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Club Paradiso

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Although this is the Tuesday Slot with Irene, we welcome a new contributor, Greg Jennings with his “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, once again Irene Parker was the editor. As usual we will have a quick roundup of some of the news in Europe.

Yesterday we published the article on Silverpoint and their announcement that they had stopped the resale programme of Club Paradiso, today we received another Newsletter. This one is from Club Paradiso and is slightly different from the last in that they now claim they are looking at alternative “Marketing Agencies” to begin the “Resale Programme” for Club Paradiso members.

The question is now, will this be a company set up by Silverpoint, or will it be an already existing company?

The other question is regarding the resale market itself, where is it?

That question we leave you the reader to answer.

Last week Canarian Legal Alliance announced their 96th and 97th Supreme Court victories, this is an amazing achievement, making yet again Spanish legal history. These cases were against Puerto Rico SA (Puerto Calma) and Silverpoint respectively. Both contracts being declared null and void and the total awarded in both cases 56,600€ plus legal fees and legal interest.

CLA also published in their news section a letter from one of their clients, Mr Rolf Ingvar Høyer, (Professor Emeritus (BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo). In this letter he explains his dealings with CLA in the long running case against Anfi.

This began in 2009 and ended up with the case being heard at the Supreme Court, with 131,000€ being transferred to his bank account at the end of last year. For his full story follow the link to the CLA website.

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/celebrating-victory-mr-hoeyer/

With all the negative spin being put out by Anfi against CLA, this should leave you the reader in no doubt that timeshare companies cannot be trusted with the truth.

So on we go with another readers experience at the hands of Diamond sales agents.

My Name is Recycled Inventory

Geek

By Greg Jennings

Diamond complaint #58 out of 94 Inside Timeshare received since January 1

March 20, 2018

How I became a victim of Diamond Resorts

The first year: They said that there was a meeting I should have been invited to, but if I wrote a note to the sales manager stating that I was not aware of this meeting, I could buy additional points at the reduced sale price.

2017:  I attended yet another Owner Update, unhappy with my Diamond ownership.  I was in way too deep and my employment situation was not secure. During this meeting, Las Vegas DRI sales agent Jeff Regier asked why I was unhappy, and then proceeded to tailor his sales pitch accordingly. I told Jeff that the outstanding loan was unaffordable, and that without full time work, my savings had been depleted in order to keep my Diamond loan current.

That’s when he offered what appeared to be the perfectly tailored pitch:

If I purchased 4000 additional points, I would be at a level where I could use the points to pay maintenance fees, would qualify for a lower interest rate on the mortgage, and most importantly, if I was unable to continue, I could pursue the “Exit Strategy”, where Diamond would buy back my ownership at a reduced rate. Jeff said these benefits wouldn’t be accessible until after January 1, 2018. This is how they dodge the rescission period.

The following link and comments are from a Ripoff Report against Jeff Regier written by Jonathan Brown, July 8, 2016:

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/diamond-resorts/nationwide/diamond-resorts-diamond-resorts-international-timeshare-scam-hostage-liar-las-vegas-n-1315868

If you want to actually take a vacation and enjoy it without being forced to sit in an office for 7 hours then AVOID DIAMOND INTERNATIONAL. I had 2 specifically bad Sales reps here Andrew Fernando, wouldn’t let us leave even when my Son needed food. Went and got food so that we could STAY. My son needed a Nap, he said, go give him a nap and then COME BACK!

Right, because that’s what I want to do on vacation, spend time with Andrew Fernando all day. Then Jeff Regier got involved. He actually corrected Andrew 4 times in front of me for not clearly explaining what was going on. Once I figured out that they wanted me to spend 30K More, I was out.

Back to my nightmare

lightening cash

My story begins 2006 or 2007. I was in a bad place in life. Most of my records had been lost. Talking about this is uncomfortable, because I feel stupid for falling for the scam I now understand this timeshare sale was. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I only hope my story helps others understand the predatory nature of this industry and just how worthless the product is in relation to what it cost me.

I had originally purchased a timeshare from Monarch Grand Vacations believing I had purchased a retirement travel lifestyle for just under $10, 000. The sales pitch was impressive. Monarch owned eight premier resorts in the western United States and was affiliated with Interval International. In addition, Monarch owners could enjoy “unlimited Day Use” at any Monarch property, without using points.

My grandmother had recently died, leaving me with a small inheritance. I was drinking and gambling. In my depression I think I just wanted to secure some part of normalcy. I attend a convention in Las Vegas every year so assumed this ownership would make that more affordable. I had been suffering with a disability due to a chronic back injury. With no support base, dependent on narcotic pain medication, I was an easy mark for the timeshare sales team.

The first year was pleasant enough. I was able to travel to Las Vegas using the points, but was disappointed to learn Monarch would be going through bankruptcy.

The second year I exchanged my points through Interval International.

The third year in Las Vegas, I attended a Diamond “Owner Update” where I encountered the hard sale. They said due to bankruptcy, Monarch inventory was being transferred to creditors. With inventory dwindling to zero, there would eventually be no availability so my only option to preserve the value of my investment was to purchase into the Diamond Resorts family, as DRI was the largest creditor. This was accomplished with a separate loan, monthly payments, and an increase in maintenance fees.

Over the next few years, the owner updates were roughly the same. Apollo Global Management acquired Diamond and point values had been adjusted. I was told that in order to continue to attend my annual conference I would need to purchase additional points in order to find available inventory. These updates often exceeded three or four hours. My need for pain medication made me susceptible to doing whatever I could to end the updates. I panicked thinking everything I had been paying for would be valueless as Diamond reduced inventory in order to escalate demand for DRI points.

