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Diamond

The Tuesday Slot

My Experience with a Timeshare and a Timeshare Exit Company

Another Veteran Foreclosed

September 11, 2018

Inside Timeshare has heard from 73 US veterans and active duty service members and law enforcement alleging unfair and deceptive timeshare business practices. Today is September 11, a day we remember the Twin Towers, a day that shook the world. Like George Yamada, our newest veteran contributor, first responders have suffered health effects as a result of their service for freedom.

Mr. Yamada explains today how he had invested over $100,000 in a timeshare, losing about $50,000, forced to default on the balance. As he illustrates, the amount of money lost to timeshare exit companies often pales in comparison to the amount lost buying a timeshare for the wrong reasons.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from members in the U.S. and the E. U. who feel they were scammed by an exit company promising their money back if they are not released from their timeshare, only to learn the promise fell short.  Not all exit companies are a scam, but we consider any company not living up to their money back guarantee, to be in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission code, “Unfair and Deceptive Trade practices.”

Read the guarantee you sign off on carefully, three words like “or in process” can made a big difference. The guarantee from the timeshare exit company’s website:

All Paid in Full Timeshare Cancellations are Guaranteed to be Transferred or In Process within ONE YEAR or Your Money Back!*

* All Paid in Full timeshares are guaranteed to be transferred or in process within the one year after you, the client, give us your file documents, or you will receive your money back.

Although George’s timeshare was not paid in full, he is adamant the company provided him this guarantee, even with his outstanding loan. Furthermore, the timeshare company issued George a notice of default. A default is not a transfer.  

By George Yamada

September 11, 2018

My wife Dawn and I are engaged in a battle we never expected. I am 71 years old, a Vietnam Army veteran, 70% disabled from Agent Orange. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange experience diabetes, kidney disease and other health risks. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp

I administer pension plans. I can’t imagine any company in our portfolio treating their clients the way my wife and I have been treated.  

We purchased 41,500 Diamond US Collection points for over $100,000 as an investment. After learning the points are virtually worthless, I contacted a timeshare exit company December 2017 and paid them $6,000 to get out of the contract. The estimated turnaround time was expected to be four to six months. In April of 2018 I was told Diamond is overloaded with members wanting to get out of contracts, so it could take a year.

Summary of my purchases

In 2015 at Ka’anapali we bought a trial package for $1.93 per point.

In 2016 in Florida we purchased 6,500 points for $19,055 or $2.93 per points.

The third purchase was August 2017 by phone from Washington State. A lady called and said they could offer me a great deal. She said Diamond points are an investment for the future. They sold us on the discounted value compared to the current price. She said they could not offer the price we paid before because the price per point had gone up. Having bought at $1.93, this sounded like an excellent investment. We purchased 8,500 points for $28,560 or $3.36 per point.   

The fourth purchase was October 10, 2017. We met Juaquin B in Florida. Juaquin wrote $3.49 on a sheet of paper and then showed us the current price at $9 per point.  He would not give us the paper. He said that the points we had purchased had gone up so we could not purchase at the previous price. Juaquin told us this is the best investment we could buy because of Apollo. Apollo Global Management had acquired Diamond Resorts. As a pension administrator, I knew Apollo was a venture capital company. Juaquin said the more points we bought, the better our value. The sales presentation lasted six hours, and I am diabetic.

We purchased 20,000 points totaling 41,500 points for $58,000 or $2.90 per point.

Juaquin said our two prior loans would be consolidated so the new monthly payment would be $774. This didn’t happen. We ended up with payments of $500 a month plus $700 a month so over $1200 a month which is impossible for us.  

The maintenance fees for the points purchased Juaquin wrote down as $3,300, but since the loan was not consolidated, the maintenance fees were about $8,700. This was a sizeable percentage of our net income. After our expenses we were left with only $1400 per month for food and all other living expenses.

When I tried to contact Juaquin, he said he was extremely busy but would contact us. I called and texted him about 12 to 15 times with no response. When he finally contacted me, he told me to send my hotel and rental car bills to him and he would reimburse us. I have the email from when I sent him the bills. Juaquin had previously explained that I could use points just like money. He said my points are worth $3 per point. Juaquin said, “You could buy a gallon of milk with your points.” I never heard from him after forwarding him our bills.

Joaquin told us repeatedly we could sell Diamond points back to Diamond. When I called Joaquin to ask how to redeem points, he said he would walk me through the process, but would have to get back to me. I did not hear back, so I called Diamond financial services November 2017. I said I would sell points back to them for what I had paid. They said Diamond does not buy back points.  At my age, I would have never purchased $58,000 worth of additional vacation points if I knew there were so few buyers. We had only used the timeshare a couple of times. I disputed this transaction with my credit card companies. I had not qualified for their Barclaycard. Both cards gave us our money back.  

The company said in a press release that they promise transparency and accountability. They boast of a PROMISE that memorializes a series of operational procedures and enhancements in a single document. From their press release:

Transparency

  • We will provide clear, concise and consistent information at our presentations so that you can easily decide whether committing to vacation is the right decision for you and your family.
  • We seek to articulate the benefits of membership so you understand:
  • How to use your points for other travel arrangements, such as airfare, or (for our Platinum members only) how to apply them to maintenance fees.

It has now been well over a year since I signed with the timeshare exit company. I reached out to Inside Timeshare May of 2018. After explaining that I bought the points as an investment, I was advised to file a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, because timeshare points are not a security and should not be sold as an investment.  Considering my background as a pension administrator, I should know if what had been described to me sounded like an investment.

I filed a complaint with the SEC June 3, 2018. Shortly after, I received a response from a SEC attorney. I contacted the timeshare exit company on July 18, 2018. The attorney I spoke with told me that they had received a Notice of Default-Revocation of Note dated June 13, 2018. It had been addressed to me but sent to the timeshare exit company. I asked the attorney why I had not been notified or sent a copy of the letter! He had no explanation. I asked for a refund or partial refund and of course the answer was no. I asked him why. He told me it was because Diamond could come back to them for any reason. Their guarantee was for a transfer, not a default!  

