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midweek

The Mid Week Slot: Another New Name along with an Article by Michael Kosor

During our usual morning search of various websites and forums, we came across this from Mindtimeshare, it is our old friends Litigious Abogados with a new name to add to their ever increasing family.

amador-galeca-300x191

Amador Galeca is the new name to look out for, the address is one that has been used before with one of their other incarnations:

Calle de V. Sanz, N14, 16, 38002, Santa Cruz De Tenerife

With the freephone number: 0800 802 1223

Email: galeca_ukclaims@consultant.com

Website: http://amadorgaleca.com/

They also have some new names, which are variations of those that have been used before, and what looks like a few new faces in the photographs of the “lawyers”.

amador-malodan-galeca-243x300
Amador Malodan Galeca

Once again it is going to be the same old story, we are taking your timeshare company to court, it is scheduled for trial within the next few weeks, pay ex-amount and be part of it. Then suddenly you are told you won, as the director, (we’ll bet it is Keith Baker or Keith Balker again) has pleaded guilty.

We will be publishing a fuller post on this when we have done a little more research.

On the subject of legal action against timeshare companies, those lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance have once again got another result from the Supreme Court. That now makes 58!!

This one from reports is against Silverpoint, with the court declaring the contract null and void with the return of over £63,000 plus legal interest and legal fees. They also had another win against Silverpoint at the Court of First Instance in Tenerife. Again the contract was declared null and void and the return of over £59,000.

So now on with the article which was supposed to have been published in last Friday’s Letter from America.

Timeshare and Asset-Backed Security Products

cash

By Michael Kosor

September 20, 2017

There has been an increase in defaults for some timeshare companies concerning timeshare loans packaged in their Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) products. The average consumer will recall the devastation its sister security, the Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS), created that triggered financial collapse. Consumers and regulators should pay attention to the timeshare product today so similar to the products of 2007 that led to financial devastation.

I believe this is clearly and directly related to the increase in litigation by these particular developers, targeting consumer advocates and the legal community. While there definitely are attorneys practicing questionable business practices, “Kill all the lawyers” is not the answer. Every citizen has a right to legal representation if they feel they have purchased a product sold by deceit.

Developers are rightly hypersensitive to any bad press that points to increases in loan defaults as they are sure to negatively impact ABS rating/pricing. The ABS product and the associated market are by nature complicated, not part of our public market system, so limited to sophisticated players. As such, it is not a part of mainstream news. To that end, watch a very short video published by Allison Bisbey, Editorial Director, Capital Markets Newsletter.  

https://asreport.americanbanker.com/video/diamond-resorts-abs-under-pressure-from-companys-sales-tactics

Some developers are experiencing an elevated level of defaults. In the case of Diamond Resorts, it has reached a point the rating agency for DRI, KBRA (Kroll Bond Rating Agency) recently saw fit to issue a note on the issue, albeit not surprisingly, a reaffirmation of KBRA’s original rating.

https://www.krollbondratings.com/announcements/3705

A timeshare ABS is a security whose income payments, and hence value, is derived from and collateralized or “backed” by a pool of underlying assets. Contrary to popular opinion, “hard” assets do not serve as the primary collateral – only the contractual obligation to pay. However, hard assets do provide secondary security and impact overall price/return.  

Today, the vast majority of timeshare loans are not backed by any real property interest. Timeshare ABSs sold today are little more than securitized consumer loans. Yet when I talked to the Moody analysts just a couple weeks ago about their most recent Wyndham ABS rating, they stated they use criteria established in 2003 – when a timeshare loan was typically still attached to a real estate interest.

In rating an ABS, comparisons with historical loan default rates are critical. Timeshare ABSs, notably a different underlying product than the one packaged today, report very limited/zero defaults.  This is not because the consumer default rate is or was low – to the contrary. Rather, DRI (not unlike Wyndham) uses ABS structure options allowing them to repurchase or substitute all of its defaulted loans. As a result, the ABS reports defaults as 0% while actual consumer defaults are much higher. (Note a 6% – 8% default rate for “aged” loans is informally used, if any pre-option rate is reported or available at all). Aged loans have a proven repayment history of 6 months or more. The “aged” number does not include what is certainly a much higher total consumer default percentage of timeshare loans when early defaults are included.  

The repurchase and substitution option in an ABS is typically capped at around 15% of the total. More importantly, the rating agency should not (but appear to nonetheless) give credit to the option to repurchase or substitute defaulted loans. Gross loss expectations are increasing also. It is reported in the investor literature as 11 – 12% in prior years to 13-14% today; dangerously close to underwriting limits.  

Wyndham and DRI would like its debt investors to believe the increase in defaults is due to an uncharacteristically high number of borrowers being solicited by lawyers and “scammers” offering to get consumers out of their timeshare. Thus, we see the rise in Cease and Desist letters and litigation targeting consumer “friendly” legal providers.

What is more, ABS investors, thus the developers selling timeshare ABSs, are hypersensitive to cash flow. Admittedly a bit desensitized since 2007, they will nonetheless respond when issues or news challenge a specific ABS or a class of ABS, such as timeshares.

Timeshare regulators (assuming any exist and/or pay attention) also need to be reminded that in 2007 investors experienced losses because they made decisions on bogus ratings, guarantees from mono-line insurers, and a blind faith in historically real-estate prices.  Simplistically, people ignored the quality of the contractual cash flow, relying instead on history (home price appreciation in the case of the MBS). This sounds analogous to timeshares today.  

With the rise in Social Media, timeshare members are more and more expressing increased owner unrest, disturbed by a rise in consumer complaints, as evidenced by Mark Brnovich’s issuance of Diamond’s Assurance of Discontinuance AOD fueled by over 900 consumer complaints. Is anyone paying attention?

I spoke to a Wyndham executive last month at my VOAs annual meeting. He saw this issue as a problem caused by lawyers seeking timeshare members and a major problem. With an aging population of original buyers who no longer want or need their timeshare, many don’t know where to turn when there is no secondary market and the contract is perpetual.