In 2016, I made what I thought would be my final purchase. I had just made Silver Level, but DRI sales agent Paul said that I was not financially viable unless I became Gold. I left with a new $374 monthly payment on a 15 year loan. I had been struggling to make the prior loan since my second accident that happened in 2011. I had lost my home to foreclosure while on temporary disability.

In 2017, I attended yet another Owner Update now seriously unhappy with Diamond. I was in way too deep and my employment situation wasn’t secure. I told Jeff  the loan was unaffordable and that my savings had been depleted. I had been trying to sell my timeshare on the secondary market but there was no demand for Diamond points. The $3000 maintenance fee cost more than 10 days in many hotels. The only way I had been able to secure DRI availability was in response to marketing emails which required another sales meeting.

During this update, DRI sales Jeff Regier asked why I was unhappy, and then proceeded to tailor his sales pitch accordingly: If I purchased 4000 additional points, I would be at a level where I could use the points to pay maintenance fees, would qualify for a lower interest rate on the mortgage, and most importantly, if I was simply unable to continue, I could pursue the “Exit Strategy” – Diamond would buy back my ownership at a reduced rate. These new benefits wouldn’t be accessible until after January 1, 2018. This is how they dodge the rescission period.

This “exit Strategy” was what I believed would be my way out. I of course didn’t need or want more points. Jeff Reiger knew I couldn’t afford more points. I only bought points because I was desperate to end my relationship with DRI. He used that to hook me. He also said he would act as my point of contact for all future DRI dealings, getting me discounted bookings and that I wouldn’t have to deal with any more sales people. After almost 4 hours, I needed to be done.

As it turned out, the interest rate was essentially the same, the loan was now 10 years, and part of the balance needed to be on a Diamond branded Barclays credit card offered at 0% interest. Jeff said if I called him in January he would get the 0% extended, and that I could use the card to pay down principal on the note. The loan required direct access to my checking account for approximately $560 per month. I went online in January with the tablet I had been given as instructed by Jeff, but could find no promised, “Exit strategy”, the ability to pay maintenance fees with points, or any form of buyback program. I had been duped.

I called Jeff in January and asked him to extend the zero percent interest on the credit card, and transfer some of the loan balance to the Barclaycard. He said I needed to call the credit card issuer myself, because he couldn’t do it without my personal information. He said if they would not extend it I could apply for a new card with a promotional interest rate. He then said he would be unavailable because he was going on vacation. This was the final straw. This was when I realized what a fool I had been to believe anything these people told me.

With my remaining 2017 points, I booked a trip to Hawaii by responding to a promotional email for Kona Village Resort. During the mandatory update, I refused to buy more points. I was then accused of illegally recording the meeting. The sales manager demanded I sign a blank form. When I refused, he said he’d “take care of it” adding that I’d never get a discount booking again. They also refused the promised resort vouchers for attending the presentation. This was a breach of the timeshare practice offering compensation for attending promotional meetings without obligation to purchase.

Sales agents claim points have value. They told me to preserve value I had to buy more points. They told me they would make ownership more affordable. They told me I could use points to pay maintenance fees. They told me if I couldn’t continue, they would buy back my ownership – LIES – every one of them. When I sent a letter to Diamond requesting information on the promised “Exit Strategy” I received an email stating no such strategy exists.

I have run out of money. The automatic payments have drained my account. I have come to terms with the fact that I have wasted over $60,000 over the last ten years trying to preserve what I was told was an investment in retirement travel.

As I sit here today, I am unemployed, struggling with a disability, and financially devastated. Diamond collection agents call every day. When they call, I ask if they are offering me employment. At first, they told me I needed to confirm my contact information for security purposes. When I refused, they told me they couldn’t discuss my account, so I ended the phone calls. They still call but no longer ask for verification. When I ask about the exit strategy, or if they are aware of promises made by their sales staff, they tell me they are only going to discuss my account. So I end the call.

I have no idea how to proceed, but I cannot pay with money I don’t have. I am sure they will find many ways to ruin what was left of my credit having bled me of my finances. They don’t care. I see them as predators. They will move on to new victims, and the cycle will continue. But I will no longer participate.

I am recycled inventory.

Comments from Irene: Greg is not stupid. We have heard from doctors, lawyers, a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison, professors, 34 active duty and retired military including Raymond Mori, recipient of two Purple Hearts. His daughter Teresa Laird submitted an article for this coming Friday’s Letter from America. I have an MBA and a CFP. We all signed DRI contracts. We all say we were told things that were not true. With 338 Diamond Inside Timeshare reader complaints received since late 2016, Greg is not alone. Unresolved complaints:

Josh Parker

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

Eron Grant

https://youtu.be/-FMk_45zRzk

Roy Simmons

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

Kevin Hopkins

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

 

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.

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

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

We’re here for Greg

coloured hands

Thank you Greg, your story is truly up there with the worst of “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. Also thanks to Irene and all the volunteers who are helping people like Greg. These stories are becoming all too familiar at Inside Timeshare, with readers contacting us on an almost daily basis.

If you have any questions or comments about anything in this article or previous one published, contact Inside Timeshare, using our contact form for a private message or post a comment on the relevant article.

Have you been contacted by a company offering you a service such as resale, claims or relinquishment, or are searching the net for one, then remember to do your homework before engaging with them. If you require any help in checking their validity, then use the contact form with your questions, we will then get back to you and point you in the right direction.