You don’t have to pay anyone to get defaulted!

EVENTUALLY, SOME LAWMAKER OR REGULATOR HAS TO WAKE UP TO THE HARM TIMESHARE IS DOING TO FAMLIES, SENIORS, and VETERANS.

Thank you to George Yamada for his service to America, for freedom and for sharing his experience. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare experience to share. We publish all experiences, good or bad. The views expressed in member submitted articles are their description of their timeshare experience. The one true fact we know, is that the families contacting us often say that they are financially devastated by their decision to purchase a timeshare. Sold and bought for the right reasons, a timeshare can be of great benefit to a family.

Follow the link below for the article published in OpEdNews:

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

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the last Friday’s letter from America for August, this week Irene Parker reviews the similarities between victims of the Catholic Church and Timeshare victims, it looks at how speaking up can make a difference. But first a couple of items from Europe.

Another company offering discounted travel has come to our attention, Advantage Group British Travel SL, according to Spanish company records the registered address is:

C/ LA GAVIOTA 14 – APARTAMENTO 1-19, LOS ABRIGOS (GRANADILLA DE ABONA)

This address is actually an apartment block, no sign of any office in the street.

Telephone number (34) 922 456 773

The company was registered on 24 October 2016 with the administrator being one Victoria Hughes and the secretary one Caroline Elizabeth Docker.

It appears that they use OPC’s on the street with the ubiquitous scratch cards to lure holiday makers into a presentation. This will involve several hours of high pressure sales to get you to part with a significant amount of money for a membership to another dubious “discount holiday club”.

You will then get access to the following website

www.toptraveleurope.net

This can only be accessed once you have joined and received your code and membership, there is also a £75 a year administration fee.

Now the name of this company reminded us of another several years ago called British Travel based at the Centro Comercial Fañabe Plaza, which is also the base for Monster Travel, Sell My Timeshare and other Mark Rowe enterprises.

The director of British Travel was Paul Hughes, which was also a “discount holiday club”, but was pitched as a travel agency, where you could get discount from 25% to 80%. Obviously Victoria Hughes is more than likely his wife and is now the  front for this company, we also know that Caroline is linked to paul as they are facebook friends.

So beware the ticket touts and the offers of great discounts!

We have also been informed by one of our regular readers who had dealings with the fake law firm in tenerife, Legalidad Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family, of another email being received about his court case against Diamond.

This has caused us a great deal of hilarity, the case was supposedly heard on 24 July 2018 and the director of Diamond Resorts International pleaded guilty, just like all the timeshare directors in these cases from this fake outfit. You will never believe who they named as the director, MARK ROWE!

Well we all know that Mark Rowe is not a director at Diamond, he runs his own little empire featuring Monster Credits, Rewards and Travel, Hollywood Marketing and off course ABC Lawyers to name but a few.

So if you are reading this Mark, congratulations on your employment at Diamond and what a shame you ended up in court!

Now for today’s article.

Timeshare Predators compared to Catholic Predators

By Irene Parker

August 31, 2018

There are many good Catholic priests, sisters and nuns, especially Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister of Erie, Pennsylvania, speaking out on what has been the pervasive Catholic culture of institutional cover-up.

Sister explains,   

Pedophilia, the abuse of children, has finally unmasked for all to see the operational principles of an organization that has been able for years to ignore, reject– even disdain–the cries of multiple other groups of the ignored and abused.

It is clear now, in ways it was never clear before, how much damage is done to the church itself, ironically, by the kind of silence that makes it impossible for the church to admit its weaknesses, to deal with its questions. . http://www.joanchittister.org/

Something clicks inside a victim when they have had enough. Some timeshare companies employ the same tactics as the church. As timeshare members alleging fraud read through this, they will have no trouble seeing similarities. I advocate on behalf of timeshare members alleging fraud, alongside 44 Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates.

The Catholic scandal ultimately led me to timeshare advocacy. Turning anger over child abuse outward led me to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care, where I learned how to write court reports for Family Court. When timeshare members contact me, their complaints are often confusing and lengthy. I listen to their allegations, transcribe, and return to them their complaint in court report format. Other advocates answer questions that come up when members need to file regulatory complaints

A life’s journey can take many twists and turns. My life changed dramatically after a trip to Peshawbestown, Michigan to meet with tribal spiritual director and peacemaker Paul Raphael of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Peacemaker Paul was one of nine male children who attended the Holy Childhood School of Jesus in Michigan where Indian boys were sexually abused by three School Sisters of Notre Dame nuns in the 1960s and ‘70s. I contacted him after reading a four part article about the abuse. By part four I was livid.

Unholy Childhood, June 29, 2008

https://www.northernexpress.com/news/feature/article-3760-unholy-childhood/

Grand Rapids Michigan investigative reporters met with Sister Laura Jean Spaeth of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Milwaukee. Sister Spaeth was skeptical about the credibility so the reporters interviewed a total of 80 former students to verify the abuse.

“My answer was if it was just one person, that would be a legitimate argument — but we interviewed 80 people and we heard a consistently recurring story,” Golder said. “And it was troubling to me that the leaders of the order, sought to dismiss what we were saying based on the other problems in their lives,…but it was clear to me, as people told the same stories over and over, that it established a pattern that was factual.”

In 2008 I was practicing for a pipe organ exam at the cathedral for an American Guild of Organists exam. Patrick Cooney was Bishop then. Stunned after speaking with Peacemaker Paul, I wrote Bishop Cooney a letter asking if I could arrange a meeting. Peacemaker Paul resisted saying, “How will that help us?” I said it wouldn’t but it would help the Bishop because he cares and hearing directly from Peacemaker Paul could possibly help Bishop Cooney stop a potential abuser.  

