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Diamond Resorts International

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:-

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

THIS IS A SCAM!

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

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

PLEASE SEE OUR NEWS PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…….

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

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

Now for today’s article

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

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

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

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

By Irene Parker
August 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Division V.3
    Contract Relating to Timeshare accommodation rights


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What’s next on the timeshare horizon?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

The tally this week is:

2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;

3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;

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

2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.

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

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

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

Now on with our Letter from America.

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

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

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

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

July 20, 2018

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

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

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

Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story

Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:

How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims

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

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

 

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

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

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

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

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

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

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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’s Letter from America

In this week’s Letter from America we welcome the first article from Ken Silva, with his Nightmare on Timeshare Street story. This is also made more complicated due to the involvement of Barclays, as this is considered as a separate agreement to the timeshare. But first we look at the news from Europe.

It has now been confirmed that the enterprises owned by Mark Rowe, are being investigated by South West Police, this follows the report at the beginning of January of the raids conducted by Trading Standards at several premises used by these companies. This followed after an investigation by the “Scambuster Team”.

The Police are contacting clients who either have lodged complaints with Trading Standards and the Police in the past, or from records seized in the raids. If you have had any dealings with any of his companies (a full list can be found at the link below), then contact:

South West Police ROCU. DC 4624 Katie Andrews. PO Box 37, Valley Rd, Portishead,Bristol. BS20 8QJ

Police ROCU UK

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

Could this now be the end to the Mark Rowe Enterprises?

If we thought that things could not get any stranger in the world of timeshare, then you would be wrong.

Silverpoint based in Tenerife and headed by Mark Cushway, have not only closed their sales decks, but have now set up two companies to offer their own clients a relinquishment service!

One company has been identified as Centaurus Mediations SL, which was highlighted on 15 January. They are contacting clients with the story that the only way out of their timeshare and maintenance fees, is to pay them to relinquish the timeshare. James, one of the callers also tells them that Excel has taken over and that no one will get any compensation for any claims.

How do we make this link, very simple, the information that the caller has on the timeshare owner can only have come from one place, Silverpoint! The caller knew that they had employed ReclaimGC and CLA to institute a claim against Silverpoint, so we leave you to make up your own mind. A fuller story will be published in due course, once all the information has been processed.

For now on with today’s Letter from America.

A Warning to Anyone Thinking About Buying a Timeshare

Our Diamond Resorts International nightmare

Fri Doh!

By Ken Silva

February 2, 2018

Timeshare Consumers, take my advice and do due diligence before buying a timeshare.

Protect your family. Do not get your family into the mess we are in. Do your research. There’s a reason there are so many timeshare members on Facebook and websites seeking to dump their timeshares. I’m sure there are sales agents selling the product honestly, but you decide about our sales agent after reading what happened to us. All you have to do to prove we are telling the truth is to get on our booking site and try to find a vacation based on what we were sold.

Attorneys General, please, do not dismiss our experience. We are fighting to get our money back, as we still owe $10,000 on a Diamond Resorts Barclaycard credit card. We hope to escape the “ironclad” STAY VACATIONED contract.  

Here’s what happened

saleman

In May of 2016 my wife and I purchased a Diamond Resorts International (DRI) Sampler (trial) package for $2,995 in Las Vegas.

Using our Sampler points we booked a stay at Diamond’s Ka’anapali Resort. We purchased 2,500 Hawaii Collection Diamond points for $13,000. Our sales agent was Karen Cossettee. Ms. Cossette told us we would be able to book one to three weeks of vacation anywhere. Our son Jacob, age 3, has a serious medical condition so we need to vacation close to home as we have to be near medical facilities. We had to cut both our Hawaii and Las Vegas trip short because our son experienced a medical emergency back home.

After we returned home, we got on the booking site, but found no locations meeting our requirements. About the only bookings you can get with 2,500 points are for places like Branson Missouri or Gatlinburg, maybe a one bedroom in Orlando. It is impossible to stay one to three weeks in a one bedroom in California near a major medical facility.  

Jacob has cerebral palsy. He has been diagnosed failure to thrive and is on a feeding tube. He requires 24/7 care and he is a case study at Stanford University Medical School. We cannot fly because of his condition. We booked Tahoe recently, but cancelled that trip because even Tahoe is too far.  

Using our Sampler points requires a sales presentation, so we booked a trip to

Las Vegas November, 2017. We stayed at DRI’s Cancun resort. There the Diamond sales agent, Davia Hunsicker said, “Hawaii lied to you! You can’t go anywhere on 2,500 points.” We were told Hawaii Collection points are expected to be slammed with assessments and 10-14% increases in maintenance fees because Hawaii is so expensive and subject to weather damages. However, in Hawaii they told us maintenance fees increase only 6%. They went on to explain that Hawaii was going to have a $1,000 plus assessment for damage to shores.  Ms. Hunsicker told us U S Collection maintenance fees increase only 2% on average.   

The Vegas agents told us the only way out of this situation was to move our Hawaii points to the US Collection and to do that we had to buy 4,500 points for $18,000 to own 7,000 U S Collection.

Like in Hawaii, we were shown several places we could stay that met Jacob’s needs. Again, when allowed on our booking site (again after the rescission period), it was a different inventory. I called DRI and reached a Platinum agent who said, “I’m with the Platinum desk. I can pull strings.” She found a desirable option, Pacific Grove in California. This was one of the locations we were shown in Vegas, only in our inventory it would require 22,000 points.

Timeshare companies can dodge the rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site until after the rescission period. In our case, I tried to log on two days after signing but was told my account was in escrow. The rescind period is seven to ten days, but it takes nearly 30 days before you can access the booking site.

DRI sales agents are so good at having all the answers and they will promise you the moon. Ms. Hunsicker also said we could get an extra 8500 “ghost” points that would upgrade us to Silver by saying we owned an RCI week. She instructed us to just nod to the QA person when they ask about RCI and we would be able to get the extra points, but not to say she told us because, “You might get me fired if they find out, but that way you’ll get another 8500 points.” She advised us to purchase an RCI week at Sam’s Club for $500 – $600 and then trade it in to Diamond for 8,500 points. She said with Silver benefits we could have food stocked and luggage forwarded. This was a tremendous benefit because of Jacob’s needs. However, when I read about these benefits the luggage benefit costs additional funds and the food service was not available at the Silver level.  

We asked about what would happen if we could no longer use the points and were told DRI will work something out and were informed DRI has a website where you can sell points. DRI points are virtually worthless on the secondary market.

We would have rescinded our contract immediately if I had been able to see that we could not use our points as promised. Diamond salespeople will offer their cell and promise to be available and act like they genuinely care about you (like ours did concerning Jacob), but then disappear after a few days of friendly texts.

I work for a faith based non-profit. We teach anti-bullying and leadership skills. Our credit score is over 800. I am 33 years old and my wife is 31, caring for our son’s severe medical issues. To think that timeshare companies allow these practices and hides behind the fine print is astonishing.