It pays to be diligent so do your homework and save your money!

give us money

Silverpoint Announcement to Club Paradiso Members

As usual nothing really surprises us when it comes to Silverpoint, so it was only time before they announced they would not be offering a resale service for their Club Paradiso members. Many of these people have bought into this club via the ever upgrading of the “investment weeks” peddled by Resort Properties and then Silverpoint. Inside Timeshare explained this in the 12 March article “Silverpoint a Costly Experience for Some”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-costly-experience/

This practise has been going on for years, with many losing out on thousands of pounds, in these so-called investments, many funded through finance agreements arranged by Silverpoint sales staff with Barclays Partner Finance. There have been and still are ongoing class actions by clients of Silverpoint against Barclays in the UK, these have been brought by two law firms, Stewarts Law and Edwin Coe.

Considering Silverpoint announced in April last year it had withdrawn its membership from the industry trade body the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), along with the announcement that it was no longer going to be selling “timeshare”, it comes as no surprise that they have stopped the resale program, if it even existed in the first place!

So the questions that many are now asking including the enquiries received from our readers are very simple ones:

What is now going to happen to all that money we paid for these so-called investments?

Now that we know there is no resale market, what other “investments” are they going to offer us to save what we have already paid?

Are they going to ask for even more money?

saleman

Well we do know that many have been coerced into paying and transferring to what is being termed the “Company Participation Scheme”, sounds good doesn’t it?

But what is this scheme?

Well, all we can say is that it is just another way for them to get your money, according to some of the evidence we have seen, and we are still going through it as it is all wrapped up in jargon, the basics of it appear to be that you now buy shares in a company, with the contract being signed at the notary.

The thing is if you are now a shareholder in a company, what are the implications if anything should happen, are you then going to be liable for any costs if the company goes into liquidation or fails to pay taxes?

So there we have it, Silverpoint have finally admitted that all those with their weeks listed on the resale programme for Club Paradiso, are not going to get them sold. These were originally sold to them with the promise of a return on their outlay when they are sold, a promise that we have seen is full of hot air.

The final part of Silverpoints email reminds these members that they “can still use your membership, even if listed for resale, to enjoy great holidays around the world”. Signed Silverpoint Vacations SL.

Hang on, they have stated in the same email they “will no longer be able to offer this service”, so how can it still be listed for resale?

As usual Silverpoint can’t seem to get their own story straight, do they actually know what they are doing, somehow we think not!

If you are a member of Club Paradiso with these investments and had them listed for sale and are worried by this latest development, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

help1

Hug Your Haters Part II: A Customer Service Message

Today’s article by Irene Parker is part II of her Hug Your Haters, which we published on 15 August,

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=customer+service+message

But first some of the latest in Europe.

At the end of last week, even though the courts are closed for business, another sentence against Anfi Sales SL and Anfi Resorts SL was published. This was issued by the Court of First Instance Number 1, based in Maspalomas, the court ruled according to the precedents set by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Court Masp

In this case, the court ruled that the contract be declared null & void with the return of over 13,279€ plus legal interest. In this case the infraction was the length of the contract was greater than the 50 years allowed by Spanish timeshare law 42/98, which came into effect in January 1999.

Again this flies in the face of Anfi’s assertion that their contracts are legal and that they have not lost any cases, see the article “Truth, What is Truth?”  Published on 10 August.

It is not just Anfi who deny these facts, Silverpoint have been doing so for years, they have even left the RDO and claim they no longer sell “timeshare”. So what are they now selling?

Well, we do know one product is Keys Concierge, a so-called “Lifestyle Credits” product, which promises a great deal but does it actually deliver? Another ploy by Silverpoint is the move to transfer the blocks of timeshare weeks they sold to clients (with the promise to sell in 2 years for a profit), into what is euphemistically called a “Company Participation Scheme”. Not much is known at present, a lot more research is yet to be done, but it appears that clients sign a document at the notary which makes them shareholders of the company Club Paradiso. If this is the case, then all liabilities of the company will fall squarely on those clients shoulders. More on this when the research is complete.

Now on with Irene’s article.

Hug Your Haters Part II

My Marriott Customer Service Experience

testimonials

By Irene Parker

August 29, 2017

Customer Service is a Spectator Sport, according to Hug Your Haters author Jay Baer. Although Hug Your Haters was written primarily for the providers of customer service, users of Customer Service can benefit from the book as well. Social Media has dramatically changed Customer Service in a way many timeshare companies have yet to acknowledge. The Marriott hotel chain seems to have gotten the message and has adapted to the new world order.

 

Mr. Baer discusses in his book the difference between onstage and offstage Haters. Many of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received are from offstage Haters, unfamiliar with Social Media. Sometimes offstage Haters need an onstage Hater to plead their case.

Disney Vacation Club seems to have bucked the timeshare trend, refusing to fall back on the oral representation clause that states, “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase” which translates to the customer is always wrong. Disney has few timeshare complaints so it’s not surprising to find former Walt Disney theme park executive Lee Cockerell, author of The Customer Rules, mentioned in Hug Your Haters. Mr. Cockerell explains in his book how he would encounter employees blaming the customer:

“From time to time over the years, a customer would complain to me that a frontline employee had been belligerent. When I asked the employee what happened, I’d usually be told the customer was wrong about the facts, or had been abusive, or trying to cheat the company. Most of the time, the employee believed it was better to lose a bad customer than appease one.” p. 115

A Lesson for Other Timeshare Companies

Another Hug Your Hater example is Pella Windows and Doors, VP of marketing Elaine Sagers. “Monthly, our executives call a random selection of unhappy customers to talk about their experiences with us…..We’ve also played recordings from the call center so you can hear the emotion in our customers’ voices around what’s been happening with jobs and their homes.” p. 120

Having listened to 133 timeshare complaints, mainly about maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist, or the ability to sell points when no secondary market exists, it’s hard to understand how companies can so often ignore or dismiss allegations, especially when a volume of complaints (119 out of 133) meet the definition of white collar crime – “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” – painting a compelling and compounding picture of trouble within a company or within the timeshare industry as a whole. I challenge any timeshare executive to listen to the tone of the voices of families devastated financially by their vacation plan. “Well you signed a contract,” is not the appropriate answer. I’m sure Mr. Baer would agree.

