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Club la Costa

Relinquishment and Claims: A Quick Guide

Over the past few weeks, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries from readers regarding cancellation of their timeshare contracts, known as relinquishment and making a claim. Today we give you some very basic information on these subjects.

Many owners are now getting on in years, their circumstances have changed, for instance they have retired and no longer want the expense of the maintenance fees. For some it is how they holiday that has changed, no longer using the timeshare or the exchange programs available.

Getting out of the contract is a minefield, there are many companies out there who promise to do this for you, some are genuine some are not. But all have one thing in common, the cost!

Before you even think about engaging a company to do this for you, it is always advisable to contact your timeshare company or resort first, just to check if they have a system in place which allows you to surrender your timeshare. This may just save you a lot of money and also gives you the piece of mind it has been done correctly.

Beware the companies that use the “bait and switch” methods, either promising a sale or cancelation, only to attempt to sell you another product when you attend the meeting, these will either be a holiday club or lifestyle package, promising huge discounts. All you will be doing is swapping one product for another, at a very considerable cost.

Then we have the proliferation of “claims” companies, many of these will offer a “no win no fee” claim. This is to get you interested in attending a meeting, then you will be subjected to a lengthy pitch as to how the claim will be processed. Then comes the crunch, the only way you can do the “no win no fee” claim is to pay them considerable sums to “cancel” your timeshare first.

The claim itself may never materialise and in many cases the owner finds out that nothing has been done and they are still liable for maintenance fees. Their particular timeshare company or resort does not recognise the company and will not deal with them. They are only interested in getting your money!

Club la Costa has issued numerous warnings about this subject, they have categorically stated they will not deal with these third party claims companies, only with the member direct. In fact CLC has a program in place whereby they will let out members for free. Maybe this is a move to stem the tide of claims that are now going through the Spanish legal system. But at least they are offering a way out which will not cost their members a fortune.

If you are unable to do this yourself then using a reputable law firm may be the only answer, but first you should always do your due diligence.

As for making a claim, in Spain the law is very clear, if the timeshare was purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and it falls foul of the timeshare laws, then you have the right to take it to litigation. The main points for a claim are:

  • Contracts which are longer than 50 years, commonly known as perpetuity;
  • Points or floating week systems, in may cases this also includes fractional.
  • Deposits or any payments taken within the 14 day cooling off period, in many cases the courts have now extended this to any payments within 90 days of signing.

These are just the basics, there are many more points which a good lawyer will also use to bring the case to court, not just the timeshare laws, but also Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.

The process for making a claim is the Spanish Courts is not a quick procedure, it can take upto 18 months for a case to reach conclusion. Then this may be delayed due to the timeshare company lodging an appeal, this is all done to add frustration into the equation.

By taking a case to litigation through the Spanish legal system also requires the use of a competent registered lawyer, who also has the experience in this field. Not all lawyers will understand the complexities of timeshare contracts. A good example is one German client who decided to use a German lawyer registered to practice in Spain, just because he was German. This lawyer did not know timeshare laws, but because of the rulings by the Supreme Court he thought it would be easy.

This particular lawyer informed his client to stop paying the maintenance as soon as he took on the case. When the case eventually came up at the court in Maspalomas, he lost. The timeshare company argued before the court that the member was now in breach of contract as they had not paid the maintenance. The court agreed.

This particular client has now paid the original law firm which they rejected , to take proceeding against the lawyer for wrongful advice, plus to make an appeal using the relevant laws. A very costly experience for this client.

Over the past few years we have also highlighted several “fake” law firms, these tend to inform the owners that their timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be part of this. First they need an amount to file the case at court, using the “fake” procurador who has to be paid.

Then a few weeks later you get the good news that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Firstly, ask yourself this question, when is a director of a timeshare company going to plead guilty?

Now there is the matter of paying “tax” to get your money, this will usually be around 20% of the awarded amount, this is alway inflated to bait you in. Many of the documents we have received from readers who started to believe it, have been nearly three times what they originally paid.

If you believe that you have a claim and want to know more, then use our contact page, we will go through it with you and check if you do actually have a possible case. We will also let you know what the procedure is, the breakdown of the legal fees and what they are for. These do need to be paid to take a case to court, you will not find any Spanish law firm that will take these cases on without these costs.

Just want to cancel your timeshare, then again use our contact page, let us know what timeshare you own then we will be able to explain how you can do it yourself.

Remember, not all companies that contact you or you find on the internet are genuine, many have been set up with just one goal, to take your money and run. Do you homework, check, check and check again, not sure, then ask us. We will point you in the right direction.

In the Tuesday Slot tomorrow, we tell the story of US Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his experience with Bluegreen. It is another of those “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories involving either Veterans, serving military or law enforcement personnel.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.

Midweek Roundup and Another Dodgy Looking Setup

Important Update: Another reader has identified Lance Steer as one Lance Oakley, an ex-Diamond Sales Rep and also of ex-EZE Group.

