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The Tuesday Slot: Manifesto Part 1

After we published our interpretation of Florida HB 435, Inside Timeshare received the following Manifesto written by an Industry Insider. Part I examines the history of exit companies. Of note is the mention of the role private equity plays in today’s timeshare industry. Private equity firms played a major role in the junk bond debacle of the 80s and the subprime mortgage crisis of the 90s, so it is of no surprise to find private equity firms directing timeshare today. A junk bond or a subprime mortgage had some value for the borrower, but a timeshare contract, often adding up to $100,000 or more, is worth next to nothing should the borrower need to sell.

We look forward to Part II in which today’s author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Florida HB 435 addresses timeshare exit services

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

MANIFESTO

Timeshare Exit Companies and the Future of Timeshare

WHAT DO THIRD PARTY TIMESHARE EXIT COMPANIES (“TPE”) TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE TIMESHARE INDUSTRY?

Part 1.

By Anonymous.

Our Questions;

 

  • Are Third Party Exit (“TPE”) companies selling a product that is largely undeliverable?
  • If the product is undeliverable are all remaining TPE’s simply exhausted Ponzi schemes awaiting implosion and bankruptcy?
  • How many Customers in the last 12-48 months have paid thousands of dollars for services yet remain unresolved, un-exited, un-refunded, and are still on the hook for their timeshares?
  • How large is this Exodus?

 

In this manifesto we shall attempt to break down into layman’s terms the causes and effects on the Timeshare Industry at the hands of the so-called third-party timeshare exit companies or “TPE’s” and eventually in Part Two, draw public comment for a new business proposal to remedy and resolve some of the issues.

We shall also reminisce at some of the more notable examples of earlier ill-fated timeshare exit businesses, all of whom reveal the starkest of similarities. In doing so, we will also be commenting on the chest-beater from the Industry in the form of a Sept 17th 2018 public release. Sadly, we shall also be debating the unconventional elephant that still sits in the room.

  • Why is there such resistance to owners exiting a Timeshare?  
  • Why is there no organized, unionized, “brand supported” exit & secondary market offering that satisfies the disposal needs of owners who are aged, retired, unwanted beneficiaries of, no longer travel or are on Federal poverty levels?  

 “On Sept 17th 2108 the Timeshare industry, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), have united to stop the misconduct of those deceiving timeshare owners into paying for illusory timeshare exit services through fraudulent means”.

I applaud the Industry on the use of the word “illusory’ as defined as: based on illusion; not real.” In what appears to be a long overdue case of karma, the timeshare industry is altruistically defending its long suffering, desperate “exiting and cancelling” owners from paying for illusory exit & cancellation services.  

(We don’t know who is more naïve; the Resorts for expecting that no one can ever get out of a Timeshare, or the deluge of Owners who paid upfront to try to get out!)

We speculate that in the last 36 months a crescendo aggregating to millions of owners had the audacity to want to end their Timeshare experience and as a result many hired Lawyers and Advocates and spent tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to get rid of their timeshares. Most of these fees were paid upfront, and most were promised that fees were 100% refundable if the exit contract expires and one still owns one’s timeshare assuming the Lawyer or Advocate is actually still in business!

Customers are asked to pay $7500 or more ‘upfront’ to be represented or advocated. Most marketers claim that there are magical back passages into resorts that take back the timeshares quietly in a forbidden black market open to only the special few. Marketers support this notion by suggesting that if the resorts were to publicly announce that they take back timeshares there would be an immense exodus of cancellations. No present evidence supports this tall tale.  

The Timeshare Industry is familiar with the exiting, canceling or generally getting out of a timeshare scam. As we can see Timeshares are complex and very sticky to get rid of. The Industry continues putting TPE lawyers and advocates out of business and into bankruptcy, yet the Industry cannot find a solution to the real problem – an evident immense Exodus.

Nothing, other than Moses leaving Egypt could be compared to the TPE Companies assault on popular branded timeshare owners in 2015 – 2018. All the major brands had rolled out vacation club programs with all types of new generation upsells and exchanges. Publicly traded companies in the hotel, recreation, leisure and timeshare industries had begun curiously separating their timeshare divisions into new public companies. Yet at conventions, the Resort Owners, Lawyers and Administrators all reported that their biggest headaches were the Exit firms. Their disruptive activities caused added administration issues, defaults, millions in lost revenues, angry customers all dealing with these flimsy cancellation letters from dozens of Lawyers and hundreds of Advocates interrupting contractual obligations and communication with the customers. They all knew where this would end…owners were paying thousands upfront for services that weren’t going to happen. Owners were routinely signing and notarizing Powers of Attorney to exit companies like they were signing Christmas cards! This wasn’t a cottage industry any more. It was an epidemic that had to be eliminated.

Apollo Global Management, owner of privatized Diamond Resorts (who as Merchant Bankers were possibly the first well-known brand to recognize the sudden disparity in results and the probable cause), began aggressively suing TPE Lawyers & Advocate Company’s in 2015. Apollo has made it known that they are preparing to re-IPO Diamond Resorts

  • The cause; The Timeshare Developer/Owner HOA true concerns are the financial effect that an immense Exodus of Owners and the sudden loss of payment of residual annual fees would have on the bottom line.
  • The effect; The Timeshare Industry has adopted a widely “illiquid” stance based on the capture of customers annual fees. The Timeshare industry survives in a very large part from customers annual maintenance fees.

Where did this idea of how to bilk the Timeshare Industry come from?  

In 2004, Uri Fried, an Israeli businessman and so-called inventor of the Third-Party Exit (TPE) business sent millions of postcards to timeshare owners inviting them to get rid of their timeshares for an upfront fee. Uri had formed over 50 straw buyers LLCs and began transferring thousands of unwanted timeshares per month into his LLCs. For several years Uri’s activity went relatively unnoticed by developers and resorts. Along the way Uri sold timeshares on eBay for $1 thus cementing the perceived market value of second-hand timeshare at one-dollar. None of Uri’s LLC’s ever paid a cent in maintenance to any resorts. Uri ended up serving a couple of years for $1.9m tax evasion.

In 2017 Uri settled all misrepresentation charges with the State of Wisconsin for $132,000 and received a lifelong ban from ever handling timeshares again. None of Uri’s ill-gotten gains were ever recovered.

Uri Fried woke the Industry up to the vulnerability of the Viking Ship LLC exit scam. The Resorts & HOAs were so fragmented. Collectively, they had no clue what Uri was up to. Uri’s customers owned everything and anything. Uri knew he was never going to pay a penny in dues or maintenance, so he stuffed them all into his defaulting LLCs. If the Resorts grew suspicious of the LLC name(s) Uri would simply create new ones.

Eventually the resorts smartened up and unilaterally responded by refusing to honor or acknowledge transfers to certain suspicious names and eventually certain transfer companies. The Developers had falsely believed that some level of organic secondary market had been occurring. As the industry is so hugely fragmented the major developers were fooled for a while.

As we shall see, the Viking Ship LLC model grinds slowly to a halt when the resorts block or refuses customer re-registrations and transfers. However, the TPE’s marketing machines continue “in almost every case” to sell new Customers on getting rid of their timeshares, in order to continue to collect thousands in what surely become ill-gotten fees, thus becoming a Ponzi scheme; whereby new monies pay off older refunds.

After the failure of Uri Fried’s business, an alternative Viking ship business became strongly marketed; Attorneys claiming to ‘cancel’ a timeshare.

On behalf of Owners who retained the firm, Castle Law (and others similar) wrote to the HOA’s and Resorts and in some cases Lenders, a series of scalding, lawyerly stamped, heavily embossed, important looking letters accusing and maligning the Resorts with allegations of much malfeasance, misrepresentation and fraud in the inducement.  

Owners were claiming any or all of the following:

  • Told that this offer is good for today only.  
  • Told that timeshare is in hot demand
  • Told that timeshare is a great investment
  • Told that timeshare – like all real estate will appreciate over time.  
  • Told the timeshare presentation is only going to be 90 minutes.
  • Told the timeshare is in such demand it could always be RENTED for a profit.
  • Told that you are buying pre-construction and this timeshare can be SOLD for a profit after the next “phase.”  
  • Told that this week/resort is such a valuable week to all of the exchange companies that you can trade for “anytime, anywhere.”  
  • Told that this maintenance fee will not increase over time
  • Told you will be attending an “update” to discuss questions (also called a policy change, owners update, etc.… – later it was actually a sales presentation).  
  • Told that this is not timeshare but Vacation Ownership or Vacation Property.  
  • (You) were subjected to high pressure sales tactics or felt that you could not leave the presentation without purchasing timeshare.
  • The timeshare sales agents plied you with champagne (or other alcohol or drugs).
  • The timeshare sales agents assured you, you could cancel if we had second thoughts/buyer’s remorse.  

Attorneys and Advocates, armed with Limited Power of Attorney, filed cease and desists on behalf of owners. Attorneys were demanding that the Resort have no communication with the aggrieved customer (s). Simultaneously, customers were instructed not to communicate with their resort, and to forward any communication from the resort to the attorney or advocate.

It wasn’t long before far less scholarly ‘advocates’ caught on to the jolly wheeze and suddenly millions of timeshare data records were for sale and hundreds of thousands of robo dialed calls an hour were being made to every timeshare owner looking for people who wanted to get out of their timeshares.

Unbelievably, millions of owners wanted out.

In the words of ReedHein dba Timeshare Exit Team CEO & timeshare exit Advocate Brandon Reed;

The reality behind the recent litigation is that resorts are leaving millions of consumers with no other options. Timeshare Exit Team exists because the resorts have created a problem without providing a solution. We hear countless stories from customers who were unable to even give back their ownership. Others have found that their timeshare investment was actually worthless when  they tried to resell it. Owners must have a way to safely and legally end their ownership when it no longer fits their lifestyle. Until that happens, we want to make it clear that we will not be dissuaded from continuing to advocate for consumers.”

Reed Hein are the guys advertising on TV. Estimates show that ReedHein is now the largest timeshare cancellation firm in the USA. We wonder what ReedHein is doing differently from Uri Fried, The Macmillan’s, ACC and other notable predecessors.       

Ok, why isn’t there a secondary market for Timeshare?

The Timeshare Industry publicly abhors any notion of a secondary market almost as much as the Wicked Witch of the West abhors water.

Why? …It’s so simple.

Let’s say you buy a Westgate ‘second hand’ at 90% off current Westgate prices from eBay.

  1. Westgate gets no new dollars from that exchange, Westgate gets a new Customer, the perception of “secondary market” timeshare true value is realized,
  2. Westgate takes on the risk that you will or won’t pay its annual fee’s.

Unlike the auto business, the timeshare core product is the same in “both Primary & Secondary Markets,” the most glaring disparity is price.

All the frontloaded exorbitant sales commissions, fees, marketing expenses and popping champagne are in the primary market versus a vast global array of venue choices at huge discounts available in the Secondary Market.

Sadly, developers use punitive measures to hamper and deter secondary market purchases of Points based/Club, Right to Use contracts by restricting further points accumulation (s), restricting booking access or exchange, restricting access to deed back and contract back programs, voiding visiting guest rental certificates and other contractual privileges. Certain developers’ restrictions have been described as downright draconian!   

The Industry publicly states in countless SEC filings that a Secondary Market would cut deeply into the Industries profitability. We can see why they would be worried.

In SEC filings:

  • “…the resale market for VOI’s (vacation ownership interests) could adversely affect our business” (Bluegreen)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market could negatively impact our sales” (Wyndham)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market by existing owners could cause our sales revenues and profits to decline” (Starwood)

Source – EDGAR.

In loosely translated SEC language that means the entire industry agrees with the notion that a secondary market should not exist, and they will stamp on the windpipe of any attempt to conjure a secondary market.  

This cannibalistic, illusory industry has a bone through its nose! As the industry makes sweeping, ubiquitous, cannibalizing, business decisions we urge serious consideration to the real threat to the future bottom line. As the Industry has discovered, there is a serious flaw to timeshare. Having built these lavish, illusory, granulated palaces, one must continue to sell to new mug punters who are still naive enough to sit through a bruising several hours long presentation and then when sufficiently punch drunk, pick up a pen and sign complex contracts that one has never read nor had the opportunity to do so, nor to many if read would actually comprehend. This is the sales model of the Primary Timeshare market? Is this the best they’ve got?

Possibly that’s the reason behind the aforementioned public company players in timeshare creating new public companies for their Timeshare only assets. Maybe they also see the writing on the wall of this woeful sales channel and are protecting their other core assets from devaluation.

