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Courts of First Instance

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for our Letter from America.

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

By Irene Parker

First Draft September 16, 2018 for Friday September 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Vietnam soldiers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

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

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

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

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

46.130,66 €

28.391,60 €

14.186,18 €

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

The Rodriguez Family Share their Marriott Timeshare Experience

September 18, 2018

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

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

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

By the Rodriguez family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start the Week

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

Veteran George Yamada

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

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

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

Some of the many CLA Lwyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa Ann Schreier The Timeshare Crusader

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Irene Parker

September 7 2018

Chantal DesjardinesDiamond Embarc/Intrawest June 2018 election results:

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

James Orr (incumbent)    421

Robert Reyes                       361

Chantal Desjardines           2293

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lt. Gingrich’s grievances:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak Truth to Power       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOGNITION

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

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

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

 

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

Have a good weekend.

Start the Week: Diamond Lose in Tenerife; Latest news on Tauro Beach and Anfi.

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we report on two cases Diamond Resorts have lost in Tenerife, but first we look at the disturbing scenes at Tauro Beach over the weekend.

Over the past year Inside Timeshare has been reporting on the debacle that is the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, this has been an ongoing saga, with charges being brought against the former head of the coastal authority along with others and a full blown investigation by Seprona, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service.

It has been well reported that Anfi had plans to transform the old shingle beach into a man made one with sand, build a marina and also several hotels with a shopping complex on the land behind. It turns out that part of the investigation into the beach found the sand had been illegally imported from the Western Sahara. (see link to The Guardian Article).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand

Now a company called Desokupa went in over the weekend and began demolishing the homes of those who live there. The reason is the land “belongs” to Anfi, who claim that these dwellings are illegal. Whether they are or not is not the point, considering that there are no planning permissions in place and the fact that the Anfi concession to run the beach is on hold while the Gran Canarian government apply to the courts to revoke the licenses. Should these demolitions have waited until the outcome?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIHbrdIC_To&feature=share

Was there a court order which allowed Anfi to bring in the bulldozers?

All valid questions which will eventually be answered, but what we have lost is a little bit of old Gran Canaria and a very popular paradise spot, for locals and tourists alike. The bar Pio Pio is one of the most popular venues in the area at the weekend, with a wonderful atmosphere and great music. Is that now in danger!

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/Violento-derribo-chabolas-Tauro_2_794790515.html

Since publishing this following has appeared on facebook for Nueva Canarias

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155352630021755&id=185892306754

It will take you to the link below, this is very disturbing news.

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

Now for the court cases against Diamond Resorts and a look at timeshare law compared to other places.

Both these cases were heard at the High Court No 3, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, both were appeals on behalf of the British clients. These cases were originally held at the Courts of First Instance and unfortunately the clients lost those cases. These were heard before the Supreme Court in Madrid issued the numerous rulings (now 126) on how the timeshare laws should be interpreted and applied.

Before these rulings, different courts and judges interpreted the laws differently, no one actually knew how the laws should be applied. This is nothing unusual in legal work, laws are put into place, but it is not until they are tested and challenged are they effective, this is what the Supreme Court has done, issued a definitive interpretation.

In the first case, the client has been awarded over 19,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

In the second case held at the same court, over 30,000€ has been awarded plus legal interest, again the contract being declared null and void.

The court found several infringements of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, (along with other relevant Consumer Laws), with contracts being over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of payments within the cooling off period. The court also found as per the rulings from Spain’s Highest Court that the contracts lacked any substance or tangible product as they were points based. These have been declared illegal in Spain. (See PDF’s below for the court sentences).

HC n 3 Diamond 1

HC N3 Diamond 2

So how does Spain’s timeshare laws compare with elsewhere?

During the early days in Europe, timeshare was virtually unregulated, know one actually knew what it was, was it real estate, as that is how it was “sold” to the public, a share in your own holiday home, or was it purely a holiday product which was not an investment?

The free for all lasted some years, then the European Union issued the first of many Timeshare Directives, these were to try and regulate the industry, with the directives supposedly being put into the domestic laws of each member state. Basically all singing off the same hymn sheet!

In some countries, the directives were very much watered down, the industry trade body The RDO and the “representing” owners body TATOC, (now defunct), successfully lobbied the UK parliament and those laws are probably the weakest in Europe, they tend to be in favour of the industry not the consumer.

Spain on the other hand had a very different approach, which in some respects is not that surprising. Spain was one of the major places for timeshare development, they had just recently found freedom and democracy, with the country in dire need of development. The building of resorts and the tourist industry was one of the most important factors in this development.

The unfortunate thing is the free run timeshare developers had, timeshare was being sold even before the resorts were actually started, known as off plan. Many consumers got stung in these enterprises, with the resort they paid for never even getting built.

People on holiday were being picked up off the street left right and center, taken to sales presentations and coerced into parting with huge sums of money. Spain’s reputation as a great holiday destination was being sullied by these practices.

That all changed in December 1998, when the government introduced Law 42/98, based on the EU Timeshare Directives, but stronger. Spain was going to have the strongest laws in Europe and this was going to hurt the industry if they didn’t comply.

The law became effective on 5 January 1999, although they did allow a period where the timeshare companies could get their house in order and comply. One aspect of the law was regarding the duration of the contract, before, these were sold in perpetuity, there was no end date. The law now demanded that contracts be for a duration of a minimum 3 years and maximum of 50 years. Timeshare companies were allowed to place a deed of adaptation to all contracts sold before the law came into place, this allowed the pre 99 perpetuity contracts to remain, but all new sales must conform.