Wounded Souls July 8, 2008

https://www.northernexpress.com/news/feature/article-3251-wounded-souls/

“There have been up to 400 reports nationally of sex abuse by nuns,” said David Clohessy, former national director and spokesman for SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “The laws are written in Michigan to protect perpetrators and those who are doing the cover-ups. There have been efforts in the Michigan legislature over the past five years to get those laws changed, to be more victim-friendly, but in each case the bishops and the bishop’s conference spent a lot of resources to get those laws defeated,” Clohessy said. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Clohessy

After experiencing a timeshare bait and switch, I wrote to ARDA, The American Resort Development Association, explaining my concerns. I thought they would be grateful someone brought criminal actions to their attention. I did not hear from ARDA except for an auto-reply. Approximately 200 allegations of fraud have been sent to ARDA over two years – and no response. ARDA does not mediate disputes, but they have a code of ethics that is being violated, based on member reports.

According to Dr. Amy Grant, University of Central Florida, who presented at an ARDA World conference in 2017.

“A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their (timeshare) purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons). Forty-one percent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did; another 30 percent were neutral prior to buying, but then regretted it.”

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-world-timeshare-owners

Victims need to file regulatory complaints, lobby lawmakers and reach out to the media. I attended a Catholic conference where victims and clergy met to address the problems. It is only through the courage and fortitude of the Sister Chittisters of the world, change happens. It is unclear if the Pope or ARDA have really accepted the reality of Social Media because victims no longer need be silenced and isolated.

This article does go to show that only by speaking up and working together can any real change happen, these cases of abuse, although very different in nature, in the church and timeshare have one thing in common, both want you to remain quiet and say nothing.

That’s all for the month of August, the courts in Spain are about to start hearing cases again so there will no doubt be some interesting news on the legal front. Also during September Inside Timeshare will not be publishing regular articles as I am on leave and spending some quiet time with a large family reunion.

Have a great weekend and remember, any company that contacts you regarding your timeshare, do your homework before you do any business with them.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

On 7 July, Market Exclusive published an article reporting on the financial statements issued by Marriott. (See link at the end). After the preamble they began by announcing they had identified Fraudulently Induced Electronic Payment Disbursements”, which resulted in $9.9 million resulting from unauthorized third-party access to their email system. They duly notified law enforcement and relevant financial institutions, commencing an investigation.

They have managed to recover $3,2 million, but are hopeful they will recover the rest. Now this is just a start in their report.

They have also acknowledged they are recording pre-tax litigation expenses of $16.3 million, these are to settle in principle, two actions in their North American business with the Petrick action and an owners action brought by those with fractional interests at the The Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe. It will also include actions by owners of Marriott timeshare interests in Spain.

The litigation on their Spanish business is a result of the laws Spain has brought in to protect consumers, this law known as Ley 42/98, was enacted in January 1999 and invalidated many timeshare contracts sold after that date.

Marriott, as many other timeshare operators believed, that by filing a deed of adaptation they would be able to continue as before, but they were sadly wrong. It took many years and court battles to get to the stage Spain is at now, the strongest timeshare laws in Europe.

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

Many timeshare operators continued to sell perpetuity contracts, when the law stipulates they should be of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. They also continued to sell the floating weeks and points systems, which gives the purchaser no actual rights apart from the right to use subject to availability. With the fractional ownership, the Supreme Court clearly regarded this as timeshare, as usage was dependent on a points system being allocated. Fractional was designed to “replace” timeshare with the promise of “purchasing shares and investing” in a real estate property, but again in Europe timeshare should never be sold as an investment.

We have seen over the past few years many other companies falling foul of this legislation, Anfi, Palm Oasis, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma and the Diamond run resort Cala Blanca in Gran Canaria, Silverpoint in Tenerife and a host of others all over Spain. Marriott is just the latest to be hit by timeshare owners becoming aware of the laws and finding they now have a way out of the never ending cycle of upgrades and maintenance payments.

Marriott, have also conceded that this litigation is going to cause them to incur considerable and “material and litigation” costs, along with the settlements and judgement costs. They have also admitted that it will have a severe effect on their results in the European sector and will have repercussions on their business and financial condition.

The one thing Marriott along with others in the industry are still saying, is they all disagree with these rulings, that the law as interpreted by the 126 rulings of the Supreme Court are wrong, they are seeking to introduce legislation “that will implement a more balanced approach”. More balance, or do they mean going back to when they believed they could not be touched and did exactly as they wanted.

Although they do go on to say the following “The timeshare laws, regulations and policies in Spain may continue to change or be subject to different interpretations in the future, including in ways that could negatively impact our business”. Negatively impact their business, well they only have themselves to blame, had they sold within the regulations, they wouldn’t have to worry about negative impact!

On this point of Marriott and others in the industry lobbying for a change in the law, this has now been set by the Supreme Court, the only way that the law can be changed now is for the Spanish parliament to pass new ones. This is very unlikely to happen, even if it were to happen, then we would end up with many years of court cases and appeals to the Supreme Court to clarify any new laws.

At present the law firm which is responsible for the clarification of the law with now 127 rulings from the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance, has many cases upcoming against Marriott. These cases are only now just starting to take place, CLA have at least 2 cases already presented at court with around 30 in the final stages of presenting to court. They are also looking into new clients cases, all these contracts are in perpetuity and use the point system, so this figure is surely set to rise.

On the point of the Supreme Court rulings, Canarian Legal Alliance began seeking clarification from the Supreme Court well over 7 years ago, they eventually received their first victory against Anfi in March 2015. This case involved the Norwegian client Mrs Tove Grimsbo, it was a long drawn out case, but the precedent had been set. Within weeks of this first ruling, many more followed, setting in stone the laws that for many years had been interpreted differently depending on the court and the judge presiding.