After all, how many mug-punters could there possibly be?   

In a 2017 Orlando Sentinel News story, Mr. & Mrs. Morrison stated they are horrified by what they did on their last vacation to a Wyndham Resort in Orlando. They paid $25,000 to buy a timeshare, after a four-hour sales pitch that wore down the couple’s resistance and skepticism. Now they’re being hounded by people promising to get them out of the contract — if they pay an up-front fee. They don’t want to pay out any more money and aren’t sure who to trust. “We can’t afford this,” said Morrison, 69, who lives near Ottawa, Ontario. She says Wyndham offered to put them in a program that will eventually allow them to sell their timeshare, but they aren’t sure how long it will take. “Why won’t someone help us and put a stop to this?” she said. Wyndham didn’t respond to questions about the Morrisons’ case.

As if the Industry abandoning its aged, non-using, beneficiary owned and generally unwanted/unaffordable owners wasn’t bad enough, the Industry thwarts every attempt to stop an immense Exodus creating a need for Lawyers, Advocates and evidently miscreants and swindlers.

If Timeshare is an investment in making memories in people’s lives then shouldn’t it know when it has outstayed its welcome?

This of course is all karmically comical as the Timeshare Industry has cut its teeth on brutally sharp practices of high-pressure selling techniques, flogging its wares in well documented grueling four or five hour long “90” minute information breakfasts.

The Industry is undeniably infamous for pitching heat. Sales offices manned with trained professionals are often well trained in manipulative sales techniques. These timeshare hit-men pitch to the giddy, all too often inebriated, vacation-minded unaware prospects. It has been alleged that commission driven sales people often misrepresent overly complex customers contracts, agreements, loan documents, mortgage addendums all of which are tragically packaged by Closers, TO’s (Take Overs), Hail Mary’s and Managers at a table somewhere in a Timeshare sales room. Their only compensation is the commission from a sale.

Can you hear the champagne popping corks now?

The Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips, founder of the Castle Law Group, on a myriad of charges relating to consumer fraud complaints. In the past few weeks, Castle Law Group has ceased business operations following federal lawsuits brought by developers against Castle Law Group and those acting in concert with the firm.

Wyndham’s pursuit of American Consumer Credit (“ACC”), ACC’s principal, Dana Micaleff and attorney, Michael Saracco, resulted in ACC filing bankruptcy on September 7, 2018. Attorney Michael Sarocco, stated that Canadian entrepreneur Micallef always had “good intentions”, however things fell apart when developers and resorts wouldn’t allow ACC’s clients to break their contracts.

Castle Law & Judson Phillips were among the pioneers of the timeshare law firm and the cancellation business. Castle law had dozens of tertiary businesses who were marketing Castle Law services. These marketing firms fed Castle Law with thousands of desperate owners who were willing to pay $7500 or more “upfront” to exit their contracts.

In order to understand the scale of timeshare in the USA, the Timeshare Industry does about a $9billion a year in gross revenue. About 9.4million ownerships exist. There are approximately 1600 resorts. Average maintenance is approximately $900 a year. The Industry aggregates approximately $8.5billion from maintenance annually.

A typical single resort’s simple deed math would look like this:

  •         Typical Timeshare Resort – Individual Condo Units Per Resort: 500 units
  •         Weeks for Sale Per Unit: 50 weeks 500 x 50 = 25,000 Weeks for Sale
  •         Average sales price per week: $ 25,000
  •         25,000 weeks’ x $25,000 = $ 625,000,000 developer receipts
  •         Plus 25,000 weeks x $900 maintenance p/a = $22,500,000 per year.

In a new improved version of Uri Fried’s Viking LLC scheme; David and Cindy Macmillan sent millions of solicitation postcards and letters to Timeshare owners enticing them to attend informational meetings that led to “exiting their timeshare with 100% money back guarantee.”

The MacMillans ran a bunch of Viking Ship LLCs and their own transfer company in a timeshare transfer operation that resort owners alleged was bilking the industry out of hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of about nine years.

In 2008, spurred on by a failing economy and the USA housing crisis, the MacMillans operated over 65 straw buyer LLCs claiming that in exchange for several thousand dollars upfront, owners could be released from any timeshare contract. The MacMillan’s prize-winning company based in Torrance, California held sales meetings for owners by the bus load. Hundreds would cram in waving their credit cards in readiness. The MacMillan’s charged $6000 or more and allegedly mishandled over 120,000 timeshare contracts before becoming the target of the Attorney General of California. RICO allegations from Plaintiff Wyndham Hotel & Resorts proved undefendable. The MacMillans were banned from the business. They didn’t pay a single cent to the resorts in maintenance. Most of MacMillan’s eager customers found they were still on the hook for their timeshares. David MacMillan filed bankruptcy in 2016. Once again millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains went unrecovered. In a karmic twist of fate, Macmillan’s own transfer agent transferred thousands of the Macmillan’s Viking LLCs timeshares back into the original owners’ names before leaving the scene of the crime and left the Macmillans to take the fall.          

By 2014 Timeshare Exit marketing companies had mushroomed up all over central and south Florida, Tennessee and Missouri. Most of the new crops were marketing firms owned and run by seasoned telemarketing recidivists or by ex-timeshare sales people, some of whom had access to valuable owner data. The marketers, mostly acting as advocates, fed a variety of attorneys and both shared in the customer fees.  

In call center parlance this new business represented a new ‘data’ vertical. Call centers that had previously run ‘data’ looking for mortgage consolidation or debt relief were suitably adaptable for Timeshare Exit marketing. The busted timeshare Resale/Rental telephone scams that had left many recently unemployed in south and central Florida simply redeployed themselves. Some sales people told sad stories of repenting for all the lies they had told while selling Timeshare.    

In Phillips’ case, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Phillips after reviewing upwards of 18 client complaints, many of which made similar allegations of fraud, highlighting a pattern and practice of misconduct. In its ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” Central to the series of complaints were allegations that Phillips and his business partners misled and/or defrauded consumers by taking exorbitant fees from timeshare owners for purported timeshare exit or cancellation services based upon fraudulent and misleading representations.

The ACC case is based on various legal theories, some of which are founded in Federal law, known as the “Lanham Act of False Advertising”. The case remains pending against Micaleff, individually, and Saracco, individually, although an automatic stay has been issued relative to ACC in the U.S. District Court action as a result of the bankruptcy filing. That, however, has not deterred the prosecution of the case. As of today, there is a motion pending against Micaleff and Saracco to punish them for, among other things, failing to appear for a deposition.

The Industries press release further commented;

“The constant pressure that our member companies, owners and federal and state agencies are putting on disreputable timeshare exit companies has again produced a positive result for the consumer,” said Robert Clements, ARDA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations.”

Diamond Resorts implemented an aggressive litigation strategy in pursuit of third-party exit companies for their nefarious and unlawful conduct in an effort to protect the interest of their members who were promised outcomes that could not be legally accomplished.

The number of customers who “wish to exit” an owned, fully paid up timeshare is an immense Exodus. Far higher than was ever imagined or projected by the industry. The elephant in the room is that there is still no safe exit from unwanted timeshares and no robust market with which to capture and reposition the unwanted timeshares.

In light of the recently filed Florida House Bill 435, one must question the fates of the remaining exit and cancellation firms including; Resort Release LLC, The Newton Group & Reed Hein AKA Timeshare Exit Team amongst others.   

It is obvious by the recent advertising budgets expended on TV, Radio and all other assorted media, along with the number of employees and general expenses to run these TPE’s that there are probably millions of Owners who have already paid Fees to exit or dispose of a timeshare in the last 12-36 months that are as-yet unresolved and may begin actions suing for refunds. The Term of a TPE’s contract generally offered is 12-18 months. We are sure many contracts have now been extended far beyond their legal limits. All the previously named TPE’s and Law firms offered a 100% refund upon eventual nonperformance, assuming they were still in business.

By monitoring the largest TPEs on social media and by paying particular attention to present and past customers reviews, it is evident that satisfaction is extremely low and that refunds are aggressively being sought. How many hundreds of complaints like these does it take before another AG steps in or another exit company gets driven to bankruptcy by an aggrieved resort or the FTC?

Here’s what we know.

Exit firms can’t get rid of your timeshare unless the resort ‘wants them back.’ Most Timeshares are indeed worthless. All timeshares come with some form of annual cost. In light of 2018’s vacationing and travelling popular habits, the notion of paying an annual fee is not popular or appears economically attractive.  

It may well be true to say that all TPEs charge upfront fees for truly illusionary services because they now know within a moral certainty that their customers will get nothing for their money.

One would have imagined that Timeshare Developers, being an enterprising bunch, would have figured out how to ‘selectively take in’ enough exits & cancels to quell this Exodus problem. This sensible move would have made the TPEs redundant and quickly ended the third party exit business by allowing worthwhile and fitting exits for owners, for a small fee.  

This, however, further highlights the possible size of the immense Exodus problem.

Thank you to our new contributor, at some point he will reveal himself, but we look forward to Part Two of the Manifesto.

Remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain or upgraded after 5 January 1999 and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish Part 2 of our Secret Shopper Questions, by Pete Gibbes, our Secret Shopper Coordinator.

First we have some rather sad news to share, Bob Massi, a Las vegas Attorney and host of the Fox TV show Property Man has sadly passed away at the age of 67, after a battle with cancer.

He was a great advocate for the underdog, even suing Diamond Resorts for Elder Abuse. He was also one of the law firms listed on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy group on Facebook, which is reserved only for the most trusted of firms.

Inside Timeshare would like to extend our sincerest condolences to his family.

R.I.P. BOB MASSI

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bob-massi-real-estate-attorney-fox-news-legal-analyst-dead?fbclid=IwAR2zqLDycKfIEMJDXv7PDYj6n711zWY01wblVCDqM1ySxm8eJbTNGOGT1Po

Secret Shopper Questions Part II

By Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

 Friday February 8  2019

Many timeshare complaints begin with, “The sales agent said….” and are dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Due to this overused knee-jerk dismissal, timeshare buyers should record their sales presentation. You can legally do so without the other person aware in a one party state. This link allows you to select your state to determine if you can legally record.

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/state-law-recording

If you are attending a presentation in a two party state, note taking may be the next best alternative. If the sales agent says you are not allowed to take notes, red flag. Walk out. No gift is worth being lied to. If you do stay and the sales agent scribbles a “Pencil Pitch” on a piece of paper, buyers should remember that paper, ask to see it during the signing process, and ask the agent or closer to show you in the contract where his or her promises appear in the contract. Ask to have the item added to your contract as an addendum. This is an actual response to a “The sales agent said” complaint:

“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”

It’s a good idea to get to know the agent’s qualifications.

How long have you worked at this resort?

Have you worked at other resorts?

What did you do before you sold timeshare?

What’s your ID number?

Consumer Protection Questions

May I call my lawyer/accountant/son/daughter/mother/father to discuss your proposal? May I take the contract to my room so that I can have an adequate amount of time to review such a major purchase?

If the answer is no, ask why not? The reason they say no will be suspect. Contrary to what you will be told, trust me, you can still buy a timeshare tomorrow. The reason for this, “You have to buy today” strategy is because anyone who thinks over buying a timeshare in all likelihood will not buy if given a chance to think it over. You need to be in the driver’s seat, not the sales agent.

According to Highlands Resort sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in a Colorado Attorney General’s investigation, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”

Are you a member? May we log onto your account so I can check actual availability and value? I am spending a significant amount of money on something I have not even attempted to use.  

There are many complaints about promised availability and limitations on trial timeshare products the buyer was not aware of.

Ask about Resale or Exit Programs

What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?

Who do I call? Can you give me a reference? Most timeshare companies will not allow their agents to assist in resale in any way, shape or form.

BEFORE you go on your sales presentation, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no money upfront to list a timeshare. The best part is they work with all timeshares, so you are not relying on the word of a sales agent that their program is the best program. Check the pros and cons of buying directly from the timeshare company compared to buying on the secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

Is there anything I can do to offset maintenance fees?

This is what we get the most complaints about – bogus programs that claim to offer maintenance fee relief. Watch out for scare tactics. For instance, beach erosion is one reason provided as a reason for special assessments, but an ocean engineer, one of our Supporters, said beach erosion is the responsibility of the state or federal government. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-17/

What is the cap on maintenance fee increases? Do you have a five year history of maintenance fee increases?  If not, don’t buy.

If I can use my points for maintenance fees, how much per point are they credited?

Where in the paperwork can I verify this information?