On a similar line, most all ABS, to include timeshares, are supported by significant “credit enhancements” to protect the investors from higher than anticipated (historical) default rates. Overcollateralization (issuing less debt than total assets held) is a particularly valued credit enhancement technique used. However, overcollateralization becomes tricky, even suspect, when the assets held by the seller have no explicit face amount/market established price as with the non-viable timeshares resale market. My impression is most agency raters, while sophisticated financial types, are not educated on the underlying change of the timeshare product pool being securitized, as most are reliant on the developers for their information and understanding.

Finally, as I noted earlier, reported default rates are zero. As a result, most rating agencies, I argue to retain clients, and many investors, dependent on industry reporting, do not dig any deeper. Both sides see no news as good news – once again analogous to the 2007 mortgage back securities fiasco. This needs to change.

risk1

Thank you Michael, not being of a financial mind, the article has been a bit of an education, I just didn’t know these things went on.

There we have it, look out for the article on Amador Galeca, more important beware of any calls or emails promising that you have money waiting for you. The truth is you haven’t, all they want is your money, so stay safe, keep your money in the bank and do your homework before parting with it.
homework kid

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

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

eu news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare

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

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

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

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

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

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

Our DRI Misadventures

Chapter Four: Miami Vise

miami

By David Franks

August 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

(You might not. The annoyance is epical.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

gypsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

group

Important points this week:

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

plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

weekend02

clarity meaning

Tuesday Review: Clarity

Following on from previous articles on Diamonds Clarity Program, Inside Timeshare welcomes today’s article from Bonita Hill, edited by Irene Parker. Bonita explains her experience of this program which is suppossed to “clean up” the sales process, it does appear to fall rather short.

But first a quick round up from Europe, as we said before August is usually a rather quiet time, especially in Spain, so at present there is little news coming from the courts as they are on vacation.

It would also seem the family of “fake” law firms, Litigious Abogados are continuing to claim they have cases waiting to be heard at court, with thousands in compensation waiting to be claimed. Well we do know there will be no money coming from this little crowd.

Inside Timeshare is also working on another Anfi story, they still seem to be denying that they have lost and are losing in the courts. Is it possible they are that worried of more litigation they are conducting a damage limitation exercise? More on this story when we publish.

Now on with today’s article.

Diamond Resort’s CLARITY™ Program

Battles the Oral Representation Clause

clarity

By Bonita Hill  

August 8,2017  

Diamond members on our member sponsored Advocacy Facebook page are confused about an email all US members received earlier this year describing a new Diamond CLARITY™ program being rolled out nationwide designed to provide members with enhanced transparency, accountability and RESPECT for the customer. Diamond’s CLARITY™ program was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

The response my husband and I received fell short of the CLARITY promise. Basically, the company said it doesn’t matter what the sales agent told us because of the oral representation clause, yet the requirement of the AOD clearly states DRI sales agents shall not deviate from approved sales materials. Instead of CLARITY, the company should just provide a person in advance of a sales presentation the answer we received after we filed our 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.”

Here is what the Assurance of Discontinuance says. The complete AOD can be found linked at the bottom of the press release.

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:

  • Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  • 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

We attended a sales presentation in Las Vegas in 2017 after CLARITY had been introduced in Arizona. Our sales agent was Adam Drell. There my husband and I were told by Mr. Drell that because we had so few points we were paying more in maintenance fees and that if we bought more points we would pay less. Mr. Drell also said he was going to add in a Westgate week so that we would be Silver. We did not own a Westgate week.

Mr. Drell said our new maintenance fee would be $1,124. However, I received a bill for $661 for the new points. I had already paid $880 for the old points so the total of $1,541 did not match. Adam did not respond when I tried to contact him.

family

I am 30 years old and my husband is 32. How can we pay for maintenance fees that will go up every year for life? We bought the additional points because we were told it would make our maintenance fees go down. Our loan is financed at 17.15% on top of the maintenance fees. Mr. Drell opened Barclaycards. I was approved initially with a limit of $2,100. Adam offered the Silver plan with a down payment of about $3,400. We did not want to put more money into timeshare that day. He then asked me to call Barclay’s reconsideration line. We were denied due to our high ratio balance on other cards, Diamond’s response tells us nothing prevents a Diamond sales agents from saying anything they can think of to sell vacation points because they know the company can and will fall back on the oral representation clause. This makes it easy and convenient for sales agents to tell falsehoods. I’m sure Mr. Drell’s response would be, “I didn’t say that.”

On our DRI Advocacy Facebook I learned of several others who posted that they were told things by the Diamond sales agent that weren’t true. Marjorie Menacker previously published an Inside Timeshare article.

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

Marjorie Menacker’s letter to Mr. Michael Flaskey, Diamond CEO (excerpt)

I just listened to your podcast No Vacancy with Glenn Hausmann. We were told in Virginia by Brian Humphries that if we purchased more points on the day we were there, we would not have to pay maintenance fees again.  Why does Diamond allow their sales agents to say anything, no matter how outlandish, to sell points?  Since the Diamond contract is in perpetuity, the repercussions are even more disastrous.

When we explained this (our medical bills) to Mr. Humphries, he told us about a one day opportunity that day that would allow us to trade our points to pay off maintenance fees.  When we attempted to use the program he described to us, we learned no such program existed.

I was a satisfied Timeshare owner for over 15 years until, in our opinion, we were deceitfully up-sold at our last update. Instead of poisoning another Diamond customer, isn’t it best to do what is right by standing up for the customer instead of advocating for the sales agent? Another Diamond member not only posted an identical complaint, it was against Brian Humphries, the same sales agent.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Menacker

Marjorie had been hit by a construction truck while walking. The family was struggling to pay maintenance fees due to this and other medical issues. Diamond refused to cancel their loan and refund because of their allegations of deceit, but offered a voluntary surrender for medical hardship. However, more and more timeshare members like Marjorie and I are standing up to timeshare companies offering to take back their points in exchange for nothing when the member feels they were sold based on promises not delivered. There are so many complaints. It has to stop.

conference

Diamond’s Advocacy Department has helped several members resolve their complaints. Out of 80 complaints filed, 29 have reported a positive outcome. Out of 80 complaints, 71 allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. Several of our member Advocates belong to this Facebook page.  