I published a review on Trust Pilot.

Reply from Diamond Resorts International

Published Monday, January 15, 2018

We regret to hear of your experience as we are known in being forthright and delivering top notch service. Please email us at [email protected] for further assistance.

My response to Diamond’s response

Edit: Diamond Resorts reached out, as seen below, however, they have not responded to my email to them as of 1/25/18. Also, they are not known for their top notch service. In fact, look on Facebook for the various groups of people who are in positions like mine, or the many other reviews on Trust Pilot. It often takes DRI 45 or more days to get back to you and many are ignored. When you call customer service, they tell you there’s not much they can do to help.

If Diamond was forthright and delivering top notch service, they would refund victims their money. I’m glad I have a background in Social Justice and Social Media.

I hope our pain will save others.

Notes from Irene

Since Ken submitted this article a week ago, Inside Timeshare received five more complaints directed against this same sales center, one against the same agent Ken complained about.  Especially in California, there have been complaints from Monarch owners of deeded weeks, coerced into giving up their deed and buy points, only to find out they did not have access to the week they had used and enjoyed for years.

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

https://monarch-grand-vacations.pissedconsumer.com/lawsuit-against-monarch-grand-and-diamond-resorts-20150428628300.html

All timeshare resorts have non-member inventory that always guarantee non-members can spend the money but members often cannot find availability. Diamond is not the only resort with complaints like this. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman settled with The Manhattan Club for $6.5 million. Clearly, there is a problem industry wide.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-65-million-settlement-midtown-manhattan-timeshare-scammed

Timeshare deception and “bait and switch” is not a practice limited to Diamond, but in the case of DRI, licensed resale brokers will not even accept a Diamond listing. It’s bad enough if you can sell a timeshare if you were lied to, (often a timeshare is worth only pennies on the dollar), but with Diamond it is worse because it has been widely reported Diamond has virtually no secondary market. Try calling some of the members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association and see what they have to say.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

ethics scale

We really do hope timeshare developers will work with us to stop predatory timeshare sales.

Thank you Ken and Irene for today’s article, it is with these stories that everyone becomes aware of what is happening, including the developers. Let us hope that they take note and start to change how they operate.

Inside Timeshare has just been informed from one of our German readers that Marriott is sending out emails to clients with the following statement (part of email translated from German):

An important commentary has been published in the press regarding letting restrictions on tourists (especially in the Balearics and in Catalonia) in 2017.
We would like to point out that MVCI Management, S.L. the only licensed company that has the right to rent properties in MVCI Resorts in Spain for themselves or their owners.
Weekly owners who rent their time-share weeks either by themselves or through third parties face fines of up to € 400,000.
Due to the complex nature of the legislation in question in Spain, we recommend that you obtain legal advice on your individual circumstances before renting your weeks outside the MVCI rental program.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us or send an e-mail to [email protected]com.
Best regards,
Marriott Vacation Club
We will obviously bring you more on this as we get more information as and when we get it.

If you have any questions or require any information on this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare, we will be pleased to help and point you in the right direction.

So that is it for another week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, have a good one.

friday-again

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor Karen Krokosh, but first a quick look at what has been happening in Europe especially in the courts.

The year has certainly not started well for the timeshare industry, the first week of January has seen the Supreme Court in Madrid rule on 6 occasions against Silverpoint from Tenerife.

This court has declared these six contract null and void as they were over the 50 year period allowed by law, what is known as perpetuity, they also contained the points or floating weeks systems.

tribunal-supremo

The court also reaffirmed the position of the taking of any payment within the given cooling off period, even if taken by a third party as prohibited. This cooling off period was introduced to protect consumers and allow them to decide whether they wished to continue with the purchase, as these are usually made as decisions on the day.

The total amount the court has awarded in these cases is a staggering 321,274€ with legal fees and legal interest.

In another case against Silverpoint, the High Court in Tenerife has ordered the return of over £31,000 plus legal fees and legal interest to a British client. Again the contract was declared null and void as it contained the points or floating weeks system.

In the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, another British client has been awarded over £19,000 plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. In this case the contract was sold by Anfi and was for a duration of over 50 years, which is not allowed under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

All these cases have been brought on behalf of client by the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, so contrary to what the timeshare industry is is saying, this law firm is doing what it says and winning on behalf of their clients.

As they say the proof is in the pudding!

On with this weeks Tuesday Slot.

Sell My Timeshare Now,

A Timeshare Listing Service for Buyers or Sellers

Diamond Member Karen Krokosh Issues a Warning

face1

By Inside Timeshare Contributor Karen Krokosh

Comments about SMTN follow Karen’s article

January 9, 2017

I responded to a Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) solicitation. Not only did the company over promise the ability to sell Diamond’s non-deeded U.S. Collection points, they told me they could help me recoup expenses by renting my points. DRI does not allow renting through a third party site. As a resource for timeshare members, SMTN should abide by Diamond’s official rental policy by not accepting rental listings. Here is the current DRI rule:

2.5.1 A Member is not prohibited from periodically renting the Accommodation reserved for the Use Period or the reserved Other Redemption Opportunity pursuant to these Club Rules.

However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited. Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.

Members who are primary developers of Club Resorts (that is, members of the Diamond Resorts International group of companies) and providers of Other Redemption Opportunities are specifically exempted from this restriction, and are entitled to use their reserved Accommodations and reserved Other Redemption Opportunities for promotional, rental, or other commercial purposes.

Diamond is not the only timeshare with little or no resale value. While some timeshares like Disney, Hilton and Marriott can be sold, it has been widely reported Diamond’s non-deeded points are especially difficult to sell. I contacted a few members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one would accept a DRI listing, feeling the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are too severe.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

SMTN agent Sandra Van Lanen suggested a list price of $12,000 for 3,000 points. We paid about $12,000, so in no way was that price realistic as I dropped my price from $12,000 to $7,500, $5,000 and $1,000 with no offers. What was SMTN’s response? They said, “It takes time.” There are about 15,000 Diamond Resorts members on a variety of Facebooks and websites and I’ve learned many of them would be willing to give away their Diamond points. I would have been laughed off these sites posting these ludicrous amounts. I am committed to exposing this company and others that are taking advantage of those already burdened by loan payments and maintenance fees.

Here’s what I paid SMTN:

The original “Advertising and Marketing” product was priced at $1,798. I was given a discounted referral of $1,498 USD, but paid initially a deposit of $699, agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $799 when the timeshare sells. Since that is never in almost all Diamond cases, I decided to cancel the lifetime listing. When you cancel, SMTN has the right to bill you for the remaining balance.

promotion

I have also learned many of the listing and resale companies are staffed by former timeshare executives and sales agents. Some are legitimately trying to help those desperate to get out of their timeshare, but others prey on the desperate. This is a Department of Justice report about timeshare resale and release scams:

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

Many timeshare buyers report they were sold a timeshare by deceit. I looked up the definition of racketeering. While timeshare exit plans are not violent crime against property, I see a similarity. The sales agents who sold us the problem are now the ones coming around to “help” us. “A common example of a racket would be if a group of people cut the tires of cars on a specific street, and then that same group, or one in concert with the one cutting tires offered ‘protection’ to the owners of the cars for a price. This fits the definition of a racket because without the organization’s slashing of tires in the first place, the demand for ‘protection’ would be low or non-existent.”