Mr. Baer makes another important point I have often stated when it comes to offering a customer wronged an apology. “In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’” Mr. Baer quotes Michael Lasky, an attorney and litigator with the Davis & Gilbert law firm in New York City. Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125

marriott rewards

Page 138 of Hug Your Haters discusses the importance of rapid complaint response time. My husband and I have been Platinum Marriott Rewards members for several years. About a decade ago I complained about something I can’t remember at a Marriott Hotel front desk. I was just complaining, not asking for compensation, yet the company responded with an automatic adjustment in reward points. Every 20 or so stays, something might happen that I would complain about had it not been for the times the company responded rapidly and appropriately.

Right out of the Hug Your Haters playbook, I posted a comment on the Marriott Facebook about how a trainee and a manager patiently and pleasantly changed our room three times to address our concern about highway noise. I posted this experience on Marriott’s Facebook and they almost immediately responded, “Irene, we would like to share this on our comment site if that’s alright with you.” As Mr. Baer explains, onstage Haters (or Lovers) don’t expect to be answered. When they are, they are taken aback, astonished that a company as large as Marriott would care.

I can’t speak for Marriott Vacation Club, the timeshare company, because I am not a member, but one of our Advocates, a senior manager with a Fortune 500 company, also a Marriott Vacation Club member, made this comment about Marriott in Part I of our Inside Timeshare article Hug Your Haters, “I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also, while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience.”

Onstage Haters compared to Offstage Haters – Chapter 7

Some companies respond to negative comments by expanding their advertising budget. “Advertising is a tax paid for being unremarkable,” is a quote Mr. Baer said is usually attributed to Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad,  but he rephrases the comment appropriately, “Advertising is a tax paid when you’re poor at retaining your current customers.” p. 18

“Listening is the ability to pay attention to what the sounds means and understanding it. We hear noise, but we listen to music. That is because noise falls on our ears without any effort at our end,” said an anonymous writer explaining the difference between hearing and listening. Too often customer complaints are dismissed as noise in the form or automatic denials to a complaint filed against a timeshare sales agent (s).

create

These are but a few timeshare Advocacy Facebooks and websites of members helping members because company complaints so often fall on deaf ears. They are closed groups, but all would welcome corporate representatives bold enough to listen and learn. We hope timeshare industry executives, ARDA and lawmakers will take the time to not just hear, but listen.

Bluegreen and Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebooks

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.

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

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

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

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently sent a message in the form of a $6.5 million settlement against The Manhattan Club timeshare accused of restricting availability for members who paid thousands of dollars for a timeshare while allowing access to those booking online. The settlement response was a reaction to a chorus of timeshare members mobilized and action orientated. All timeshare owners are grateful because a victory for one is a victory for all. Lack of availability is a universal complaint.

change

Thank you Irene, once again you have given us a look into the world of “Customer Service” or in some cases lack of. It is one of the main complaints that Inside Timeshare does receive, in many cases the sales staff are only intent on getting more money from you, rather than helping to get the best from your membership.

If timeshare is to flourish, developers and resorts really do need to look at this aspect and change their practises. Disney is a very good example of this as we showed in a previous article by Irene, “Disney Vacation Club Vs The Timeshare Industry”, published in July’s “A Lesson for Other Timeshare Companies”.

If you have any questions or comments Inside Timeshare invites you to contact us, your views are important, it will help to change the industry for the better.

Have you been contacted by a company you have never heard of, or want to know more about but don’t know how to start, again contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

help

Latest on Silverpoint or is it Signallia?

Following on from last month’s article “New Name Same Company”, that Signallia Marketing Distribution SA is the new name for Silverpoint Vacation Solutions SA. One of our regular readers Mr T, has passed on the following information which he has found while doing some of his own research.

He noticed on the Club Paradiso website that their contact address is for Signallia Group DMCC, Dubai, UAE, where it is incorporated on the Emirati Register.

http://www.info-clipper.com/en/company/united-arab-emirates/signallia-group-dmcc.aed986swf.html

Another link our tenacious reader has discovered is that the Signallia Group DMCC is a shareholder of Silverpoint Travel Limited, Lodgequest Holding Limited, Keys Concierge Limited & Vacation Finance Limited where the person with significant control (PSC) is Robert Trotta. Other directors associated with these companies are Franz Markus Deutsch and Mark Cushway. Both have been part of the Trotta empire for years.

Another company which Mark Cushway is a director is Vacation Finance Limited, which according to the FCA register has Signallia MD SA as an appointed representative. Well let’s keep it all in the family.

https://register.fca.org.uk/ShPo_firmdetailsPage?id=001b000003TzjMqAAJ.

Signallia also have a wonderful promotional video which really does sell “The Dream”, showing some exquisite resorts around the world, Just wondering if you can actually get into them? Mr T also points out that Palm Beach Club in Tenerife (a Silverpoint resort) held a presentation last October, this highlighted their “Highly personalized consulting service” given by Maurice Aronow, senior vice-president of Signallia’s commercial department.

Aronow was also a previous vice president of sales and marketing at another Robert Trotta Resort, namely Palmyra Resort & Spa in Jamaica, it was around 2011 that they launched their fractional ownership.

Jamaica’s palm-fringed beaches inspire residence club

Bob Trotta launched this resort back in 2005, but due to financial problems in 2012 it was never completed. It was alleged that Trotta had defaulted resulting in $110 million worth of debts, with the Jamaican banks putting the resort up for auction, this was unsuccessful.