If I can offset maintenance fees with credit card purchases, how much of a $1 purchase (typically $.01 or $.02) will be credited toward maintenance fees? How much would I have to charge to pay off my entire annual maintenance fee? (It would cost $200,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee at $.01 per dollar spent!)

Travel awards are often grossly misrepresented

If I can use my points for hotels, what is the actual value per point? Provide an example. If I can use my points for airline tickets, what is the value per point?

If I can use my points for a cruise, what is the value per point?

Can I rent my timeshare to pay maintenance fees? If the answer is yes, review the requirements in the contract. Some companies do not allow the member to use the internet to rent points.

Loans

Where in the paperwork does it state my loan interest rate?

How much will I pay for the timeshare if I carry the loan for the maximum term?

Is there anything I can do to reduce my interest rate? This is a set-up question because banks do not finance timeshares. Never transfer to a third party lender because then you are asking the timeshare for a refund instead of a loan cancellation.

If consumers must take out a loan to buy a timeshare, consider carefully the actual cost of financing a vacation at 12 to 18%. America is a buy now pay later society. I don’t think many financial planners would recommend financing a luxury item at 12 to 18%.

We hope Secret Shoppers create smart shoppers asking the right questions before plunging into a purchase so many of our readers have come to regret.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Secret Shopper report:

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have interest in becoming a Secret Shopper or would like to share a positive or negative timeshare shopping experience.

There are several member supported Facebooks and websites where members can reach out to other members to share experiences.

We seek to provide times 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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Pete for your contribution, also a big thank you once again to Irene Parker for your editing efforts, we know that you have been very very busy of late, so we appreciate you taking the time to carry on.

Well that is it for this week, remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot: Florida House Bill 435

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we have a look at proposed legislation in Florida describing stringent requirements on entities providing timeshare exit assistance, including law firms. Florida House Bill 435 was submitted by Representative Wyman Duggan, elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. Inside Timeshare here and abroad receives a daily diet of timeshare members describing how they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, and are then dismissed by the timeshare company with an over-reliance on the oral representation clause.There is an abundance of the Pot calling the Kettle black. The FL HB 435 Summary I would describe as “Gobbledygook”.

Definition of Gobbledygook

Language characterized by circumlocution and jargon, usu. hard to understand.

or

Unintelligible or nonsensical talk or language  

Having spent a large portion of our time chasing down fraudulent exit companies, we here in the UK would welcome more stringent laws governing exit companies, but we encourage lawmakers to consider listening to the timeshare member, in addition to taking orders from industry lobbyists and developers. For instance, how about allowing the timeshare buyer 24 hours to review a contract? If we want to talk about unfair practices, forcing a buyer to sign the same day after enduring a tag team of aggressive and sometimes dishonest agents, that have kept the buyer typically for four to eight hours, is unfair.

We will be publishing a number of articles about this bill due to its complexity and its apparent desire to maintain total control over the buyer without access to any outside help if the buyer has been defrauded.

Florida House Bill 435: Vacation and Timeshare Plans

GENERAL BILL by Duggan

(3)(Line 157)In the course of offering or providing timeshare exit assistance or relief services, a timeshare exit assistance or relief services provider may not:

b)(Line 163)Solicit, charge, receive, or attempt to collect or secure payment, directly or indirectly, for timeshare exit assistance or relief services before completing or performing all services contained in the written agreement for services.

Effective Date: 7/1/2019

Last Action: 1/30/2019 House – Referred to Business and Professions Subcommittee; Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00435/?Tab=BillText

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

February 5, 2019

By Irene Parker

I’m not an expert in proposed legislation, but after studying the 22 page draft of Florida HB 435, it seems that if this Bill is enacted, it will leave the timeshare member at the mercy of their timeshare resort. Based on complaints from 676 timeshare members reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, timeshare companies have not been owner orientated in terms of dealing with owners reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The majority of complaints have been dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Many members have had disputes resolved, but only after repeated rebuttals and the filing of regulatory complaints.

I found the Florida HB 435 summary incomprehensible. The PDF file of the actual proposed bill is linked above. I have broken the summary down piecemeal, which helps a little.   

Vacation and Timeshare Plans;

Provides services included in timeshare exit assistance or relief services;

provides prohibitions for timeshare exit assistance or relief services provider;

requires certain disclosures in general & purchaser-specific commercial communications;

provides requirements for oral or audible communications;

requires written agreement to provide services;

provides requirements for written agreement;

provides requirements for when specific entities are providing relief;

prohibits person from providing assistance or support to timeshare exit assistance or relief services provider if person knows provider is violating law;

provides exemptions;

requires certain records be maintained for specific duration;

provides requirements for timeshare exit assistance or relief services providers;

provides criminal & civil penalties;

provides that purchaser or owners’ association may bring action for damages against resale service provider or timeshare exit assistance or relief services provider.

The timeshare lobby ARDA and the timeshare industry have yet to acknowledge unfair and deceptive sales practices exist on the front end of the timeshare sale, despite numerous Attorneys General investigations, BBB complaints, and lawsuits too numerous to mention. The internet is flooded with complaints.

Where are the lawmakers looking out for consumers who have been victimized by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents, managers and VPs? The amount of money lost to timeshare exit companies pales in comparison to the amount of money timeshare members say they lost because they believed a timeshare sales agent. This legislative action would be completely unnecessary if only the timeshare resorts were responsive to owners’ issues. Why would timeshare owners voluntarily fork over thousands of dollars to these third parties if their resort had properly dealt with their issues rather than rule the customer is always wrong because they signed a contract.  

Timeshare members and owners, who own resort interests at American Resort Development Association (ARDA) resorts, pay a ‘voluntary’ fee to support ARDA ROC, who purports to represent timeshare members. This Bill is a perfect example of owners paying to have their rights further impaired if this Bill is successful. While I understand timeshare exit scams are out of control, treating the symptoms without looking at the cause is illogical and irresponsible.

The Bill was submitted by Wyman Duggan, freshman House of Representatives, elected 2018, profiled on LobbyTools. Lobbytools? Contact Representative Duggan if you would like to voice your opinion.

District Address:

Suite 104

4114 Herschel Street

Jacksonville, FL   32210-2200

Phone: (904) 381-6011

 

Capitol Address:

402 South Monroe Street

1101 The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL   32399-1300

Phone: (850) 717-5015

Email: [email protected]

ARDA is a lobby organization and a Political Action Committee (PAC).  The ROC in ARDA ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition. ARDA does lobby for members when an issue affects both the developer and the member. One example is a proposed $300 exchange fee the Virgin Islands wanted to impose a few years ago. However, when the issue at stake benefits the industry, timeshare members are short changed, with no voice in legislative changes. Name me one real timeshare member or owner involved with this legislation.

Howard Nusbaum, the president of ARDA, was recently quoted in a Consumer Affairs article claiming, “The vast majority of people are happy with their timeshare.” If so, why is there a sizeable timeshare exit industry? In the same article, Diane Burkhart explains how her parents were sold five timeshare contracts from the age of 85 to 88. Diane’s parents are #57 of a summary report of 70 Diamond Resorts Platinum members who have contacted Inside Timeshare describing how they were up-sold into insolvency. They say they purchased additional timeshare points promised maintenance fee relief that was not forthcoming or the ability to sell points, widely reported to be worthless. The maintenance fee in 2018 for 50,000 Diamond timeshare points was $8,631.  

The lack of a secondary market breeds the timeshare exit industry. I contacted 22 of the 60 plus members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association (LTRBA) asking to list my Diamond points. LTRBA members charge nothing upfront to list a timeshare. They refused to even accept a listing. Desperate timeshare members waking up to the realization that there is little to no secondary market turn to exit companies. Approximately 200 of our readers, timeshare members, sent their complaint to ARDA ROC. ARDA ROC does not resolve disputes, but has a Code of Ethics. Members feel the code is being violated. At best has been an auto-reply with tips on how to sell a timeshare.

The only timeshare member to receive a real response to her complaint from ARDA ROC was Elaine Lim. If Elaine Lim forecloses on her timeshare loan it could jeopardize her job and her career as she has top security clearances. Her response from ARDA ROC was, “This has been resolved” even before the company contacted Elaine. The company response was basically, “You signed a contract.” http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-32/

When timeshare members receive their maintenance fee invoices, they are asked to make a $3 to $10 donation to ARDA ROC, When I questioned my $7 donation, prior to my becoming more involved with this industry, I was told ARDA ROC is a nonprofit that helps members. Timeshare members collectively give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year. I have yet to meet the timeshare member who can tell me what ARDA ROC even stands for.

Why doesn’t the legislature own up to unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? Why point the finger only at exit companies?

ALEC pictured above is not the name of a lobbyist. It is the name of another PAC, the American Legislative Exchange Council one Senator describes as a “Corporate Bill Mill.” The reporter in this YouTube describes how lobbyists sit across the table with legislators filling in the blanks on desired bills tailored to their wishes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MHYOB5uptc

How about a parallel timeshare Bill with the same wording to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? Disgruntled timeshare members who have reached out to us are not financial deadbeats trying to weasel out of their contracts. They are medical doctors, lawyers, mortgage loan officers, professors, teachers, MBAs, PhDs, war heroes, law enforcement professionals, criminologists (one a PhD), a detective who worked economic crimes under cover, and a contract specialist, all alleging fraud, deception, and unfair timeshare sales practices. The perpetual timeshare contract with little to no secondary market is a recipe for financial disaster. Many families are financially devastated.   

Florida HB 435:

The Legislature finds that purchasers who are in

(109) default of their obligations to pay assessments, real property taxes, or other sums due, or to pay amounts due under a mortgage, lien, or encumbrance against their timeshare interests, or who may no longer desire to own their timeshare

interests, may be vulnerable to fraud, deception, and unfair practices with timeshare exit assistance or relief services providers.

122 to prohibit representations that tend to mislead; to prohibit or restrict unfair contract terms;

Our volunteers answer questions about regulatory filings when members complain of fraud, deception, and unfair timeshare sales practices. We are not focused on getting members out of their timeshare contacts, although members have had disputes resolved as a result of filing regulatory complaints.

Prior legislation, making it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts, was passed in Florida in 2015. This drew sharp criticism from advocacy groups:

A bill making its way through the Florida Legislature that would loosen a cap on timeshare assessment fees and make it tougher for buyers to get out of contracts has drawn criticism from timeshare owners’ attorneys and advocates.

The lawmakers and the industry’s trade association, the American Resort Development Association, describes the legislation as a bill that modernizes state law. Gregory Crist, chairman and CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, sees it otherwise. “This is a developer-sponsored bill that strips away at consumer-protection mechanisms,”

Meanwhile, attorneys and timeshare owners have questioned a provision that reduces liability for timeshare developers if they make errors in contracts. Errors or omissions that are considered “non material” would not allow purchaser-cancellation rights after 10 days. Stargel said the legislation is meant to keep timeshare owners from getting out of their contracts by finding minor flaws in them. It is meant to cover only technicalities, she said, not major problems.

Last month, some members of a House civil justice subcommittee expressed concern that there is no clear definition of “nonmaterial.” That kind of murkiness will “lead to increased litigation,” said attorney Patrick Kennedy, who represents timeshare consumers

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-timeshare-bill-20150312-story.html

Other related articles:

http://www.timeshare-info.org/2015/04/mixed-reviews-from-industry-experts-florida-bill.html

http://insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2015/04/florida-usa-timeshare-news-april-18-2015/#sthash.41Peggzh.dpbs

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-timeshare-tactics-scott-maxwell-20150411-column.html

Here are some Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced. Get involved. Let your voice be heard. Too many families have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare, a product advertised to reduce stress.

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you to all those who have had a hand in the making of this article, your views and insights are greatly appreciated. Now to all our readers, read the bill in the PDF format below and see if you can fathom out what it all means!! Do let us know, we would love to hear from you and publish your thoughts and comments in our comments section.

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00435/?Tab=BillText

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

Remember to also contact Representative Duggan and voice your opinions direct.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America of February, this week we hear another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from the Wheat family and their experience with Wyndham, edited by our very own Irene Parker. First a little news from Europe.

Yesterday, Thursday 31 January, at Birmingham Crown Court , Dominic O’Reilly, Stephanie O’Reilly and Eze Europe Limited, appeared for sentencing. As we know they had faced many charges of unfair trading practices, misleading consumers and many more. On checking the courts website this morning, nothing has yet been posted, but Inside Timeshare has emailed the court for confirmation of sentences and we are waiting for a reply. As soon as this comes in we will be publishing on these pages.