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/racketeering.asp

I have been trying to get rid of this timeshare for years. I was so relieved to find the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Owners Facebook where I learned that Diamond has launched a new program called Transitions and from what Inside Timeshare told me, I am eligible! I am hopeful, waiting to hear back.

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

Comments about Sell My Timeshare Now by Irene Parker

After Friday’s article about the importance of Better Business Bureau ratings, I checked the SMTN BBB rating. My red flag was raised when I learned Karen paid up front money to list her Diamond points. Accepting upfront money to sell your timeshare is illegal in Florida, but it seems companies can work around the law by calling it an ad or subscription fee, or a market analysis.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-31/

SMTN has been sold twice since 2010. Scott Roberts is the owner of Vacation Innovations and SMTN is a wholly owned subsidiary of V.I.

The BBB has assigned SMTN a D rating. I called SMTN and talked to Mike. The first question I asked Mike is, “Can I rent my DRI points through SMTN?” Mike said renting DRI points is no problem. When I informed him DRI does not allow the renting of points through a third party site like SMTN, Mike said he would have someone from legal call me. We did not hear back. Irina Allen is one DRI member who had her Diamond account suspended, accused of renting points on RedWeek.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monday-start-another-week/

This is what BBB notes on SMTN, providing a good example of how the Better Business Bureau can assist consumers by providing important information.

According to BBB files this company has a pattern of complaints that centers around the company’s advertising claims. Complainants allege they are guaranteed a time frame in which their timeshare will sell. Many consumers allege the company makes a promise that their timeshare will sell quickly. The company responds to the complaints and reiterates the company policy which reads the company does not guarantee when a timeshare will sell.

On March 23, 2016 BBB reviewed the complaints on file and determined the pattern described above has not been eliminated. BBB sent a letter to the company requesting cooperation in responding to and eliminating the pattern of complaints.

BBB received a response from Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) who addressed concerns raised. SMTN has introduced a video that consumers are encouraged to view that clearly outlines their services. In their business model explanation SMTN says that: “…SMTN never promises buyers are waiting; does not request wire transfers, greendot moneypak payment or purchase of prepaid credit cards; does stand behind the services it promises and always strives to deliver excellent service to all of its clients”… Additionally, SMTN hired a law firm to review the complaints and details surrounding each one. This review of these recordings has shown that the communications between SMTN and individual consumers (when they are available) has been shown to differ. SMTN has also instituted training for salespeople. They are to only make promises that are consistent with the guarantees and promises made by the company in writing. SMTN is recording calls made by their sales people to confirm the training is being followed. SMTN now has a policy for their salespeople who consistently fail to comply with the training which results in their dismissal from the company. Finally, they informed BBB that they will be further training their customer care employees to offer to help earlier in the process and be sure to make certain the consumer is satisfied with the resolution.

On December 5, 2017 representatives of SMTN met with the BBB to update us on improvements they are making to their organization. They have taken steps toward improving customer service by hiring a new Customer Service Manager. They have put in place an “audit group” that will contact consumers on the day they sign the contract with SMTN and then again 90 days out as a way to ensure customer satisfaction. It is anticipated that by proactively working with their customers, the number of complaints will be reduced substantially. BBB will work closely with SMTN to follow their progress and to continue to address any complaints that may come in.

Consumers are, once again, requested to contact SMTN prior to filing a complaint with BBB at 1-877-815-4227.

This Business Is Not BBB Accredited

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC

D

Customer Review Rating:

35%

62%

[12] Positive Reviews

[1] Neutral Reviews

[21] Negative Reviews

[34] Total Customer Reviews

[107] Total Customer Complaints

Composite Score:

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC has received 1.93 out of 5 stars based on 34 Customer Reviews and a BBB Rating of D.

This content is provided by the business and may contain advertising. BBB does not review or endorse this content.

https://www.bbb.org/concord/business-reviews/timeshare-resale-and-rental-marketing/sell-my-timeshare-now-in-portsmouth-nh-92008632/Alerts-and-Actions

According to a post found on RedWeek, published on the internet, SMTN does seem to charge a considerable upfront fee. A member had asked whether they should buy timeshare points through SMTN.

Good question. Here is the straight scoop:

ken1193

1 month ago

Sometimes you will find a timeshare of interest on the SMTN site which may be available at a price acceptable to you. HOWEVER, you will have NO say or ANY choice regarding the “closing” entity. Closing costs through SMTN are quite excessive — multiple times the cost of customary and usual closing costs. You have no option to conduct a SMTN transaction “in person”, but that is the case in most any resale timeshare transaction, so SMTN is not unique in that regard. It would frankly be both highly unusual and entirely unnecessary to conduct a resale timeshare transaction “in person”. Objective, third party “closers” who have no association with either buyer or seller (not an available option via SMTN, unfortunately) look out for the interests of BOTH buyer and seller, holding all funds in escrow until closing if necessary. This obviously eliminates any need for any travel or physical presence by either the buyer or the seller just to “close” on a resale transaction.

With SMTN, you essentially have to determine ALL of the collective costs as a buyer and then ask yourself if that bottom line figure is acceptable to YOU to acquire that particular timeshare listing, despite the exorbitant closing costs. Far more often than not, the answer will be NO, but there are (relatively rare) exceptions. In all fairness, in the performance of your due diligence you really have to look at the big picture and ask yourself if the TOTAL expenditure involved justifies acquisition of that particular timeshare for YOU. You obviously first need to accurately determine the bottom line total figure before you can possibly make that fully informed evaluation and personal decision.

SMTN of course has nothing whatsoever to do with maintenance fees, regardless of the resort involved. Maintenance fees are determined only by individual resorts — and they are engraved in stone. That said, I would certainly want to verify the accuracy of any figures SMTN indicates as maintenance fees. This is very easily done by contacting the resort directly for confirmation of any figures claimed by SMTN in their listings.

Last edit by ken1193 on Nov 28, 2017 05:27 AM.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=14010;page=last

Keep calm Homework

Thank you to Karen for her advice! We look forward to hearing more from Karen as our first new Inside Timeshare contributor of 2018.  Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these member sponsored U.S. timeshare groups if you need help with a timeshare. It can save you money.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

If you require any information regarding this article or any other published on Inside Timeshare, please use the comments or contact form and we will get back to you. If you are considering using the services of any company and are unsure of how to check them we will also be pleased to help.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter from America of 2018, we may be only 5 days into the New Year, but the Supreme Court has just made another ruling against Silverpoint.