Another name has come to the attention of Inside Time share from a worried reader:

Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists

With the address:

Rural Innovation Center, 10 Street Avenue, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, CV8 2RG

Which is a serviced office rental center where meeting and conference rooms can be hired by the hour.

They use the telephone number:  02476 960 735 which is a coventry code, when this number was called Inside Timeshare was told we had the wrong number. We have susquently found that the telephone number belongs to Coventry Creative, Advertising and Graphic Design , Rover Road, Coventry, CV1 3HT which is Coventry market, a completely different area.

The contacts are: LANCE STEER & JOANNE JOHNSON with the email address:

[email protected]

So far no company with this name has come up on any internet search, using the email address does not link to any website and no information about Lance Steer or Joanne Johnson appear on any search.

So what has concerned our reader?

Very simple, they have paid by bank transfer for a relinquishment of their Diamond membership, yet are still getting demands for maintenance arrears. So it looks like yet again money is paid and the relinquishment is not done.

According to the emails our reader has received, Lance says he has been helping timeshare owners for over 5 years, funny how we have not heard of him before. The other strange fact is that in his emails he goes on to say why he has not been in touch with his clients, listing his illnesses, bereavements and severely disabled Father. Even getting an assistant Joanne, to email clients and explain all his personal problems. (see PDF at the end). Not the sort of information one would normally give. (Looking for sympathy comes to mind).

His emails also go on at length about Spanish Supreme Court rulings, how he has studied many case files and come to the conclusion that all these contracts are illegal. (Which is not surprising considering he sold many of them).

In order to give credibility he mentions Canarian Legal Alliance and places links to their website, even including screenshots attached to his emails. All the details he puts in these emails look as though they have come directly from the CLA website, even using the same phrases.

Another part of his emails go on to tell the clients that Diamond and other timeshare companies have no right to chase for maintenance arrears, or that Daniels Silverman the debt recovery company has no right to chase the debt.

Unfortunately, all this information has convinced our reader to pay for a service which Lance cannot provide, after all we have stated on many occasions in these pages that Diamond, Club la Costa and many other timeshare companies and resorts will not deal with third parties for cancellation of contracts. They will only work with the members directly.

So just from the lack of information on the internet and the lengthy explanations on his illness and private life, plus the fact that Canarian Legal Alliance have never heard of Lance, does get the alarms bells ringing.

Sticking with Canarian Legal Alliance, this week they have announced the following:

Their lawyers have secured another 242,391.46€ on behalf of 6 clients, on the receiving end of this is Anfi Del Mar. These funds have been paid directly to the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas. The clients are: 2 from the United Kingdom, 2 from Norway and 2 from Germany.

This comes from the procedure put into place by CLA with a team of their senior lawyers Eva Guitierrez and Judith Diaz Pascual and Cristina Batista, enforcing provisional execution of sentence within 40 days of the judgement being issued. This means that once the judgement is issued the timeshare company must lodge the awarded amount with the court voluntarily or it will be enforced.

There is also another form of securing the funds which has just been enforced by the Court of First Instance No 4 in Maspalomas, which has placed an “Embargo” on Anfi accounts in respect of funds which are due to a German client. These embargoes allow the court to directly take the funds from those accounts and place them in the courts account ready to be paid out to the client.

These moves by CLA have been placed to ensure that funds due to clients are secured, even if the offending timeshare company is appealing. It also stops the timeshare companies from delaying the payouts, which has been the case in the past, now the clients know that their money is secure.

That’s it for today, if you have had any dealings with any company or individual such as Lance Steer, use our contact page and get in touch, we would love to hear from you. You can also contact Inside Timeshare if you require any information relating to your timeshare or any company that has contacted you.

Click below to read the two emails.

Lance Emails

Midweek Report

Yesterday it was brought to the attention of Inside Timeshare that a company based in the US called Sell My Timeshare Now is using the Inside Timeshare name in keywords for internet search. The wording is Inside Timeshare Resales and Rentals, this we believe is to give the impression that Inside Timeshare is associated or endorsing this company.

They have been informed that we are not happy by this use of our name and have been asked to remove it, so far they have not responded. Along with any legal action that may be required Inside Timeshare will publish articles about this company to keep this in the news and to warn all our readers that Inside Timeshare is not associated with or endorses Sell My Timeshare Now.

We have also been in contact with an elderly lady from the UK, she wanted to tell her story of how she has been the victim of many scams regarding her timeshare and about the latest attempt to illicit money from her.

It all began years ago when she and her late husband purchased a timeshare with Club la Costa, over the years they upgraded and eventually succumbed to the sales pitch to “invest” in two weeks fractional ownership. This cost around £90,000 which she was not actually aware of as her late husband dealt with all the finances and the timeshares.

Over the years they had paid out to “scam” resale companies to try and offload the burden of the maintenance fees, they were also taken in by “fake” claims companies.

It was not until her husband’s passing that she actually became aware of how much they had spent. She then had to take control of all the affairs and settle the fractional ownership issue. In order to organise her husband’s estate and list all assets, she contacted Club la Costa for a valuation of the two weeks of fractional. What shock she was about to receive.