It will be interesting to see whether Marriott go the same way as Anfi, Silverpoint and others in constantly appealing against any rulings made against them, or will they just payout and cut their losses?

Only time will tell, we will certainly be keeping an eye on these cases.

Link to the original article:

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

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker-marriott-racketeering-lawsuit/

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

If you need any further information on this subject, whether it be a Marriott, Anfi, Silverpoint or any other timeshare, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Have you been contacted by a company that tells you that you have a claim, and want to know if it is genuine and they are a legitimate company? Then contact Inside Timeshare for the facts.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome a new contributor Diane Creiger, with her article Elder Advocates, but first a quick update on the article published yesterday regarding Anfi Tauro Beach.

After publishing it became apparent that this news was still breaking in the Spanish press, with the publishing of more information regarding the demolition of the shacks and the company employed by Anfi to carry this out. Canarias Seminal published

“UN COMANDO DE BOXEADORES PENINSULARES VIAJA A GRAN CANARIA PARA DERRIBAR CHABOLAS (VÍDEO)”

(A COMMAND OF PENINSULAR BOXERS TRAVELS TO GRAN CANARIA TO DEMOLISH SHANTIES (VIDEO))

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

This follows from the El Diario article “Violento derribo de chabolas en Tauro”

(Violent felling of shanties in Tauro)

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

With following photo posted on facebook:

(These are the sicarios and godosjediondos of the business  DESOKUPA traids by Santana Cazorla and the government of the Canary Islands from Spain to curb the Canaries with their corrupt laws of eviction and appropriate the public domain ¡¡¡Espabilate Canario that you eat the jediondo godo!!!) (Apologies for the translations)

I just wonder how all the members at Anfi feel that their “club” is a party to this type of behaviour?

Now on with today’s article.

“They told us if we did not give up our deeded timeshare, our children would be sued and their credit would be ruined. I recorded the presentation.”

A frequent timeshare member complaint, reported by our readers, concerns faulty estate planning advice given to members concerned about passing on a timeshare liability to their children and heirs. Members say they are told their children will be responsible for the timeshare unless they give up their deeded timeshare and buy timeshare points. Timeshare members should receive estate planning advice from their estate planning lawyer, not from timeshare sales agents. Irene Parker  

By Diane Creiger

July 24, 2018

I am writing to let seniors know how financially devastating a timeshare decision can be. I am 74 years old and my husband Tom is 77. We bought Diamond points only because we were repeatedly told our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees if we did not give up our deeded timeshare. We have learned this was not true. We were given false estate planning advice.

In Branson, June of 2014, our sales agent Kimberly told us three times, “Your children will have to take this timeshare whether they want it or not.” I had asked what would happen if our children could not pay the maintenance fees. Kimberly said our children would be sued and their credit ruined. I recorded this in-person presentation in Missouri on June 18, 2014. In Missouri one party recording is allowed. Kimberly was very threatening.

On the recording, DRI sales agent Kimberly states, “The HOA companies want their maintenance fees and they say this will go to your kids whether they want it or not.” I asked, “what if they can’t pay it?” Kimberly replied, “Then the HOA has the right to sue your children and ruin their credit. If you have a deed, which you own, that’s what we are looking at here today. That’s the difference between Diamond and what you have.” She repeated, “If your kids don’t want this, they still have to pay the maintenance fees on it, regardless. This will be willed to them whether or not they want it. Your kids do not have a choice.” That sounded pretty threatening to us.

We did not buy then, but worried about the liability we would pass on to our children, we purchased 4,000 vacation points later in Florida, only for this reason. The Florida sales agent told us the same thing.

I learned this was in no way true in our situation, but now made worse because we used a credit card to charge the purchase. This debt could complicate our estate settlement. In other words, we had no estate problem, UNTIL we gave up our deed. With a credit card liability, the settlement of our estate could be jeopardized by this outstanding debt.

I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy, Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, Diamond’s PR Firm Prosek, Barclays President’s office, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Better Business Bureau, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Florida Attorney General’s Senior vs Crime Project, and AARP. The Senior Sleuths never responded. There seems to be no timeshare enforcement. We feel trapped. Everyone responds, “You signed a contract.”

After numerous attempts to resolve our dispute, I received an unusual call from a Mr. Edward Florez. Mr. Florez stated his department was recently set up, and his job recently created, because Apollo Global Management wanted their customers to have the best customer service available and that is why they created his office. Mr. Florez said he had been a police officer for 20 years. He said he wanted to help me. I was informed our account is now a corporate account and we are to deal only with him. Mr. Florez allowed me to record our call, which is a first. He was very explicit that we should not go to any more timeshare updates, unless we wanted some particular gift. He said there was no reason for us to experience so much pressure.

I told Mr. Florez that six different salesperson had told us about the problems our heirs would experience inheriting the deeded timeshare we owned before Diamond acquired our resort. Mr. Florez agreed this was not correct. He said that there may have been a few sales people who needed to be brought up to their (Apollo’s) level of customer service.

I asked Mr. Florez why our maintenance fees had increased $500. He said this was an “impact” fee that occurs when a deeded owner gives up their deed. I said that would mean our maintenance fees should not go up because of this being a one time fee. He laughed and said “I will never say that.”

I then became a little forceful and told him I was thinking about writing some articles, and writing letters to AARP, DoJ, and Consumer Affairs. I told him that the senior community needed to be warned and the Department of Justice needs to look into the timeshare industry. There was a lot of stuttering on the other end of the line.

Diamond’s CLARITY program is about Diamond members receiving clear, concise, accountable, transparent information. We received the opposite of accountable and transparent information.

As a last resort, I reached out to Apollo Global Management. After contacting Apollo, I received a call from Diamond corporate within an hour. I was encouraged, only to be told no one will talk to me anymore. I was informed I must send my complaint snail mail to Diamond’s corporate office from now on. I feel like I have been sent to the Principal’s office.