Another client of Canarian Legal Alliance has had their contract with Silverpoint declared null and void, with the return of over £11,000 plus legal fees and interest. This now makes the number of rulings from the Supreme Court made by CLA to an astonishing 83!

Once again it is that time when maintenance bills start to drop onto the door mat, for many this is a difficult time, especially for the elderly who can no longer afford to pay the ever increasing bills.

For one elderly lady which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for some time it has happened again. This is the case of Mrs B, as you will remember, MacDonald Resorts refuse to acknowledge that she no longer owns her timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain.

Mrs B and her sister, who are now in their late 80’s, employed the services of a company to be rid of their timeshares around 3 years ago. This company “sold” the timeshares and transferred them to another person, this was duly notarised by a notary in Spain. The Lanzarote timeshare has caused no problem, but MacDonald’s refuse to accept the transfer.

Mrs B has now received another demand for over £3000 for maintenance, obviously this will end up being sent to a debt collection agency which will incur even more fees.

It must also be remembered that they had not used the timeshare for over 10 years, yet still paid the maintenance until the transfer. Both are virtually housebound and cannot afford to pay these extortionate amounts.

Tony Hetherington has published several articles about MacDonald Resorts and their chasing of maintenance fees, even after the death of the owners or severe illness.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

MacDonald Resorts is one of the worst offenders in the timeshare industry for this type of behaviour, it is companies like this that have given timeshare the reputation it has. Greed it seems is the order of the day.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Hope for Beleaguered Timeshare Members!

Start with the Better Business Bureau

By Irene Parker

January 5, 2018

The Nightmare on Timeshare Street article scheduled for today has been cancelled because the resort listened and responded to the member. We don’t yet know the outcome, but at least the member has not been dismissed or ignored. The customer is not the enemy. The enemy is the timeshare sales agent that “pitches heat” making outrageous claims to sell points, knowing they are protected by the oral representation clause and that there is no federal enforcement.

If you have a complaint about your timeshare, first and foremost, contact your resort. It’s surprising how many who contact us have not tried to resolve their issue with the timeshare company before contacting an attorney or an exit company. It is the opinion of Inside Timeshare, in most cases, a member can accomplish what an attorney or an exit company can accomplish by following our complaint form. We are here to answer any questions for free.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint: Revised

In the U.S. it’s best to begin with the Better Business Bureau, although the BBB is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

A BBB complaint is the easiest to file and can serve as your blueprint as you work your way down the list of appropriate agencies. File a complaint only if you feel you were a victim of deceit and bait and switch. “I can’t afford this” or “there is never any availability” or “you can always book cheaper online” are not specific enough complaints.

We compare the Better Business Bureau ratings among five major vacation point sellers. First, an explanation of the rating process from the BBB website:

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues. BBB ratings are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

Business’s complaint history with BBB.

The BBB rating takes into account the following information with respect to closed complaints that relate to a business’s marketplace activities:

  • Number of complaints filed with BBB against the business.
  • The size of the business.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business appropriately responded to them.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB’s opinion the business resolved the complaints in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business made a good faith effort to resolve complaints, even if the customer was not satisfied with the resolution.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business failed to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
  • The age of resolved complaints. Older resolved complaints have less of an impact on the rating than newer complaints.

⦁ Type of business.

⦁ Time in business.

⦁ Transparent Business Practices

⦁ Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

⦁ Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

⦁ Advertising issues known to BBB.

From Best to Worst based on Stars

BBB Accreditation: If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance.

https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/about-bbb-accreditation/

Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Worldwide, Diamond Resorts International, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

                                                                     # of stars      # of Complaints       # of reviews +      –   neutral

A+ Disney Vacation Club                            5/5                             9                          1        1                   0      0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Accredited since 1991, in business since 1990

 

A+ Marriot Vacation Worldwide          3.68/5               123                                  11        0                   11     0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994

 

A- Diamond Resorts International       3.27/5          1,115                                   89       2                  86      1

Government Action noted

Not accredited, in business since 1996

 

C+ Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited       2.47/5           781                                108         9                 95      4

Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1966

 

C+ Wyndham Vacation Ownership      2.39/5         2,085                             96             4                 92      0

Government Action noted and a Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994    

Next week: The Consumer Protection Agency – What’s left?

A survey of all timeshare appropriate regulatory agencies:

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

Always Remember:

U.S. Self-Help member sponsored groups we believe not to be industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions about this or any other article published, we are here to give you the best advice possible.

 

Start the Week

Welcome to Start the Week, we ended last week with a couple of more Court of First Instance rulings against Anfi. Once again the courts awarded back substantial amounts to the clients as well as declaring the contracts null and void.

This does make the claims of the CEO of Anfi, that they are not losing any cases rather shallow to say the least.

At the Court of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife, the judge has ordered International Holidayway Marketing SL, to repay over 7,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest. The clients contract has also been declared null and void.

Following on from the ongoing dispute at Los Claveles, Inside Timeshare has been receiving many comments from both sides. There does seem to be very wide difference of opinion, the following comment has been received with author asking to remain anonymous, unless Inside Timeshare deems it helpful to name him. At this point it has been decided to leave it anonymous, this letter is from a pro-committee owner.

los claveles logo

“Time to talk?  With an organisation that:

Does not respect or abide by the Constitution and Statutes that apply to our resort?

Sacks well respected members of staff without justification?

Does not comply with the orders made by the Arbitrator, even though they are participating in the Arbitration?

Employs staff that physically and verbally assaulted our Club President, Carol Parkinson (who is over 70)?

Produces false charges to the Spanish Police about Carol Parkinson and Albert Fletcher, causing Carol to be arrested in Tenerife and having to return there later for a court hearing?

Lies to Spanish courts that they cannot contact Albert Fletcher whilst continuing to send him letters?

The resounding answer is “No”.  Onagrup has twice had the opportunity to talk, before and after the 2015 AGM, and on both occasions has failed.  The overwhelming majority of owners that the Club Committee is able to reach (because of Onagrup’s refusal to hand back the Club’s membership register), directed the committee to stop talking and instead go to arbitration to settle the dispute.

The Club Committee has just issued to members an initial response to the latest letter from Snr Castro, MD of WimPen Leisure Management SA which again breaches the rules of confidentiality of arbitration and which again has been sent out using the Club’s membership register without permission.

The impression given by Mr Castro is that only WimPen has had success in the arbitration and that a few minor matters remain for the appeal court. On that basis he infers that the arbitration was a waste of time and money. As Mr Castro knows very well but fails to mention, WimPen was either refused permission to appeal, or withdrew its appeal, against the arbitrator’s findings that the committee formation and the AGMs and SGMs held by the committee were legal. This means that appointing Hiro Bulchand as the new Administrator was also legitimate, contrary to WimPen’s claims. Which in turn means that WimPen’s administration of the Club since the management contract expired in March 2017 has been illegal. The committee’s belief is that all of these issues were raised for appeal by WimPen in order to destabilise the Club and prevent the Club having any leadership, clearing the way forward for a takeover by Onagrup.