Many ignored this, on advice from their lawyers many continued to sell perpetuity, citing the deed of adaptation as the basis for carrying on. This obviously was one point that needed to be tested in the Supreme Court, but that would be many years ahead.

As a point of interest, there were two countries where timeshare laws only allowed for a maximum of 30 years on contracts, they are Madeira and Malta. Those had been put into place right at the start of timeshare development.

Another aspect of the law which Spain has put into place is the illegality of the Floating Weeks and Points systems. According the the Supreme Court they have ruled the timeshare law clearly states that any contract must have substance and tangibility, in other words the guarantee of the apartment and the week being sold. Floating weeks and points do not do this, you only have a right to use subject to availability.

So how does this compare with our friends experience across the Great Lake in the US?

Well from the many articles we have published on Inside Timeshare, they are sadly lacking any control or real consumer protection, it is pot luck which State you have purchased as to what protection you have. There appear to be no Federal Laws governing the sale of timeshare.

In Europe we have the 14 day cooling off period, where no payments should be taken and the consumer has the right to cancel, in some States we have been informed this can be as little as 3 days!

From what we have published, there are so many different agencies and authorities for the consumer to turn to, from Attorneys General (that depends on which State you are in) to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI. (See link below on filing a complaint).

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-teusday-slot-with-irene/

We are seeing many complaints coming into Inside Timeshare on the practises of sales agents, which the timeshare companies seem to condone. There needs to be regulations to govern what is acceptable and what is not, these should be right across the board so that no matter which State you purchase in, the rules are the same for all.

Canada is preparing new legislation on the regulation of timeshare, we hope to bring you news of this from our Canadian readers in the near future.

South Africa is also pushing for changes, there have been several high profile cases against the timeshare industry, resulting in jail time and massive fines. It will not be long before they also have some of the strongest laws regulating timeshare in the world.

In Australia, there is also a move to regulate the timeshare industry, we have published in the past a couple of articles on timeshare down under. Again we wait for our Antipedian friends to submit their articles.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, it may not suit everybody, after all we are all different, but it is how it is sold and administered that is the problem. For too long the industry has and in many cases, the US in particular, still carries on as though they are untouchable.

Diamond believed this in Spain, these cases highlighted today and those in the past along with the many more waiting to be heard, are letting them know that they are not above the law and will be curbed and brought to justice. Consumer protection is paramount in any industry, after all it is the consumer’s money that keeps any company afloat!

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

Are you being contacted by different companies offering claims or relinquishments? If so and you are not sure if they are genuine and will do what they say, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you look for the information and point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we publish an article by a new contributor, Diane Creager and titled Elder Advocates, so join us tomorrow and welcome Diane.

Starting the Week

Welcome to our first article for July, we start this week with some news from the Courts in the UK.

On Tuesday 19 June at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Upper Tribunal, Tax and Chancery Division, sat on hearing brought by the Financial Conduct Authority and Barclays Partner Finance. Presiding over the case was Judge Timothy Herrington.

The case centers around a petition to the FCA by Barclays Partner Finance to issue a validation order for finance agreements made between April 2012 and April 2014 for loan agreements involving timeshare sales in Malta.

It transpired that the company which brokered the finance agreements, Azure Resort Services Limited, were not authorised or licenced by Barclay Partner Finance. They approached the FCA to have these validated and claimed that no consumer detriment had been caused by this.

The FCA did issue a validation order on the evidence it had from Barclay Partner Finance, they then received many complaints from many of those affected, this numbered around 1,444 clients.

On investigation it was found that consumer detriment may well have been caused with the new evidence coming to light. But the FCA felt it did not have the authority to reverse the validation orders and the case went before the Tribunal to have the validation orders reversed.

Canarian Legal Alliance along with other law firms representing clients had representatives in court. In the case of the CLA client, the loan agreements was for the purchase of multiple timeshare weeks. These were upgrades to original purchases in the “investment” packs being sold by Azure Resorts, which is the Malta arm of Silverpoint in Tenerife.

These multiple weeks were sold with a promise that a resale program would be put into place, then after two years they would be sold and the “investors” would be able pay off the loans with the money they would make on the sales.

As we know this ploy has been going on for years in Tenerife by Resort Properties / Silverpoint, which are subject to many cases going before the Tenerife Courts and the Supreme Court in Madrid. These sales have never taken place.

The CLA client was given a loan of over £20,000 to finance the purchase, they were misled into believing that the weeks would be sold and the loan agreement would be only for a two year duration. In fact the agreement was for a 15 year repayment term.

It is also known that the clients who were 75 at the time of signing had the loan approved within days of signing. At no time were they asked for any proof of income versus outgoings reports. These clients also signed the purchase agreements and the loan application forms after more than 5 hours of intense high pressure sales. They also felt they had no choice but to make these purchases so as not to lose out on money previously “invested” for weeks which had not been sold. The excuse they were given was what they had previously purchased were not selling as they were not the type of weeks and apartments which people wanted to buy.

The Judge presiding over the case then adjourned the hearing for deliberation, a verdict is yet to be announced.

If the validation order is reversed by the court, then this leave Barclays Partner Finance in a very difficult position, the upshot is if these agreements are not validated then Barclays Partner Finance cannot pursue the borrowers if they decide not to continue the payments. The lawyer for BPF assured the Court that until the judgement, BPF would not enforce the agreements for those who have defaulted.

This also leaves many other questions regarding finance agreements for timeshares, how many more have been made by unauthorised licenced brokers?

It also poses the question of ability to afford the repayments, especially when these agreements have been approved within days of signing, how many have been granted the loans without showing any proof of income versus outgoings reports?