News came in this morning regarding another case involving Diamond Resorts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance originally had a case in which the Court of First Instance found in favour of Diamond. They instantly appealed this decision to the High Court

The High Court reviewed the case and ruled that the First Instance Courts decision was flawed, they immediately overruled the first court’s ruling, as per the Supreme Court rulings. They deemed that all 5 contracts were illegal and declared them null and void, they also awarded the client 100% of the purchase price, plus double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period, all legal fees and legal interest. This client will now be receiving over 25,000€ and can now enjoy a timeshare free life.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

The ‘Take Away Timeshare Close’

By a Wyndham buyer

February 1

By the Wheat Family

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has heard from 671 families. Like a broken record, the member reports being told “I can’t believe that last salesperson sold you this!” You should have never bought:

 

  • So few points!
  • The wrong package!

 

Understand that this is a tried and true sales technique. I spent 30 years in sales selling in a number of industries, but can’t recall using this technique unless I felt the sales agent really did sell the buyer a wrong product. For example, as a stockbroker I would run into a young person’s 401K funded with a fixed income product. In timeshare, it’s used as a ploy. If both sides of the supposedly wrong/right product sell against each other, it means no consumer should buy the product. It’s not unusual to hear, on the same day, from two different members, Sales agent A said I should not have bought Product 1 while sales agent B said I should have bought Product 1. It’s called the Take Away Close:

The Take Away Close really takes some time to master. Though it sounds simple at first, the real secret is learning when to use it. The danger is always using the take away close and having a customer agree to purchase a lesser product when they were close to committing to a larger sale. From The Balance Careers

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-take-away-closing-technique-2918597

The Wheat Family Explains

The motive behind the ‘Take Away Close’ is to make the customer/prospect feel like they are missing out on something they should have been entitled to and then make them spend the money so they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

We experienced this sales ploy. I wonder how many other people fell for it too.

We bought a Discovery package (200,000 points) for $1,944 at Wyndham’s Great Smoky Lodge at the beginning of 2017. A credit card was opened and the purchase charged. When we tried to use the Discovery package for Florida in July 2017 it did not work. There were restrictions on when we could reserve. In August 2017 we tried to reserve in Myrtle Beach. We tried a third time at the beginning of 2018 for the Smoky Lodge. We were told it was full so we paid for two days ourselves. That is when another salesperson, JR Renteria, said they had 64 vacant rooms so we should have been able to reserve one. He said the problem was because of the Discovery package we purchased. Although Wyndham would not be able to reimburse us, they could give us a free week certificate (which turned out not to be free). Mr. Renteria advised us to upgrade so we would not have this lack of availability problem again.

With an upgrade we were told we would be VIP members and that the original credit card that was opened for our first purchase would be upgraded to a Gold credit card which we could use to reserve when and where we want to go, any day.  They said we could get 50% off cruises and restaurants. Other family members could make reservations in their names. Mr. Renteria said if we upgraded they would roll the original 200,000 Discovery package points over for the next year. Renteria gave us our documents after we signed the new contract, but told us to wait for the Gold Card and the Silver VIP card before we tried to book anything. This effectively dodged the contract rescission period. He told us we should receive the new cards in about a week. It took around three to four weeks before we received the VIP card. We still have not received the upgraded Gold Card. We were told we had six months to pay in full with no interest.

We bit and got bitten for $18,000.

Another strange thing was that Renteria said he wanted us to write a note saying the first reps, Carol Finch and Cyndy Vdaw, did not cover everything properly for the Discovery package. Maybe this was part of a scam, maybe Wyndham actually kept a copy. Either way, we wrote a note saying we did not understand everything on the Discovery package deal.

After the upgrade we tried to reserve a room to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Wyndham told us we would have to reserve two months in advance in order to use our points. (Renteria had said we could book on the day with our new Silver member status.) Wyndham told us that they could reserve a room for $188 on the day we needed it. The sad thing is we could book the same room for the same dates for $108 online.  You would think being a Silver member (VIP) we should have been able to get a better price than a non-member.

Renteria told us we could call him if we ever had any problems getting reservations and he would take care of it.  We tried to contact him but NEVER got a reply to any of our calls or texts.

We called Carol Finch at the Discovery timeshare when Renteria did not return our calls. I told Carol we were not happy and that nothing we were told was true. She said we should not have had to wait two months to reserve a room and Renteria should have combined the two timeshares. She said she would let him know and would call us back that afternoon. We have not heard back. That was the final straw. In this day and age of Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com, don’t buy a timeshare. That’s my takeaway close.

But that’s not all!

To make things worse, after looking over the credit card application we found that the application had been doctored. There is an annual income noted under both of our names for $100,000 each.  However, $100,000 is what we may make combined, not individually. I have a copy of the credit card application as proof. My writing is very distinctive. I filled out the whole form, yet the only place that was left blank was filled in by someone with a much scruffier handwriting than mine and he wrote another $100,000 to double our annual income. We sent this obviously doctored form to Wyndham, but they did not even acknowledge it. They chose to focus on the parts of our complaint that they could reasonably deny because the lies were verbal and can’t be verified. Wyndham conducted an ‘investigation’ into our allegations of concealment and omission. We were informed, somewhat predictably, that their investigation had found that our allegations were baseless and the contract was properly executed and legally binding. I suppose I’ll go and ask the drunks to guard the bar for my next trick.

Other representations we feel were unfair and deceptive:

  • They did not say we were actually buying a timeshare. They called it a vacation ownership or something like that.
  • They said they would help us rent so we could earn a profit.
  • They said maintenance fees would never increase.
  • They said we could call every six months to continue our interest free rate.
  • They told us our purchase would give us more reservation rights than it actually did.

Do yourselves a favor and stay away from Wyndham. I imagine Wyndham is not alone, so the best advice is to stay away from timeshare altogether.

Thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experience. Timeshare companies should want their buyers to feel good about their decision to buy a timeshare. Timeshare is not for everyone and we hope by sharing experiences, buyers will be better informed as to whether the timeshare product is right for their family.

Related articles:

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Kleen family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Althage family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

Self Help groups we feel are not 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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for your editing efforts and a very big thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experiences with us. These real life stories that we publish do show how the industry is in dire need of reform, especially in the tactics employed by their sales agents. As we know when high commissions are the motivation, these agent will say and do anything to get the sale.

If the industry does not do anything themselves to curb these practices, then maybe like Spain, the law needs to take control in order to protect consumers. We do know that many other countries in Europe with a large timeshare presence have been watching Spain very closely and are also now in the process of enacting similar legislation.

If you have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story that you would like to share then contact Inside Timeshare, it is through your own experiences that we hope we can make the industry listen and change.

Have you been contacted by any company with a story that sounds too good to be true?

Are you looking to do business with any company you have found on the internet or advertising in the press or magazines?

Do you want to know if they are genuine and will do what they say?

Are you able to find out for yourself or do you need help?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you not only money but also a whole lot of stress.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome Pete Gibbes, with another Secret Shopper report. Pete as Secret Shopper Coordinator, has revised the secret shopper questions, this is part 1.

But first a quick summary of some news from the Spanish Courts. Canarian Legal Alliance has reported that last week they received eleven (11) new sentences, these were against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint and Petchey Leisure. Once again the courts have declared the contracts null and void, plus ordering the return of substantial sums of money to the clients, with this week alone over 340,000€ having been awarded.

Over the next 30 days, CLA have informed Inside Timeshare of the number of trial and pre-trials they have in various courts around Spain, it is a staggering 101! That is certainly keeping the judicial system busy.

Their execution of sentence department headed by Cristina Batista and Judith Diaz Pascual, have filed “provisional executions”, with a total worth of over 6 million euros against all major timeshare resorts. The total value is over 6.000.000,00 € and is against all of mayor timeshare resorts.

These execution orders are made in the interests of the clients and ensure that the resorts payout what they have been ordered to.

Now for this weeks article.

Secret Shopper Questions Revised, the Backstory – Part I

Part II – Friday February 8, Secret Shopper Questions

By Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

January 29, 2019

I previously wrote about a positive timeshare sales presentation I attended not long ago in Sedona, Arizona. I mentioned that my Diamond Resorts sales agent and manager expressed shock and dismay at the misrepresentations we told them we experienced at a November 18, 2016 Virginia sales presentation. The Sedona agents stated that they were appalled and determined they would go to bat for me by contacting headquarters. I was asked to write out my complaint. Wary but hopeful, I waited. As expected, nothing happened.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-29/

To recap what happened at the 2016 Virginia presentation, we attended a member update hoping to learn about how to get rid of 11,500 timeshare points we had previously purchased. After several hours our sales agent had an epiphany. He recalled a new program that would give us the option to sell ALL of our points back to Diamond Resorts! We listened to three more hours of this agent’s version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. After the sixth repetition, we became convinced this program existed. He told us, (and wrote down on a paper), a figure of $108,000 which was the amount he said we should be able to sell our points back for in three years. While I presently cannot locate the paper with $108,000 written on it, I do still have this agent’s “pencil pitch” indicating a “value” of $72k ($72,420 to be exact if you multiply the 8,500 points proposed times $8.52 per point). A formal proposal containing the exact numbers was presented, but that document is proprietary so we cannot present in this article. Diamond will argue that $8.52 per point represents “retail” not “resale” value, but I contend not disclosing Diamond points are virtually worthless is a material omission. Licensed timeshare brokers I contacted, who do not charge upfront money to list timeshare points, will not accept a listing for Diamond points.

Diamond Resorts has launched a program called CLARITY™ promising clear, concise, transparent and accountable information.  This is what I was provided:

At the bottom of this unclear pencil pitch, you see “G 2” and “S 3”, and below that ‘Loyalty 3 ys’. This meant that in 3 years we would have earned enough loyalty to sell the points back at a handsome profit. If we became Gold, we could sell back in two years. According to the sales agent, this new buyback policy was not available to mere Standard members like us who owned less than 15,000 points. We agreed to buy 4000 points for $15,500 to become coveted Silver members in order to qualify for the buyback program.

When I complained to Diamond I was told I did not have sufficient written evidence. I made up G2 and S3?

I remember asking the sales agent how Diamond could afford to offer a $108,000 buyback which could have exceeded our cumulative purchase price plus maintenance fees. He mentioned investment returns Diamond makes on sales. As an MBA and a CFP this made sense to me, as it made sense to George Yamada, a pension administrator who purchased Diamond points thinking he was making an investment. George is an Army veteran, Agent Orange disabled.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-5/

It appears I was not the only member excited about how this ingenious new buyback program was going to make their product more attractive to buyers. The sales agent, Mark Wilkerson, no longer works for Diamond, but he explained the program as a brand new Apollo related deal. Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, acquired Diamond Resorts.

Does Diamond think I would go to this much trouble if I was making this up? Under threat of perjury, I have filed a complaint with the Virginia Attorney General’s office that has been under review.

Unfortunately, I do not possess a video tape of the presentation. This has prompted me to volunteer to be our Secret Shopper Coordinator. I’m on a media binge to warn other timeshare buyers to RECORD THE SALES SESSION! This is legal in Virginia as Virginia, like some other states, is a one party state. I feel this is the only road to true clarity.

https://www.justanswer.com/law/4cemo-illegal-audio-record-someone-virginia-without.html

Not only did we pay $15,500 for nothing, we incurred additional ongoing maintenance fees and $2,250 in income taxes on a retirement distribution I had to make to pay for the purchase.

I asked for the contract to be cancelled and my down payment refunded. I am asking nothing for my permanent loss of faith in humanity. Like several members of our 2,400 member sponsored Diamond Facebook page, I am disabled. My sole source of income is my SSI disability income. I have learned from our Facebook other timeshare companies also respond to complaints with, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” and “You signed a contract.” I received a certified letter from Diamond’s legal department (Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Officer) asking for written evidence. I provided the pencil pitch above, but even that does not break through the oral representation clause.   

Timeshare sales agents are not supposed to deviate from company approved sales strategies, but complaints from timeshare buyers continue to flood the internet, Attorneys General offices, the Better Business Bureau and other regulatory agencies. With little enforcement, we feel members need to take matters into their own hands by becoming Secret Shoppers so we can evaluate for other members how near or far a timeshare sales agent ventures from his or her script.

We have about a dozen Secret Shoppers. We arm our Secret Shoppers with intelligent questions timeshare buyers often forget to ask. It is our hope we can publish some positive Secret Shopper experiences. After compiling over 500 timeshare complaints, we have determined the most popular complaints involve:

  • Maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist,
  • The ability to sell points or weeks when there is no secondary market,
  • Misrepresenting the value of using a credit card to offset maintenance fees,

Having run on for many words describing what was supposed to be a brief introduction to our Secret Shopper questions; Friday, February 8 we will publish our revised Secret Shopper questions as a Part II to this article.