She was under the belief that each week of fractional was worth around £45,000 each, CLC sent her a valuation worth only £11,000 for both weeks.

Eventually she had to hand them back for no return, so all that had been “invested” was now gone.

Then the latest “scam” appeared.

She received a phone call supposedly from the Malaga Courts telling her she had won a case against Club la Costa, she had been awarded a huge amount of money well over £100,000.

Obviously she was not taken in by this call, but the disturbing fact is the caller had very precise knowledge of all transactions and purchases over the years with Club la Costa. This was even right down to the dates of purchase.

So one has to ask, where the hell did that kind of information come from?

We are all very well aware that client information is often stolen by employees, especially when they know that they are going to lose their jobs. This data is worth a great deal to the “scam” companies that are always being setup and obviously to the person selling it. Quite often these companies are also being opened by those  very same ex-employees.

This ladies story really does go to show how vulnerable people are, especially the elderly who more often than not are the main victims, after all the timeshare owning community is mainly this age group.

If you are contacted by any company and have been told they are either from the courts or have been appointed by the courts, do not believe them. Do not pay out any money, especially by bank transfer, use our contact page and let us know. It is your information that will help others.

On the subject of “fake” law firms, we have again been asked to warn readers about the activities of Hope Brugge, Megan Heywood and Paul Tyler or Taylor, supposedly calling from Abogados Lopez (Gran Canaria & Marbella).

The story is they have taken over the clients case which is about to be heard in the courts, they need to clarify some details before attending the hearing. Then very soon after another call is received and the client has been awarded a huge amount, this is backed up by an email with forged court documents and a forged notary letter.

The address given on the letter is:

Calle Teniente C Castillo Olivares 12, 35011, Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Checking this address it is an apartment block.

Telephone numbers being used are:

0034 951 242 867 (Malaga code)

0034 602 654 670 (Mobile)

0034 604 261 988‬ (Mobile)

0044 1291 440 500 (UK Chepstow code)

Email: [email protected]

The website www.javierlopezabogados.com

Was registered on 22 March 2018, it is privacy protected so the owner is hidden. The website itself has nothing on it, just the one page with the words Javier Lopez Abogados / Lawyers and a lot of swirling lines.

Again this is a scam, do not be taken in by them, if you do have a case pending and you receive a call from them, contact your own lawyers for confirmation and inform them of any details you have been able to get.

These articles just go to show how doing your homework is so important, don’t believe what you are told even if it does sound plausible, check, check and double check.

Start the Week

We start this week with a look at some of the companies we have highlighted over the past few months, many of these are now going into liquidation. These companies are in most case only around two years old and began as “contract termination” with “no win no fee” claims once the contract has been cancelled. We also look at some of those that are under investigation or are in court and those that have even been sentenced.

First we look at RSB Legal, this company first came to our attention back in 2016, there modas operandi was very simple, once they contacted the timeshare owner the offer was to meet at one of their offices to discuss a “no win no fee” claim against the clients timeshare company. This soon turned into a pitch for the cancellation of the contract first, once this had been completed then the claim could go forward.

The one problem was they needed upwards of £6,000 to do the cancellation to be paid in advance, the claim would come later. The question that was asked was how was the claim to be made? After all it couldn’t go to court, especially if it was a timeshare bought in Spain, as once a contract is cancelled then no claim could be taken to court.

This left a Section 75 claim under The Credit Consumer Act 1974, against the credit card company or the finance company if it was purchased with a loan supplied by the timeshare company.

These were unlikely to have paid out, as with all section 75 claims you must show either: you have not received the goods or services paid for; the company has gone into liquidation; faulty goods unfit for purpose. This is fine if you are purchasing say a washing machine, but with a holiday product, especially a timeshare purchased many years ago, you will have used it and taken holidays. Even if the company no longer exists it would be difficult to get a payout.

Section 75 does not cover the misrepresentation of the sales agent at the time of purchase, if it is not in the contract it was never said!

The credit card provider will always contact the company involved to get their side, obviously, they will say that you have received the goods and services, after all you have used it. You may argue that you were unable to use it as you could not get the dates you required, the answer of the timeshare company is always going to be, sorry but these are always subject to availability, we did offer alternatives but the member didn’t want those. Hence claim denied.

Another twist is RSB Legal palmed off the cancellations to another firm Taylor Marshall Associates, a very clever move as if the contract wasn’t cancelled, no claim could be made against RSB Legal under section 75. They would claim that they have fulfilled their part of the contract and it was Taylor Marshall who had not done the work.

This is a scenario that we have seen on many occasions with many of these “Exit Companies”. Once it is passed over the client is then told that they should no longer pay their maintenance fees as their contract will be cancelled within weeks. The unfortunate thing is that nothing was done, the exit company did not carry out the work and the client ends up with several years of maintenance fee arrears. This has been the case with RSB Legal clients passed to Taylor Marshall, especially those members of Club la Costa. In this case CLC had informed RSB and Taylor that they do not recognise them, that they do not deal with third parties, but will cancel a membership directly with the member only and free of charge!