Turning to the financial information provided by Snr Castro, none of these figures has been audited. In addition, owners have been refused repeatedly their constitutional right to inspect the financial records and accounts by WimPen/Onagrup. It is also worth mentioning that the accuracy of the financial figures previously provided by Onagrup for the Escritura owners’ AGM in May 2016 was highly questionable. Whilst it appears that the resort’s funds are growing, these figures cannot be regarded as reliable until audited by an appointed accountant and inspected by the Club Committee.

The bottom line is that there is more to running a timeshare resort than just making a profit. The Management Company needs to have the respect of the Owners and it needs to respect them.  Onagrup has demonstrated from the outset that it is not a suitable choice for Los Claveles which has a fundamentally different ownership model compared to the other WimPen managed resorts, and as a consequence is most at risk of takeover.  Ask any of the owners who have had their holiday ruined by Ongrup’s reckless rental  policies of allowing noisy and disruptive groups of teenagers to book into the resort, and they will soon tell you that it is quality not quantity of rentals that is important.

Unlike the tiny minority of disgruntled owners who are campaigning against the democratically elected committee, the huge majority of owners are completely united in getting Onagrup (and Trustee FNTC) out of Los Claveles through arbitration. This huge majority of owners directed the committee to enter into arbitration and they authorized the committee to incur the expense of legal representation.   The appeal court judge’s decision is expected early in the New Year, and if he rules against Onagrup, the way will then be clear for the owners’ legitimately appointed Administrator to replace WimPen and get on with managing Club Los Claveles for all of the members.

Inside Timeshare thanks all those who send in comments which are conducive to the debate, it is you the members who need to resolve this issue. Until all members are informed of the situation, then being able to make up their own minds as to which way forward is best, this will drag on and may incur considerable legal expenses. Whichever side you are on, the time to talk is now.

In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot with Irene, we look at the Billion $ lawsuit and why a Federal Court Judge has ruled in favour of Diamond Resorts International. There is also the story of Mary Bowling a former DRI sales agent, who has a case at the courts in Hawaii. Once again we highlight another military family falling foul of unscrupulous sales agents.

As we were about to publish the first sentence from the Court of First Instance of this week has just come in.

Once again it is against Anfi, the judge in this case has awarded over 5,000€ plus over 7,000€ in maintenance fees and legal interest, also declaring the client’s contract null and void.

Watch this space for the news as it happens.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we continue with another chapter from our traveling writer David Franks, this week it is entitled Miami Vise, edited by Irene Parker. But as usual we begin with some news from Europe.

eu news

Back in May Inside Timeshare reported on some very nasty events in Tenerife, this involved the former Wimpy resort Los Claveles, which was subject to a management buyout by Ivan Pengelly in 1998. Over the years the resorts operated by Wimpen (Wimpy Pengelly) had very good relationships with the owners and the owners committee, this all changed when Pengelly sold out to the Ona Group. (see previous articles).

But there may just be a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it was announced this week that the arbitration process has completed and a judgement has been made. It is in total favour of the owners committee, that the Ona Group, Wimpen and the FNTC, are all in the wrong. The owners committee is legally constituted and has all the rights to run the resort. This means everything must be handed over to the committee, that Wimpen (Ona Group) have no right to collect or demand maintenance fees.

It now just needs to be seen if these companies comply with the Arbitrator, if not the committee will then have to resort to the Spanish Courts to enforce the judgement. We wish them all the very best and hope that this sorry tale will be over very soon. More on this as and when new information comes in.

http://insidetimeshare.com/los-claveles-return-bad-days-timeshare-tenerife/

http://insidetimeshare.com/los-claveles-battle-goes/

http://insidetimeshare.com/horror-weekend-los-claveles/

Now for some news which is proving to be rather disturbing.

Justice4 the claims company owned by Lee Roy Pallister, which went bust recently but re-emerged as Hello Consulting and Tucola Ltd, with his wife as named director, has been taken over. Could this be good news for all those clients who paid Justice4?

Unfortunately that may not be the case, the take over is by ABC Lawyers, yes, you did read that correctly. Mark Rowe of Monster credits, Hollywood Marketing and Jive Hippo fame is now owner of the former Justice4!

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare

The TCA (Timeshare Consumers Association) whole heartedly endorse this, not surprising considering the TCA is also owned by Mark Rowe.

What also has to be remembered is Mark Rowe was at one time a senior sales manager for Resort Properties / Silverpoint under Mark Cushway, now look at the history of that company! Also Lee Roy Pallister is another ex-timeshare salesman. We leave it up to you the reader to decide what the implications of this will be. We think we already know what they are likely to be!

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published an article about Anfi, just after publication, news came in of a sentence which had been issued by the court, it would seem that even though it is August some people are still working.

Another loss for Anfi, at the moment we do not know the infringements ruled upon, but it is more than likely the usual, either perpetuity, floating weeks or points. In this case the ex-member has been awarded 37,224€ plus the legal fees and the court also awarded back all maintenance fees that had been paid.

Do you still believe what Anfi say, that they are not losing any court cases?

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

Our DRI Misadventures

Chapter Four: Miami Vise

miami

By David Franks

August 11, 2017

For background, you might wish to read the first three chapters:

Chapter 1: Vegas, Baby! — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Chapter 2: Missouri Loves Company — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

Chapter 3: Stand Back. These People are Professionals  —http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-12/

(You might not. The annoyance is epical.)

April 2016 arrived. Never mind the showers; my lovely wife and I were going on a Diamond Resorts International Dream Holiday to Miami, Florida and the western Caribbean!

We started the adventure on Tuesday, April 5. I shall note at the outset that it was road and bridge construction, not DRI that turned the drive to the airport into a slightly mobile parking lot.  XNA in Bentonville, Arkansas is a lovely little airport.  It is expensive to fly in and out of XNA, but the cost was covered in the Dream Vacation package.  Score two for DRI.  Keeping their intervention to a minimum works wonders.

We arrived in Miami without incident, unless changing planes at the Houston airport is an incident. We made our way to the Penguin Hotel in Miami Beach, a nice old place on Ocean Drive in the historic South Beach Art Deco District. We had selected the hotel because of its age, and because it was possible (though not easy – see Chapter Three) to get an ocean-view room.

We arrived at the hotel to find that we did not have a room there. Somebody from DRI had decided to “upgrade” us to a brand-new room in the President Villa, a newly-remodeled building. We talked to a couple of hotel managers, met a couple more concierges, and confirmed that our reservation for an ocean-view room was in underlined capital letters in their reservation book.  Having been made aware of their faux pas, the helpful DRI people attempted to mollify us with a $100 certificate for dinner at a rather nice little bistro (double the regular value of $50). We were not mollified, but we accepted the certificate.