Contact me at Inside Timeshare if you would like to become a Secret Shopper.

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Pete, we look forward to part 2 next month.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare, we welcome your input.

Do you have any questions regarding your timeshare, how can you get out or if you have a valid claim, then again use our contact page, we will try to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Remember, not everything you will be told by many of these companies touting for business will be true, most will only be after your money, so do your homework and do your due diligence.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish revised instructions on how to file a complaint, this has been revised by one of our readers who was successful.

First a quick piece of news from Europe.

The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued another judgement, Spain’s highest court once again has defended the rights of timeshare consumers, in this case British, by declaring a Diamond Resorts contract null and void. As in all other judgements the court ruled that the contract was in contravention of Law 42/98, as the contract had no end date, known as perpetuity. The law clearly states that timeshare contracts may only be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years.

The court also awarded the clients all money paid in the first three months in double, this reaffirmed the court’s stance on the illegal taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Along with over £11,000 they were also awarded back their legal fees and legal interest. (click on PDF below to see court document)

Supreme Court Diamond Ruling

This is yet another victory for timeshare consumers brought on their behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (January 25, 2019 revision)

By a Timeshare Member who Followed our Complaint Process

Step 1 GATHER INFORMATION

  1. Read Your Contract and any documents given to you at the time of signing. If your contract offers a rescission and you are still within the offered period you should take the steps necessary to rescind immediately.
  2. Educate yourself! There are many resources in place that are meant to protect consumers (most of which I was completely unaware of until I had to tackle this issue). The more you know the better you will be able to stand up for yourself.

LIST OF RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH  

a: AG: Attorney General – You will want to file a complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. If you can connect with other buyers in your state of residence, file a complaint with your own state Attorney General. See instructions below. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file your complaint with the state real estate division against the sales agent.

b: ARDA-ROC: American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners Coalition

ARDA Timeshare Consumer Protections Page : Did you receive one of the three required “disclosure documents”? Is there a rescission period? When did it begin/end?

Excerpts from ARDA Code of Ethics: Read this code and make note of any parts that were violated during your purchase.  ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that may be violated. The full code of ethics can be found here.

http://www.arda.org/ethics/

c: FTC: Federal Trade Commission-Protecting America’s Consumers There is a timeshare tab not easy to find. Follow these instructions: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-13/

d: BBB: Better Business Bureau: This is the organization that most people are familiar with and the link to file a complaint is found right on the homepage of their site. You may need to edit your complaint to 4,000 characters, sometimes no easy task. The good thing about the BBB is that they often allow you to log in and file a rebuttal if you disagree with the company’s answer to your complaint.

e: SEC: US Securities and Exchange Commission: You will only file a complaint with the SEC if you were falsely led to believe that the purchase of a timeshare was a good investment. The sale of an investment product must be registered with the SEC.

f: FBI: Sound serious? That’s because it is serious to report a complaint to the FBI. The definition of White Collar Crime is “Deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” File an online complaint at IC3.gov. Select Internet Crime from the three choices available. It’s confusing because your timeshare complaint doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal.

g: Legal Action: Retaining a lawyer is something you can do after you have exhausted the above resources and still feel as though you are getting nowhere. It is a last resort option and it will cost you; make sure that the cost is worth the possible worst-case outcome. There is a compiled list of law firms that specialize in timeshare cases on one Advocacy Facebook page. Law Firms Doc You do not have to use one of these lawyers but it is recommended that you use someone who has specific experience with timeshare, and do not do business with a lawyer or a law firm you do not know. One timeshare lawyer has recently been disbarred

h: TUG: Timeshare Users Group TUG Forums: These forums are incredible for gathering information from other timeshare owners. You can search specific questions to see if anyone else has already asked and received answers.

i: Timeshare Exit Firms: BEWARE! A lot of these firms are scams. Some are not, but you can do the lion’s share of what any exit company can do. Beware especially of money back guarantees. Some companies consider foreclosure an exit. Obviously, you don’t have to pay anyone to get foreclosed. Also, it is important to note that some timeshare companies will not approve voluntary relinquishment of a timeshare if you have contracted with an exit firm.

j: Most would agree The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not offer the consumer protections it once did, they still regulate banks. File a complaint with the CFPB if your complaint involves a credit card. Remember to dispute the credit card charge, even if the transaction extends beyond 30 days. Some companies will extend the period if you can present a compelling case for fraud.  The Secret Service also investigates credit card fraud.      

Step 2 HOW TO WRITE A COMPLAINT LETTER

    1. Create a Record of Events: The very first thing you should do is make a list of everything that you were told by timeshare representatives (i.e. salespeople, managers, receptionists, concierge services). Write down every detail that was said even if it seems insignificant; you can always weed out details that are less important later. Your memory of the event will start to warp and change over time so it is important that you write down this information as soon as possible so that every complaint you file has consistent information.
  • Organize the information:

a: Create a Timeline: Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong; it at this point you should be as detailed as possible.

What was your first encounter? (phone call, concierge, sales agent)

  • What resort or location did the presentation take place?
  • Date and time of presentation.
  • Names of all sales agents/managers that you dealt with (names will typically be listed somewhere on your contract)
  • How long did they tell you the meeting would last vs what was the actual duration of meeting?
  • Did they offer you food or beverages during the duration of the meeting?
  • Did they take your ID and credit card? Did you ask for these items to be returned?
  • If you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, describe your experience.
  • When did you first realize your agent misled you?
  • Was it possible to learn you were deceived during the rescission period? Sometimes an agent will say a bogus program won’t be available until after the first of the year, or wait a few months before refinancing. Banks don’t finance timeshares. Sometime over promised availability can’t be determined until allowed onto the booking site, after the rescission period has expired.  
  • What steps did you take after realizing you were misled? Did you contact the agent or the company? What was their response? List dates/times if possible. Keep all emails.
  • Did the sales person ask you to apply for any credit cards/loans or take any other extraordinary measures (refinance home, equity line of credit, etc.) in order to cover costs? Transferring to a third party lender complicates things.

b: List Relevant Complaints: Here is a list of some common complaints from timeshare owners.  Certain misleading statements are more serious than others:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points. To find out if your timeshare has a secondary market, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no upfront money to list a timeshare. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
  • The agent presented maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened
  • The agent told me this would be a good investment. At least 49% of the cost of your timeshare is attributed to marketing costs (source a major timeshare company’s annual report)
  • The agent said that I could rent out my timeshare for money when the company rules do not allowed renting
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees
  • The rescission period was dodged

Step 3 EMAIL AND SEND YOUR LETTER OF COMPLAINT

Below is an example of a sample layout with some ideas of information that you might want to include in your letter. Copy and paste your complaint into the body of an email (do not send as an attachment). Email or send to all interested parties, including customer service, ARDA ROC (if their Code of Ethics has been violated), the credit card company if a credit card is involved. You will send your complaint to regulatory agencies if your request is denied, so make sure you take the time to present your grievance clearly and factually. Have a friend or family member read your complaint before submitting to see if they understand the complaint.

Include the following information:

Name(s) of Member(s)

Phone Number

State of Residence

Today’s Date

Member Number

**List the following information for each contract you are disputing**

Date and Place Purchased

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Information to include in the body of the complaint:

  • What do you want? Do you seek a refund, cancellation of contract, or relinquishment?
  • Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?
  • This is your written timeline. Provide a chronological account of what happened during the sales process that makes you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices.
  • Consider citing the ARDA code of ethics and what articles of the code were violated.
  • Making emotional statements will most likely not help your case.
  • In conclusion, restate the main complaint and what it is you are asking for.

**Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded and so will requests based on not being able to afford the timeshare.

**If there was no deceit then request relinquishment. This is only an option if your Maintenance fees are current and you have no outstanding loan. Contact your resort for more information about voluntary surrender.  

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

  1. File your complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. In “Part 2” of the link below it explains how to find the correct AG and file a complaint. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file a timeshare complaint with the state’s real estate division.   

Steps for filing an AG complaint

  1. Always send copies of important documents and keep originals
  2. If not filed online, mail your complaint via Priority Mail with tracking.

OTHER CONSUMER PROTECTION RESOURCES

  • Seniors should consider contacting the AARP Fraud Hotline. Weigh their advice as they are not timeshare experts, but it is important for them to be aware that a significant proportion of complainants are age 60 or older. Click HERE to visit the AARP site.
  • Remember to pay no money upfront without reaching out to other members, or a resource like like TUG Timeshare Users Group
  • Forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.          AVO Contact Us Page

Contact Inside Timeshare if you are interested in helping other members or have questions about the filing process. Our goal is to make consumers more aware of the financial pitfalls that can result if you buy a timeshare you don’t understand or was not presented truthfully. We know there are many who use and enjoy their timeshares and sales agents that sell the product honestly. Honest sales agents are also negatively affected by predatory sales and lending.    

Timeshare Accountability Group™

Well that is all for this week, remember, before engaging with any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or through adverts in publications, do you homework and stay safe.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of Letter from America, this week we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which was originally published on 21 December 2018 but was withdrawn due to having to be changed. It is another story about the ongoing problem of Elder Abuse, Brenda Santos explains her parents “Nightmare”, edited by our very own Irene Parker.

The main character in today’s article is a name that has come up many times on Inside Timeshare, Rick Casper, a name that is well known around timeshare circles. Yet Diamond allowed him to continue his deceptive practices even though they should have known what he was doing, in this I believe Diamond is as culpable as Rick Casper.

We think that you will be shocked once you have read this article, so without any further ado, on with the last Letter from America before Christmas.

Why I Feel My Parents Experienced Elder Abuse

Their Encounter with Diamond Resorts and Rick Casper

By Brenda Santos, a daughter and Irene Parker

December 21, 2018

January 4, 2019 Retraction by Irene Parker

Diamond Resorts, via the Duane Morris law firm, has demanded that Inside Timeshare publish a retraction due to a misinterpretation of a sentence in the italicized paragraph below.

We mistakenly stated that Dan Percy allegedly sexually assaulted Rick Casper’s fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse, when the alleged sexual assault, according to Rick Casper, took place in their guest accommodations. It was my understanding Michael Flaskey’s penthouse was the same property as the Villa, in other words, the Villa and Michael Flaskey’s penthouse were one and the same.

After receiving the letter objecting to the statement, Charles Thomas immediately deleted the offending sentences. However, Duane Morris/Diamond has demanded a retraction we thus provide.

We apologize for the misunderstanding. Our intent was to shed light on the actions twenty Diamond members contend were perpetrated by Rick Casper. The alleged sexual assault was mentioned because Rick Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the alleged sexual assault to Diamond’s Human Resource department, not because he created reasons why existing member had to buy additional points.      

The actual wording in the complaint filed in US District Court District of Nevada reads as follows:

  1. Plaintiff (Rick Casper) and Ms. McGrath left before the concert ended to retire early to their guest accommodations.  
  2. Upon information and belief, after the concert, Defendant Percy and other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners were invited by Michael Flaskey to his Penthouse Suite at Cabo Azul for more cocktails and then later to the hotel bar, whereupon Defendant Percy and another Diamond Resorts employee were nearly engaged in an altercation.
  3. Upon information and belief, Percy was drinking heavily at the dinner, the concert, and at Flaskey’s Suite and hotel bar.
  4. Plaintiff’s guest accommodations at the Diamond Resorts event were at guest bedroom at Villa Palmila, a Diamond Resorts property (“Villa”). The Villa was a well-appointed house with several bedrooms. Plaintiff and Ms. McGrath had their own bedroom and shared the Villa with other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners who occupied the other bedrooms.
  5. To get to Plaintiff’s bedroom in the Villa, it was necessary to walk through two sets of double doors.

Original paragraphs:   

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. Casper filed the lawsuit alleging his Diamond VP Dan Percy sexually assaulted his fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse in Cabo San Lucas. Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the incident to Diamond’s Human Resource department.

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

Original December 21 article with the offending paragraph omitted:

Having connected with six other grown children whose parents have been harmed by timeshare, it is our intention to organize a media, legislative and regulatory outreach for the purpose of alerting the public as to unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices which we feel also constitutes elder abuse. We are professionals. Three of us have parents who are veterans, one a double Purple Heart recipient.

My father Dale, age 73, is an Army veteran and was a Captain in the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star for Victorious Service. My mom will be 73 in January. Our family has been financially and physically devastated by their decision to buy Diamond timeshare points. My parents always lived debt free, saved to buy things like cars, so having to do a reverse mortgage because of what these sales agents told my parents is unbearable. We have learned we are not alone.

