Browse Tag

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Irene Parker

September 7 2018

Chantal DesjardinesDiamond Embarc/Intrawest June 2018 election results:

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

James Orr (incumbent)    421

Robert Reyes                       361

Chantal Desjardines           2293

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lt. Gingrich’s grievances:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak Truth to Power       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECOGNITION

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

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

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

 

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

Have a good weekend.

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