Shawbrook Bank acknowledged this back in 2016, which we reported in an article in July that year, the CEO also resigned over this matter. (see links below)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/28/shawbrook-banks-shares-plunge-on-9m-hit-from-dodgy-lending/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3663651/Shares-Shawbrook-drop-challenger-bank-reveals-loan-irregularities-cost-9m-finance-chief-quits.html

Now for some news from the Spanish Courts last week.

The Supreme Court in Madrid issued two more rulings against the timeshare industry, number 123 and 124. These once again involved Silverpoint SL in Tenerife, they also lost in two cases in the Courts of First Instance held in Tenerife.  

In cases held at the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Anfi were on the receiving end, with contracts being declared null and void and being ordered to repay the clients their purchase price back.

Diamond were also on the receiving end of a Court of First Instance ruling, again the contract was declared illegal and therefore null and void.

With these 7 cases the timeshare industry has been ordered to repay over 160,000€ and in most case legal fees and legal interest.

The lawyers involved in all these cases are the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this or any other article use our contact page and get in touch.

Been contacted by a company or found one on the internet and you are not sure about them, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Fridays Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, Irene Parker continues our theme of “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with this latest article about the treatment of “Seniors” by the timeshare industry. This article edited by Irene is from another new contributor Jang Park.

But first the latest breaking news from Europe.

Legal history has once again been made in Spain, the Supreme Court has issued another two judgements, numbers 121 & 122. These cases again involved the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint, who has figured in a huge number of cases in the past year. They are also losing on an almost daily basis in the lower courts in Tenerife, this is a result of years of malpractice in the sales of their timeshare product which has seen hundreds of consumers lose thousands of Euros each. (See yesterday’s article, Silverpoint in the Courts: Criminal Action Vs Civil Action).

This weeks court figures are what can only be described as impressive, along with the two Supreme Court results there has also been the following:

In the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Anfi del Mar has had EIGHT rulings made against them.

Silverpoint have also figured in the lower courts.

In the Courts of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife, Silverpoint has lost FIVE cases.

They have also lost in TWO cases in the High Court in Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

Diamond Resorts Europe Ltd have also lost TWO cases:

In the High Court number 3 of Santa Cruz, Tenerife, this court upheld the previous sentence from the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, which Diamond appealed.

In the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife the client has been awarded over 24,000€, which also includes double the deposit illegally taken within the cooling off period. This particular case is interesting in that the company named is Sunterra Tenerife Sales SL, but under Spanish law Diamond are liable as they took over Sunterra members when buying out Sunterra years ago.

(See PDF files of the court sentences below).

Diamond 1st Instance

Diamond High Court

As usual all the contracts have also been declared null and void, leaving all clients timeshare free.

In all that is an incredible NINETEEN victories, totaling a massive 851,215.00€. This can only be described as a very expensive week for timeshare in the Canary Islands.

These cases were brought on behalf of these clients by the Gran Canarian law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. This does prove that despite what the industry is trying to tell people, these cases are genuine and the timeshare industry is losing.

Below is a video from a Spanish news program aired in December 2017 by TVE, which is the major state owned television station in Spain. It explains the Anfi appeal at the Supreme Court against a High Court ruling which they lost on the illegal taking of deposits. The Supreme Court rejected the Anfi argument that it did not take the deposits as these were paid to a third party. The Supreme Court rejected this appeal as the law clearly states that no money is to be taken within the cooling off period, even by a third party. (Law 42/98 Article 11 & Law 4/12 Article 13).

The video is in Spanish and is subtitled in English, it also has a short interview with Eva Gutierrez a lawyer from Canarian Legal Alliance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of9a5iX3Mmg

In other news, last month the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) announced that it was working with the Alliance of International Property Owners, to replace the discredited and defunct owners association TATOC.

This association is to be totally independent of the timeshare industry, it does represent those who own outright their properties abroad, so let us hope they will be more effective in protecting timeshare owners and helping to change the industry for the better.

Now for our Letter from America.

Another Senior Couple, Age 82, Driven into Timeshare Foreclosure

By Jang Park

June 15, 2018  

I am 82 years old, a California resident and a Korean American since 1978. I worked for a steamship company as an owner representative.

I submitted my complaint to my timeshare company March 31, 2018. I received a refusal from the company yesterday, June 13, 2018. I have asked Inside Timeshare to help me prepare an article to warn other seniors. I was a deeded owner for almost 20 years.We were happy with our timeshare.

We were willing to remain a timeshare member with this company if our last contract for 5,000 points, for which we paid $20,000, would be cancelled. We strongly feel these points were sold by deception.  Now we have to seek the help of an attorney or foreclose, but will work through Inside Timeshare to make sure we talk to the right people. We understand there are a lot of scams that offer to get you out of your timeshare but don’t. I will be filing the following complaints assisted by advocates. I have been told there is no charge to me for this assistance.

First: California Real Estate Division against the California sales agent  

Assisted by my CA Advocate

Second: Better Business Bureau – Assisted by my NV Advocate

FBI, resubmitted due to now six complaints against this sales agent

Federal Trade Commission

AARPhttp://AARP

I have learned through the advocacy group we are the sixth member to complain against this same California timeshare sales agent. I am #6.

Complaint #1  

RB, a veteran “We upgraded in California ONLY because this sales agent said our heirs would not be liable for maintenance fees if we gave up our deed. The sales agent said he used to be a financial advisor. We bought 15,000 points for no other reason. We now know that the survivor benefit already existed. We lost $13,000.

