from the previous “FAKE LAW FIRM” Manuel Hidualdo Abogados article published in March, both of these are from the Litigious Abogados family of “Fake firms”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/thursday-roundup/

manuel selando hidualdo

The first is the “founder” of the firm, Manuel Selando Hidualdo, the actual person is:

Miguel Ángel Pardo Falcón

Graduado Social Diplomado (1988/1990).

Colegiado nº 924 por el C.O.G.S.S. dese 1993.

Of Bolonia Abogados based at the following address:

Avenida San Francisco Javier, 24, 9ª, 12 – Edificio Sevilla I – 41018 Sevilla

https://boloniaabogados.com/quienes-somos-en-bolonia-abogados/

francisco fralja sobanem

The second one named as Francisco Fralja Sobanem on the “fake” website is in fact a Mexican lawyer called Angel Prieto, who owns his own law practice on the Yucatan Peninsula

Av. Sunyaxchen lotes 56 y 57

Sm 24, Mz 28

Edificio Siglo XXI oficina 209

Cancún, QR

México 77509

+52 (998) 251-7010

http://www.angelprieto.com/attorneys.html

emilio derlanta cantelar

Our third identification is named as Emilio Derlanta Cantelar, but is actually a US Lawyer named David J. Winer, from the law firm Winer & Winer, based at:

Law Offices of Winer & Winer

9 N County St. #100

Waukegan, IL 60085

Tel: (847) 336-9111

Fax: (847) 336-4182

http://winerlawoffice.com/attorneys/david-winer/

Obviously these gentlemen have no idea that their images are being used for fraudulent purposes, well they will do now!

We shall be keeping an eye open for the next incarnation that they come up with, we will also identify any other photo of their so called lawyers with the genuine person.

Now on with our Tuesday article from Canada.

quebec

Quebec Superior Court Authorizes Class Action against Intrawest

Intrawest ULC owns, operates, and manages mountain and beach destination resorts in North America and Europe. The company also manages heli-skiing operations, and golf and beach resort clubs. In additions, it provides resort real estate sales and marketing services for various destinations; rental management services at various resort locations; and vacation reservation services with information on accommodations, air and ground transportation, destination, virtual tours, vacation guides, activities, entertainment, and places to dine. Further, Intrawest ULC engages in real estate development operations. Intrawest ULC was incorporated in 1979 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=361001

April 10, 2018

PATRICK CORMIER·TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2018

https://www.citheownersgroup.org/class-action

On March 20th, 2018, the Superior Court of Quebec released a decision by Hon. Anne Jacob certifying a class action to proceed against Intrawest ULC. The full text of the decision is available here (available in French only). What follows is a summary of key information.

What has been authorized by the court? A lawsuit in reduction of price paid to Intrawest UCL, compensatory damages and punitive damages in relation to alleged illicit sales practice in relation to becoming a Club Intrawest member and to fees that were allegedly not disclosed at the time of purchase.

Who are the potential class members?

Potential class members are individuals that have purchased points directly from Intrawest in Quebec, with the exception of such individuals having sold their points before 2007. So, if you purchased your points from the developer in Quebec and have not sold those points before 2007, you currently stand to be eligible.

What does it mean for a class to be certified? It means that Martin Robichaud will be allowed to proceed in his suit against Intrawest as a representative of a larger class of individuals. Should he be successful, it means that the remedy obtained by him will also be available to similarly eligible class members. By certifying this class action, it means the court believed the four following conditions were met:

  1. The factual context of members is identical, similar or connected.
  2. Allegations appear to justify the remedy sought.
  3. The composition of the class would not make it practical for individual members to individually or jointly sue the defendant.
  4. The representative member (Mr Robichaud in this case) can ensure adequate representation of other members.

What are the facts underpinning this case?