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

Members are concerned CLARITY is nothing more than a window dressing for the media.

Through social media timeshare members are finally able to get together to share experiences. This has produced a pattern of complaints that is compelling and compounding. It is hoped all timeshare companies will recognize the need to sell their product professionally and honestly rather than punish the buyer for life stuck in an unending contract with no secondary market often sold based on false promises.

fair trade

Through Inside Timeshare and our Advocacy facebook pages we have been asked about costs for legal services, we reached out to Mike Finn of Finn Law Group and this is his reply.

Hello all, thanks for your interest in our services.

We do try to charge a fixed fee because that provides a lot of certainty for the client as these cases sometimes take quite some time for resolution.

A couple of factors that we consider in setting the fee, is the date of the purchase, as that has statute of limitation ramifications, and also the amount owed to the resort and perhaps other third-party credit providers. Another factor is whether or not there is more than one active contract.

If I have this information I can provide a fixed fee and even offer terms in some cases.

Mike Finn

Thanks Mike, that has certainly made things clear, a lot more clearer than Clarity!

Remember, Inside Timeshare is here to give sound and accurate information, these are your stories, they are from owners experiences, the industry will eventually take note.

It just remains for Inside Timeshare to thank all those who contribute and help with the proof reading.

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So on with this week’s letter.

Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Woman what

Members are beginning to wonder

ARDA’s Answer from ARDA’s website

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

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

By Eron Grant

August 4, 2017

Part I – My letter to ARDA

Part II – ARDA’s Code of Ethics

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

Mr. Clements, General Counsel and Lobbyist for ARDA,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We appreciate your consideration, and assistance!

Sincerely,

Eron Grant

Response from Diamond

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

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

My Response

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

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

questman1

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

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association

adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. General Ethics Standards.  
  1. Disclosure.

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

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

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

audience

Note from Irene Parker

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

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

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

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

Member articles

Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

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

Alan and Debbie Callner

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

Detective Lela Renea a Bluegreen member

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

David Franks Chapter 2 (Chapter 4 upcoming)

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

Karen Garello Secret Shopper June 22, 2017

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

Romeo and Lily

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

Dr. Jeffries

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

Angela Johnson

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

Neina Orrillo

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

Barclaycard and Member stories May 17 2917

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

Marjorie Menacker

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

Eron Grant May 12, 2017

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

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017

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

Betty Burmeister and a Filipino Family April 13, 2017

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

Laurie Sabbagh Secret Shopper March 17, 2017 Clarity Review

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

A Military Family March 6, 2017

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

The Hurleys January 25, 2017

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

Irina Allen January 13, 2017

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

Kathie Old December 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Saldana and the Barclaycard October 25, 2016

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

right wrong

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

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

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

fridaycat

letter from canada

Friday’s Letter From Canada

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

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

bogus clipart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tenerife

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

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

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

homework

Tauro Beach

The Anfi man made beach project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on with our latest contributors.

Club Intrawest v. Canada

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

Must Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Following Recent Federal Court of Appeal Decision

gavel

July 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

www.citheownersgroup.org.

Judgment of Federal Court of Appeal:  see link

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

canadian flag

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

Other member sponsored Diamond Advocacy groups include:

DRIP launched by over 1,000 British Diamond members

http://drip.enjin.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

weekend cat

timeshare-rentals-by-owner-287

Monday, The Start to Another Week.

We finished last week with the announcement of 6 sentences from the courts against Anfi, we start this week with news just in from our contact in Madrid. We also start this week with an article from Irina Allen, who has featured before. But first the Judgement.

The Supreme Court has made yet another ruling against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this ruling the court has awarded a british client a substantial amount, reportedly around £32,000. At the moment we are not sure what the ruling was comprised of, but going by previous ones it will probably be for the perpetuity contract. When the sentence document becomes available we will publish it here.

So we wonder what is in store for the rest of the week, now on to Irina’s article.

Diamond Resorts Suspended my Account worth over $500,000

For posting one RedWeek rental ad as my sales agent advised

ethics

By Irina Allen

July 17, 2017

Inside Timeshare first published my Diamond Resorts story January 2017 after Diamond suspended my 139,000 points, falsely accusing me of renting points for commercial purposes.

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

I was expected to make monthly mortgage payments of $2400 a month and pay $29,000 in maintenance fees during the one year suspension. Diamond is able to rent my points for promotional purposes during the suspension period.

Ironically, I replaced the points I had promised to friends and family by renting points on RedWeek. I also lost thousands of dollars on airfares that had already been booked as my account was suspended without warning. I am not the only member hurt by Diamond’s change in rental policy.

I was accused of opening an Airbnb account. I have never had an Airbnb account, but Diamond Resorts told me they were not required to provide any proof despite my common last name. My attorneys are working with Airbnb to prove I never had an Airbnb account. I have given Airbnb permission to share my story with their international news community.

I don’t want to get bogged down in details so suffice to estimate I paid $5 per point for my vacation points and with closing costs the figure is closer to $6 per point. According to our Facebook posts, a Diamond point sells for about $4 a point so I also feel I overpaid. At 139,000 points we are talking about a serious amount of money – over $500,000.

After contacting an attorney and filing complaints with the FTC, CFPB, AGs and the Real Estate Departments of AZ, HI, NV and CA, I found our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook. At least this provided some support as all the regulatory agencies ignored my complaint.

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

Alarmed that others could be victimized, I became an administrator for Timeshare Advocacy Group ™, hoping timeshare owners and members from other timeshare companies will reach out to us when facing problems or have concerns about their timeshare membership. I have learned Diamond Resorts is not the only timeshare company exhibiting what I feel is predatory behavior.

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

It is unfathomable any corporation could exhibit such blatant disregard for a customer. My situation is very bizarre. In addition to a suspension, I experienced a 17% increase in maintenance fees while the actual increase was only 6%. I only found out about this by reading a post on our Advocacy Facebook page. Diamond automatically corrected their “error” (only for 2017) after receiving correspondence from my attorneys.

Many do not even believe me. I am grateful to Senior Correspondent Jeff Weir of RedWeek for the two hours he spent interviewing me, even though he initially decided not to publish our interview. After Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to RedWeek, Mr. Weir requested a copy from my editor Irene Parker indicating he would publish our interview.