We feel our Diamond Orlando sales agent Randy used deceptive tactics to coerce us into giving up our deeded timeshare by telling us the following:

  1.  Randy said if we did not give up our ILX (Arizona) deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees. We had heard sales agents at five prior sales presentations make this same claim.
  2. Randy told us that once we had completed and paid for our Diamond purchase we could walk away from Diamond at any time with no repercussions. No misunderstanding here. I asked this question pointedly.
  3. Randy said our current maintenance fees were much too high. He said our maintenance fees may not go up if we converted to points. Randy explained that this was because our deeded week was in a small pool. He said points are in a much larger pool which serves to dilute the fees. After we converted to points our maintenance fees went from $2,000 to $2,500.
  4. When I asked Randy about the $500 increase in maintenance fees, he just said we could deduct the fees on our income taxes. When I told him the IRS doesn’t allow maintenance fees to be deduction, he replied, “Well, many people do it.”   
  5. After signing a few papers, we were directed to the office of a DRI QA agent. She had us sign numerous documents electronically which we could not entirely read. We signed in a master block, and then were told to tap the blank blocks. One of the blank blocks stated that Diamond could not raise our maintenance fees more than 25% per year. We could not read this until we reviewed the hard copy after we returned home. We would never have signed a document that allows maintenance fees to be raised by 25%.
  6. The initials on the documents are not mine. My initials are DMC, but the contract shows DMN.
  7. When we told Randy and the QA agent that we were electronically inept, they suggested we attend a training class on the use of the Notepad. We received a letter stating we were to attend a “New Member Orientation” at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. We incurred the expense of the airfare to Las Vegas, in addition to other expenses. When we showed up for our orientation we were told there was no such thing as a New Member Orientation. We were furious. All they did was try to sell us more points.  

We have not used any of the Diamond points we purchased. We have asked Diamond to return our $16,000 that we paid for 4,000 points. We are even willing to forfeit our ILX deed for which we paid $19,000 to get out of this nightmare.

When Diamond calls us, they record the call, but when I ask if I can record the call, I have repeatedly been told no. This is very intimidating, especially to seniors who feel they have been victimized. They say it is against company policy.

I had the opportunity to sit on a federal grand jury from January of 1999 until June of 2000. I understand the patience and determination it takes to get to the bottom of a situation and to seek justice. I will not give up. I have learned we are one of many seniors who bought Diamond points and were told if we didn’t give up our deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees.  I have joined our Diamond member sponsored Facebook.  

In my complaint I included:

If the decedent left a will and named you as a beneficiary and you decline the bequest, most states treat the event the same as if you had predeceased him. The executor must probate the will as if you had died and were no longer available to accept your inheritance. Your bequest will then revert back to the estate. info.legalzoom.com/happens-someone-refuses-accept-inheritance-21217.html

We also had a terrible experience in Sedona at Los Abrigados. They put us in a handicap unit, which we didn’t need. The room was dirty with the contents of a broken colostomy bag that had dripped 15 feet across the carpet. We took pictures. They would not accommodate us with other lodging. We had our children and grandchildren with us. All they did was put rugs or runners over the carpet until the next day when they cleaned the carpet. They only refunded our points after we complained.

Florida’s Seniors vs Crime project, Senior Sleuths never responded.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-8/

Thank you to Diane for sharing her experience and becoming our own Senior Timeshare Sleuth, volunteering her time to assist other seniors who feel they have been victimized by timeshare sales agents. We look forward to future articles.

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

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

https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/

Thank you Diane, we hope to read many more from you, but I am sure that this will hit home to many of our readers.

Tomorrow we will be publishing the article about Marriott and their report to shareholders, which also highlights the fact that they are facing a plethora of lawsuits in Spain with a substantial amount set aside to cover the costs of this.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article published, or just need information on a company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker asks a very important question, What is a Defamatory Statement? This is in fact a very appropriate article considering Irene and Inside Timeshare have been accused of making them in respect of some of our readers “experience” stories. Inside Timeshare asks this question, how can a statement be defamatory if it is someone sharing an experience they have had with a particular company?

We started the week with an article highlighting two new companies that are what can only be described as dubious, the first was Davies & Howell Associates Ltd, with a registered address in London. They claim to have over 40 years of timeshare experience and can extricate owners from their timeshare, along with gaining them compensation.

The other is Ashton Group, apparently based in Nottingham, they have been cold calling timeshare owners with the same type of story. They apparently have a legal representative going by the name of Sir Drummond McFadzean!

So far no company record or website has been found about them, which is never a good sign.

On Tuesday, Irene published the 2nd quarter report from the The Timeshare Advocacy Group™, considering it is only halfway through the year, the number of pleas for help is huge. Thank you to all the advocates who work so hard to help these readers.

Another dubious setup was reported on Wednesday, this concerns a company called Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists, with the names Lance Steer and Joanne Johnson. It turns out from information received that Lance Steer is in fact one Lance Oakley, a former Diamond sales agent who also worked for EZE Group. Again they claim to be able to get you out of your contract and claim compensation.

Now on with our letter from America.

What is a Defamatory Statement?  

When to File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Irene Parker

July 13, 2018

The above cartoon was not selected to play partisan politics. It was selected because it is thought provoking. Clearly the elephant is a Democrat and is feeling defamed. Does that mean he or she was defamed? For EU readers who may not be familiar with our political symbols, the Republican Party portrays the elephant as their mascot.  

Inside Timeshare always considers defamation. Our stance is that truth is not defamatory. The reports received from 496 timeshare members describe deceptive and unfair trade practices. A pattern of complaints creates compelling and compounding evidence, even without hard evidence like a recorded conversation. If timeshare companies and some state regulators are over relying on the oral representation clause, the public needs to be aware that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. Are our readers’ allegations defamatory?   