For those clients who have been through this, you can try a section 75 claim, but you should also report to Trading Standards and Action Fraud.

Back in January 2018, we reported on the announcement that Standon Mortimer Associates were the subject of a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Again this was a company contacting clients for exit and claims, the list of companies they were involved with is quite extensive, including RSB Legal, FHA Marketing along with Anderson Read Consultancy, Warwickshire ConsultantsCharles Ashworth Consultants and Harwood Jones Consulting.

So it looks like all these companies were all working hand in hand, the unifying factor appears they all worked with or for RSB Legal. The unfortunate thing is that many people have paid and lost thousands, yet these companies are limited liability companies and go into liquidation after spiriting the money away leaving no way of retrieving what you have lost. It just makes you wonder what new companies and scams they owners are going to come up with next.

Now for our old friend David Cox and TESS Paralegal Services Ltd, this is another in the long list of companies that David Cox has been behind, many have been dissolved along with massive debts.

Since his last post on 29 March, there has been nothing new posted in his “news” section, he has gone very very quiet, it is rumoured he is trying to sell the company or even liquidate it. This will not be good news for those who have paid him for cancellation services.

To see the full story of David Cox, use the search box.

As we know the Regional Organised Crime Unit of Somerset & Avon Police are investigation several Mark Rowe companies, we have also been told by reliable sources that Hollywood Marketing in Tenerife is also under investigation by the Spanish Authorities.

The companies under investigation include sellmytimeshare.tv, Monster Rewards and Monster Credits, yet Mark Rowe is still advertising in the press, facebook and other media his ABC Lawyers, Timeshare-Lawyers and other companies. The unfortunate thing is that many people will believe any advert they see in the press.

A good example is one reader, an elderly lady who saw one of his adverts in the Royal British Legion magazine, so naturally she thought it was genuine. The next thing is she had been sold Monster Credits. As we explained, just because the advert appears in a publication which we know and trust, does not mean it is genuine. After all, the magazine publishers need to sell advertising space to cover costs, they don’t check if advertisers are genuine, they only take the money.

Back in February we also reported on the jailing of several people involved in a long running timeshare scam, this revolved around the resale of timeshare. It then went on to contacting those who paid to sell their timeshare being contacted yet again, this time to get the money back from the original scam. There was then a third part, another company called to say they had been appointed by the Spanish courts to contact clients who had been scammed before, that there was money waiting for them and a tax needed to be paid to release the money.

The full article can be seen by following the link below:

http://insidetimeshare.com/they-get-them-in-the-end/

There is still no news on the sentencing of Dominic O’Reilly or his Daughter Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group. From information received this may not be taking place until around September. This leaves it very difficult for those taken in by the Leisure Credits to be able to get their money back. When new information becomes available we will publish it here.

So, we are losing some of these companies, but how long before other surface to take their place, as always, beware the calls offering “no win no fee” claims, the guaranteed exit solution or the “fake” law firm that tells you a case against your timeshare company is about to go to court or has been to court. Check, check and check again, do your homework, contact Inside Timeshare if you want help in checking the validity of any company that has contacted you or even one you have found either on the internet or advertising in the press.

Tomorrow we publish another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week it is about “Special Assessments” at the Americano Beach Resort.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor, Haley Saldana, who shares her experience with Resort Relief and Castle Law, the introduction is by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker.

But first, yesterday it was announced by Canarian Legal Alliance that they have secured a Court of First Instance sentence against Club la Costa, in the number 4 court of Fuengirola.

The case was brought against Club la Costa Leisure Limited by CLA on behalf of their English clients. The main basis for the judgement was the contract did not have an end date, which made it a perpetuity one, this has been declared illegal under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that contracts have a duration of between 3 and 50 years.

In this case the contract has been declared null and void, with the clients being refunded a total of £19,442 plus all their legal fees and legal interest.

It is quite clear that the lower courts are following the now 115 rulings made by the Supreme Court, which is good news for all clients who have cases pending or are considering filing claims.

Now for today’s article.

Resort Relief and Castle Law Group’s Tangled Web

Part I: How Haley Saldana Lost $3,495 retaining Resort Relief

Part II June 1: Declarations of former employees of Castle Law Group, P.C. and Castle Marketing Group, LLC

Haley Saldana shares her Castle Law and Resort Relief experience

Introduction by Irene Parker

May 29, 2018

Former Silverleaf member Haley Saldana relates her frustration over a cycle of hopeful vacation promises that ended with a desperate need to get out. More consumer awareness is needed, so Haley has shared her story today hoping people ask the right questions before buying a timeshare or signing up to get out of one. It’s important to examine the reasons why people reach out to a timeshare exit company in the first place.   