RB worked as a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison. “I know, but when you buy cars and houses all your life, you don’t expect the real estate agent sitting across from you to be a bold faced liar,” he remarked.  

The agent said he would have to look at our contract, but our heirs would likely be responsible for the timeshare. I told him I would be willing to hire an attorney to fight that. He indicated it would be futile to do so as my timeshare company has top notch attorneys and we would not be able to win the case. He then said if we upgraded by buying 15,000 more points, we could avoid those issues. He also said the contract would be an annually renewable contract that we could walk away from at some future time.  

We were led to believe we could pay all our maintenance fees by opening their credit card and charging purchases. We later learned we would receive only $50 credit for qualified purchased for every $5,000.

Compliant #2 Ages 70 and 68 (resolved)

JM, Disabled Vietnam Veteran

First points purchased June 27, 2012

10,000 additional points purchased for $12,500

15,000 additional points purchased for $13,903

Number of points per contract:  30,000

Original Loan Amount: $49,900 @ 12.2441%

We feel we were deceived by the sales staff.  We had been deeded owners since 2001.

On 1/13/2017, we were asked to purchase a trial package. This sales agent advised us that our additional 15,000 points combined with our original 15,000 points would be worth $9,000.  He stated that the value of our points could be applied to pay our maintenance fees. We learned only some members can pay maintenance fees with points at only $.04 per point. He stated that we could take any points we did not use and apply them towards our maintenance fees. He then spoke of the opportunity to earn an additional $2,700 towards our maintenance fees by using the Barclay Credit Card. We learned we would have to charge over $270,000 annually to earn $2,700 towards our maintenance fees.

The sales agent said that with the few points we owned we would be stuck with the contract as well as our heirs, but said if we upgraded, our heirs would be released. He said there would be a letter in our packet stating this. There was no letter.

We were told that the bank would contact us with an interest rate change to 6% from the contracted amount of 12.2441%. That did not happen.

In a phone call they said they had no reason to cancel our contract and that we never mentioned being told that we could sell our points to pay for maintenance fees.

The 6/26/17 written response from the company not marked confidential.

You were in fact properly advised on the fee structure of your ownership per your contract. The findings also went on to confirm through the use of Barclays and the use of Member benefits you can reduce or apply redemption gained back by your choice to your maintenance cost. They found an area of miscommunication regarding your heirs being liable. The information conveyed (but in contradiction to the sales agent) explained that no one is bound to ownership. The on-going correspondence referenced has been forwarded and we have now provided you with a summary of those correspondences in the details aforementioned. Please feel free again to let any of us or myself of course know any other questions you might have.

Complaint #3 GB

7000 points purchased August 2016

Purchase price: $22,975.20

I told this CA sales agent I wanted to sell our timeshare points online to pay for the maintenance fees and loan payment.  He said it wasn’t allowed but he would privately show me how to do this and gave me his cell number. I called numerous times and he never answered. He told us when we upgraded we would have access to multi-million dollar homes. He said we could rent those for a week @ $10.000 and he would show me how when I called his cell.

Complaint #4 AP

1500 points purchased for $6,975 at an October 2016

The presenter said we were not full members and we should have received a letter to go to full membership. We never received a letter.  He then gave us an option of a deal that would only be good right then but we would have to buy 1500 more points to become full members. He made this seem like a huge deal because upper management would not want to give us this deal but they were working with us so that we would be happy.  He informed us that what we had was worth nothing now and we would have to upgrade to be able to use any benefits.

#5 DT, over 85 years old

40,000 points purchased December 2017 for $116,400

Amount financed: $93,870

Maintenance fees $13,000

At the December meeting we were told we could pay all our maintenance fees turning in points. When we contacted the company we were told that we could only pay $2,000 of the maintenance fees turning in 50,000 points.

We were told we could give it up and walk away if we purchased more points.

I am complaint #6 against this same sales agent

I purchased 5000 points for $20,000. The California sales agent told me I could pay maintenance fees by redeeming points at $.20 per point through the 20/20 program. I confirmed this more than five times with his agreeing when I said there should be some $250 left over after paying our new maintenance fees of about $2,800 with his writing down on the working paper, which he refused to give me after the presentation when I asked.

He said if we get their sponsored Visa Card, they will put $1,000 cash to our credit card account as an Honored Member. When we said we will have two cards, each for me and wife, he said $500.00 of cash will be credited to each account. It was not so important benefit compared with above no. 1, but was found a lie.

The sales agent said we can exit from Timeshare Ownership at any time without any obligation, which his manager confirmed true.

In 2015 we gave up our deeded timeshare. We were told there is no cap on maintenance fees for people who hold a deed. This was not true. We were told there is a 5% cap on maintenance fees increases for points if we gave up our deed. This is not true. We purchased 10,000 points. The sales agent said we could sell the points if we needed to. He gave me the name of a company that could sell the timeshare if we needed to.

The agent said it is almost impossible to sell a deeded timeshare, but timeshare points can be sold easily for about $15,000. He checked with IPhone and gave the following companies to me:

  • Steve Likins – Hilton Head & timeshare sales, 843-816-1900
  • Jimmy ; 706-839-7798
  • Timeshare Resale USA.com; 407 345 9333

We tried to sell our timeshare, and attended about five times, timeshare exit companies’ presentation, but we found all of them asked some fees to get exit.

Thank you to Mr. Park and to all members hoping the public gets the Buyer Beware and do your homework message.

Self-help groups for timeshare members.

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 Jang for your story, it is one we have become so familiar with over the past year or so, ever since we highlighted our first seniors article, we have been receiving a constant stream of similar complaints.