One can find hundreds of Diamond rental ads on several commercial websites. I do not know why I was targeted for placing one ad without providing any evidence of commercial use. I am a professional. I bought Diamond points to share with my friends, family and clients.

Here is the current Diamond rule:

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

However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited.

Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.

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

Here are a few of the Diamond rental ads on the RedWeek online website. Not only are there hundreds of ads, but many of them are for prices greatly above maintenance fees and could therefore be considered “for profit”.

Timeshare Rentals – Timeshares for Rent By Owner | RedWeek

https://www.redweek.com/timeshare-rentals

Diamond Resorts International

Kaanapali Beach Club

Lahaina, Hawaii

stars 51 reviews

255 rentals available

$132 – $500 /night

12 resales available

$600 – $15,000

Daytona Beach Regency

Daytona Beach, Florida

stars 7 reviews

I don’t expect Ebay, VRBO or other non-informational platforms to post a warning. However, RedWeek is an informational resource for vacation timeshare members and owners. I feel RedWeek should post a warning that Diamond Resorts does not allow rentals given the consequences can spell financial disaster.

Diamond’s policy is clear. Either there is a rental policy or there is not a policy. With the consequences of violating the policy so severe, why does RedWeek not post a warning? More importantly, why does Diamond not allow members, many struggling to pay maintenance fees, to post rental ads on RedWeek?

“RedWeek advises members to check with the resort before renting,” stated Gary Prado, spokesperson for RedWeek.

Why would anyone check with Diamond Resorts before renting, especially those who had been renting for years, and why would anyone check if there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rental ads all over the internet?

I opened a RedWeek account on the advice of a Diamond Hawaii sales agent and attempted to rent some points. I had not even heard of RedWeek until the sales agent recommended the site based on her personal experience. She said many Diamond employees rent on RedWeek to offset maintenance fees. I was never paid for the RedWeek rental so I gave up the idea of renting.

I am one of 18 Platinum members who have contacted Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ alleging deceptive and bait and switch up-sells. Like the others, I accumulated 139,000 Diamond vacation points due to aggressive selling. I agreed to take over 42,000 Diamond points from the secondary market on one condition – I do not have to buy any additional points. As the Diamond agents promised, “due to my Platinum status, owning at the time 75,000 points, I would be allowed, as a onetime courtesy, to transfer contracts without being required to purchase additional points.” In 2013 this was a common practice.

Diamond refused to honor their promise after the transfer. I was told I had to buy 23,000 points in order to use the transferred points without the secondary market restrictions. I could not use the points due to layers of restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points. Diamond is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association as the members feel Diamond’s secondary market restriction are more onerous than Diamond’s major competitors.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

group

Speaking with other families affected by the sudden change in Diamond’s rental policy, I asked:

  1. Are you not allowed to rent or has DRI just made it more difficult?

They have made it very difficult because we can’t advertise.  They also tried to ban us from using upgrades for rental weeks (making it harder to rent for more than cost) and they also started charging a fee to add guests.

Diamond maintains that they have the right to change the rules.

This is the crux of the matter. Would you buy a timeshare if you knew the timeshare developer could change the rules pretty much at any time for any reason?

Diamond stands to make a huge financial gain by forcing owners who relied on rental strategies into foreclosure. This is financially devastating for families because they are required to pay maintenance fees they can no longer afford for the high volume of points these members own. Diamond then “takes back” the points and resells for full value.

muscle

If you or someone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

Bit of a horrendous story, doing only what she was advised, how many times have we heard this type of thing from sales agents? You believe them because you trust them, they sound so genuine, then bingo! You are the one to be made out to be in the wrong. So thanks Irina for that little insight, we look forward to your next article.

Timeshare needs to change, it is not the product most of us thought we were purchasing, the truth is hidden, is any wonder that timeshare has a bad name and reputation?

If you would like to share any of your experiences contact Inside Timeshare and we will work with you.

Have you been contacted or thinking about contacting a company about your timeshare, but don’t know if they are genuine? Then send us an email or comment and we will point you in the right direction, remember it is better to spend time checking than even longer regretting!

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we continue with Chapter Three of David Franks DRI Misadventures, but first more news from Europe.

We started the week with the article about members at Anfi complaining about the lack of availability, trying to book 12 months in advance and still fully booked. It is not just Anfi that we see this problem, it happens at every resort that runs the floating week or points systems, hence the Spanish law making these systems illegal.

Why is there no availability?

The answer is actually very simple, when resorts sold fixed weeks with an apartment number allocated to it, they could only sell 51 weeks in each apartment. Once these had been sold there was nothing left for the sales staff to peddle, the resorts no longer had another source of income other than the maintenance fees. So they came up with points and floating weeks, whereby you became members of a “vacation Club” rather than an owner.

fully booked

In this way they could continue selling, in essence quadrupling their membership base, this also had the effect of increasing the amount of maintenance they receive. The down side is obviously for the members, more members than accommodation or weeks available, do the maths. NO AVAILABILITY!

In our midweek post, Irene Parker explained CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates and how it could work for timeshare. Irene has personal experience of this as she herself was a special advocate. It certainly is something worth looking at.

Once again, we highlighted another “fake law firm”, Amador Ganeca Abogados, another in the list that make up the Litigious Abogados family. As we stated the website was only registered on 16 June, so it is only a month old, yet according to them they have over 15 years presence on the internet!

The “lawyer’s” shown on the website have been used before, names have been changed and even slight differences in spelling, none of them are registered with the bar association and the photo’s can be easily downloaded from sites such as Google images. Just search for lawyers and you will probably find the same pictures!

justice2

It has also been a very busy week in the courts, with another Supreme Court judgement against Resort Properties / Silverpoint being announced, which brings the number against them to eleven.

According to our sources, the courts in Maspalomas have also had a very busy week, the first to be announced was against Puerto Calma Marketing SL & Vista Amadores SL. This was quickly followed by six judgements against Anfi Sales SL. As yet we have not received any copies of the sentences, or the amounts awarded, but all contracts have been declared null & void.

Now on with our Friday’s Letter from America.