Mr Robichaud’s case is in relation to the purchase of 160 points for a total price of Cdn$30,560 in 2009. At the time, Mr Robichaud (like so many of us) believed, according to the explanations offered at the time of sale, that should he wish to re-sell at a later time, he would essentially recoup his investment. There was also the purchase of 300 additional points on the secondary market also in 2009.

In 2014, five years after the initial purchase, he asked about the repurchase program. He was also informed at that time about the need to sell his points to another member with a minimal price per point failing which there would be no Extraordinary Escape (EE) privileges attached to the points sold.

The circumstances under which Mr Robichaud attempted to sell his points or have the points repurchased led him to believe the 160 points he originally purchased had been severally devalued because of undisclosed facts at the time of purchase and subsequent decisions and actions by Intrawest ULC.

What are the issues raised in this class action?

Mr Robichaud is asking the court to answer many important questions, including:

  • Has Intrawest used prohibited sales practices? Should this be the case, should Intrawest be reimbursing members or should members be entitled to a reduction in the price paid?
  • Should members be entitled to punitive damages because of their alleged breach of the Consumer Protection Act (Québec)?
  • Should members be dispensed from paying annual fees because they do not own the properties?

What is the remedy sought by this class action?

Mr Robichaud believes the points have been devalued by approx 75% because several keys facts were not disclosed to him in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act of Quebec. He also believes he should not have paid the annual fees. He therefore asks the court:

  • A 75% refund of the price paid in relation to the original purchase of 160 points from Intrawest ULC;
  • 100% of the annual fees paid to date for all points;
  • Punitive damages ($5,000).

What are the next steps of this class action?

There are a few additional minor procedural steps before the case fully proceeds. The Volunteers Coordinating Committee (VCC) will keep the Club Intrawest Owners Group (CIOG) posted as details are known to us. We have a good relationship with Mr Robichaud and are already supporting him, for example, by sharing aggregate member survey information.

What are the next steps of the VCC?

We welcome this highly sought after decision as a key milestone that will significantly influence and inform the refinement of our legal strategy. Broadly speaking, the major areas of further analysis are:

  • Assuming the case of Mr Robichaud succeeds, how could the remedy be extended to purchases of points outside of Quebec?
  • Develop a fully informed legal analysis, taking into account the Robichaud class action and its repercussions, and table options to the membership in the form of proposals at a first AGM of the future Embarc Owners Association, a new association in the process of being created by the VCC.

Stay vacationed, but stay aware!

Patrick Cormier, B.Sc., B.C.L./LL.B., CD VCC Team Leader

Related articles:  Club Intrawest v. CanadaMust Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151125005060/en/Diamond-Resorts-International-Acquire-Intrawest-Resort-Club

Thank you Patrick for your contribution, this does show that timeshare owners / members the world over are being subjected to some very dubious practices, we are all in this together, it is only through articles such as this will we ever see any change.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any article published, contact Inside Timeshare through our contact page.

For those readers in Europe, if you have been contacted by a law firm from Tenerife that tells you your timeshare resort / company is being taken to court and you can be in on the action, please do let us know, especially if it sounds like one of those we have been highlighting.

It is through your information that we can research and report as to the legitimacy of these companies, warning others to beware. Remember to do your homework, it will save you in the end.

homework1

Working Together Across The Ocean.

In today’s article, Irene Parker explains the work of the Advocacy Group and how it can help you the timeshare owner. Since this project has been going it has achieved some fantastic results, some that we are unable to publish, others have been and there are some to come.

This project has brought people together, ensuring that no one feels that they are alone. There is always somebody to help, even if it just to listen to your concerns. So enough from em and on with Irene’s article.

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

butterfly

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix

By Irene Parker

June 5, 2017

What is the Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ and who are they?

More importantly, why are they necessary?

Timeshare Advocates, advocating on behalf of those who have fallen victim to what they consider to be deceitful sales practices, go beyond helpful Facebook posts to walk with the timeshare member until a resolution, relinquishment refund, or foreclosure takes place.