As we have said before, the industry is destroying itself by allowing their employees to lie and cheat, then take no responsibility for those actions. We keep hearing from all quarters, “ We are not responsible for what our sales agent say”. That is the weakest get out imaginable, they are your employees, they are selling your product, they represent your company. It is about time you as an industry took responsibility and changed for the better.

Timeshare could be a good product, the complaints are around the sales not the resorts, accommodation or the resort staff, in this area it looks like the vast majority are happy owners / members.

We are not against business, but we are against business purely for greed, which is what the timeshare industry has turned into.

If you have any comments or questions about any subject in this article or any others published, then use the contact page and get in touch. If you are from the US you will be passed to our team coordinated by Irene. For those in Europe then you will be contacted directly from Inside Timeshare.

As usual we warn you to be vigilant when dealing with any company that contacts you or one that you have found on the internet, do your homework, check, check and check again. If you are unsure how to check, or you are not sure if what you are seeing is true, then contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide.

That’s it for this week, Friday is here, happy hour is calling, so have a good weekend and join us for more news from the world of timeshare next week.

Monday, Lets Start the Week

On Friday we published our usual Letter from America, this particular article was by Irene and was the story of two elderly Diamond members, the Liebmann’s and the Brust’s. As usual Irene sent well in advance a draft of the Article to several entities including Diamond for comments.

In fact this is always done for our US articles, in some cases the timeshare company has responded very quickly to the article and contacted the member directly with a solution. In these cases the article has been pulled at the last minute and another replacing it.

After last Friday’s article Irene received a letter from Diamonds external law firm. In this they state that the article contains “false and defamatory” material.

Inside Timeshare begs to differ, the article is the Liebmann’s and Brust’s story and they wanted it publicised as they felt they had nowhere else to turn. Inside Timeshare was pleased to do this, as that is what this publication is all about. To give the timeshare owning community a voice and a place where they can find the facts and the truth.

For Diamond to send in their well paid corporate lawyers or as I prefer to call them corporate “velociraptors” (swift seizer in latin), to me shows they really do not care what is going on at their sales presentations.

We constantly hear the words “Diamond is not responsible for what our sales agents say”, or “you signed the contract”.

This is a message to Diamond, if you do care about your members then why on earth do you not reign in the excesses of the verbal misrepresentations of your agents?

It is not rocket science, they are selling your product, they are your employees, it is your reputation that is being constantly tarnished, as we have seen in the many complaints and stories we have published.

These are not made up, these are facts as presented by those making the complaints to not only Inside Timeshare but to other entities as well. We at Inside Timeshare do believe that timeshare was and still could be a good product, it is the way it is sold that is the problem. In Spain these excessive sales practices have been curbed, the laws have been set and many companies are now losing millions in the courts for their past transgression.

The ball is now firmly in your court, it is time for you as a company to acknowledge these practices and act to have them removed.

To finish our Monday start we look at news from the Spanish courts of cases last week.

In the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, there were SEVEN sentences passed against Anfi del Mar, once again the rulings of the Supreme Court took precedence, floating weeks, perpetuity contracts and the taking of deposits on the day. All contracts were declared null and void.

On the point of the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance announced their latest victory, bringing the total to a massive 120 rulings from Spain’s highest court. This particular case once again involve the Tenerife company Silverpoint, with the contracts being declare null and void.

In just these cases the clients will be receiving  over 311,000€ plus legal interest and in most cases their legal fees as well.

A very expensive time for timeshare at the end of last week.

If you have any comments or questions on any article published, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare is here to give you a voice and to inform all timeshare owners of the truth.

We also apologise for the shortness of today’s article but other events took control and we were late in getting the article published.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America for June, this week Irene Parker follows on from Haley Saldana’s Tuesday article, but first we look at the end of the week in Europe.

Over the past few weeks we have been issuing various warnings on some very dubious claims companies and fake law firms, we have now received some new information about one called Abogados Lopez.

In the past warnings the name of the lady on the phone was Hope Brugge, well it seems that Hope has now changed to Megan Haywood.

The pitch is the same as before, checking the details of how much they paid etc, before they file the case at court, the a day or so later the great news comes in that they have won the case and the court has awarded a substantial amount. Yes you guessed it they need to be paid to release the money.

The telephone numbers being used are:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

Another number that has been used is

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code.

This week has also been busy with the courts, Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of yet more Supreme Court rulings, with four in one week, this makes a total of 118 against the timeshare industry as a whole.

There have also been six sentences issued in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi del Mar and Silverpoint, with the total being awarded by the courts to the clients amounting to over 409,000€ plus in most cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. The contract have also been declared null and void, leaving these client not only financially better off but timeshare free.

All these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by none other than those intrepid lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

Diamond Resorts International Lawsuit against Castle Law

Declarations of Two Former Castle Law Employees

The Tangled Web: Castle Law Group Entities

How money was funneled from timeshare members to Castle Law

By Irene Parker

June 1, 2018

Diamond Resorts International filed a first amended complaint for damages, injunctive and other relief against Judson Phillips, Esq., Castle Law Group, P.C. and 24 other defendants in the US District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee on February 21, 2118, in an effort to untangle Defendants’ web  of deceit and so as to end Defendants’ improper and legally inappropriate schemes, and in doing, not only vindicating its own rights, but also safeguarding the unsuspecting public and positively impacting the timeshare industry at large.