Our DRI Misadventures – Chapter Three

Stand Back. These People are Professionals.

customer cartoon

By David Franks

Friday, July 14, 2017

You might wish to read the first two chapters:

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

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

(You might not. They’re pretty harrowing.)

Once we returned from our idyllic ordeal in Branson, and having—I thought—a better idea of our opportunities and obligations as new members starting in 2016, I set about booking the “Dream Vacation” we had selected: four nights in Miami and a seven-night western Caribbean cruise.

It took me relatively few phone calls—but more than I should have needed to make—to discover the following things:

  1. The prompts in the DRI phone routing system are not particularly helpful.
  1. Even people who work in DRI customer service find the phone system and internal organization confusing.
  1. DRI is not consistent about demanding adherence to “what the paper says”.  That is, they will use what the text of contracts, disclosures and descriptions say to limit the traveler, but they allow themselves a fair bit of latitude in holding up their end.  The best way to find out how weaselly their language is is to hear their interpretation of “what the paper says”.

After talking to a relatively small multitude of vacation professionals, I eventually got the “Dream Vacation” booked.  We would stay at the  on April 5,6,7,8 and cruise the week of April 9-16.  As the “Dream Vacation” leaflet features a photo of the front of the Penguin Hotel, which faces the ocean, I asked about upgrading the room from “standard” to “ocean-view”; I was told that I would have to arrange that with the hotel directly. (I understand that this is standard practice, but I started to wonder what all of those concierges we had accumulated in Branson were supposed to do for me.)

By November 16, I had found it necessary to escalate the room upgrade issue, as the Penguin Hotel had not received notice of our booking and I could not yet upgrade our reservation to an ocean-view room, which has limited availability.  I also found in my conversations with the hotel’s reservations desk that the supposed retail value of the “standard room” included in the package is not nearly what the leaflet claimed, even at peak season; indeed, an ocean-view room at peak season cost less than the claimed retail value of a standard room, which has no view at all.  Neither the people I talked to at DRI, nor the hotel staff (including two managers), could help me with this issue for some two weeks longer.  While there were some communications problems within the hotel’s reservation department, it appears that the problem was largely due to DRI’s delay in informing the hotel of our reservation, their unwillingness to deal directly with the hotel regarding the issue, and their convoluted organizational structure.

During my ongoing e-mail correspondence with DRI, one of the people I had corresponded with moved to a new position, and another person had continued the exchange without her own signature.  This caused a jarring change in tone.  At one point, I called M.W., my self-professed concierge in Branson, and he hung up on me.  After some two months—on January 13,2016—I was finally able to get the room upgraded, and I had both DRI and the hotel confirm that I had booked an ocean-view room.  Their trademarked slogan to the contrary, DRI apparently does not love to say “yes”, and despite my (and the hotel’s) problems with their service and procedures, DRI declined the opportunity to pay for the room upgrade.

Scheduling our flight and dealing with cruise details were relatively straightforward, probably because I was working directly with the airline and with Carnival.  The issues I had raised with DRI over the course of almost two months (!) of calls and e-mails were never fully acknowledged or addressed; my various contacts at DRI simply stopped returning my calls and e-mails, offering website links in lieu of transfers or introductions to the proper people.

Board

Important points so far:

  • The retail value of the hotel accommodation was touted as “up to $2,000”.  One of the reservations people (both available hotels used the same reservation desk) assured me that under no possible circumstances did either a “standard” room in either hotel or an ocean-view room at the Penguin ever go for $500 per night.
  • Dream Vacations” cannot be booked five days before or after Presidents’ Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. More often than not, the block around Presidents’ Day blocks Valentine’s Day. According to the reservations department, these blocked holidays are the periods when the retail values of the hotel accommodations are highest—though even then, they didn’t go for $500 per night.
  • The salesman who gave me his personal cell phone number and told me to think of him as my concierge hung up on me the first and only time I called him.
  • The “Diamond Bonus Points” trifold brochure (which is replete with legalese that I was apparently expected to memorize) features a quote, ostensibly from a delighted DRI member: “One of the reasons that we bought with Diamond was mostly for the flexibility … The flexibility is really limitless.” Word to the wise: it isn’t.
  • DRI has trademarked the slogan, “We Love to say Yes™”.  They haven’t said “Yes” to me since we signed the contract.  This is a tragic waste of a trademark.

respect

Inside Timeshare would like to thank David Franks for his article and all those who contributed to previous articles. We also thank those who have supplied information about new companies springing up and the insights into how members feel.

Have a good weekend and beware of any company that promises you anything, check them first, remember doing your homework is vital to save you from being scammed.

weekend02

letter from australia

Friday’s Letter from Australia (No, you have read that correctly)

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from (America) now Australia, this is just to confuse our American cousins, the reason is that we welcome our first Antipodean cousin to our pages. Justin Morgan, makes his debut with his first contribution to Inside Timeshare. It is ironic that it happens to be on the first anniversary of Irene Parker’s very first article, which was about the acquisition by Apollo of Diamond.

Since her first article, Irene has been a major contributor and very much a driving force in bringing the problems of owners in the US to the fore. She has also become a very valued friend not just to myself but to all those she met while visiting Gran Canaria.

But enough of that, how about some news of timeshare in Europe?

Diamond Resorts has had a battering in the courts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance has secured a victory for one of their clients with the High Court declaring their contract null & void, with the return of over 29,000€ plus legal interest. In this case the court stated that the contract did not contain specified information required by law, with the product being the points system which the Supreme Court has deemed illegal due to their lack of tangibility.

This is the fourth verdict delivered against Diamond by the Tenerife courts this year, which our sources indicate is just the tip of the iceberg!

justice2

Anfi, based in Gran Canaria is on the defensive, it would seem they are already sending out new contracts after the vote last Friday 23 June, which coincided with another defeat at the High Court in Las Palmas. In that case the court declared the contract null & void as it was for more than 50 years.

As this is being written, the news has just arrived from our contact at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, that another contract has been declared null & void, with the client being awarded over 35,000€ plus legal interest.

At the same court yesterday Palm Oasis / Tasolan, were ordered to repay over 31,000€ and declaring the contract null & void. In this case the court ruled against the points system, which it deemed as selling nothing but promises.