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/hotels-and-resorts/potential-sale-of-jamaicas-long-shuttered-palmyra-resort-reported.html

Another company in this tangled web is Lodgequest Holdings Limited, it is a majority of Lodgequest Operations Limited. Again the names that come up are Franz Markus Deutsch, Mark Cushway and the person with significant control being once again Robert “Bob” Trotta.

The company has two resorts Twin Lakes in the Lake District and Kentisbury Grange in Devon, it is reported that the company is in the “Market” for investors. One does have to wonder is this on the “pig in a dress” fractional basis?

Why invest?

On their website they do hint at the prospect of the rental market, and the “potential” for high return on investment. They also say that by focusing on luxury, they can “ensure” the lodges will be rented for a “highly attractive rate”. Something in this is sounding all too familiar, sound like some of the promises we heard from past product sold by these people under other names.

Our thanks go to Mr T, a regular reader and also a great contributor in doing some of the research we may miss. This again goes to show that doing your due diligence will show some of the links that many of these companies don’t want you to know, the tangled web can be unravelled. Once it begins then you can make a choice, “to trust or not to trust”.

 

The Battle Lines have been Drawn.

There appears to be a massive falling out in the timeshare industry, TATOC, the self proclaimed voice of the owners is under fire. Harry Taylor looks to being discredited, not just over the Lakeview debacle but also for his unbridled support of the move by MacDonald Resorts to force fixed week owners to change to the points system.

This being said, MacDonald Resorts have not been members of the RDO since the end of 2005, yet TATOC still supports them. One has to ask why are MacDonald’s no longer members of the industry trade body?

Silverpoint has (reported by TESS 2 February) reduced their membership from Platinum to Silver, so are the industry backers realising this organisation is failing?

Among owners themselves, TATOC has been losing credibility, many comments from readers who have approached them for advice have not been impressed. The number of comments on the different discussion forums also confirms this. Is it not time that a new and more credible independent voice be created, the only way change in the industry is possible is through dialogue with those that keep them in business.

round-table

The industry is in turmoil, the Arizona Attorney General has secured an $800,000 settlement from Diamond Resorts International, with a $1billion suit being filed in Nevada, Wyndham have lost a lawsuit for $20million, brought by an ex-employee.

In Colorado, the Attorney General has sued Highland Resorts for deceptive trade practices and the New York Attorney General has halted sales at the Manhattan Club, with a class action lawsuit underway. Hyatt is also in legal dispute with former sales agents, this has been going on for several years.

It is not only in the US that we are seeing problems, in the past week we have seen SIX, yes SIX Supreme Court rulings against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. In these rulings the product “Club Paradiso” has been declared as falling under the Spanish Timeshare Laws, with purchasers being considered as “consumers” and not “investors”. These judgements have again made legal history.

The length of the contracts have also been confirmed in these rulings as illegal, being for a period of more than 50 years. The courts have also returned double the amount paid on the deposits, these were taken within the stipulated 14 day cooling off period or reflection period, in some cases this has been extended to 90 days where the relevant information has not been supplied. Under this ruling if the balance was paid in this period then the total amount has been awarded double.

Silverpoint seem to have taken over the news from another beleaguered company, Anfi in Gran Canaria. We have seen around 29 Supreme Court ruling made against them since the first in March 2015, which also made legal history.

legal history

It is not only for the sales of the timeshare product that Anfi are suffering, there is also the ongoing problem with the Tauro Beach project that Inside Timeshare has been highlighting. There is at present a case in the court to remove the concession and permissions for Anfi to run the beach for the next 50 years, this is being brought by the Government of Gran Canaria. We are also waiting for the trial of the former head of the Coastal Authority, he has been charged with wrongdoing in public office and forgery of official documents.

The beach itself has been badly damaged by high tides and rough conditions, with major parts being washed away. Also remember that in August 2016, the local residents and their homes were flooded. The residents themselves ended up building defences to stop it happening again.

The sand itself which was imported from Western Sahara, which under UN rules should not have taken place, as this area is deemed under occupation by Morocco and is subject to sanctions. This sand around 70,000tonnes was laid on the beach without first being treated, so this could also have an environmental impact on the area.

So, there is a lot going on in the world of timeshare, we are only reporting the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is more to come and Inside Timeshare will bring it to you as it comes in.

You can find the articles relating these stories by using the search box, if you have any comments, Inside Timeshare would like to hear and share them with others, it is only through your contributions that the truth will get out.

Here to help

 

My Thoughts Today: End of January

We began January with an update on “bogus” law firms Litigious Abogados and Litigar Abogados, with the addition of a third firm called Abogacia Española, with the founder being Fernando Holaci. All three websites are the same except for minor alterations such as colour and the names of the founder and the lawyers.

The method of enticing timeshare owners to pay is also very sophisticated, with fake court documents, copies of compensation cheques and official looking documents from the so-called Procurator, Davido Harstun Jaime.

LIT

They begin by sending or calling prospective clients about the court case they are about to conduct against their timeshare company, that they are eligible to participate. In order to be registered on the coming court case, a sum of around 1,500€ is required. This has to be paid quickly as the case is due to be heard within the month.

Once this sum is paid, the client receives another email with the fantastic news that their case has been won, with the court awarding many thousands back to them. All this is done within weeks, a feat not seen in a Spanish court or any other court for that matter. Now comes the main part of the “sting”, in order to get this sum paid out court taxes etc need to be paid first, the amount varies from client to client depending on the court award. But they are in the region of £4000 to £8000. For further information see the link below or search Litigious Abogados in the search area for all the posts.