Case 3:17-cv-01124

Timeshare developers say timeshare exit companies like Castle Law are targeting timeshare members, enticing them to get out of their timeshare contracts. Some of these exit companies charge thousands of dollars upfront, but members are held in suspense for months or years, only to learn they were not released from the timeshare contract. On the other side of the dispute, timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare, desperate to be released from timeshare contracts they never knew were perpetual, and had little or no secondary market.  

https://www.nashvillepost.com/business/legal/litigation/article/20972343/resort-company-sues-local-lawyer-over-timeshare-exits

This past Tuesday we published an article about Haley Saldana getting caught in the middle of a dispute between Castle Law Group and Resort Relief. Haley lost $3,495 after paying Castle Law to get her out of her Silverleaf timeshare, only to find herself foreclosed anyway. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-6/

Two former Castle Law employees, a director of business development and an attorney, relate their experiences working for Castle Law Group, PC and Castle Marketing Group, LLC in depositions filed. I reached out to both employees through Linked-In and the attorney’s law firm. They did not respond.  

Over a year ago I received an email from Carly Vaughn, former public relations manager and content writer for Castle Marketing, asking if I would be interested in writing for the Castle blog. I declined the offer.

We first published an article about developer lawsuits against Castle Law and Judson Phillips August 22, 2017.

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

Among the twelve causes of action in the “cease and desist” letter Castle sent to developers, are those Inside Timeshare readers, asking for help in complaints against developers, would not disagree with. From the Castle “cease and desist” letter found in public filings:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

A “cease and desist” letter demands all communication with the client, including collection attempts cease under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Declaration from an attorney who worked for Castle Law

In his declaration, the lawyer states that it became clear to him that Castle Law was not functioning within the ethical boundaries of a proper law firm. At no time was the lawyer tasked with meeting with and/or engaging clients. Rather, according to the attorney, Castle Law clients were primarily engaged through outside third-party exit timeshare companies. Only on a few occasions does the lawyer recall even speaking with a prospective client. The attorney graduated from law school in 2015 and was hired by Castle Law Group, P.C. in 2015. He worked for Castle Law until May 2017. According to the attorney’s declaration:

It was my understanding, through observations, that many prospective clients engaged the services of Castle Law without ever speaking with any attorney. Strangely, I agreed to have a rubber stamp made of my signature to be used by assistants, which made me uncomfortable.

While at Castle I was shocked to learn telephone calls were being recorded without my knowledge, whereby neither of the two parties was aware they were being recorded. I learned of this practice from Sean Austin, president of Castle Marketing, which I now know to be illegal.

I was involved in the evaluation of various cases of timeshare owners who did not have valid claims and should have been entitled to a refund of monies paid to any of the Castle entities. I reported my claims to Judson Phillips and Michael Keever. To the best of my knowledge, very few, if any, actually received a refund. (Castle Law Group and Castle Marketing were both operated by Sean Austin and Michael Keever, neither licensed to practice law)

After I left Castle, I became aware that Castle Law sent out letters to their purported clients that they never represented them. I became aware of such letters after I was forced to defend my license to practice law against four bar complaints against me. All four complaints were eventually dismissed.

DECLARATION 2

This declaration was provided by the “assistant director of affiliate relations” who later served as “director of business development” for Castle Marketing Group as an independent contractor in 2015.

The director’s role was to communicate with and manage outside affiliate companies, referred to as Third Party Exit companies (TPE) who solicited timeshare owners to cancel their timeshare contracts. According to the director:

I observed that Castle Law allowed the outside affiliates to use Castle Law Group’s engagement agreement without an attorney being present or consulted. I observed that timeshare owners were being led to believe they were paying legal fees entirely to Castle Law Group, which was not true.

Initially, Castle Law Group collected all of the funds and was engaged in the practice of sharing the fees with the TPEs. Sean Austin told me that they had created Castle Marketing Group to “act as a buffer between the clients and the law firm” and to “protect the law firm” and to “get around the issue of fee splitting.”

Later Sean Austin told me Castle Law Group was not making any money, which was “not legal,” and that funds had to be pulled out of Castle Marketing Group and transferred to Castle Law group, so that it would appear as if Castle Law Group was earning revenue as part of the transaction. The TPEs kept their portion of the amounts paid for legal services and sent the rest to Castle Marketing. Castle Marketing then transferred funds to Castle Law Group and the many other business entities operated by William Michael Keever and Sean Austin (pictured above).

I observed that attorneys at Castle Law Group rarely, if ever, met with or spoke to the timeshare owners. Sean Austin told me that the staff needed to keep the timeshare owners happy as the lawyers did not have time to confer with them.

At times a year or more went by without any action taken by Castle Law Group on behalf of the timeshare owners. I witnessed that timeshare owners who persisted with their complaints, or demands to speak with an attorney, would be placed on an “escalation sheet.” Staff members would, in some instances, contact customers to calm them down and say whatever was necessary to keep them hanging on until the deadline for their money-back guarantee had expired. My job became so stressful as a result of timeshare members and TPEs demanding answers, my health was impacted and my doctor advised me to quit my job.

The funds collected from the legal fees paid to Castle Marketing Group were funneled to other business ventures owned by Sean Austin and/or William Michael Keever. These businesses included: Castle Venture Group, Worthington Galleries, God Cloud, ExxoGear, Advisant, Kryptobit, and Instant Merchant Group, among others. Sean Austin expressed to me on more than one occasion that the payroll and budget for all these companies was dependent on my work with the TPEs and the funds generated.  

When I expressed my concern that “clients” would complain to the Tennessee Attorney General, Sean Austin stated that Castle Law Group was registered only in the name of attorney Judson Phillips, so Sean Austin, William Michael Keever and the staff, as non-lawyers, would be shielded from any liability or fault.