Timeshare members can contact Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ if they:

  • Can’t get out of their timeshare
  • Feel they were deceived or lied to by a timeshare sales agent
  • Don’t know where to start
  • Don’t know who to call
  • Cannot afford an attorney
  • Cannot afford maintenance fees

For too long timeshare developers have relied on the use and abuse of the oral representation clause. Of course there are timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents selling timeshares without deceit, trying to survive in a timeshare world where top producers are all too often encouraged to sell by “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” meeting the FBI definition of White Collar Crime. Financial Institution Fraud is added to the mix when credit card lending crosses over to predatory lending.

cartoon strip

When timeshare buyers begin their complaint with – “The salesman said” – company representatives are quick to ask for proof of the allegation, a word I have come to detest. In most cases there is no proof, but some regulators are listening. After all, it’s not that unusual for someone who has committed a crime to say, “I didn’t do it.”

More and more, surprised timeshare members who feel they are victims of deceit or “bait and switch”, realizing they have signed a perpetual contract with little or no secondary market, are digging in for the long haul, filing complaints with the FBI when deceived and Attorneys General sympathetic to the cause. Not all are.

Inside Timeshare previously published “Chicken Soup for Timeshare’s Soul” simplifying timeshare attorney Mike Finn’s white paper.

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

The Florida Timeshare Division acted on only 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints between April 2012 and April 2014.

Contrast this with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office acting on approximately 400 complaints filed against Diamond Resorts resulting in an $800,000 settlement and an issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance”.

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ works with print and broadcast media to take timeshare issues before the court of public opinion.

When Timeshare Advocate and former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts salesperson Candace Czarny learned of a May 2017 Arizona AG filing deadline for Diamond restitution eligibility, she wrote and distributed a press release to numerous Arizona publications and news networks. An Advocate who has a complaint in process was told by her reviewer that because of the publication of several articles, the AG office has received an additional 500 complaints. They wanted filers to know they need to be patient.

Hence, we answered the question, “What can one person do to make a difference.”

The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today Network

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2017/05/18/timeshare-holders-released-contracts-following-deceptive-sales-practices/329107001/

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ is a group led by the following individuals who feel the time has come to take back our vacations.

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

Leading these efforts:

  • Irene Allen, TAG administrator
  • Charles Thomas, Inside Timeshare
  • Irene Parker, Inside Timeshare
  • Patrice Johnson, Advocate coordinator
  • Lisa Ann Schreier, media consultant
  • Candace Czarny, timeshare consultant
  • Diamond Resorts Member Sponsored Facebook administrators
  • Club Intrawest Owners Facebook administrators
  • Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum administrators
  • Monarch website administrators
  • Over 100 timeshare owners and members turned Advocates
  • 15 attorneys involved with various timeshare legal actions

This is where we are going. But how did we get here?

It all started with DRIP

http://drip.enjin.com/home/m/1894207/article/4099328

DRIP was launched by over 1000 British owners seeking release from Diamond Resorts timeshare contracts.

To my knowledge, Diamond Resorts has never admitted wrongdoing, but the company has introduced a program called CLARITY™ in response to the Arizona Attorney General’s actions. Is it enough? Members are wary but hope to work with Diamond to improve customer relations.

Monarch (DRI acquired) timeshare owners launched a website

http://www.monarchowner.com/p/opt-out.html

At a 2016 annual meeting, it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners have not paid their 2016 dues.

Wyndham Whistleblowers

A jury awarded former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams $20 million when she exposed practices she said took place at Wyndham. According to Ms. Williams, Wyndham had TAFT days on slow sales days – Tell them any blank thing to close the deal.

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

Two additional Wyndham Whistleblowers, reported by Scott Brinkmann

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-wyndham-whistleblower-lawsuit-20170209-story.html

A former Diamond sales agent introduced me to Charles Thomas, publishing investigative timeshare reports for Inside Timeshare based in Spain. This began a lifelong collaborative effort working together towards timeshare reform.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group was launched February 2017

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

advocate 1

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

Club Intrawest Owners member sponsored Facebook 3,000 members

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Club-Intrawest-Owners-Group-921012087982547/about/

Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum member sponsored Facebook

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

The following companies should be thinking about implementing their own version of DRI’s CLARITY™  based on these Consumer Affairs ratings.