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

Another article published was around a Credits based lifestyle company which popped up on our radar called Keys Concierge. The reason for this article was very simple, it is the link between the director of Keys Concierge, Mr Franz Markus Deutsch and the CEO of Silverpoint / Resort Properties, Mr Mark Cushway.

The company became active in August 2015 and has a credits based system to purchase goods and services. Credits are also “earned” with each purchase and shows substantial discounts on holidays and products. So far there has been no other information come to light.

http://insidetimeshare.com/keys-concierge-another-credits-based-lifestyle-company/

Inside Timeshare with Irene, also broke the news of a settlement between the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Diamond for $800,000 which revolved around “Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations”. This is a story that we have been following all month. (see following articles).

arizona-ag-seal

After the “Breaking News” of the settlement, a joint article by Charles and Irene on the role and use of OPC´s in the timeshare sales cycle. It began with an outline on what regulations various countries in Europe have on controlling how these “scratchcard touts” operate. Going on to explain how they work in the US, with Irene laying out the information they are after. She also spoke about an OPC that she knows personally. It was an insight into how you ended up on the presentation.

This was followed by more Litigious Abogados updates and the article “Thinking of Buying a Timeshare”. It was closely related to the previous article on OPC´s as it explained how the scratchcards work, then going on to ask “Is it worth buying one”?

It came to the conclusion that it depends on what you are after, it also weighed up whether to buy from the developer or a resale. There was also a link to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group, who also gave some very sound advice.

Again we went across The Great Lake for more news from the US,

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

In this article Irene gave her analysis of the importance of the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond. Irene told the story of the nightmare suffered by Irina Allen and her purchases, along with the fact she had her membership suspended on false allegations of being a “mega renter” with an AirBnB account. She had even been advised by a sales rep to buy more points as renting will help pay the maintenance.

Another article we published was on the subject of plagiarism, this was prompted by posts appearing on the TCA website which more than resembled articles written by myself and Irene. Any author will recognise their own writing style and use of words. Especially as the grammar used by the TCA writers is to say the least very poor.

But, the main point was the use of information not just from Inside Timeshare but also from Canarian Legal Alliance. In all the posts on the TCA site, no mention or accreditation to where  this information had come from. It all appeared  the TCA was taking credit for the information and the Supreme Court victories achieved by CLA. Whenever Inside Timeshare publishes any article that uses information or news from another source, that source is always credited for it. That is the basic rule of any journalist or writer.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tca-using-others-work/

plagiarism

The next article on US timeshare had a very happy ending, back in November Irene explained that Wyndham had launched “The Ovation” surrender programme. After receiving this news Inside Timeshare contacted one of our readers, Steve, who owned at Wyndham. Due to his personal circumstances he wanted to surrender his ownership, he did not have a claim, so relinquishment was the only option.

It was explained to Steve about the Ovation news and he duly contacted them to surrender his ownership. Within two months he got the news that they had indeed accepted his surrender request. Since then Diamond have also accepted the surrender of his European membership, although due to his statement of events at the point of sale, Diamond are investigating and we hope to report on that in the near future.

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndhams-ovation-surrender-program-latest-news/

On the day President Trump was inaugurated Inside Timeshare along with Irene published the question “Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump”. The article explained how the business and politics are linked, including the role of the “lobbyist”.

This was a subject being asked by many owners of timeshare in the US and only time will tell what effect his presidency will have on them.

http://insidetimeshare.com/attorneys-general-timeshare-trump/

In the article “And So it Begins”, it followed Irene being banned from the Diamond Resorts International Members facebook page. The reason, a few thought her posts and links to our articles were political, Inside Timeshare posed the question “what is not political nowadays”?

The real reason of her ban is simple, she asks questions about Diamond, she writes about Diamond, she questions Diamond, she questions the practices of the sales reps, but she also has dialogue with Diamond. She brings to their attention the concerns of thousands of members, she has also had statements from senior Diamond employees which she has used in her articles.

In her following article she called for advocacy in timeshare, highlighting Diamond creating an Advocacy Department, even contacting Maya Pogoda, Diamonds Public Relations Representative, who is also helping to launch the Diamond Advocacy and Clarity programme. But to some on the facebook page she was attacking Diamond, when in reality she and Inside Timeshare are calling for dialogue. Yes we do highlight the ugly, but we also highlight the good.

In another twist to this tale, two more people have been banned from this group, the reason? They have been highlighted in articles by Irene and published on Inside Timeshare, They are Irina Allen and the Saldana family. Do those calling for a ban who are the administrators believe in two sides to a story or are they only interested in promoting their own ego´s, one openly boasts how he owns so many points yet has never actually paid for them, one wonders how he got them? You know who you are and Inside Timeshare awaits your response.

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

CLA Logo

Back to Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been hitting the news again, published on the 26 January, was the news of two Supreme Court rulings against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. In the first judgement the court announced that the Club Paradiso product was indeed timeshare and fell under the relevant laws, they also concluded that the client in this case was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint claimed. This has significant implications for other “Club” schemes operated by other companies.

This case was picked up by The Northern Echo follow the link:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2

Within days there were another two verdicts delivered by the highest court in Spain, again against Silverpoint. In the fourth ruling, the court reiterated the earlier verdict that the “Club” scheme was timeshare, this was in relation to Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation package. Now if memory serves me correctly the second ruling on “Club” schemes now puts that into jurisprudence.

 

In the last article this month, Irene gave her views on Diamond’s Clarity programme, she had an interview with Maya Pogoda the Diamond PR and also had comments from Executive Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Flaskey. Now if this isn’t creating a dialogue, well I don’t know what is!