The Director left Castle Market Group in 2016.     

To date Inside Timeshare has received 437 requests for assistance from timeshare members who allege they were defrauded by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. It is our hope a meaningful dialog will develop to clean up both sides of the timeshare sale.  

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups before paying anyone to get you out of a timeshare contract.

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/

So that’s it, the end of another week in the world of timeshare, a week that has seen more fake companies emerging and many cases against some of the major timeshare companies being resolved in the courts.

If you require any information or have any comments on any article published, use our contact page and send us a message.

Have you been contacted by a company with a similar story to the ones published and want to know the truth, or have you found one on the internet, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to find the information you need.

Remember to do your homework before engaging with any company, it will save you a lot of heartache in the end.

Have a great weekend and join us next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”.

Friday’ Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America submitted by our very own Irene Parker, but first some news from the Gran Canaria.

Canarian Legal Alliance has had what can only be called a very successful and dramatic week in the courts. At the Supreme Court in Madrid the judges once again ruled in two cases against the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint. This now brings the total number of rulings by Spain’s Highest Court against the timeshare industry as a whole to a massive

There was also a High Court ruling in Tenerife against Silverpoint, plus two Courts of First Instance rulings in Gran Canaria against Anfi Del Mar. In all, clients will be receiving over 148,000€ plus legal interest.

In four cases at the Courts of First Instance, numbers 2, 4 and 5, with Anfi Resorts once again the defendants, all judges came to the same decision as per the rulings of the Supreme Court. The basis of the sentences varied from the lack of a tangible object found in the contract, floating weeks, along with the contracts being over 50 years in duration.

In all the courts have awarded these clients over 138,000€ plus legal interest, also in all seven cases the contracts have been declared null and void.

So seven very happy clients and no doubt celebrations at the offices of the lawyers.

Now for our Letter from America.

How I Made my Worst Enemy so Much Money in the Stock Market in Six Days he probably didn’t have to Work Anymore!

The Flip Side – Consumers Drowning in Debt

By Irene Parker

May 25, 2018

After a pathetically aggressive and deceptive timeshare presentation my husband and I attended in 2015, I started researching timeshare. We had owned three timeshares having bought our first two timeshares around 1984. I didn’t know how to use Facebook and knew little about Social Media. I started posting comments on places like Tripadvisor. One site responded to my post asking me to fill out a form describing my work and educational background. That seemed odd, but I responded that I had retired from Edward Jones Hawaii and had an MBA and a CFP. A few days later I received a call from one of the TheStreet editors. I almost fell over when he said TheStreet was Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money’s investment news service!   

My first TheStreet article was an “editor’s pick” about how I made my worst enemy so much money in six days he probably did not need to work again. Another article was about creating wealth. Given most of the 431 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are struggling with oppressive timeshare loan payments, credit card payments and maintenance fees, I republish my advice to graduates on how to avoid excessive debt. I published about twelve articles for TheStreet before finding my writing and advocacy home at Inside Timeshare. The education I received while working with four TheStreet editors, all possessing the patience of Job, felt like I had earned a degree in journalism.

I hope a developer or two will take the time to read about how two adversaries can come together for the good old fashioned goal of making tons of money. Shooting yourself in the foot by allowing deception to become the norm is unfair to the consumer and has devastated many families. Let’s together turn this ship around and drain the swamp of predatory and criminal sales agents. At least that is what they are if allegations hold true, according to several FBI agents I have talked to over the last year.

Doctor Khalil in my article and I had a grudging respect for each other that we weren’t even aware of. It is my hope the angry timeshare member and developer can come to a similar understanding for the good of the industry. The timeshare developer needs to wake up to the futility of allowing and encouraging sale by deception via overreliance on the oral representation clause, making the consumer sign a perpetual contract, often at a high loan interest rate, often with no secondary market. It can’t continue as it has. Social Media is here to stay.

My investment hero is Peter Lynch, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan fund. As mentioned in my article, while sitting around waiting for my Series 7 score, I read Warren Buffett’s biography and Mr. Lynch’s book, One Up on Wall Street. Their sage advice guided my career. It was a great compliment when ValueWalk reposted my article referencing One Up on Wall Street. I may take a flyer once in a while, but I will always be a value investor at heart.  https://www.valuewalk.com/

May 22, 2016

 https://www.thestreet.com/story/13576145/1/the-markets-crashed-my-first-day-as-a-stockbroker-and-here-s-what-i-did-next.html

The consumer is not off the hook. My mother would admonish anyone who financed a luxury item like a timeshare at 12% to 18% for ten years, often relying on a 20% or higher interest rate timeshare credit card. That doesn’t make any sense, according to my mom.     

Predatory Credit Card Lending – Graduates Beware!

Heed the Cardinal Rule of Investing

How the Time Value of Money can grow $50 a month to $1 Million  

Originally published by TheStreet June 11, 2016

What does this have to do with timeshare?

Don’t finance a luxury item at 12% to 18% as this has been driving some families into foreclosure and sometimes bankruptcy. I don’t think there is a financial planner in the land who would think this is a good idea.

Timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare describing how they have ended up in a financial timeshare wasteland. Tomorrow is my 67th birthday, which has caused me to reflect on my mother, who would have reacted violently, had she learned I financed a vacation at 12% to 18% for ten years.

The importance of prudent borrowing and paying yourself first

First off, buy no vacation plan unless you are maxing out your 401K, 403B, IRA or company retirement saving plan. It’s always best to check with your accountant to determine whether a 401K or IRA is the best choice. The Roth IRA is of great benefit to younger people. But this is not an article about retirement vehicles – it’s about encouraging graduates to start early.