Inside Timeshare has heard from 431 mostly angry, overwhelmed, desperate timeshare members. They don’t know where to turn for straight timeshare answers. Most allege that they either bought or upgraded a timeshare from sales agents employing bait and switch tactics. If deceived, or just not understanding the nature of the product they purchased, they soon learn the challenges one faces attempting to be released from a timeshare contract, especially if there is an outstanding loan. The contract is perpetual, and the resort usually dismisses the member with a “You signed a contract.” Some state regulators second that response. With no other way out, the buyer seeks legal or third party assistance, or gets foreclosed. In Haley’s case, seeking third party assistance cost her $3,495 and she still got foreclosed!

Haley explains why she feels she was deceived into purchasing a Silverleaf upgrade. Unable to get help from Silverleaf, she contacted Resort Relief. Haley is 31 years old and her husband Louis, 34. Haley and Louis went from Silverleaf timeshare owner, to Resort Relief, to Castle Law, and ultimately to foreclosure.

Through public filings, we obtained depositions from two former Castle Law Group, P.C. employees. Their descriptions of what it was like to work for Castle Law will be the subject of Friday’s Letter from America.      

By Haley Saldana

I contacted Resort Relief in 2016 after being convinced to make a second Silverleaf timeshare purchase. In 2014 we had paid approximately $11,000 for our first Silverleaf timeshare. We had no problem affording this purchase.

We feel we were deceived into making the second Silverleaf purchase. We could not use the bonus time that went with the original purchase. At a members’ meeting we were told a second purchase or upgrade would give us more availability, but it did not. I contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief set us up with Castle Law Group. We were charged $3,495 February 2016.

Castle Law Group told us if we talked to Silverleaf they would drop us and keep our money. I heard nothing until I talked to a guy at Castle in 2017. He said to keep not paying and again told us not to talk to Silverleaf. We had gotten a letter from Silverleaf that said we should contact them. We received a second letter from Silverleaf June 23, 2017 that said if we do not pay them what we owed them, it would go against our credit, but we had been instructed not to talk to Silverleaf. By this time it had been well over a year since we had originally contacted Resort Relief February 2016.

I emailed Barb Holland from Castle Law the Silverleaf letter June 23, 2017.

Next, now almost two years later, we got a letter from Silverleaf January 26, 2018 saying that they were proceeding with foreclosure.

We notified Castle Law. Castle responded by letter informing us they no longer represent us because of a serious legal conflict with the organization that referred us to Castle Law Group (Resort Relief).

We contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief owner Kevin Hanson told us, “I’m sorry, I lost $2 million because of Castle Law. He said that Castle Law Group came back to Resort Relief and said “Here are your clients. Castle Law Group is no longer representing Resort Relief clients.”

You would think Resort Relief would make things right since they were the ones that set us up with Castle Law. Instead, Mr. Hanson said if we pay Resort Relief $750 they will transfer our case to a local attorney. We lost the timeshare through foreclosure, and the $3,495 paid to Resort Relief/Castle Law. I have all the emails confirming this disaster.

Mr. Hanson said Baker & Britt is the local (Conroe Texas) law firm that is representing him (Resort Relief) against Castle Law Group.

On the creditor’s side of the fence, back in March 2017, I interviewed Kristie, an HOA collections agent. Kristie expressed her discomfort with Timeshare Exit Team and timeshare attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman. Countering Kristie’s comments, timeshare attorney Mitchell Sussman Reed responded:  

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit. Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset; the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a dead beat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them, and bravo to any attorney willing to sue or otherwise punish the resort for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Resort Relief has an A BBB rating! As explained on a TUG post below, an F rating may be more credible than an A+ rating.  

https://www.bbb.org/houston/business-reviews/timeshare-advocates/resort-relief-llc-in-conroe-tx-90046035/reviews-and-complaints?section=complaints

Here’s a complaint almost identical to Haley’s complaint!

Complaint

We were sent a letter from Resort Relief where we were talked to about getting timeshare relief for the Timeshare we have through Silverleaf Resorts and was told that this service was a money back guarantee and that we were going to be able to get out of our timeshare once we paid the $4050.00. We… paid the monies and was referred to Castle Law Group who took the information and received all of our documents for them to proceed. I had no heard from the in sometime so I contacted Castle Law Group for a follow up. I was informed on September 11th that the law firm could no longer represent us due to a conflict of interest and referred me back to Resort Relief. I have been calling nonstop and no one is available to give me information or anything. I have stressed that I want my money back and I am getting tossed back and forth from Resort Relief back to Castle Law Group and back to Resort Relief. This has been stressful and I am not getting anything but a Reba will bet back to me and I haven’t heard anything and the worker that answers the phone Tyler doesn’t either and he knows its stuff going on and can’t tell me.

Thank you, Haley for sharing your disappointing experience after responding to a “Get you out of your timeshare or your money back” ad, powered by massive search engines seeking desperate timeshare members. It’s very difficult to reach Castle Law and when I tried calling Resort Relief I kept getting the busy signal.   