Unfortunately, we would not be able to have the favor of their “upgrade” corrected immediately, as there were no rooms available in the Penguin until the next day. So, guided by a helpful DRI minion, we excursed from the Penguin along a dismal alley route to the President Villa, a former office building next to the President Hotel on Collins Avenue. The conversion to residential use was not impressive. Our room was so awkwardly designed as to be uncomfortable; the bathroom would not have been even adequate for a modern resort guest. The ocean view I had struggled to get was of course not available, and the slight smell of fresh paint was no compensation. When we compared the President Villa to the Crescent Resort – and even to the dinged-up but charming Penguin – we felt that we were being treated as second-class guests.

On the other hand, the President Villa – despite its lack of accoutrements consistent with a nice hotel – did offer, under the same roof, exotic car rentals and the services of a psychic/fortuneteller.

gypsy

While we were unable to see the ocean, we were able to see from our window an endless stream of people taking selfies standing next to or sitting in Ferraris and Lamborghinis, presumably with permission.  We declined the opportunity to have a tarot reading, as we already suspected that our future with DRI was not becoming less bleak.

We trundled back over to the Penguin the next morning and took possession of our ocean-view room in time to attend a luncheon provided by DRI prior to a mandatory “buyer update” meeting that afternoon.  The luncheon, set up in the lobby of the Penguin, was actually rather pleasant (DRI managed to not interfere), and we met a few Diamond Resorts members who made a good show of not seeming like victims.

We eight or so members then went next door to the Crescent Resort and up to the penthouse, where over the course of a couple of hours we were told a couple of things that started out interesting but have since turned out to not be true: that, as Gold and Platinum members, we would be receiving a tablet computer preloaded with DRI-related software, which would enhance our owner experience; and that DRI was looking at adjusting maintenance fees based on actual resort usage, which would reduce some members’ fees (“Like ours?” I asked. “Like yours,” they said) because there’s no need to pay so much to maintain facilities one doesn’t use. Oddly enough, they didn’t try to get us to buy more membership, but they did make us stand around on the roof deck for quite some time for no apparent reason.  Particularly given the lack of veracity of the “buyer update”, we would have been better off using the afternoon thus occupied for sightseeing instead.

[Note from Irene: Maybe they read Chapters 1, 2 and 3?]

Our only interaction with a DRI concierge as such was an attempt to find the nearest Walgreens where we could get a prescription filled. He didn’t know, and he guessed wrong.

We had a good time during the remainder of our stay in Miami Beach. We had a nice bus tour, visited Calle Ocho, and enjoyed the meal at the bistro, which ended up costing a little over $100. The Penguin is a perfectly good hotel if your expectations are in line with what an old hotel has to offer. The room was fine – its ocean view was just as good as from a newer hotel – and its cafe provided a good breakfast. As it turned out, we were not charged for the upgrade to an ocean-view room. I hope the Penguin didn’t end up eating a loss caused by DRI’s interference.

group

Important points this week:

  • Although I will not attribute the change in our room reservation to malice or perversity (but what’s left?), I will note that I had explained at some length our interest in the Penguin as a historic hotel as well as our interest in an ocean-view room to everybody I talked to, and our reservation had been emphatically logged.  Calling the change an “upgrade” was a little perverse, however.
  • The Crescent Resort is a DRI property. The Penguin Hotel and the President Hotel are “Club Affiliated” properties.  DRI does not mention the President Villa at all; apparently they prefer to surprise unsuspecting guests with it.
  • Renovation tip: never hire DRI to oversee or approve of a building makeover.
  • Except for the meddling in Miami – which was the only real opportunity DRI had to screw things up –  the Dream Holiday, once underway, went well, despite the fact that it involved a seven-day Carnival cruise (which, apparently amazingly, came with an ocean-view stateroom).  My lovely wife and I thought the Dream Holiday was a good value at 7,500 points, and we saw no need for DRI to misrepresent the potential retail value of the hotel room.
  • Subsequent mentions of the tablet computers and the purported maintenance-fee adjustment to DRI customer service indicated that DRI had never discussed them with the front people at all.  Upon escalating the issues, it turned out that the tablets were supposedly an inducement for brand-new members, rather than an amenity for existing members.  One of the people I talked to said it sounded like I should get a tablet, and he would check into the matter and get back to me. (He never did.)  Based on several reactions at escalated levels of customer service, the supposed maintenance-fee adjustment was a total fabrication.
  • More concierges!  (DRI seems to be a tad lenient in bestowing the title of “concierge”, if my understanding of the office is correct.)

plane

Well, there you have it. David Franks, our intrepid travel writer, is safely back home no doubt planning his next Diamond adventure. Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to share your Airbnb, Diamond, Bluegreen or Wyndham travel experiences. Canadian postings tell us Diamond is allowing some users to use their Diamond points to book AirBnb. As they say, if you can’t lick them, join them. More on that as we investigate further.

Contact Inside Timeshare or Diamond and Bluegreen member supported Facebooks if you would like to become an Inside Timeshare contributor.

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

This Bluegreen Facebook page of 1,670 members, Sales Team Reviews & Update/Sales Presentation Experience, is for the benefit of the members, corporate Bluegreen personnel and sales agents working towards a more honest and transparent sales process.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1718664518412381/

This Bluegreen Facebook page seems to be a sort of self-help Facebook for members helping members.

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

So there it is, the end to another week, Inside Timeshare again thanks all contributors to the articles, we also thank those who have sent in details on their dealings with some of the companies that have featured. Without that information it would be difficult to give you the facts.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week for more news and truthful facts on the murky world of timeshare.

weekend02

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week Eron Grant submits her open letter to ARDA (American Resorts Development Association), for those in Europe that is the RDO. She explains her experience at the hands of a sales agent and asks why does ARDA have a code of ethics if these agents and resorts ignore it? Very good point, the same can be said of the RDO.

First a roundup of this week. For August it has been quite a full week for Inside Timeshare considering that the courts are closed so no news on that front. We began with the ongoing story of the fake law firms in operating out of Tenerife, yes, that family called Litigious Abogados, bit of a sorry story this one.

Unfortunately, the gentleman in question didn’t find our previous story in time, he was totally taken in by the documents and smooth legal talking of this crowd. It began with the usual pitch, that his timeshare company had a case against them ready to go to court and he could be part of it. He duly paid the initial Procurador fees, then a few weeks later he got the great news that he won the case and the court had awarded him thousands in compensation, brilliant!

Now it was only a matter of paying 20% of the award to the tax man to release the money, this done he was told his cheque was on the way. The envelope arrived with the court papers, but no cheque, the envelope had been opened and the cheque missing. After contacting the “Law Firm”, another company contacted him saying the court had appointed them to investigate and get his money back, apparently this Romanian gang had stolen the cheque and cashed it. Don’t worry, we will get the money back from the bank. First you have to pay us 10% of the amount.