To become better informed, read Jim Cramer’s book, Get Rich Carefully, and then simply check yes to something, preferably 15% payroll deduction.

Here is my TheStreet article about my mom’s extraordinary forced savings plan and about how $50 a week starting early can end up over a million $. Please pass this lesson on to your upcoming graduate.

   

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13603800/1/recent-college-graduates-heed-this-cardinal-rule-of-investing-now.html

My mom drilled into me the time value of money principle every Friday night from the third grade until my high school graduation. This principle is so simple you would think it would not even need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, as an Edward Jones broker, only about one in twenty of my 1,200 client families working towards financial independence, got it. Many did not max out their 401K, 403B or self-employed retirement account.

My mother’s retirement savings method was extraordinary. Her finance education was nothing more than a bookkeeping class she took in high school; but she was a walking MBA. My father flunked 7th grade three times due to something about the school basketball team. He started and failed in six businesses, narrowly escaping a second bankruptcy. I was born into a dry cleaners, his seventh attempt at business.

The first thing my mother did was to hire an accountant. She had had it with financial mismanagement. The accountant, John Schmuck of Ferguson, Missouri, warned my mother, “Whatever you do – keep Johnny out of the books!”

On my ninth birthday, I was informed I was to start helping with the Friday payroll. Mom told me about her “background fund”. Every Friday night she would point to the checkbook balance and a number she recorded in a secret location. She would say each week, “This is our background money – and you are not to tell your father about it unless I die.” It was a lot to absorb at age nine. You see, if the dry cleaners took in $200 in a day, but had $100 in bills to pay, Mom would only record the balance as $100 so my dad would think they were broke. My Mom kept up this charade for 27 years! At age 65, my parents stopped by a Cadillac dealer. Mom pointed to a powder blue Cadillac and asked Dad, “Do you like this one Johnny?” He nodded. Mom looked at the salesman and said, “We’ll take this one.”  She wrote a check, turned to my dad and told him he could retire.

One of my brokerage clients was a cartoonist. She took this story and made it into a cartoon booklet. I handed out 2,000 copies to help build my brokerage business on the Big Island of Hawaii, currently erupting. I had just opened my brokerage office in Honoka’a. The local police officer went up and down the street warning residents not to invest money with this haole lady (haole means in Hawaiian “one who has no life” because the Hawaiians thought the white sailors were ghosts) as I would in all likelihood take their money and abscond back to the mainland. At the time, the local insurance agents were selling whole life insurance policies as an investment.

Undeterred, learning the sugar plantation had closed, and workers could not get their pension benefits, but could get Social Security disability benefits, I lobbied the ILWU. It took about a year, but they amended the plan, workers received their benefits. I began receiving calls like, “You’re the only haole we trust!”  My business flourished as $50 million in assets flowed in.

But – back to the cardinal rule of investing. The most important principle my mother taught me was – PAY YOURSELF FIRST!  As I typed payroll checks, she would point to the list of employees and sadly say, “You see these people! They live from paycheck to paycheck! Think of yourself as a light bill or a telephone bill. You would not miss paying those bills. Don’t wait until you pay your bills to see if anything is left over to save!” Pay yourself first!

If you heed my mother’s advice here is what can happen based on historical stock market performance:

Age 25 – first job at $40,000 per year – 15% of pretax earnings = $6,000

$6,000 in annual 401K contributions

(The Wow of throwing an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 a year in payroll taxes – to the IRS – and what that could have grown to if invested in a 401K convinced a lot of people to get with the program) To continue:

N = number of years (35) to work to age 60

8% – Average estimated growth rate or total return with dividends and capital gains reinvested

The estimated future value at age 60: $1,116,612.

Liquidating or receiving in dividends and capital gains 5% of portfolio income each year in retirement: $55,830 estimated annual investment income.

Most people can comfortably retire on 70% of current income (you should be earning more at age 60 than the $40,000 a year you started out with at age 25).

Sadly, it was not unusual for someone age 45 to come to my office and tell me they needed to start saving for retirement with nothing yet saved. This scenario:

Age 45 earning $40,000 = $6000 saved annually

N = 15 years until age 60 and average estimated growth rate – 8%

Future value estimate at age 65: $175,945.

5% of the $175,945 would generate an estimated $8,797 a year in income

The examples illustrate the power of the time value of money. I went through this exercise with all new clients and watched their eyes widen as my now ancient 12C HP Calculator blinked out the good or bad news. I recently showed my estate planning law firm how it works. Despite being a highly skilled law firm, my little calculator caused shock and awe. Teachers were the best savers; maybe because of the steady paycheck and their expertise in education.

Make sure to pencil in ten minutes every birthday to keep your annual scorecard by updating the numbers. There are an abundance of retirement estimators on the internet. My husband and I had kids to send to college, pitfalls and financial disasters, but overall, we kept the 15% rolling.

Thanks to our pharmaceutical bioavailability laboratory, my jumping ship to learn the ropes of Wall Street, and prudent investing, my husband and I retired at age 55. We don’t live in a palatial home or drive an expensive car, but we enjoy our comfortable lifestyle.

And you know what else? Not one of my clients ever told me they were sorry I made them save all that money.

Thank you Irene, a change from our normal theme, Next week in the Tuesday Slot we publish a story from Haley Saldana, another new contributor and her story of woe.

If you need any help or advice about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, whether is be about claiming or just getting out of your timeshare, use our contact page and we will give the correct information.

So that’s it for this week, it’s Friday and the weekend is now upon us, have fun and join us next week with more news from the world of timeshare.

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