The Bluegreen Corporation 1.5 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/bluegreen.html

Westgate Resorts 1 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/westgate.html

RCI 1.3 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/rci.html

Shell Vacation Club 1.3 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/shell_vacation_club.html

Hilton Grand Vacations 1.5 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/hilton_grand_vacations.html

customer service

Many of the families our Advocates have worked with have been financially devastated by tricks of the timeshare trade. The word we hear most often is “embarrassed” and “ashamed”.

All victims of crimes are silenced, whether child abuse, rape or timeshare – isolated and silenced by perpetrators. The timeshare developers and lobbyist efforts have made it difficult to be released from contracts and difficult to contact other owners. Lawmakers turn a deaf ear to members with eyes wide shut. There is virtually no member representation in the industry.

We want you to know that our Advocates and Inside Timeshare are here for you. Join our efforts and expand our network.

Line up

Timeshare companies are starting to take notice, Inside Timeshare has had reports that many are wondering when we will start to highlight them, they are right to be concerned, because by coming together your voice gets louder. When it gets louder, it gets stronger, once it gets stronger the more you can all achieve.

Irene and myself thank all who contribute to these articles, either by writing or just reading the drafts and pointing out anything that has been missed.

Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance”

In today’s article from Irene Parker, we take another look at the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond Resorts. It is a simplified version on the 37 page  “Assurance of Discontinuance”, It also goes on to explain who is eligible for thesettlement and gives details on how to claim. It also include the date of the deadline.

This article is a prelude to one that will be published later on “Consumer Protection Week” which is starts on 5 March and ends on 11 March. So watch this space.

An Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance”

Is the AOD a Blueprint for the Timeshare Industry?

March 5 – 11 is Consumer Protection Week

By Irene Parker – March 1, 2017

objectives

The following Facebook groups are reaching out to those eligible for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts. Given the success of the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocate Facebook, assisting Diamond owners who face legitimate concerns, other Advocates have come forward to launch a Timeshare Advocacy Group Facebook available to all timeshare owners.

These groups go beyond helpful posts to actually intervene and assist those unaccustomed to interacting with governmental regulatory agencies and loss mitigation departments. Most are owners struggling under the burden of maintenance fees they can no longer afford.

In 2010, the board of Diamond’s PVC (Premier Vacation Club) amended the Membership Plan to allow an increase to a maximum of inflation plus 25% per year from the original maximum of inflation plus 10% per year.

Diamond’s US Collection has capped Maintenance Fees increases to 25% per year. A15000 point example and history of Maintenance Fee increases provided in the Assurance of Discontinuance:

$1,214 – 2007

$1,348.50 – 2008

$1,686 – 2009

$1,850 – 2010

$1,923.50 – 2011

$2,018.50 – 2012

$2,045.50 – 2013

$2,330 – 2014

$2,404.70 – 2015

Buyers sign a perpetual contract with virtually no secondary market.

Sales are made same day without being allowed sufficient time to comparison shop, as one would if buying a car or house. Certainly the expense and upkeep of a timeshare is equivalent to that of a major purchase.

Owners facing legitimate timeshare issues should consult the following:

Timeshare Advocacy Group

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

A Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook was launched for Diamond Members with legitimate concerns so they can seek help without fear of censor.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook

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

Both Facebook groups provide updates on legal and legislative issues.

arizona-ag-seal

A time sensitive issue concerns Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance” due to the complaint filing period which ends the end of April.