Definition of defamation in law (from Webster’s Dictionary)

The act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person

Following is an excerpt from a New York Times article. I have edited out the names because we are exploring the topic of defamation, not singling out any one timeshare company. Are the following statements defamatory?

New York Times economics specialist devoted a long article…. One timeshare owner told the journalist: “The Company is much more ambitious, aggressive and downright nasty in their sales presentations compared to other companies. This Company just has an amazing reputation of being tough on people.”

A 77-year-old California woman said a 5-hour hard sell left her “shaking.” The Company gave her a voided receipt for a $4,840 charge on her credit card: “The representatives had been so certain that she would agree to the offer that they had charged her card for the down payment – even though she had not given approval,” the Times reported.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints and published many articles submitted by timeshare members who say they were not aware a credit card had been opened or that they had been charged for the purchase of a timeshare product.

Unlike Wells Fargo victims, the timeshare buyer complaining of the unauthorized opening of a credit card, or unauthorized charges, often could not file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has lost influence since the roll-back of the Dodd Frank Act, but even before the agency’s demise, timeshare buyers could not easily file a CFPB complaint because the timeshare company serviced the loan. A lender must be selected from a dropdown menu. Timeshare companies are not an option. When the member selected the bank that issued the credit card, the bank would respond that they did not actually sell the timeshare points or fill out the application for a credit card. End of story.  

The response from the company to the article:

The CEO said he had “belligerently zero tolerance” for any of his sales representatives who “goes off script.”  

In my opinion, some companies could care less if their sales agent “goes off script” unless the buyer happens to work for the media or holds a smoking guy, like a recording of a fraudulent transaction. Two of our readers who worked for the media resolved their dispute in one day. According to FBI agents our readers have contacted, or attorneys I checked with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” is in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.

In order to determine whether an act or practice is “unfair,” the FDIC will consider whether the practice “causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers themselves and are not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.” (5)

To correct deceptive trade practices, the FDIC will take action against representations, omissions, or practices that are likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances, and are likely to cause such consumers harm. The FDIC will focus on material misrepresentations or omissions, that is, those that affect choices made by consumers because such misrepresentations are most likely to cause consumers financial harm. 6

https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/compliance/manual/7/vii-1.1.pdf

Almost all members reporting are highly professional, educated people, alleging they were a victim of unfair and deceptive trade practices. All but a handful were angry, desperate, overwhelmed, and confused until empowered with straight answers about how to report and rectify their timeshare nightmare. A few were just tired of aggressive attempts to sell them more points. They just wanted out.  

More on Defamation

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/what-defamatory-statement

A defamatory statement is a false statement of fact that exposes a person to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, causes him to be shunned, or injures him in his business or trade. Statements that are merely offensive are not defamatory (e.g., a statement that Bill smells badly would not be sufficient (and would likely be an opinion anyway)). Courts generally examine the full context of a statement’s publication when making this determination.

In rare cases, a plaintiff can be “libel-proof”, meaning he or she has a reputation so tarnished that it couldn’t be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.

Defamatory statements that disparage a company’s goods or services are called trade libel. Trade libel protects property rights, not reputations. While you can’t damage a company’s “reputation,” you can damage the company by disparaging its goods or services.

Because a statement must be false to be defamatory, a statement of opinion cannot form the basis of a defamation claim because it cannot be proven true or false. For example, the statement that Bill is a short-tempered jerk is clearly a statement of opinion because it cannot be proven to be true or false. Again, courts will look at the context of the statement as well as its substance to determine whether it is opinion or a factual assertion. Adding the words “in my opinion” generally will not be sufficient to transform a factual statement to a protected opinion. For example, there is no legal difference between the following two statements, both of which could be defamatory if false:

“John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

“In my opinion, John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

For more information on the difference between statements of fact and opinion, see the section on Opinion and Fair Comment Privileges.

Defamation Per Se  

Some statements of fact are so egregious that they will always be considered defamatory. Such statements are typically referred to as defamation “per se.” These types of statements are assumed to harm the plaintiff’s reputation, without further need to prove that harm. Statements are defamatory per se where they falsely impute to the plaintiff one or more of the following things:

  • a criminal offense;
  • a loathsome disease;
  • matter incompatible with his business, trade, profession, or office; or
  • serious sexual misconduct.

It is important to remember that truth is an absolute defense to defamation, including per se defamation. If the statement is true, it cannot be defamatory. For more information see the section on Substantial Truth.

Emily Doskow, attorney

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html

  1. A defamatory statement must be false — otherwise it’s not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don’t count as defamation because they can’t be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, “That was the worst book I’ve read all year,” she’s not defaming the author, because the statement can’t be proven to be false.
  2. The statement must be “injurious.” Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement — for example, the person lost work; was shunned by neighbors, friends, or family members; or was harassed by the press. Someone who already had a terrible reputation most likely won’t collect much in a defamation suit.

Scotty Black is a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocate. The FBI definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Scotty has an MS in Criminal Justice and works in law enforcement. A few months ago Scotty sent me the criminal code that stated that someone aware that a crime may have been committed must report the alleged crime because it is a crime not to report a crime. When timeshare members report actions that meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, FBI agents have advised us that we should direct those members to file a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov and with the FTC.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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/

Related article: Timeshare Advocacy Group™

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-11/

That’s it for this week, we shall be busy watching the World Cup Finals this weekend, unfortunately England didn’t make it to this years final, that is between France and Belgium.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more information and more stories on the world of timeshare.

Midweek Roundup and Another Dodgy Looking Setup

Important Update: Another reader has identified Lance Steer as one Lance Oakley, an ex-Diamond Sales Rep and also of ex-EZE Group.

Another name has come to the attention of Inside Time share from a worried reader:

Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists

With the address:

Rural Innovation Center, 10 Street Avenue, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, CV8 2RG

Which is a serviced office rental center where meeting and conference rooms can be hired by the hour.