On the Tauro Beach project, which has been the subject of many articles, it seems that the beach is still closed to the public, although many people are ignoring the fences and entering the area. There still seems to be no indication when this area will be fully open to the public, it may not be for sometime yet as there are several court cases pending.

So now on to this weeks article.

Who is Apollo? What is Apollo?

Two Diamond Member Consumer Advocates offer their opinion

Up Down

By Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

Introduction by Irene Parker

June 30, 2017

In honor of my one year anniversary writing for Inside Timeshare, it is only fitting to revisit Apollo Global Management’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts as Apollo’s Diamond acquisition was the subject of my inaugural article June 30, 2016.

http://insidetimeshare.com/700-2/

I had been shouting my timeshare concerns from the rooftops since my husband I attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation July 2015 at Diamond’s Grand Beach Resort, which ultimately led to our appearance on the FOX News show Property Man, interviewed by Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi.

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

The first I heard from Diamond was a year later in reaction to my Apollo article written for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money’s investment news service, TheStreet. Diamond contacted TheStreet demanding a rebuttal. Diamond members are still waiting for Transitions, a relinquishment program that must still be in development.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

Diamond boasted 11 quarters of robust earnings growth until shortly after the Apollo acquisition announcement. A delayed 2016 second quarter earnings report was attributed to accounting irregularities.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13702895/1/diamond-resorts-international-s-second-quarter-earnings-reversal-is-worrisome.html

According to a May 2017 KROLL Bond Report, Diamond’s default rates remain elevated.

The collateral pool of DROT 2014 – 1 has experienced elevated levels of defaults, which similar to certain other vacation ownership companies in the industry, Diamond Resorts attributes to an increase in the number of borrowers who have been solicited by lawyers to get out of their timeshare and/or have sent Diamond Resorts “cease and desist” letters.  

https://www.krollbondratings.com/announcements/3705

A National Mortgage News article appeared indicating the interest rate on the Apollo acquisition was raised due in part to the earnings restatement. Earnings had to be restated back to 2014 resulting in an earnings decline from the prior earnings report. Since the merger was announced as an all cash $2.2 billion deal, I did not understand the comment about the raised interest rate.

advocate 1

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/

Timeshare Advocate Michael Nuwer explains. I now understand what it meant when Diamond owners were informed Diamond is owned “by an affiliate of an affiliate of funds.” It’s pretty high finance.

Apollo Global’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts was organized as a “leveraged buyout”.  Here’s how the deal worked:

Apollo created a shell company called Dakota Parent. Four of Apollo’s investment funds own this company. Dakota Parent created a wholly owned subsidiary called Dakota Sub. Dakota Sub borrowed $2.2 billion dollars (a big chunk of it, $1.1 billion, from the four Apollo funds) and bought 100% of the DRI shares — 72.7 million shares at $30.25 each. Then DRI merged into Dakota Sub, changed the company name to Diamond Resorts International, and thereby took on all Dakota Sub’s debt. This is the way leveraged buyouts typically work. Former Diamond CEO Cloobeck used the same structure when he bought Sunterra in 2007.

Now that all is said and done, DRI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dakota Parent. The equity in Dakota Parent is owned by the four Apollo funds. Diamond has $2.2 billion debt on which it must make interest payments. The primary lenders are the four Apollo funds. They are in for $1.1 billion, $500,000,000 at 7.75% and $600,000,000 at 10.75%. The secondary lenders are in for $800 million, and another $200 million is secured by some DRI assets (I think they are consumer loans).

There are two ways Apollo makes money on this deal assuming all goes well. First, the four Apollo investment funds receive interest income out of DRI’s cash flow. They are guaranteed $103,250,000 per year. High profits or low profits, it doesn’t matter, Apollo gets paid. Further, the Apollo investment funds own a claim to all the equity growth of the company (that is all value over $2.2 billion). Thus, if they can sell the 72.7 million shares for $45 each, not an unreasonable number if all goes well, Apollo’s capital gain will be about $1 billion.

Aussie Flag

From Justin Morgan Australia

As a tax accountant, finance planner, part time private equity guy, I completely agree that the Apollo deal will only end in debt being laid upon Diamond members, for the benefit of those who arranged the details of a LBO merger that, when combined with the liabilities of the timeshare structure that utilized Association Board powers and targets them, it becomes a lethal mix that allows financial dealers to write their own checks bigger each year. It seems there is no end to how high they could simply raise their own salaries, pay-outs and ‘returns’ towards simply legally expecting members to pay their share of these increased contributions.

In the economy, we have certain protections such as Trade Practices Acts, Fair Trading Laws, financial regulation, monopoly laws…All this is designed to prevent abuse of market power. In my opinion, I would characterize this Diamond set-up as worse, because there is NO market that is anything other than what DRI, and the timeshare industry in general, allows. It is engaging in practices specifically designed to restrict the market to only it and its approved associates.

I feel this exploits consumers at near will, and I wonder where Apollo will set their ceiling …Looking at how the deal was structured, they see huge opportunity to lend to a membership base locked up in dubious legalities and unfair contracts. All this would not be legal in Australia. I’m amazed at how it turns out to be in the US. And I write this from Mexico, where it is well known what happens when dangerous cartels form and throw their money around here.

Circumstantial evidence is that the proof is in the pudding, but proving it in the US, where the banks and private equity already got away with much…well, I can only hope that the powers that be realize that it won’t get better if they keep allowing the average consumer and householder to be abused by what is, in my opinion, predatory sales and lending.

If the new DRI were to strip assets, it’d be left holding the large liabilities, but that is usually the reason why they then go back to legacy members warning of bankruptcy if they do not buy more points. It looks like the new DRI is just financially ‘creating’ this balance sheet to look exactly how it should look to siphon off more money from members. They already have their interest windfall. Next would be the stripping, and finally, the call for more contributions to boost management revenue…all this whilst the members are forced into more debt.