Maybe it’s just me, but I find today’s timeshare product one of the most flawed products in history. First, members contacting us allege they were deceived into buying or upgrading a timeshare. When they complained to the resort, the resort dismissed them with, “You signed a contract.” The member is then driven into the net of a search engine, and contacted by someone that often is a former timeshare sales agent or executive. When we researched one questionable timeshare sales agent, we learned he had several open and closed LLCs with names like Vacation Planning. Hence, the sales agent dangled the bait, made the sale, the timeshare buyer victimized, the exit company next deceived them, and possibly by the very person who sold them the timeshare in the first place! Worse, one snoop removed from our advocacy Facebook, had in his background a company called, Timeshare Fraud Recovery. No question this meets the definition of racketing. The member is defrauded by an exit company and then contacted by the same people offering fraud recovery!     

We’re not lawyers, so Haley and Louis would need to contact a reputable lawyer for an opinion as to where to go from here. Given what money has already gone down the drain, I can understand her reluctance to pursue this further. It’s a mess.  

When a reader asks about an exit company, keeping an open mind, I contact the company, explaining one of our readers asked us whether we would recommend them. Often they hang up the phone after a few questions. Once I received a threat accompanied by a string of expletives. Three timeshare exit companies I contacted I feel are reputable and we have maintained communication in an effort to better understand this murky world of timeshare exits and transfers.   

One timeshare insider provided us with this Timeshare User Group forum (beginning November 2016). I can vouch for one of the licensed brokers mentioned, Judi Kozlowski. Judi has helped us out with a few of our articles.

(Brokers recommended) Fred Messreni

www.timeshare-gallery.com

Seth Nock

www.sellingtimeshares.net

Judi Kozlowski

www.timeshareresalepros.com

Tug review crew comment November 16, 2016

I’m adding one more voice strongly recommending that you steer clear of any and every “exit / release / escape” entity — and to ignore meaningless BBB ratings.

 

You might consider “sweetening” the TUGgiveaway” by now additionally offering to pay the transfer fees — and maybe even the next maintenance fee bill as well (…said bill is likely already in hand at this time of year, or very soon en route to you). You’d still be mathematically “ahead” compared to paying any shaky upfront fee parasite, whoever they may be.

Finding a valid new recipient is infinitely more “clean” and legally conclusive than getting involved with (and/or paying) any upfront fee “exit / release/ escape” entity. Bear in mind that some of these entities are actually committing outright fraud by design …which could boomerang back around to you in the future.

Good luck, but do yourself a big favor and stay away from any and all of these alleged “escape artists”.

TUG Admin February 23, 2018

Looking at your ad, we see you are still asking for money for your Festiva timeshare.

You also don’t appear to be offering to pay closing costs as the seller.

Both of these factors are the reason you are having no success in selling your timeshare…not that fixing them will guarantee a buyer…but having them is certainly guaranteeing that the only folks interested in your ad…are upfront fee scammers.

(You are welcome; we just saved you thousands of dollars being thrown away for an upfront fee company)

Contact any of these independent self-help groups if you have a question or concern about your timeshare.

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and Haley, this industry is in dire need of a major shake up and regulation, the periphery companies such as resale, terminations and claims are a product of the greed of the major developers, with the lack of a resale market and the inability to terminate membership.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other article published on Inside Timeshare, use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Have you been contacted by a termination or claims company, or have found one on the internet and are not sure if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to check them.

Remember, by doing your due diligence and your homework, you will save thousands in the end.

RSB Legal Update

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been receiving many enquiries about RSB Legal, all are of a very similar nature, money paid and now they are unable to contact them. Their phone lines are down and the website is no longer available. According to company house records there is an active proposal to strike them off.

From all the enquiries we have received all had been contacted by RSB Legal about making claim against their timeshare resort for mis-selling, this was to be on a no win no fee basis. A meeting was then arranged at RSB Legals Office in Redditch, once there all have said it turned out to be just like the presentation for their timeshares.

The “consultants” went on about how the timeshares had been mis-sold and that they had very good cases for a claim. But then came the crunch, in order to do the claim under no win no fee, the contract had to be cancelled first. For this a large amount of money needed to be paid first, so deposits were taken and a date for the balance to be paid arranged.

The client was also told not to pay any more maintenance fees, as the contract would be cancelled.

All those who have made enquiries have the same story, they have received demands for maintenance fees from their resorts, also being told that their contracts have not been cancelled by RSB Legal or by Taylor Marshall who took on many of the cancellations from RSB.

We do know many RSB clients have received an email or letter from Club La Costa, this states that they have not paid out compensation or cancelled any contracts for clients of RSB Legal or Taylor Marshall. They have repeatedly informed these companies that they will not deal with third party companies in respect of their members, they will only deal directly with the members concerned.

They have also pointed out that CLC will allow any members to surrender their membership free of charge, which RSB Legal and Taylor Marshall were fully aware of.

RSB Legal also told their clients that the claim would be going through the Spanish courts, no cases have ever been filed, clients were not informed of which lawyers had their cases, no translations of documents had been done and no power of attorney signed to allow the Spanish lawyer to act on the clients behalf.

It is also a point of fact, that once the contract is cancelled then no claim can ever be brought to a court, so this then leaves the question how the claim would be made?