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

Then in what can only be described as a further insult to injury, he was told he owed the property tax on a property he owned in Spain, his NIE Number had expired plus he had outstanding fines for a traffic offence. But we can sort this out for you and get the money released, for a fee.

This has lost him thousands of pounds and has caused him great stress. So beware, it may sound good and look genuine, but it rarely is.

On Tuesday, we published the ongoing story of Tauro Beach, the flagship project from Anfi, this time it was a couple of independent research journalists, Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer. In their article, published in the UK paper The Guardian, they investigated the importation of the sand for this man made beach, brought in from the Western Sahara in breach of UN sanctions and European Court of Justice rulings.

This investigation is still underway by various authorities, the main one being SEPRONA, the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil.

Wednesdays article was from Irene Parker on the Welk Resorts case against Timeshare Exit Team. It highlights the dire need for a proper secondary market and a fair exit strategy for those who do not wish to sell.

In this article we opened with news that the TATOC Help Line had closed, we also published a link to a very good in depth report on the importation of sand from Western Sahara and a little of the history from that region. This was written by Ed Timon Editor of The Canary News, an english language newspaper in Gran Canaria.

Yesterdays article was entitled, Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare, in this piece we showed that even old friends will attack each other for your money in this business. It told the story of a company owned by an ex manager of another company, who is now in the business of supposedly claiming compensation against his old employers. Unfortunately, his history and publicity is not as squeaky clean as he would like you to believe, we leave that to your judgement.

So on with this week’s letter.

Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Woman what

Members are beginning to wonder

ARDA’s Answer from ARDA’s website

ARDA and its members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation ownership. To demonstrate that commitment, all ARDA members as a condition of membership must agree to comply with the ARDA Code of Ethics.

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.

By Eron Grant

August 4, 2017

Part I – My letter to ARDA

Part II – ARDA’s Code of Ethics

Part III – List of Inside Timeshare member articles that question the Code

Mr. Clements, General Counsel and Lobbyist for ARDA,

My husband and I feel we have been deceived by Diamond Resorts International, and ask for your assistance in getting justice for our victimization.

In November of 2016 we stayed in one of DRI’s timeshare resorts in Sedona, AZ through our Interval International membership. While there we attended a DRI sales presentation. The hotel concierge gave our family of 4 a $150 gift card to a local restaurant for our thanksgiving meal, and in return we were to attend a 90-minute sales presentation. The presentation ended up lasting 6 hours, with our sales agent becoming agitated when we said we needed to leave due to my husband’s golf tee time. This violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics of “Information”.

The sales agent, Karen Calvano, empathized with us about our inability to stay in resorts unless located close to home which is in Houston, TX. She said she knew Interval International did not have many resorts in our area, but that DRI had many resorts, and we would certainly be able to find resorts in Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. As it turned out, DRI’s resorts in our area are owned by affiliate resorts rather than DRI and costs approximately more points than we were sold. This violates ARDA’s “Exchange Program” in which we were over promised on the likelihood to exchange for Diamond’s inventory in our area.

When I looked on the Diamond member website recently, Diamond’s Great Wolf Lodge affiliate property in Texas was available for 26,911 to 66,467 points. If we multiply 26,911 by 20 cents which is the typical cost of maintenance fees, it would cost $5,382 for a one week stay. Booking.com had the same Family Suite available for the same week for $1,700. This is not an unusual scenario. I have searched various times throughout the year.

We attended DRI’s “Event of a Lifetime” in January, 2017 which we were told was our member orientation. The “orientation” turned into a high pressure sales presentation quickly with misleading information regarding redeeming our points for 30 cents per point if we paid to upgrade our membership to platinum. When my husband, Dr. Mark Grant, asked to see the price per point in writing, the sales agent pointed to his own written notes to show us that it was legitimate. My husband pointed out the documented literature which showed the amount at 10 cents per point, and the salesman quickly dismissed us to the next sales agent.

According to the ARDA Code of Ethics, this sales agent violated the ethics standard of “Avoidance of False and Deceptive Statements”.

Mr. Clements, as you can tell from the brief account I have written, we are in a rough situation with devious minded people who have not followed ARDA’s Code of Ethics, and should therefore be forced to let us out of our contractual agreement.

We appreciate your consideration, and assistance!

Sincerely,

Eron Grant

Response from Diamond

I am responding to your concerns regarding availability in Texas and Louisiana. While Diamond Resorts does not own or manage any properties in these states, we do have affiliate agreements with several resorts. These properties offer us limited inventory each year to offer to our members to book with their points. Inventory is typically limited, and prices are set by the properties themselves, and not by Diamond Resorts. These properties are offered on a first come, first served basis in addition to the Diamond Resorts properties covered under your contract.

Diamond Resorts does offer a property in New Mexico, the Villas de Santa Fe. If you would like assistance booking at this property, please let me know and I will be happy to assist.

My Response

My concerns with Karen Calvano stating “DRI has several resorts in TX, LA, and NM” is that when we asked her to show us the properties she said, “Oh we can’t do that right now, but we can do that later.” After 6 hours of being with her, we were exhausted and never did see the properties.

We explained that we are owners with Marriott and members of Interval International already, so affiliate properties through DRI really don’t help us. Plus, the value of your affiliate properties is ridiculous. How does this help us?

questman1

I would like for Mr. Clements or someone at Diamond to explain to me why this does not meet the definition of White Collar Crime: Deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. In my opinion, there is no doubt what we were offered and what we received meets this definition and violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics.  

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association

adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. General Ethics Standards.  
  1. Disclosure.

With respect to the sale, resale or marketing of a Vacation Interest, the Member shall:

  1. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer regarding the Vacation Interest and all material terms and conditions of the offer of a Vacation Interest.
  2. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer of all material terms and conditions of all other products offered contemporaneously with the Vacation Interest, including exchange programs, incidental benefits, financing, short-term products and exit programs.

The Full Code: http://www.arda.org/ethics/

audience

Note from Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from many angry timeshare members, including Bluegreen members. Here are just a few of the many members who have contacted Inside Timeshare wanting their voices heard.

This is our DRI Advocacy Facebook page which respectable sales agents and corporate personnel are allowed to join. We hope the folks at Diamond, Bluegreen and ARDA will take the time to read member stories. We promise you will learn a lot.

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/

Member articles

Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-australia-no-read-correctly/

Alan and Debbie Callner

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

Detective Lela Renea a Bluegreen member

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

David Franks Chapter 2 (Chapter 4 upcoming)

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

Karen Garello Secret Shopper June 22, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Romeo and Lily

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-9/

Dr. Jeffries

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-7/

Angela Johnson

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

Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

Barclaycard and Member stories May 17 2917

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Eron Grant May 12, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

Betty Burmeister and a Filipino Family April 13, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

Laurie Sabbagh Secret Shopper March 17, 2017 Clarity Review

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

A Military Family March 6, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys January 25, 2017

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

Irina Allen January 13, 2017

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

Kathie Old December 6, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award December 5, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles November 7, 2017

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

Sylvia Saldana and the Barclaycard October 25, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

right wrong

Thank you Eron Grant and Irene for this weeks contribution, these are your stories, they are published so you know what is going on in this murky world called timeshare. If you have a story you would like to share or have any comments Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or even need to know if you are dealing with a possible “scam” company, get in touch with us. Even if we don’t know the answer straight away we know where to look and can point you in the right direction. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry, doing your homework is essential, even more so in today’s timeshare world.