They use the telephone number:  02476 960 735 which is a coventry code, when this number was called Inside Timeshare was told we had the wrong number. We have susquently found that the telephone number belongs to Coventry Creative, Advertising and Graphic Design , Rover Road, Coventry, CV1 3HT which is Coventry market, a completely different area.

The contacts are: LANCE STEER & JOANNE JOHNSON with the email address:

[email protected]

So far no company with this name has come up on any internet search, using the email address does not link to any website and no information about Lance Steer or Joanne Johnson appear on any search.

So what has concerned our reader?

Very simple, they have paid by bank transfer for a relinquishment of their Diamond membership, yet are still getting demands for maintenance arrears. So it looks like yet again money is paid and the relinquishment is not done.

According to the emails our reader has received, Lance says he has been helping timeshare owners for over 5 years, funny how we have not heard of him before. The other strange fact is that in his emails he goes on to say why he has not been in touch with his clients, listing his illnesses, bereavements and severely disabled Father. Even getting an assistant Joanne, to email clients and explain all his personal problems. (see PDF at the end). Not the sort of information one would normally give. (Looking for sympathy comes to mind).

His emails also go on at length about Spanish Supreme Court rulings, how he has studied many case files and come to the conclusion that all these contracts are illegal. (Which is not surprising considering he sold many of them).

In order to give credibility he mentions Canarian Legal Alliance and places links to their website, even including screenshots attached to his emails. All the details he puts in these emails look as though they have come directly from the CLA website, even using the same phrases.

Another part of his emails go on to tell the clients that Diamond and other timeshare companies have no right to chase for maintenance arrears, or that Daniels Silverman the debt recovery company has no right to chase the debt.

Unfortunately, all this information has convinced our reader to pay for a service which Lance cannot provide, after all we have stated on many occasions in these pages that Diamond, Club la Costa and many other timeshare companies and resorts will not deal with third parties for cancellation of contracts. They will only work with the members directly.

So just from the lack of information on the internet and the lengthy explanations on his illness and private life, plus the fact that Canarian Legal Alliance have never heard of Lance, does get the alarms bells ringing.

Sticking with Canarian Legal Alliance, this week they have announced the following:

Their lawyers have secured another 242,391.46€ on behalf of 6 clients, on the receiving end of this is Anfi Del Mar. These funds have been paid directly to the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas. The clients are: 2 from the United Kingdom, 2 from Norway and 2 from Germany.

This comes from the procedure put into place by CLA with a team of their senior lawyers Eva Guitierrez and Judith Diaz Pascual and Cristina Batista, enforcing provisional execution of sentence within 40 days of the judgement being issued. This means that once the judgement is issued the timeshare company must lodge the awarded amount with the court voluntarily or it will be enforced.

There is also another form of securing the funds which has just been enforced by the Court of First Instance No 4 in Maspalomas, which has placed an “Embargo” on Anfi accounts in respect of funds which are due to a German client. These embargoes allow the court to directly take the funds from those accounts and place them in the courts account ready to be paid out to the client.

These moves by CLA have been placed to ensure that funds due to clients are secured, even if the offending timeshare company is appealing. It also stops the timeshare companies from delaying the payouts, which has been the case in the past, now the clients know that their money is secure.

That’s it for today, if you have had any dealings with any company or individual such as Lance Steer, use our contact page and get in touch, we would love to hear from you. You can also contact Inside Timeshare if you require any information relating to your timeshare or any company that has contacted you.

Click below to read the two emails.

Lance Emails

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Sheila Brust gives us an update to her previous article “Pencil Pitch”, again edited by Irene Parker.

It would seem that Darth Vader has sent in his Imperial Stormtroopers and Inside Timeshare is under attack from the dark side, no problem, the force of the good is with us. Keep your stories coming, the truth will always prevail!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

“You have no Proof” and we were not allowed a rebuttal

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Many potential timeshare buyers have watched timeshare sales agents scribble timeshare promises on a piece of paper. Buyers are not allowed to keep a copy of the “Pencil Pitch” but Sheilah Brust managed to walk out with hers.

Sheilah listened to her pencil pitch in Daytona presented by Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie. She filed a complaint with Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) and was told the following,

As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures.  In terms of evidence we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida.  Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not surely, if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own.  If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.

By Sheilah Brust

My husband Thomas and I have been Diamond timeshare members since Diamond acquired our resort. Our original timeshare was purchased in 1994. Things were fine until we fell for the Pencil Pitch.   

On February, 4, 2017, we attended an update meeting at Diamond’s Daytona resort The Cove. We wanted to attend the update because Diamond had been sold to Apollo Global Management. We are Platinum Diamond members so already had more points than we needed, but wanted to hear about the changes.

Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie said that he had just returned from training in Orlando and had learned about a new program that would allow us double point usage. We patiently followed Brad’s presentation. He wrote the numbers upside down. I remarked at how he could he do that. He said practice.

We feel Diamond must not understand the Pencil Pitch or they would cancel this purchase. I have learned Diamond retained the law firm Duane Morris to write a letter implying our article was defamatory. I have submitted this article as our rebuttal. We understand the figures we were presented. We were not confused. I have an accounting background. I wrote down everything Brad Leslie said.

Here’s the pitch. We hope you post a comment expressing your interpretation.  

The actual Pencil Pitch is three pages long. Page 2 of the Pencil Pitch is based on 15,000 additional points instead of 25,000 points pictured above because we said no to 25,000 points. The numbers below reflect 65,000 points instead of 75,000.  For those not familiar with the point system, a Diamond timeshare points sells for around $4 a point.

Timeshare members incur annual maintenance fees. For Platinum members the annual maintenance fee is $.15 per point, or $8,631 for the 50,000 points we owned before the purchase of 15,000 additional points.