Just from the number of enquiries Inside Timeshare has received recently with the average payment made to RSB Legal being around £8,000 mark, some have been considerably more, we are looking at over £100,000 which just these few have lost. Multiply that by the possibly hundreds more clients that have been taken in by RSB Legal and we must be looking at well over one million pounds swindled over the 2 years this company has been in operation. This is looking like a major fraud, it begs the question why have the authorities not done anything about them?

If you have paid RSB Legal and have paid any amount by credit card, then you may have a chance of getting your money back through Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974. Provided you have paid a minimum of £100 by your credit card then you can claim back the full amount upto £30,000.

As this company is appears to be no longer trading, plus the fact a proposal to strike off has been made, will make the claim through section 75 stronger as the company is no longer solvent therefore you will not receive the goods or services paid for, in other words they have breached their contract with you. See link below for full details on section 75.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/section75-protect-your-purchases

It would also be prudent to make an official report to the police and receive a crime number, this can be done very easily online through Action Fraud. The more that report this the more chance of an investigation. You can also make a complaint and report to Trading Standards. Details for both are at the links below.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

http://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/contact/

If you have had any dealings with this company and have any questions or concerns then use our contact page, we will get back to you and answer your questions.

Have you been contacted by any company with a similar story and want to know if it is genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare, we’ll help you find out.

Remember doing your homework will save you in the end.

Claims and Relinquishments: Who Can You Trust?

Just recently Inside Timeshare has been receiving many enquiries regarding RSB Legal, mostly Club la Costa members, they have all been the same, “have they gone out of business as we cannot contact them”?

Well the short answer is probably yes, according to Company House records under Company Status, there is an “Active proposal to strike off”, which means they are about to be liquidated. They are also overdue on this years accounts, which have not yet been submitted. (See PDF below)

RSB LEGAL LTD

What were RSB Legal doing?

The “service” they were offering was cancellation of timeshare contracts and compensation claims on a no win no fee basis, sounds good does it not?

Only problem is that to make the claim the client must pay thousands to cancel the contract first, once the client is out of the timeshare they would then do a claim. Only one problem here, how is the claim to be made?

As most of the timeshares were purchased in Spain, then Spanish Timeshare Law applies, this is where the problem lies. Once the timeshare has been cancelled, it is not possible to take the claim through a Spanish Court, there is no contract in existence, therefore no claim.

So this leaves us with only one alternative, a Section 75 under the Credit Consumer Act 1974. But this only covers the following:

Goods and services not received, the company has gone into liquidation, (therefore you will not receive the goods or services), faulty goods or goods not fit for purpose.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/section75-protect-your-purchases

Now considering that many have used their timeshares, the timeshare company will argue with your credit card provider that you have used the goods and services, after all you have booked holidays!

Section 75 does not cover a timeshare for contravening Spanish Timeshare Law, for instance, the illegal taking of deposits or full payment within the 14 day cooling off period, contracts with a duration of more than 50 years or floating weeks and points systems.

The only way to claim for these breaches and have the contract declared null and void, that is different to being cancelled, is through litigation in a Spanish Court. Also not all contracts will be claimable, there are cases which will not be accepted either by a reputable law firm or the courts.

Now for the relinquishment, our readers have also told us that their cancellations have been passed to another firm called Taylor Marshall Associates, again the story is the same. They are told not to pay anymore maintenance fees, then after some time the client receives a letter stating that their contract has been terminated. Unfortunately they find out from Club la Costa that it has not. Below is an extract from Club la Costa’s email to clients:

“Since February 2016 CLC World (‘CLC’) has been receiving identical ‘copy’ correspondence, from companies called ‘Taylor Marshall’ and ‘RSB Legal’ in respect of some of our Members. Regardless of the holiday product held by the Member or their membership history, the only change to each letter is the name of the Member on the top of the correspondence.

Furthermore, the correspondence was initially near identical to those received from other claims companies against whom the UK authorities are now taking legal action.

Over the last 2 years, CLC has consistently advised Taylor Marshall and their associated company RSB Legal that we will NOT accept their correspondence as correct notification to “TERMINATE” any CLC World membership. CLC World has an established free of charge exit strategy in place for all CLC Members and we do NOT accept Surrender or Relinquishment notices from third party claims companies. Despite this, Taylor Marshall (RSB Legal) continue to falsely claim that they are successful in somehow ‘forcing’ CLC World to release members from their contracts. This is simply untrue.

CLC will only complete a Surrender Request when processed direct with the CLC Member.

We have seen Taylor Marshall’s so called ‘Contracts’ that state that Members should not speak with CLC World or they will face financial penalties. We understand that this, unnecessarily worries many of you, and if this is the case, may we respectfully suggest to you that you contact either the CLC World MS Legal team OR one of the well-established organisations we refer to below for advice.

Unfortunately, there are many ‘Third Party Claims’ companies who encourage people to ‘sign-up’ with them by making false claims about their membership. Many of these companies are linked to each other and we are glad to report that more and more the UK Authorities are taking positive enforcement action on behalf of individuals who have become involved with these companies”.