This is a strategic type play from the banking world, but DRI and private equity were some of the quickest learners out of the Great Financial Crisis. Many learnt how the banks do it. Private equity rushing into timeshare is the new rush to create financial instruments that creates only ‘liability’ for the timeshare owner. The financial guys profit from the creation of liability, which is their ‘debt-holding’. In a near zero interest rate environment, Apollo is looking to create the debt, then shift it across to the membership…effectively, they’ve already done it. Now they must get their $1.1bn back, and the result is just pure profit for the financial players. This could turn out to be a textbook case of why this must be stopped immediately. It will possibly play out over years.  Bravo Irene for taking a stand. I will support your efforts however I can. You’ve struck here what I believe is the actual core of the New Timeshare. The Old Timeshare was less sophisticated, but for those of us who know that private equity in this industry is licking its lips over several recent acquisitions, the old caveat of “buyers beware” may even be too late.

Teacher

Thank you to Michael and Justin for their reader responses which are possibly the most sophisticated reader responses in the history of Inside Timeshare. More and more timeshare Advocates are coming forward bringing their expertise and experience to the timeshare table.

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebooks or websites if you need timeshare assistance or can become an Advocate.   

So there we have it, another week over in the murky world of timeshare, Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for her efforts in bringing so many people together to share their views and experiences.

To our latest addition to the Inside Timeshare family, a very hearty welcome and we hope to hear more from those in the “Land Down Under”, who we do tend to forget share the same experiences as us in Europe and the US.

It’s Friday, the weekend is here, so break out the BBQ’s and let’s PARTY!!!!!!!!

barbie

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, today we publish part two from David Franks, Our Diamond Misadventures. But as usual we start with some news from Europe.

Today there is a Special General Meeting of owners from Anfi, they are being asked to vote for one of three resolutions. These are in order to bring Anfi contracts in line with the laws in Spain, which as we all know are being enforced rigorously by the courts, with almost daily announcements of contracts being declared null & void with all monies returned. As we mentioned in a previous article it is a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

After last weeks article was published there were yet more announcements from the courts, the first was against Palm Oasis (Tasolan SL), with the court declaring the contract null & void with the repayment of 31,577€, a very happy ex-owner indeed.

Then on Friday evening we were informed of another decision from the Court of First Instance against none other than Anfi! The amount awarded is a staggering 59,053€.

So far this week there have been another two against Anfi, another against Palm Oasis (Tasolan SL) and two more from the Tenerife courts against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. So it looks like those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance are flying.

The “fake” law firms from the Litigious Abogados family in Tenerife have another name added, a new Procurador going by the name of Daniel Marco Yariz. This Procurador is working on behalf of Abogados Amable & Garcia who we highlighted in Friday’s Letter from America on 12 May. Their documents to those who are not familiar with them do look genuine, especially those from the “courts”. They certainly are growing, the question is how much money have they managed to swindle from unsuspecting owners? (Search Litigious Abogados for all articles).

One of our regular readers has informed us that he has been banned from the forum timeshare talk, because he posted one of our articles about Mr Mark Rowe. Not surprising really, as it is owned by him. So the question is can you trust this forum?

So, now on with this weeks article from David Franks.

Our Diamond Misadventures

Chapter Two: Missouri Loves Company

By David Franks

travel

June 23, 2017

Once back from our two Vegas experiences – the vacation proper and the DRI ordeal as chronicled here:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/ –

my lovely wife and I resumed our mundane lives and occasionally perused the Diamond Resorts material in anticipation of our membership’s becoming active in 2016. After ignoring several email and phone offers for a “free” weekend resort stay, and realizing that a resort stay was inevitable, we decided to give a resort a chance and – God help us – we booked a weekend and the obligatory “New Member orientation presentation lasting approximately 90-120 minutes” at the Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri. This would not be too long a drive from our hermitage.

We arrived at the Suites at Fall Creek on Saturday, October 17, 2016. After a check-in that included an introduction to the concierge desk, we deciphered the map they provided and found the two bedroom suite they had hidden at the back of the Suites at Fall Creek property. Though it would pass for nice, with a kitchen I might have been able to get used to during a week’s stay, it wasn’t luxurious, and it didn’t alter our conviction that resort staying is not for us. We went out and drove around for a look at Branson, found a satisfactory restaurant, had an adequate evening meal and found our way back to our pied-a-terre.

We arose early for the 8 a.m. breakfast that was part of the presentation. The dismal breakfast buffet should have served ample warning of what was to come. After that unfortunate incident and being chatted up by friendly salespeople, the group dispersed and my lovely wife and I were ushered into the office of M. W. for our individual “orientation”. He was shocked – shocked! – that M. R. in Las Vegas had sold us such a small membership. He proceeded to tell us what we should have been told in Las Vegas: the membership was too small to accomplish what we wanted. But boy, did he have a way to fix that. (Just think! A tag team that works halfway across the country!) In the face of our complete – and reinforced – lack of interest in resorts, M.K. gave us the same assurances as we had received in Las Vegas: that between Diamond and Interval International we would have access to comprehensive travel services, discounted travel and a 20- or 30-cent point redemption value for all DRI and II services. We mentioned our liking for train travel, and he told us that Diamond was working on an agreement with Amtrak.

In addition to a reprise of the Vegas promises, we were offered the incentive of double bonus points with a purchase, which would put us at Gold membership level for two years so we could really put our membership through its paces. If we still didn’t like what they had to offer at the end of the two years, then we could sell our membership. There was no mention of the particular difficulty of reselling DRI memberships in the secondary market. Having looked at the figures for another assortment of membership packages, membership did not appear to be too good to be true; rather, as presented, it seemed a reasonable value: the redemption value of points at 20 cents was approximately equal to the maintenance fees. We selected a membership that brought us to the Silver level. We were told we would have a 30-cent point redemption value for all services for calendar 2016 and 2017, and 20 cents per point after that. The first two years seemed a good value, but the ability to resell was the clincher.

Among the blandishments proffered was a variety of “Dream Vacations” from which we could select one to try out Diamond’s expert travel service. We selected a Miami-and-cruise vacation for 7,500 points.