From the original illustration above, to offset maintenance fees, on the right side of sheet, Brad said and wrote:

  • Own 75,000 points
  • Ability to get (Double Usage) 150,000 points – 50,000 points is what would be left for travel
  • 100,000 points would be available for point redemption @ 10 per point through a Travel Reimbursement program. Brad told us to book hotels, etc., and then cancel the reservations. We would receive a reimbursement check back for $10,000. The 50,000 points tendered would not be credited back. Brad said we would be reimbursed via check in about 30 days or 72 hours if via a reloadable debit Visa card. Without the double points, this program is of no value. If we used all our 50,000 points for redemption at $.10 a point, we would receive a reimbursement check for $5,000 that would only pay $5,000 towards a $8,631 maintenance fee bill with no points left for travel.

Brad said we could use the reimbursement check to pay maintenance fees but he said he could not tell us that. He said, “It’s your money!”

Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017.  Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program.

65,000 own                 $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000

65,000 given              2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points            $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

80,000 left                 $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed       

x $.10 reimbursed     EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

Brad said Diamond was working on a new member page for the new program that would have a split screen and that we would be able to see our newly acquired 15,000 points in the background. He said the 65,000 points “given” (Brad’s word) would also appear on a “split screen” on our member account page.

When I asked about the maintenance fees on the new 15,000 points, Brad said, “If you don’t use them you don’t pay maintenance fees on them. They will be kept in the background. If you want to use them then you will pay maintenance fees.”

I specifically asked Brad, “So if I had all 130,000 points reimbursed, they could all be redeemed for a check? Brad said, “Yes.”

I asked Brad why this program was developed. He said Diamond wanted to make sure we STAYED VACATIONED.     

We met with Brad again in May 2017. Brad said the program had changed. Brad said Diamond was getting rid of the debit cards because there were problems. He said DRI was working on the split screen. He said now we would need to generate the reimbursement checks by participating in the Travel Reimbursement program. I was familiar with this program and had used it before. This was a benefit we already had as Platinum members, but only beneficial if we were to lose points. We feel Brad adulterated the Travel Reimbursement program, incorporating it into his February Pencil Pitch.  

Brad’s reply to our complaint submitted to the Florida DBPR was that 15,000 points in the background was for a Dream Vacation. He said I was confused! Dream vacation points were not in any background account. They were added to our account February 17, 2017 so these could not have been the points in question. Brad sent us a $2,621 check to reimburse us the maintenance fees on the newly purchased 15,000 points. If it wasn’t for the NEW 15,000 points, we never would have gotten a $2,621 reimbursement check for the maintenance fees. Diamond representative Brandi said sales agents are allowed to reimburse members for their first year’s maintenance fees. Dream Vacation points don’t have maintenance fees.

Of course Brad was selling a double point program. He wrote down 130,000 and called the 65,000 points “given” points. I had told him that this program better be right because we are retired and living on fixed incomes and that we had NO extra money if he was not telling us the truth.  His answer was that he hoped to rebuild our trust in Diamond. We had told him we had been duped previously, told we had to buy 4000 points to prevent our heirs from being stuck with Diamond points.

Diamond’s response to us was that the information as presented was confusing, but not illegal. This is the CLARITY promise Diamond launched in response to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an Assurance of Discontinuance.  

The CLARITY Promise: With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. She said our complaint had been escalated to the legal team and they found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.

I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create a savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

Summary

As a result of this upsell and lack of clarity, we have less time to travel because we have to work to pay for the additional points that increased maintenance fees to $11,252. We have a loan with Diamond for $31,000 and $26,000 Barclay Card balance.

Brad charged on two Barclay Cards $14,000 in my name and $12,000 in Thomas’ name. He had us fill out a credit card application to see if we qualified for the new program. He returned and said, “Barclays loves you! You got $26,000 credit!” I was livid after I learned we had been charged these amounts. We could have used a different credit card that would have gotten us rewards points.  

This whole deal was based on having 130,000 points using points at $.10 a point for a Travel Advantage reimbursement service taking advantage of 65,000 bonus points. You can book a lot of vacations with 50,000 points that would vastly exceed a measly reimbursement check for $5,000. You can stay a week for roughly 2500 to 5000 points. At an estimated 4000 points per week, about 12 weeks.       

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:

 

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

 

 

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jun/17/whconsider-when-buying-time-share-vacatispot/472994/

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help with a timeshare concern or would like to share your experience.   

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Sheila for your candid story, it just amazes us that this type of sales practice still goes on, yet the companies involved deny all responsibility for their sales agents actions. In Europe timeshare is very much on the decline, partly due to the antics in the past of unscrupulous sales reps, not all I hasten to add, I do know many who abhor the deceitful practices and are genuine in their approach to selling the product. They believe that telling the truth sells the product.

We have said this on many occasions, timeshare was and could be a good product, it may not suit everyone but sold properly and truthfully will only strengthen it and give it a future.

So we say to all timeshare companies, get your house in order, reign in your sales agents / reps, stop these types of sleazy sales presentations, take control or you will lose a product that could work.

News has just come in from Canarian Legal Alliance of this weeks court cases, on the receiving end are Anfi in Gran Canaria once known as the flagship of timeshare resorts in Europe and Silverpoint in Tenerife.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, has had NINE sentences passed against them this week. The clients will receive back all their money and have had their contracts declared null and void.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint, who are well known on these pages has lost another case in the Court of First Instance in Arona. Again the court ordered the return of all money and the contract declared null and void.

In total these 10 cases will cost these timeshare resorts over 325,112€ plus legal interest and in most cases the return of the client’s initial legal fees.

So the week ends with another “Black Cloud” hanging over the timeshare industry. Will they ever learn?

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and stories, if you would like to share these with the rest of the timeshare world, then use our contact page and get in touch.

So that is all for this week, join us on Monday for more news and views of the timeshare world, have a great, enjoyable and safe weekend.

Starting the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for some news from the Spanish Courts last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, Lets Start the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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