So it only leaves us to say, it’s Friday, have great weekend.

fridaycat

Friday’s Letter From Canada

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter From Canada, Inside Timeshare is pleased to give a warm welcome to Club Intrawest Owners Group who have contributed this week’s article. As Usual we start off by looking at the European timeshare scene.

At the moment, which is nothing unusual for this time of year as it is rather quiet, that will change after the summer holidays when the maintenance bills start to arrive. That is when we start to see a lot of new or resurrected bogus companies start to appear.

bogus clipart

On the legal front, the courts in Spain have been very busy, with an almost daily announcement of cases being resolved. At the moment there seem to be two companies in the firing line, Anfi in Gran Canaria and Resort Properties / Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Anfi, which was the dream project of the late Norwegian Bjorn Lyng, who wanted to build a resort which was pure luxury, has for some time been on the receiving end of many claims for breaches of the timeshare law.

Many of these, involve the taking of deposits within the statutory 14 day cooling off period, contracts with a duration of more than 50 years and the floating weeks and points systems.

This week the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas has ruled on two case to the value of 44,131€ and 35,485€ respectively. In both cases the contracts have been declared null & void.

Resort Properties / Silverpoint have also had several rulings against them this week.

The first was at the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife, the judge ordered the return of £22,736, this was followed by a Supreme Court ruling with the judge ordering the return of 37,400€.

Tenerife

We then had another Court of First Instance ruling of around 25.000€ and as we go to print our sources in Madrid have informed us of another 3 rulings by the Supreme Court. At the moment we have no idea of the amounts involved, but we do know that all contracts have been declared null & void.

On the fake law firm front, one gentleman has had lucky escape, he received correspondence from Armando Gareca Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family, who we highlighted sometime ago. He received notification to pay the initial procurador fees to get the case into court, but something made him suspicious. He did a search on the internet and found the articles posted on this website about them.

Needless to say he realised he was about to be the victim of an elaborate scam and has not gone ahead. He sent a message of thanks as this has saved him not only a substantial amount of money, but a lot of stress. This does go to show that you must do your homework before engaging with any company, especially if they have contacted you with a story that sounds too good to be true.

homework

Tauro Beach

The Anfi man made beach project.

It has been awhile since we had any news on this sorry subject, so here is the latest.

As we previously reported the beach has been fenced off denying access to the public, with security guards and police removing anyone who entered the beach. Although recently massive crowds have flocked to the area in defiance, a new strategy has now been implemented.

This new move has also had the impact of denying access to the homes of people who live there, all paths and access roads have now been blocked with rocks and other implements. Videos and photographs have been posted on facebook by one resident who has been campaigning against this project from the start and also published in laprovincia a Spanish newspaper.

This is another example of how a timeshare company behaves, not just to it’s own members but to the local community. It is also an example of how elected authorities view the people they are supposed to serve. Please show your support for the people and post your comments on the links.

Follow the links to view the posts from this local resident and the La Provincia newspaper.

http://www.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2017/07/20/grupo-anfi-cierra-acceso-playa/961620.html

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1491927374183912

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1492232357486747

Now on with our latest contributors.

Club Intrawest v. Canada

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

Must Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Following Recent Federal Court of Appeal Decision

gavel

July 21, 2017

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

“Based on a detailed survey answered by more than 400 members, I expect that the majority of our members will be shocked and disappointed that the court found that members have no beneficial ownership in the vacation homes.  About 79% of them remember being told by Intrawest and DRI sales representatives they would own a real estate interest in the resort properties. About 91% of members also remember they were explicitly told that members controlled the Club and that resort properties were vested in a trust for the benefit of members. The Federal Court of Appeal now tells us that no evidence was produced that ownership of these homes has been vested in a trust for the benefit of members”, says Patrick Cormier, Volunteers Team Leader of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG) a grassroots movement of over 3400 members.  “However, it seems clear that the Intrawest/DRI-dominated Board of Directors anticipated the GST liability all along since it began accumulating a C$14 million reserve from members’ resort fees under a 2011 Board resolution without informing members until the CIOG raised the GST issue with the Board in 2016”.

Club Intrawest was established by Intrawest Corporation in 1993 as a stand-alone not-for-profit Delaware corporation, but with Intrawest in a controlling position. Intrawest ensured they had control of the Club in several ways, including by granting themselves (as “Declarant” member) a 15 times voting power advantage over individual members guaranteeing Intrawest and now DRI, ongoing and complete control over all aspects of the Club.  In addition, Intrawest and now DRI voted in their own employees on the Club’s Board of Directors to maintain a controlling majority on the Board, hired themselves as manager and pay themselves a guaranteed 10 to 15 per cent management fee on all financial transactions.  Club Intrawest (Embarc) members have no control of the club or effective means for recourse, even though members, other than DRI, own 95 per cent of the timeshare points.

About the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG)

The CIOG is a grassroots movement of over 3400 members who are banding together seeking fairness and transparency in their Club’s operation for all 22,000 members.  The CIOG is disputing and challenging unfair actions of Intrawest Corporation, Diamond Resorts International and their domination of the Club’s Board of Directors and Management Company. The CIOG came together as a volunteer group in December 2015, following Intrawest’s announcement of the sale (without member input) of Club Intrawest’s management to DRI. Following the sale, DRI rebranded the club to Embarc and fully controls the not-for-profit timeshare.  For more about the group, visit

www.citheownersgroup.org.

Judgment of Federal Court of Appeal:  see link

http://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf/decisions/en/item/232795/index.do

canadian flag

Clearly this is an evolving story. Inside Timeshare will continue to monitor and report ongoing developments.

Other member sponsored Diamond Advocacy groups include:

DRIP launched by over 1,000 British Diamond members

http://drip.enjin.com/

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group and because timeshare concerns are bigger than any one resort Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

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/

Some of the points in this article regarding the judges decisions are very similar to those from the Supreme Court in Spain. Especially on the system of “points”. The Spanish Courts also agree that they are not owners but members with only a right to use, it makes us wonder if the Spanish rulings may have had an effect on this?

Anyway thank you to our Canadian cousins or should we say “Canucks”, we look forward to more contributions from you. Also a great big thanks to Irene who is helping to make this happen. It is through articles like this we make the world smaller and help timeshare owners no matter where they are. So welcome to the global timeshare family from, The Philippines, Australia, USA and Europe. We now need some from South Africa!

Have a good weekend and don’t forget to do your your homework!

weekend cat