This will be followed next month by Part II: How Owners Feel About Clarity.

We have also been informed of a major news item that is just breaking, we hope to have an article on this tomorrow, Irene is busy on it now. But we must remember she is several hours behind us, so watch this space.

Inside Timeshare publishes these articles to keep you informed of the latest news, developments and views in the world of timeshare. Much of it you would never hear about, especially as many forums will remove posts the administrators don’t like. We will continue to publish even if it is controversial, that is what we believe in, the freedom to question, criticise and comment.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to articles this month, either through information or comments, without you the stories would not be there.

great quote

 

Latest News from Europe and the US.

Before we go on with today’s article from Irene, there has been some breaking news over the past week. The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued three rulings against Silverpoint, on behalf of three clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, all three came within days of each other.

In the first was the British Client who purchase at Club Paradiso, the court ruled that this was indeed timeshare and not a club affiliation as Silverpoint claimed. This case has taken around five years to get to this stage, with appeal following appeal.

The second case was that of a CLA client from Belgium, the court declared once again the illegality of contracts over 50 years.

Another British client of CLA who purchased the Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation Package. Again this ruling was around the “club affiliation” scheme, the court once again ruled that this did indeed fall under the scope of Spanish timeshare law, (Ley 42/98) as in the first ruling.

So far since March 2015 CLA have achieved remarkable results, with around 42 rulings from the Supreme Court, involving numerous timeshare companies, with Anfi being the most prominent. (Follow the link to The Northern Echo article on the first case).

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2

In the article by Irene today, she looks at the Diamond Resorts Clarity (™) programme, it would seem that Diamond are trying to change the way they operate amid growing protests from owners, especially the elderly.

This programme at present will not be rolled out in Europe, Although Diamond Resorts in Europe have already begun to make considerable changes in their approach to owners / members. They have set in place a programme where members can surrender their timeshare under what Diamond call “exceptional circumstances”, with this there is no charge.

One reader has Steve has taken advantage of this, with Diamond accepting his surrender, but there is a twist in this story. Diamond are investigating how he was sold and how he also ended up with a finance package, they obviously believe that there is something wrong. Once this is completed, Inside Timeshare will bring you the results.

Contained within the article is an interview Irene had with Maya Pogoda the Diamond Public Relations Officer. She has welcomed the chance to speak with Inside Timeshare and has supplied numerous comments and answers to our questions. So on with Irene´s article.

Diamond Resorts Clarity (™) – The Good, the Bad and the Critical

Diamond Owners are Hopeful but Skeptical

By Irene Parker January 29, 2017

Skeptical Method

DIAMOND CLARITY(™) is the offspring of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance” resulting from allegations that Diamond Resorts International violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

http://insidetimeshare.com/opcs-europe-usa/#more-1518

Maya Pogoda, Diamond Public Relations spokesperson, talked to me about the new national program consisting of a series of operational procedures and enhancements, new training and compliance procedures and protocols, and other customer-friendly changes to the sales process.

Press Release excerpts:

Missing from press release: “We recognize the need for Diamond Resorts and all timeshare companies to change or improve timeshare business practices that have led to predatory lending and deceptive sales techniques, resulting in harm to timeshare owners,” suggests Irene.

I took issue with several statements made in the press release:

“At Diamond Resorts, we already excel in customer satisfaction, but we are constantly looking for ways to do even better,” said Executive Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Flaskey.

I spoke with a few timeshare attorneys. One paralegal who works for a timeshare attorney asked not to be identified. Their firm has released 10,000 owners from timeshare contracts and said Diamond is their biggest “customer”.  Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group carries approximately 500 timeshare cases with 20% to 25% against Diamond Resorts. Mr. Finn said he’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

There are also several angry Diamond owner groups:

DRIP Diamond Resort International Protestors launched by over 1000 angry British owners trying to be released from contracts.

Intrawest Embarc Diamond Facebook page has over 2500 Intrawest members. An administrator of this group recently suggested I post our last Inside Timeshare article on their Facebook page after being banned by a Diamond Influenced Member Supported 7000 member Facebook group.

I had sent the article to an Intrawest administrators individually. She receives a link to all my articles. Unfortunately, one of the administrators from the 7000 member group voiced a warning to one of the other Intrawest administrators urging a word of caution concerning the dangerous piano teacher, Irene Parker.

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

The 7200 member Facebook group consists of about 50% happy/angry owners. Members who are 100% negative on Diamond Resorts are privately and quietly urged to join DRIP, according to one member who asked not to be identified. Ironically, the same administrator was banned from the DRIP website accused of being too positive.

Charles Thomas was banished within days of joining the 7000 member Facebook accused of supporting the Canarian Legal Alliance. Charles can better explain the success CLA has had fighting timeshare abuse.

Owner infighting is strongly encouraged by Diamond Resorts because United we Stand and Divided we Fall. There is a lot of that going on in the world today.

Inside Timeshare allows political commentary to enter into our articles. In fact, given the fact the Trump family is launching a timeshare in Scotland, it is even encouraged. One of President Trump’s closest friends of 20 years is David Siegel of Westgate. Westgate has been under Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation for the last few years.

Continuing the litany of unhappy Diamond owners:

Monarch Website of angry owners owning fixed weeks could not gain access after converting to points, resulting in a class action lawsuit.

http://www.monarchowner.com/p/our-story.html

Poipu Angry Owner website:  Assessments resulting in a class action lawsuit.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Point-of-Poipu-Angry-Owners/148027451960608

Thousands of complaints have been voiced on Redweek, BBB and other internet complaint sites. Just yesterday a Redweek member reached out to me. I sadly informed her she made my list of top two percent timeshare horror stories. The subject of Diamond timeshare sales agent Rick Casper of Polo Towers Las Vegas will be the subject of my next article

Of course, people can always contact me directly.