Roy and Lillian Simmons, a Navy veteran and a retired letter carrier

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

Raymond and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori a Marine Veteran, two Purple Hearts

http://www.insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

My parents represent the 20th Rick Casper complaint from our support group of over 2,000 Diamond Resort families. I have learned Rick Casper’s name is known among law firms outside of our group.

In a lawsuit Rick Casper filed August 7, 2018 against Diamond Resorts and his former VP Dan Percy, Rick Casper admitted he created reasons or problems why existing members needed to buy additional timeshare points, as happened to my parents. A summary of the 20 Rick Casper complaints are listed below. As Diamond understands Rick Casper employed deceptive and unfair sales tactics, it is wrong not to recognize and correct what Diamond and Rick Casper did to my parents. I challenge anyone to read the 20 complaints and not conclude my father is telling the truth.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. 

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

My parents were former Sunterra owners since 2006. Their problems first started when they went to a timeshare presentation at Diamond’s Daytona Beach Regency resort on May 11, 2015. According to my parents, they were told they were not full Diamond members so it was important to get things changed. The sales agent explained that Diamond took over Sunterra due to bankruptcy.

That was not true. Diamond Resorts acquired Sunterra, but not because of bankruptcy: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/Diamond-Resorts-to-acquire-Sunterra-Corp-for-700-million

The following is what my father recounted to me about his Diamond experiences.

The Florida sales agent in 2015 explained that we needed to get out of our current Sunterra contract to become Diamond members. He used scare tactics to get us concerned that if we did not make the switch to Diamond officially our current investment with Sunterra would be worthless. The sales agent said if we purchased Diamond points, we would no longer be part of a bankrupt orphan group.

We previously purchased a Diamond Sampler (trial) package but it was almost impossible to get a reservation. We were trying to figure out how to get out of it when the sales agent presented what seemed to be a perfect solution. He said that by buying additional points, Diamond would fold our Sunterra contracts into one new Diamond points system. Several managers explained that we were not going to have enough points to do anything now that the Sunterra credit card was not able to be used due to the bankruptcy. The manager told us we would have legal issues and would risk losing everything and would not be able to sell the timeshare if we were not fully vested Diamond members.” We have learned Diamond points are virtually worthless.

After six hours, we were exhausted. Irene is diabetic and her blood sugar was increasing. We were stressed from hearing the news about our bankrupt investment, so we signed fast just to get out of there to get Irene’s blood sugar taken care of. We were thrilled to be out of the Sampler and thought we were finally set as a fully vested Diamond member. Diamond sales agent Mike sounded very helpful so we bought 2500 points for $10,925.

Three months later, on August 11, 2015 we met with Scott at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. This meeting lasted seven hours. The representative kept reiterating how he was just trying to help us get out of the mess we were in because of our Florida purchase.

Scott said the only way to get the best benefits was to purchase more points to get to Silver status. He explained that until you get to Silver you will have all kinds of problems. He also said our maintenance fees would be taken care of and we would be able to sell points back, possibly at a profit. We said we were not interested. A manager told us we needed to know the truth about what happened to us as a result of our Florida purchase because the changeover to Diamond did not happen correctly. He said we were still not fully deeded with Diamond Resorts.  

Diamond points are not deeded.

The sales agents said we had to purchase 6,500 points to get out of Sunterra completely to become a true vested Diamond member. He told us the vacations and airline tickets would pay for the points so we would not be out any other money and that maintenance fees would not increase, but be capped by reaching Silver status. None of this was true.

I was offered a Barclay credit card to pay for the fees. We purchased 6500 points for $22,945. Silver status benefits were totally misrepresented. Our maintenance fees were not taken care of. We found out later that our prior contracts were indeed with Diamond and legit.

My parents purchased 7500 points on March 15, 2016

Purchase price:  $32,625

We went to a timeshare presentation on March 15, 2016 and met with Rick Casper at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. Casper told us when we started the presentation that he was not going to sell us anything. He said we had not been told the truth about a lot of things and that he wanted to make things right. “With the program I am in charge of there will be an exit strategy so that someday, if you don’t want the timeshare and your kids do not want it, they can exit out easily.” He said he was a family guy and would not want his kids to have to deal with high maintenance fees so it would be better to ensure a cap on maintenance fees. He explained how we or our children would never be able to get out of the timeshare in the future unless we were part of his special group that would allow us to exit. He said we could make money on our investment by selling points.

Rick Casper showed us a worksheet as to what we would save by using points for maintenance fees and airfares. The math figures made sense. I already had a Barclay card that I used to finance the 2015 purchase. Rick Casper told us that if my wife could get her own Barclay card we could put almost the entire purchase on the Barclay Mastercard.  

We were there for over seven hours. We felt like hostages because they would not give us our free gifts until Rick’s supervisor finished. We bought with the understanding that we would be able to sell points. The charges on our Barclaycard ended up being way more than was disclosed.  Rick Casper said our Gold status bonus points would put a cap on maintenance fees for generations, but our maintenance fees skyrocketed as a result of this contract which was supposed to consolidate four prior contracts.

We signed fast because Irene almost passed out due to her diabetes and blood sugar levels. We told Rick we had to leave. We were tired and already under a lot of emotional distress to find out that Scott Pritchard did not fix anything the year before. We felt pressured to make it right or risk never being able to use points to pay for maintenance fees or exit out of the timeshare without being in Rick’s special elite program.  

When we received our Barclay credit card statement we noticed an additional $1000 charged for what Rick Casper presented to us as a gift from Diamond.

We contacted Diamond. A representative told us that there was no way we could use our points to pay for maintenance fees. I called and asked Rick Casper to correct the issue. His response was in a loud screaming threatening voice, “How dare you accuse me? I didn’t tell you those things; you are trying to get me in trouble. I am going to sue you if you pursue this and go to my supervisor.” I told him that he was dishonest and that we would take action.  His screaming was abusive, degrading, and caused me physical and mental distress. I have been through a lot of trauma as a Vietnam War veteran but have never been screamed at and degraded like Rick Casper did to me. I ended up very traumatized emotionally which caused me to have a stress attack in 2016.

After recounting this incident for my daughter a few weeks ago, I had a similar attack and had to be admitted to the hospital for heart symptoms. The doctor was a different doctor from the same medical group. He noted from my patient history that the mention of Diamond prompted my 2016 symptoms. I was put on blood pressure medication due to this emotional stress and have daily deteriorating health issues as a result of the stress this causes me every time I walk into my house and know I have debt on my home as a result of tactics I consider to be an organized effort to take advantage of us.

We had to do a reverse mortgage on our home as a result of these timeshare purchases because our social security income was too low to cover the total charged on both Barclay cards. I worked as a Baptist pastor until retirement. My credit score was 817 the day we met with Rick Casper but it has gone down considerably.  

In May 2016 we went to another Diamond presentation to try and figure out how to use our points to pay for our maintenance fees since we were having a hard time getting through to anyone at Diamond.  The timeshare representative was very embarrassed about what had happened and apologized on behalf of Diamond Resorts for the deception. He told us he wanted to help us understand what we had. He said that paying $32,625 for 7500 points was unheard of and that we could not do anything Rick Casper told us we could do at our current Gold status, which he said was only put in the system temporarily.  

That Diamond representative told us that we should take action and file a complaint. He explained how using points for an airline ticket would cost us 11,000 points (or about $2,200 for one domestic airline ticket) so not a good deal. We could not use points to pay for maintenance fees at Gold status. Only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees and at only $.04 per point.  

Gold status did not give us what Rick Casper said it was going to give us, which included paying maintenance fees with points, exiting out of the timeshare, and being able to sell our timeshare points to make money on our investment.

We are both in terrible health and financial distress as a result of this Diamond resort investment trauma.

I learned of this only recently. I’m still trying to grasp the situation.  Diamond responded denying the request to cancel the last purchase because they used their points and said that nothing Rick Casper said was in writing. What is there to stop this from happening to others if misrepresentations continue unchecked? I believe my parents. How could anyone not believe them after reading so many similar complaints? I sent this article to Diamond for comment on December 17, but they did not respond.   

Twenty Rick Casper Complaints and excerpts from articles submitted by those who purchased points from Rick Casper:           

  1. SM, age 65 and his wife 81, 21 years Army, trained chemical, biochemical, nuclear defense RESOLVED http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

After the last Rick Casper up-sell, their monthly payment escalated from $431 a month to $2200. They told Mr. Casper they were worried about passing this burden on to their heirs.  

  1.  CL $75,000 RESOLVED – A Stage 4 cancer patient

During our meeting we were told about all the changes that had been discussed at the dinner that would allow us to sell our points. My husband has cancer so all that was going through his mind was trying to make a choice that would help me later on if the chemo didn’t work and when Rick Casper convinced him this was the answer that’s all that my husband heard.  

  1. N C, ages 67 and  69 $142,000 RESOLVED

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

We are both disabled and retired from civil service. Dan is a retired army Lt. Colonel and a combat Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran.  

We are Platinum members. We feel our most recent Diamond purchase was made under deceptive and extremely high pressure selling techniques. We had been struggling with two loan payments of $329 and $121 but the most recent purchase we did not even realize we made, will drive us into foreclosure. Rick Casper in Las Vegas on January 22, 2017 sold us 50,000 Diamond points bringing our total number of points to 106,000. Our new loan payment is $2,133 a month which we cannot pay. The $142,400 purchase of 50,000 points included $17,000 charged to a DRI Barclaycard. We did not realize we made this $142,000 purchase until we returned home and checked our credit cards. As I have had a double mastectomy, undergone chemotherapy, radiation and have had two knee replacement surgeries, buying more vacation points was in no way our intention. Dan has had two minor strokes and a mild heart attack. He has chronic pain and is on 25 medications prescribed by the VA and our doctors. He suffers from PTSD. I was in terrible knee pain. Rick provided me with two glasses of wine in a Styrofoam cup with plastic lids because alcohol is not allowed at presentations.

Rick said we should join the new “Legacy program” that allows members to sell blocks of Diamond points to a third party with all Diamond benefits intact.  He said if we joined the Legacy program “people would be standing in line to buy our points.”

After six hours, my pain increased and I became confused. I walk with a cane so it was an effort just to walk to the restroom as it was some distance. Dan was confused due to diabetic symptoms. We were so overwhelmed by the time we were signing contracts, we did not even realize we were buying points. Rick kept saying we would receive 50,000 bonus points. We signed just to get out of there.

  1. KK, age 61 $117,000 RESOLVED

Questionnaire sheet asked: Had you attended a dinner? What is your exit strategy? Apollo had dinners informing members Cloobeck was leaving.  Not everyone heard the presentation so Rick was talking to Platinum members about the Legacy program. He said DRI never allowed you to sell points. This will. He knows real estate people can get $5 on resale for DRI points. New members are paying $9 so if you buy at $4 it is easy to sell. He had contacts that he could set us up with. 12/29/2016

5 RB, age 66 $75,000 RESOLVED

Mr. Casper said on at least four occasions I was eligible for a Pool Party Upgrade that would provide an exit strategy. He said the program was about to expire so I needed to write a sentence that said I wanted to do this and he would get the purchase approved. I never received a copy of the sentence. The purpose was to make my existing points more valuable. Mr. Casper went on to explain that this exit strategy would allow me to monitor and sell points. He mentioned that he is a family man and does not want to pass his points and maintenance fees on to his kids.

6 JH, age 56 $132,000 RESOLVED

The main benefit that Rick Casper presented was the ability to convert points directly into cash at $0.30 per point. If we had leftover points, he said we could be reimbursed in cash. All we had to do was contact Rick’s Vice President Dan Percy who would process the transaction and put the money on our reloadable Visa card.

I continued to ask questions about each benefit to be certain.  I worded questions differently to see if I would get the same answer.  I threw out this scenario; if at the end of the year I have 30,000 points still sitting in my account, you’re telling me that I can get reimbursed cash for these points at $0.30 per point?”  His response; “Absolutely – You contact Dan Percy and he will load $9,000 onto the Visa card.” We purchased 40,000 points to get us to the level of Super Platinum. There is no level above Platinum.

7 AC, age 68 $55,000

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

We purchased an additional 20,000 points on July 16, 2016 for $55,200 from Richard Casper. The reason is because Rick told us if we went from Gold to Platinum, he could sell points to substantially reduce our maintenance fees by submitting receipts to him for goods and services. We have never seen a tangible way to reduce our current $8,685 fees.  