Not everyone wishes to wade through a 37 page “Assurance of Discontinuance” (AOD) so we have generalized and summarized the key points. To the best of our knowledge, this Assurance of Discontinuance is the first document of its kind to offer a prospective blueprint for timeshare as a whole. In an effort to promote timeshare reform, we encourage ARDA, lawmakers, and timeshare developers to make this a blueprint for the industry.

The actual Arizona Attorney General press release, link to filing a complaint and link to the Assurance of Discontinuance:

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

Who is Eligible for the Arizona Settlement?

A Consumer who files a written complaint against Diamond Resorts with the Arizona Attorney General, another law enforcement agency, the Better Business Bureau, or the Arizona Department of Real Estate after January 1, 2009 that is received by the Attorney General’s Office prior to the Effective Date or during the Filing Period. The Filing Period is expected to end by the end of April.

The provisions of the AOD are limited to Consumers who did business with Diamond at Sales Centers in Arizona and with Arizona-domiciled Consumers who attend Sales Presentation with Diamond outside of Arizona.

Our Blueprint Proposal

Meeting chart

A Quality Assurance Program – Independent from Sales and Marketing

Timeshare sales agents may not deviate from Sales Materials;

Timeshare sales agents may not make oral representation at the point of sale inconsistent with purchase documents:

  • Pertaining to the use of Points to book travel arrangements such as flights, rental cars, or cruises claiming such arrangements are comparatively lower in cost than if the Consumer would spend cash for the same travel arrangements, unless such representations are accurate; 
  • Claim a non-deeded timeshare interest such as Points is a deeded property or may be considered an investment in real property;
  • Claim Points appreciate in value;
  • Claim Points may be used to pay Maintenance Fees or that Maintenance Fees will be reduced by the purchase of additional Points, unless such representations are accurate;
  • Claim Consumers may rent out Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public unless such representations are true;
  • Claim the company will buy back Consumer’s Memberships unless the company offers a buy-back program;
  • Claim there is a secondary market for the sale of Points, and that such secondary market has a certain level of sales volume, or provides Consumers with the ability to re-sell Points, unless such representations are accurate.
  • Represent to Consumers that the sales agent would assist them with selling their Membership, unless a resale program exists.
  • Claim Consumers will be able to obtain a loan from a private lender to refinance a loan.
  • Claim interest paid on a points based product is tax deductible unless such representations are accurate. Vacation membership products are not considered “qualified home” according to IRS Publication 936.
  • Provide any information that may be construed as tax advice;
  • Represent to Consumers that Sales Presentations typically last 90 to 120 minutes if the norm is several hours.
  • Call a sales presentation an “informational meeting” to learn about changes to a resort if such meeting includes a Sales Presentations for the purpose of upgrading or up selling the consumer.
  • Overstate availability

What happens to the sales counselor when they do not adhere to the above?

How will Consumers know if sales agents violating the above declarations are reprimanded, suspended or terminated?

This can only be accomplished by forming viable and vibrant consumer groups reaching out to other owners. One such Diamond Owner sponsored Facebook was formed by the original owners of Club Intrawest acquired by Diamond, now known as Embarc.

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

How do Diamond owners get released from their timeshare contract?

What is the “Relinquishment Program” and is it different from Transitions?

“Transitions” is Diamond’s relinquishment program publicly announced by Diamond on May 4, 2016. Unlike the AOD “Relinquishment Remedy Program”, Diamond’s Transitions or Relinquishment Program is offered, on a case by case basis, at Diamond’s discretion and does not constitute an obligation under the AOD.

writing thoughts

Preparing a narration for a governmental agency or a timeshare loss mitigation department is difficult for some, especially if English is the Member’s second language. We’re here at Inside Timeshare and all owner groups to listen, educate, disseminate and advocate. Contact us!

Whether you are in Europe or the US, Inside Timeshare and our associates at the various facebook groups, would love to hear from you. It is only with your experiences are we able to inform others that there is help and hope.

Timeshare could be a great product, but we need to let the industry know that it has to change, by putting the members first. We call on the industry to listen and learn from your concerns, work with us to make the change.