Irene Card

RedWeek continues to allow me to post.  I was asked to provide a link to the article that caused me to be banned. Controversy generated by an article is a writer’s best friend.

My Facebook page has no quota on happy/angry comments. I deny I am 100% negative on Diamond. We still enjoy Diamond Resorts and find good value at times. I am encouraged by the meaningful conversations I have had with diplomat and PR spokesperson Maya Pogoda.

I find relatively few complaints on the internet about Hyatt, Hilton or Disney.

Back to the Clarity Press Release:

“It will increase transparency”

Keep Reading

Supreme Court Rules against Silverpoint Twice in One Week

In a remarkable announcement the Supreme Court has made another historic ruling this time against Silverpoint. This case involves a retired lady from Yorkshire and has taken 5 years of legal battles to achieve.

The story begins when she purchased a timeshare at Club Paradiso in Tenerife, which she paid £25,000 with the promise that she could sell it at anytime as it would increase in value. This never materialised, she was then lumbered with annual maintenance fees.

In her first court hearing at the Court of First Instance they found in her favour, Silverpoint then took this to appeal at the High Court. This court overruled the first judgement and found for Silverpoint. Their argument was that Club Paradiso did not come under timeshare law as it was a “club affiliation”.

The lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance did not agree and the case was then taken to the Supreme Court. In their deliberations 8 of the 9 Judges ruled that Club Paradiso did indeed come under timeshare law.

Within two days Canarian Legal Alliance received another ruling against Silverpoint, this time it was a Belgian Client who is now free of their ownership at Hollywood Mirage. Their contract has been declared null and void with the return of over 33,000€ plus legal interest and legal fees. The ruling in this instance was the length of their contract, being over 50 years or in perpetuity.

 

CLA Logo

Canarian Legal Alliance issued the following press release on 20 January 2017:

Canarian Legal Alliance is proud to announce that on 16 January 2017 another historical verdict was delivered by The Supreme Court of Spain.

The case began with the Court of First Instance finding for the CLA British client, this was overruled by the High Court in Tenerife, when the timeshare company Silverpoint appealed the first decision. The High Court’s opinion was that the Silverpoint product Club Paradiso did not fall under timeshare law 42/98, as they considered it was an “affiliation to a club”.

Canarian Legal Alliance felt this decision was flawed and ignored the rights of the consumer, thus appealing to the Supreme Court for clarification of the law. 8 of the 9 judges who studied the case considered that it was indeed a timeshare product as members paid a yearly maintenance fee, which is part and parcel of timeshare. They also concluded that even though the club membership was without a concrete apartment number or week, it was considered a timeshare and was regulated by the appropriate laws.

This is a groundbreaking verdict which will not only affect Club Paradiso and Silverpoint, but will have a significant effect many other club schemes and points systems in Spain.

Another aspect of this verdict was the court’s opinion the British client was a “consumer and not an investor”, again rejecting the ruling from the High Court in Tenerife. Considering this ruling now regards our client as a consumer and timeshare law applies, it gives all consumers of these products protection under the law.

Our clients contract was declared null and void, thus being Silverpoint was ordered to return to the client all payments made amounting to more than 31,000 Euros.

Canarian Legal Alliance is representing over 500 British clients in claims against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. Many of these claims are in regard to the misselling of the timeshare product as an “Investment”, whereby Silverpoint sold packs of weeks with the promise they will sell those weeks on behalf of the client.

With the so-called investment packs, clients were promised a return of at least 15% on their investment, none of these have ever materialised and many people have lost substantial amounts. Not only the initial investment but on subsequent upgrades, these were sold as better investments, as the original purchases were not of the best quality. These also include the payment of large amounts in annual maintenance costs.

This is not the first ruling achieved by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of British Timeshare owners, others have included the taking of deposits or any payment within the cooling off period. The banning of perpetuity contracts, floating weeks and point systems, this not only protects British consumers, but allows more British timeshare owners to receive justice in Spain.

The latest news from the Supreme Court:

It was announced yesterday 19 January 2017 that the Supreme Court has reached another verdict against Silverpoint for another client of Canarian Legal Alliance.

This verdict is in relation to the length of the contract being over 50 year, known as perpetuity, contrary to Law 42/98 of the Spanish civil code.

This is good news for many British timeshare owners who purchased in Spain, they now have a way out of their contracts and releasing them from the ever rising maintenance fees.

The following link is for the Supreme Court Announcement:

http://www.poderjudicial.es/cgpj/es/Poder-Judicial/Noticias-Judiciales/El-Supremo-declara-nulo-un-contrato-de-adhesion-a-un-club-de-vacaciones-de-49-anos-prorrogables

Link to El Diario article published 18 January 2017:

http://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Supremo-condena-empresa-variante-timesharing_0_602990754.html
The Client has also agreed to being contacted if required.  Also for further information on this and other Supreme Court rulings please contact Canarian Legal Alliance:

Case Study: Shirley Wilson , Resort Properties

Another twist in this tale is the press release by Silverpoint, in this they do not agree with the decision. They also believe it will be overturned at a higher court, the question is what higher court as the Supreme Court is the highest in Spain.

According to Silverpoint they have begun working on an appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court, but from our sources this is unlikely as the matter is not a constitutional one. They also claim they will raise the issue with the Court of Justice of the European Union, we say good luck to them.

As CLA stated in their press release they have over 500 clients with cases against Silverpoint, so this is welcome news for them. Inside Timeshare will follow this and keep you posted on the latest events.

The Northern Echo has already picked up on this case and this can be seen on the following link:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2