During the presentation we asked about combining our eight contracts. Casper advised that any free and clear points sold on the resale market will have the same benefits except loyalty level as long as no more than 20,000 points were sold to one individual so it would be better not to combine the points. None of this was true. Casper stated that many Gold owners would be happy to buy 20,000 points at the lower price to become Platinum.  

We contacted Richard Casper by email on April 7, 2017 because we needed to sell 20,000 points. We received an auto reply stating to contact VP Dan Percy. Dan Percy stated that Diamond Resorts sales personnel don’t assist people who need to sell points.

8 JM, age 61 $90,000 RESOLVED

Rick Casper was introduced to me as a Platinum specialist. Mr. Casper said I made a big mistake buying Hawaii points and a bigger mistake transferring the 20,000 points I bought in Daytona, due to a class action lawsuit against DRI that caused exorbitant increases in maintenance fees because of storm related beach erosion.  

Mr. Casper said I had to transfer back to US Collection and if I owned 100,000 points I would be unofficially known as double Platinum and that I could sell unused points back to Diamond at 30 cents per point. Mr. Casper said this was closely regulated by the authorities. Mr. Casper said by selling these points back I could pay some or all of my maintenance fees for that year and years to follow. Mr. Casper said this would allow my children not to have to pay maintenance fees. “You are really passing your children a bill.  We have a new program if you reach me in November to let me know what you did not use. Diamond will buy the points back at $.30 to, ‘put them back in the kitty’. We need the points because we can sell them to other people who need them. What are you waiting for? This is a no brainer.”

I purchased an additional 30,000 points. I now owned 115,000 points. Mr. Casper said the reason for the 30 cent program was due to the sale of Diamond to Apollo. Mr. Casper said Mr. Cloobeck wanted to do something for members who owned over 100,000 points to show his appreciation. He included the 30 cent per point program in the terms of the Apollo buyout.  

In November 2016 I called Rick Casper to inform him I had 80,000 points I wished to cash in so that I would receive $24,000 as he had illustrated.  He denied any knowledge of the arrangement.  I spoke with Dan Percy. He said no such program existed.    

  1. SW 100% disabled Army veteran Agent Orange exposure

April 6, 2018 $170,000 1099 issued

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-44/

In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’s Cancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr. Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade from $5,000 to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take up to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this; but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 for $170,000. I’m 71 years old.

#10 MP RESOLVED, a widow, a speech teacher, age 71

April 2018 Platinum

My husband John and I purchased an additional 25,000 US Collection points May 2017 from Rick Casper. He said we had to purchase these points to take advantage of a program that would allow us not to have to pay Maintenance Fees after we paid off our loan. Mr. Casper said the program description had been sent to us in a letter we should have received. Rick Casper told us that because we did not get a letter, Diamond would still offer what had been offered.  He did not have a copy of the letter. Rick Casper told my husband and me (John was still alive at the time), that once we paid off our loan, we would not have to pay maintenance fees.

The scare that Rick put into me was because he said we would be paying a million dollars in maintenance fees over our lifespan if we did not buy the additional 25,000 points.  Rick Casper explained how Diamond maintenance fees would continue to skyrocket. We purchased the 25,000 points for $86,250. Wed had purchased 53000 points previously.

John was in much pain. We did not know at the time he had cancer, spine and skeleton, which had metastasized. John kept saying, “I do not want to do this.” Rick Casper even asked, “Is he alright?” I was incredulous because it was obvious John was not alright. He was diagnosed with cancer October 13, 2017. Our presentation started at 8:30 AM and did not end until 7:30 PM. John was terribly affected by my decision. He couldn’t get over what we (I) had done because we already had enough points.

Well, in order to not have to wait ten years to not pay maintenance fees, I went right out and got a lower interest rate home equity loan. I felt this way I could pay the loan off in 30 days so that I would not have to pay 2018 maintenance fees.

#11 D H UNRESOLVED

We told Rick Casper about our concerns:

  1. Concerned about paying even more maintenance fees if we purchased more points.

Rick reassured us that if we purchased more points we could use them to pay all our maintenance fees every year and still have points left to travel.

We trusted Rick so we bought 25,000 more points, upgrading to Platinum so that we could take advantage of the .30 per point benefit. How can this be justified? These deceitful sales tactics go against many laws (FBI, ARDA and SEC to name a few).

  1. Concerned that we couldn’t use the points we already had, let alone buy more.

Rick was very skilled in reassuring us that all would be ok if we purchased more points. He even stated that as Platinum he would be our personal concierge.

  1. Concerned our timeshare was not a good investment.

Rick reassured us it was a good investment, and that points were selling for more than what we originally paid; he showed us a chart with yearly increases. He mentioned that he had a friend that resells timeshares and that DR points were in high demand. He said that if we ever decided to sell that he would put us in touch with his friend, who can easily sell our points for double what we paid. This eased our minds. Nov. 2016, I texted Rick and asked him if he still knows a guy that’s willing to buy our timeshare. He never replied.

#12 J K We were Gold members, told we could save on maintenance fees via a reloadable VISA card that would be credited to pay maintenance fees. Purchasing additional points or upgrading to Platinum was never mentioned.

Rick Casper said DRI VP Dan Percy would take care of our 2018 maintenance fees.  Due to signing electronically, we were not aware we had purchased an additional 30,000 points until we returned home and reviewed the actual documents, received new credit cards, and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to read the contract via the electronic signing.

I have learned there is a real program called 20/20 or 30/30, depending on the loyalty level in which 30% of vacation points can be credited toward travel discounts.  Rick Casper adulterated the actual program to be able to cover himself and Dan Percy. In other words, you can redeem points at $.30 per point, but not for the reasons Rick Casper stated. You cannot redeem points at $.30 per point to pay maintenance fees.

#13 MS, ages 80 and 84 Parents of #12

Rick Casper said Dan Percy would handle our 2018 maintenance fees. He explained that the program they were up for and the current ownership will benefit us and allow for better use of ownership.  Due to the electronic signing of the contract, we did not know we had purchased 30,000 additional points until we returned home and could properly review the documents, received the credit cards and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to review the contracts on the small Tablet.  

#14 M Y, age 72

We went to Polo Towers September 2, 2017. We wanted to know how to reduce maintenance fees. Rick Casper told us that the only way to reduce maintenance fees was to buy more points. He asked, “Are you happy about paying all these maintenance fees?” We purchased 47,500 additional points.

When we got home, three Barclay cards came in the mail. We were charged almost $28,000. He never mentioned that he was even going to open the cards. We already had one Barclaycard. When we got to our room, we reviewed the documents, but it did not really show the Barclay charges.

The very next day we told Joey Guiterrez we wanted to cancel. He said if you cancel you will lose all your benefits and be fined $40,000. I asked why and he said that’s just how it is. When I complained, he denied saying this. My husband was with me. I became depressed for months.

#15 T T Rick Casper complaint

TT (age 51) and IT

25000 points purchased Polo Towers, Las Vegas, NV on September 5, 2017

Sales Agent: Richard “Rick” Casper – Real Estate License S.0172679

Purchase Price: $102,000

Down Payment: $29,000

Amount Financed: $73,750 @ 12.1305%

Down payment charged to Barclay Diamond Cards

Rick Casper said we would not have to pay out of pocket for Maintenance Fees ever again, and we would not have to worry about losing any points at the end of the year – Dan Percy, VP of Sales, will be in contact with us after 21 days and will work with us.

Casper said that if we did not purchase, we would not be included in the new program to use our points to pay for all our maintenance fees. He caught our interest when he told us how the Maintenance Fee could be fully paid for by points and the credit card program by getting credit for paying for the Maintenance Fee, flights, car rentals, cruises and other travel expenses. He said the points could be redeemed at $0.30/point. What Rick told and showed us addressed many of the struggles and anxieties that we faced owning the timeshare, so we were glad to hear about the new programs (we later learned did not exist).

Rick said to get started; we needed to purchase more points. I asked Rick specifically: “If we were to be in this new program, would we need any out of pocket money to pay maintenance fees?”  He replied that by using points and the credit card, that with the additional 25000 points, it would be enough to cover the maintenance fees for future years.

I was unemployed at the time, so asked if we could delay purchasing more points but he became very strict in explaining the offer was only for this session, and how he would note that we refused the new program on the exit form. We felt compelled to purchase the points. We definitely do not need these additional points.

Dan Percy moved to Hawaii and directed inquiries to go to Joey Gutierrezs.

My wife and I have determined through contact with Joey Gutierrez and others at Polo Towers that the program for points for maintenance fees does not exist. Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $0.04 (not $0.30) per point and will not pay the full MF amount of $8,631.  

#16 G K

We bought points five or six times. We did not have problems with Diamond until we encountered Rick Casper.  We purchased 50,000 points. I called Joey Guiterrez two days after we purchased to cancel. He was skillful in dodging the rescission clause.  Our Polo Towers meeting with Rick Casper was August 18, 2017

I was told at the beginning of the meeting that I would be spending $700,000 over the next 20 years just in maintenance fees. Rick Casper said he would help me create a program to cover these expenses. I pulled out my cell phone to use the calculator to check this figure. Mr. Casper assured me the amount was correct so I put the calculator away. The $700,000 was not correct. I created an Excel spreadsheet based on the average increase of 5.6% a year.

My maintenance fees were about $14,200 at the time. Rick Casper said that if I purchased 50,000 points, I would be able to redeem the points at an average of $.20 a point which would generate $10,000 in cash. Rick Casper said I could then sell half the points I already owned to generate the remaining amount to cover the maintenance fees.

I called Diamond Resorts around February of 2018 and asked to redeem 50,000 points. I was informed there was no such program. I would have to use my points for travel such as airfare ($.10 a point) or restaurants or lodging outside Diamond at only $.10 a point. There were very few ways in which to use points for this. I don’t need a new TV let alone dozens of them.

Rick Casper said I would be assigned my own agent (Daniel Percy) in Vegas to assist me with all bookings. When I called I found out that the bookings would simply be made through Interval International. It seems Daniel Percy worked in tandem with Rick Casper.

No mention was made of the fact that purchasing an additional 50,000 points would raise my maintenance fee by approximately $8,300.

AFTER signing, I was given a folder with the spiral bound book that said to the effect: “Read This Thoroughly before Signing Any Documents”.  Upon reflection of the documents I signed, I found that my maintenance fees would now increase by over $8000 meaning any efforts to “cover my maintenance fees” with this contract were useless!

We had an early start to the airport the next morning to arrive in Seattle for our Alaska Cruise. I placed a call Mr. Joey Guiterrez. I told him I wanted to cancel. He spent about 20 minutes trying to convince me otherwise. He finally said, “Well, if that is what you want” and left it there. On the sixth calendar day, Mr. Guiterrez contacted me. I had called to ask why the contract had not been cancelled. He stated that the contract had to be cancelled in writing within five calendar days. Mr. Guiterrez obviously waited until the sixth calendar day to dodge the rescission period.

The only response from Diamond was, “You signed the contract.”  Noting all of the lies that lead me to sign the contract were a non-issue according to the person I talked to.  .

#17 P B

Disabled, worked ER for 20 years, attacked by patient, the patient did know what she was doing

Age 63 LA County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy Sheriff for 25 years

Our accounts have been foreclosed.  We were in good standing until we met with Rick Casper.

In 2016 we stopped at Polo Towers.  We told them we were having trouble financially because I was on disability income and my husband was just retired. They said they could offer us a refinance but it ended up we purchased US Collection points not even knowing we had purchased them. They said they would slip the paperwork under our door. They did not. We had no documents provided to us. Before we got on our plane to continue on a Dream Holiday, I received an email (which Diamond says does not exist but I have a copy) saying attached is our paperwork and that they would mail the documents. The purchase made us Platinum but we were not even aware we had bought additional points.

Rick Casper did the paperwork process. He went over with us about the refinancing and that the 2017 and 2018 maintenance fees would be included.  We had met Dan Percy before the closing process. He also confirmed that we were doing a refinance that would include the maintenance fees and that this transaction would reduce our monthly payments by a few hundred dollars per month.

They said Dan Percy would be our contact person.  An email said that if we received a maintenance fee invoice, we should contact Dan Percy. We contacted Percy after we received a maintenance fee invoice for $15,000. He said we owe the money.

This company is beyond belief.

#18 TF A non-disclosure agreement signed.

#19 TZ 60,000 points were purchased, but I rescinded the Casper purchase because they would not put in writing what I was told.  Casper tried to convince us to get a mortgage on our home. He said there was no way to get out of a Diamond contract.

Rick Casper complaint #20 are my parents.