Why would Taylor Marshall’s contract state that members should not contact CLC World or face financial penalties?

Could it be they don’t want you to find out that your contract has not been cancelled?

Are they that nieve that you will not find out, after all you will end up getting demands for maintenance fees?

CLC are not the only company that hold this position, many more are taking the same line, Diamond have a policy in place, one is exceptional circumstances which cover those over 75, death of a partner, financial hardship and medical. If the member does not fall into this then they have the possibility of relinquishing on payment of 2 years maintenance.

We now have another problem, as the work has not been done is there a chance of getting the money back under section 75?

If this was paid partially or in full on a credit card there is a possibility, the problem is that RSB Legal will claim as they do not actually do the relinquishments but contract them out to a third party, Taylor Marshall, they have fulfilled their contractual obligations. After all the claim is no win no fee!

Now that RSB Legal cannot be contacted and there is a proposal to strike off, the possibility of claiming may come under “the company is no longer trading”, so a claim may be possible.

Whether they are UK based or Spanish based companies, there are many more who use the same method of extracting your money, the only safe option is to do your homework before paying any money. If you do pay never do so by any other means than a credit card, that way at least you may just be able to get the money back.

If you have any questions or concerns about any company that has contacted you with a similar “pitch”, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help and point you in the right direction.

check list

Start the Week

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been getting enquiries about another firm timeshare owners have paid to cancel their contracts and pursue “no win no fee” claims against their timeshare resorts, RSB Legal Ltd.

Company number 09751995

Office 110h Ground Floor Adamson House Towers Business Park, Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2YY

Although they have been a registered company since 27 August 2015, there is an active proposal to strike the company off the register and have it dissolved, this was on 13 March 2018. Since then, the Compulsory Action to strike off has been suspended, as of 21 March 2018.

Many of the enquiries we have been receiving are all very similar, no contact from the company and the clients have not been able to get them on the telephone. Another firm which these clients have had their “cases” passed to are Taylor Marshall Associates, with one reader being told by them that their contract with Club la Costa has been terminated.

Company number 09458294

1st Floor 2 Woodberry Grove, Finchley, London, England, N12 0DR

It turns out that this is not the case as CLC have told them they are still liable for the maintenance fees. CLC have also stated the following in an email to our reader:

“Over the last 2 years, CLC has consistently advised Taylor Marshall and their associated company RSB Legal that we will NOT accept their correspondence as correct notification to “TERMINATE” any CLC World membership. CLC World has an established free of charge exit strategy in place for all CLC Members and we do NOT accept Surrender or Relinquishment notices from third party claims companies. Despite this, Taylor Marshall (RSB Legal) continue to falsely claim that they are successful in somehow ‘forcing’ CLC World to release members from their contracts. This is simply untrue.”

“CLC will only complete a Surrender Request when processed direct with the CLC Member.”

So it looks like RSB Legal and Taylor Marshall have been taking peoples money knowing full well that CLC will not recognise them or their termination notices.

what do we do

Last week we published the article on David Cox and his company TESS, along with his association with the Mark Rowe companies currently under investigation.

http://insidetimeshare.com/david-cox-tess-attacking-sundry/

Inside Timeshare has been receiving many comments not just of support, but enquiries as to what they can do to get their money back, we have looked into this and are currently exploring what options are open to you.

One option that has been mentioned is to collect as many disgruntled clients together and explore a group / class action through the courts.

If you have been a victim of any of the following companies, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, contact us via our contact form, we will then reply privately. Inside Timeshare will only be acting as a coordinator, researcher and contact point, if a group or class action is feasible you will then be informed which law firm is recommended and the decision will be ultimately yours.

The companies involved are:

TESS Paralegal Services Ltd (Formerly Timeshare Exit & Support Services Ltd)

Monster Travel (also known as Monster Group/Monster Rewards)

SellMyTimeshare

Complete Internet Solutions

Hollywood Marketing

http://insidetimeshare.com/police-investigation/

More on this subject will be published in the near future.

It has also been noticed that the TESS website is not reachable today, nor is the TCA website, very strange indeed.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

justice2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cla-brochure

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

Haven’t we heard this one before?

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

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Protest photo

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

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

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

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

Howard Nusbaum, ARDA CEO,

Peter Roth, media contact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Kevin and Brenda Hopkins describe their extraordinary sales pitch:

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

Some Peasants Revolt

By Eron Grant and Irene Parker

Friday March 9, 2018

meeting in office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what happened to Mark and Eron   

YouTube produced by Doctor and Ms. Mark Grant

Our Timeshare Nightmare of a Lifetime

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

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

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

April 6 – 9 Family Suite (6)

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

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

 $819.97

101.67 ($33.89 per night service fee)

106.59 (13% tax)

$1,028.23 for three nights

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

red dress

What ARDA Code of Ethics?

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

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

Code of Ethics: Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

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

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

Question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Does ARDA support the consumer?

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

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

If the wishes diverge, lobby dollars go to work:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don and Irene Parker’s Diamond experience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

 

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

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

Have a great weekend and join us next week.

weekend