Thank you Brenda for your contribution and also to Irene for taking the time to edit, as you have seen, this character has caused untold misery and that is the ones we know about. The question is how many more people have had to suffer a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” because of Rick Casper?

This message is not just to Diamond, but to all timeshare companies who allow their sales agents to do what the hell they like, just so they can line their pockets with millions in commissions. They are your employees, they are selling your product, they are selling your name, you are “RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR SALES AGENTS SAY!”

If you have any comments or have a similar story to tell, then contact us at Inside Timeshare by using our contact page, we will get back to you.

Canarian Legal Alliance Announce End of Year Results

What a year 2018 has been for the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, they have recently announced their end of year results and it is impressive to say the least.

They have ended the year with 131 Supreme Court rulings, this is unprecedented in Spanish legal history, the last 2 rulings being made against Diamond Resorts. These judgements reinforced the previous ones by Spain’s Highest Court that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and points systems along with the taking of any payment, even by a third party within the cooling off period are in breach of Spanish Timeshare laws 42/98 and 4/12.

In another landmark ruling from the Courts of First Instance in Tenerife, Silverpoint and their lawyers admitted that their “Company Participations” were indeed timeshare. This has now opened the way for many more clients who have been sold these “participations” as “investments” to now lodge claims against Silverpoint. This will result in the contracts being declared null and void plus the return of all money paid. (See previous article)

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-company-participations-is-timeshare/

Here are some key figures for the past year:

  • 3669 clients
  • 1380 live cases in various stages at court
  • 679 court hearings in 2018
  • 516 new claims presented to the Spanish Courts
  • 327 favorable sentences for clients
  • 12.3 million Euros have been awarded (2018 only) to clients by the Spanish Courts
  • 2.8 million Euros in payouts to clients
  • 728.000 Euros in bank guaranteed funds secured for clients
  • 4.5 million Euros are currently in process of being converted into bank guarantees

As the year drew to a close and the courts recessed for the Christmas break, Canarian Legal Alliance also managed to sneak in 10 more results in favour of their clients against the following:

  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             26,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             55,994€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance               9,795€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,800€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             18,376€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             39,590€
  • Holiday Club                 Court of First Instance                4,500€
  • Silverpoint                     Court of First Instance                5,400€
  • Club la Costa                 Court of First Instance              29,768€

This is an incredible 214,590€ secured for these clients, with all contracts being declared null and void.

These figures speak for themselves, no other law firm in Spain has achieved anything near to this, so for those who continue to post on various forums that these are all fake, check your facts before you post. These cases can all be verified through court documents, they are in the public domain.

It is quite clear that 2019 is also going to be a record breaking year, especially now that all courts are subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court. Inside Timeshare will bring you the latest news on cases as and when they happen.

If you require any further information on this subject or would like to know if you have a legitimate and viable case, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Other news which has just come in involves the ongoing case against Eze Groups Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly at Birmingham Crown Court.

December 21st was the final day of a Newton Hearing in the case against Stephanie O’Reilly, Mr O’Reilly was not in attendance as he had earlier pleaded guilty to 27 charges of breaches of consumer legislation and aggressive selling amongst other things.

The reason for the Newton Hearing was that Miss O’Reilly had to explain why she pleaded guilty to Fraud but not as charged. The defense argued that Eze Group had employed the services of a Legal Advisor to ensure that they were compliant with UK law and that this advice was wrong which ultimately led to the mis-selling of the product.

This argument was vigorously rejected by the prosecution, who were also able to produce documentation refuting the argument. This was accepted by the court and a date of 11 January 2019 has been set for what we believe will be sentencing. We will bring you this news as and when it happens.

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

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the first Tuesday Slot of 2019, first thank you to Irene Parker for taking the time to get this weeks article to us, all our readers thoughts are with you at this time. As the planet rotated and the New Year dawned across the globe, the messages wishing Inside Timeshare a Happy New Year never stopped, so thank you to all our readers for your thoughts and Inside Timeshare also wishes you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Timeshare Accountability Group™

A New Name – a New Year

By Irene Parker

New Year’s Day 2019

TAG begins the New Year with a new name. Accountability is a better word than advocacy so now we are Timeshare Accountability Group™   as we shift our focus more towards media, legislative and regulatory outreach. We will maintain our teams consisting of 44 supporters to answer questions about regulatory and law enforcement filings. Some websites are not that easy to navigate and some members express technological challenges.

We changed to Accountability for four reasons:

As mentioned, we will focus more on media, legislative and regulatory outreach.

Second, some outfit is using our key words running internet ads charging upfront money to get you out of your timeshare.

Third, a number of individuals and organizations that use the words advocate and consumer have nothing to do with advocating for a consumer. A lot of the criminals on this 15 page Department of Justice Report timeshare scam report called themselves advocates. We don’t want to be lumped in with those masquerading as advocates.

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

Fourth, I’m tired of being described by Diamond Resorts as a “self-styled, ‘advocate’ a third party, not a lawyer, not a professional journalist.” I have never described myself as a professional journalist. I describe myself as an amateur scribbler. Diamond’s point I believe is that I don’t have the liability protection afforded professional journalists.

I was a professional court report writer. As a CASA supervisor (Court Appointed Special Advocates), I wrote court reports for Family Court judges and interested parties in an effort to determine the best outcome for a child or children in foster care. The despair in the voices of some angry timeshare members is similar to the despair of a parent whose child has been removed from their home.    

“Irene Parker purports to get her ‘clients’ out of their legally binding contracts,” Diamond explains. I have readers. The definition of purport: “appear or claim to be or do something, especially falsely” What our team members do is empower the timeshare member with the support needed to file regulatory and, if necessary, law enforcement complaints. It is every citizen’s right to file complaints if they feel they have been harmed.

The foreclosure process can be demeaning and demoralizing. It means a lot to know you are not alone. It is especially difficult for seniors who may have lost a spouse, or for those with 800 or better credit scores, left with no choice but to foreclose due to little or no secondary market. Timeshares are not like a house that can be easily sold with a loan outstanding, yet we are greeted “Welcome Home!” when we check in and we are told to think of our timeshare as a second home.             

Last year we reported Timeshare Accountability Group™ ended 2017 with a total of 207 timeshare members reaching out to us for help, all but a handful contacting us about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.       

We ended 2018 with 432 members contacting us. More than double!

Our goals for 2019 remain the same:   

⦁ Boost our media outreach group

⦁ Boost our legislative outreach

⦁ Boost our active duty and veteran/retired military outreach

Timeshare developers are beginning to listen. A few timeshare companies have listened to the merits of a complaint and responded when we send a draft of a member submitted article. At times I have agreed with the company.

Members appreciate voluntary surrender programs. Unfortunately, the majority of our readers are not eligible for voluntary surrender programs because they are saddled with high interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards. A credit card company, like a home equity loan, doesn’t care what you charged. You owe the balance. It’s important to remember – transferring to a lower interest rate loan through a third party lender is not advised. Transferring to any third party lender, including a credit card, means you are asking the timeshare company for a refund as opposed to a loan cancellation. As timeshare attorney Mike Finn advised in a previously published article,

I think the one major, major admonition I have for anyone, client or not, who has purchased a timeshare with developer financing and may want to reconsider the merits of the purchase (and, of course, assuming the rescission period has passed), do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, attempt to re-finance the purchase via a home equity line or a transfer to a lower interest credit card, or, for that matter any other methodology that has as its objective, re-paying the developer with other third party money.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-2/

It’s easy to get discouraged, but Inside Timeshare and self-help member groups have made remarkable progress since our twelve founders launched our volunteer effort February of 2017. We soldier on into 2019.

As always, contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U.S. member supported self-help groups if you have a timeshare concern. We’re here to listen and act, going a step beyond helpful posts.   

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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/

Once again thank you Irene for you efforts over the past year, there are many out there who have been helped by the efforts of yourself and all our volunteer advocates, let us hope that this year will be the one that the industry takes notice and changes its approach to how it operates.

Inside Timeshare is not here to destroy the industry, it is here to give consumers the facts of what is going on. To highlight the rogue operators, be they timeshare sales, resale companies or bogus law firms, we will publish your antics no matter who you think you are, no threats will stop the truth from being published. As the old saying goes

“THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”.

 

Mid Week Report: Diamond Resorts Receive Second Supreme Court Sentence

The Supreme Court, Spain’s highest judicial body has again found against Diamond Resorts as per their previous 129 rulings. This week alone Diamond have lost 2 cases at the highest court in Spain, it all centers on their points system which has been declared an illegal product due to lack of tangibility and the length of the contract.

In the past three years, the Supreme Court has ruled on 131 cases involving the sales of timeshare, each time it has upheld its previous rulings, on many occasions it has added further rulings on the interpretation of the Spanish Timeshare Laws 42/98 & 4/12.

The latest case started with a trial at the Court of First Instance No 24 in Tenerife, the judge in this instance found for the clients as dictated by the previous ruling of the Supreme Court and the Spanish Timeshare laws.

The infractions were the contract had no end date, which is in contravention of the law as laid down and reinforced by previous rulings, the law clearly states that a timeshare contract should be a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years in duration. The second was the points system, which shows no tangible product, this being a fixed week number and fixed apartment number, which guarantees the purchaser the period and accommodation each year.

The Judge ruled in favour of the client, declaring the contract null and void plus the return of all money paid. However, Diamond did not agree and promptly appealed the decision to the High Court.

During this appeal, Diamond pleaded that what they had sold was not timeshare, that just like Silverpoint, these were “investors” and not consumers of timeshare. For some reason the judges at the High Court agreed and overturned the decision of the Court of First Instance.

The lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance representing the clients, placed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had already previously ruled on the point of “investors as opposed to consumers”, ruling that they are consumers.

On 13 December 2018, the judges of the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Tenerife High Court upholding and reaffirming the ruling of the Court of First Instance, in favour of the client and in accordance to their previous rulings.

The court along with the original decision declared the contract null and void, awarded over 11,000€ plus they ordered the return of all legal fees for the original case and the appeal, sending it back to the original court for execution of sentence.

The full sentence can be seen in the PDF below.

Supreme Court 2nd Diamond sentence data protected

Over the past 3 or so years the Supreme Court has been consistent in reaffirming their previous rulings, which all courts must abide by. The basic rulings are that deposits or any payment made within the cooling off period are illegal, including those made to a third party. The points and floating weeks systems are not permitted as they do not guarantee anything to the consumer. The duration of the contract is another aspect they have consistently ruled upon, that any contract with a period of more than 50 years is not permitted.

As with the Silverpoint rulings on the “investment packs” which Silverpoint argued made the purchaser an “investor” not a “consumer”, the court has ruled these are indeed timeshares and the law applies. This is also being used in the case of fractional ownership and more recently the Silverpoint Company Participations, the courts have ruled that they are timeshare and that the consumer has the full protection of the timeshare law.

On the point of “investing”, timeshare is not an investment in property, it is a right of use and enjoyment of accommodation for specific periods of time, therefore it should never be marketed or sold as an investment. This is actually borne out by First National Trust in 2012, they are the trustees for the Club la Costa Fractional Owners Club, they informed CLC that fractional should never be marketed as an investment. (See link below).

http://clcmembers.blogspot.com/

Over the years we have seen many timeshare companies change the product, giving it new names, in many cases it has been a blatant attempt to bypass the timeshare laws, but thanks to the courts and especially the Supreme Court, this has been thwarted.

As with any new law, it has taken a long time and many test cases to clarify the interpretation of the law, there is still a long way to go as timeshare companies try to evade the strict laws which now govern the sale of any timeshare product in Spain.

  • Have you purchased a timeshare in Spain or upgraded since 5 January 1999?
  • Is the contract over 50 years in duration?
  • Is it a floating weeks or points system?
  • Have you purchased fractional?
  • Did you purchase the Silverpoint “Investment Weeks”?
  • Are you a participant in the Silverpoint “Company Participation” scheme?
  • Have you paid any money within the cooling off period?

If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you may have the right to have your contract declared null and void, along with the return of at least your purchase price, double whatever paid within the cooling off period.

If you require any information on what your rights are and whether you do have a valid and viable claim, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

You should also bare in mind that these claims must go through a Spanish court using a genuine Spanish registered lawyer, your contract must also still be running. Once you have cancelled any ownership / membership, then you lose your right to file with the courts.

Remember, before you do anything, do your due diligence and check who you are dealing with, do not take at face value some of the claims many companies will make. If you require any help in determining the validity of any company that contacts you, that you find on the internet or through adverts in magazines or newspapers, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice possible.

Stay safe and do your homework.