About fifteen minutes after filling out credit card applications, my lovely wife and I were each miraculously handed a Diamond Resorts-branded MasterCard issued by Barclaycard US. I say “miraculously” because issuance was based on our assertion as to the value of half of our liquid assets – a figure they could not have verified in the time they took (this was on a Sunday), and a formula I’ve never seen used anywhere else. I guess our credit scores helped. And “miraculous” because the two cards covered the entire remaining cost of the new slab of membership.

Desk

M.K. gave us his personal cell phone number, and told us to think of him as our “concierge” if we ever needed anything – the third concierge we acquired that weekend. He also asked us to give him a good rating with Diamond, as he had never received a complaint from a client. With breakfast, “orientation”, selling, credit card applications, additional enticements, contract paperwork, and being left alone in M.K.’s office for awkward periods, the ordeal took over seven hours.

The next morning we were able to flee the premises with little disruption or delay and enjoy a fine drive home.

Important points so far:

meeting

  • Again, the 20- or 30- cent exchange value of points, for all types of travel, was the only value mentioned in the presentation.
  • Again, convenient, discounted travel was emphasized.
  • Again, the availability and advantage of comprehensive travel service through Interval International was emphasized.
  • The last time I talked to Amtrak, they knew of no arrangement with Diamond Resorts.

∙ ∙ ∙

If you are a Diamond member, here is the link to our Advocacy page on Facebook:

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

advocate 1

Thanks to David for your contribution and also to Irene Parker for the editing, we are certainly getting a great team of contributors together. OK, mainly from across the great lake, if you have a story you would like to share, contribution are welcome.

When we have some news from the Special General Meeting being held by Anfi, we will share that with you. In the meantime have a great weekend.

fridaycat

us-eu-coop

Clarity: The Quality of Being Coherent and Intelligible.

Yesterday Inside Timeshare highlighted the plight of owners at Los Claveles resort in Tenerife, our US readers have a similar problem with developers attempting to take over resorts. Their problem is the transfer of deeded weeks to points, rather than the heavy handed actions of the Ona Group. We have also seen this in Europe, where the likes of MacDonald Resorts with the tacit approval of the owners committees association TATOC, are attempting to change all fixed week owners to their ridiculous points system. A system which only allows a stay under one condition “SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY”.

Over the past few months Irene Parker Inside Timeshares partner from across The Great Lake, has been highlighting the problems that Diamond owners are having. One of the main themes has been the downright lies sales agents have been using to sell more and more points to people who obviously cannot afford it. The use of the Diamond BarclayCard is one tactic they have used, with promises that it reduces maintenance fees. Irene has in previous articles shown how this has devastated people’s lives.

Diamond sometime ago rolled out “Clarity”, supposedly to make everything transparent, today’s article from Irene poses the following question:

Is the Diamond Resorts Clarity Program Real?

facts

By Irene Parker

May 23, 2017

My husband and I stayed over two weeks at Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links and Los Abrigados this past month. Anxious to hear more about Diamond’s Clarity Program, I asked if I could speak with a sales agent to learn more. Unfortunately, my requests at the concierge desk and emails went unheeded. Disappointed, I approached several existing members asking them for their feedback. I had hoped to hear positive stories.

Two of the families I spoke with did not want to go on record, but Faye and Mike Hanrahan from New Jersey shared their experience with me. I probably picked the wrong couple because they are former Monarch owners. Diamond has pursued former Monarch owners to give up their deeded timeshare week in exchange for non-deeded “right-to-use” points. In addition to Monarch, ILX, Intrawest and now Gold Key face the same battle in an attempt to hold onto their deeds.

Here’s what happened at Los Abrigados in Sedona according to Faye and Mike:

We had our sit down. We were told we have no way out of Monarch unless we spend approximately $10,000 for the equivalent of 6,000 Diamond vacation points with either a $1,400 maintenance fee or, if we signed a contract that same day, an $871maintenance fee. After we refused the first sales agent, we were introduced to an agent who said he was an original Monarch owner, but now worked for Apollo, although he had on a Diamond name tag. It was because he was with Apollo he could offer a half price on maintenance fee offer if we signed before leaving the room. Already familiar with timeshare, we knew there is no such opportunity for one owner to have half off the company’s maintenance fee. They offered to help by opening a Diamond Barclaycard for $3,995 put up by Barclays. The deal was to pay $39.95 month for 23 months to buy a “Club Combination for Life” program. After 23 months we were told we could use the $4,000 to buy into Diamond or Barclays will “zero out the debt” having paid a total of $918.85 at the end of 23 months. We of course could continue to use the credit card. Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of this timeshare?

Pressure to give up a deed is a frequent complaint. Once you give up your deed, the Diamond owner is no longer allowed to rent using a third party rental agency or website.

But back to Clarity, which is about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer. In the spirit of fair and balanced reporting, here are some excerpts about Clarity provided by Maya Pogoda, PR spokesperson for Diamond resorts.

Before we begin, I should mention that Inside Timeshare has been hearing from Diamond members on almost a daily basis. The majority of complaints received have been about upsells to existing members, even Platinum members, as per the individuals who reported to us, for the following reasons:

The only way to sell Diamond points is to buy more points because only Platinum members can sell their points.

The only way your heirs don’t have to keep up with maintenance fees is to upgrade to the next loyalty level. One family bought more points for this reason only to be told by the next agent at a subsequent presentation this benefit is already available, as she pointed out in a guidebook.

You should not have bought US Collection points because you won’t be able to book Hawaii (if in Hawaii) or you should not have bought Hawaii points because Hawaii maintenance fees are going to increase dramatically (if on the US mainland).

The only way to be eligible for a $.30 maintenance fee reduction is to upgrade to the next loyalty level. Only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point.

You need to buy more points because you can’t do anything with the small number of points you purchased.

Member stories are listed in our Barclaycard article

Timeshare and Barlcaycard in the US

Here is Diamond’s perspective on Clarity from PR spokesperson, Maya Pogoda. Her comments are from discussions we had in January and were previously reported.

“We have been piloting the various elements of the Diamond Clarity program for some time,” Pogoda explained. “Now that we gained the confidence that each of these pieces were effective, we were able to roll out this cohesive, national program that seeks to enhance the overall customer experience when purchasing and holding a vacation membership. Diamond Clarity will rewrite industry best practices by increasing transparency for the consumer and accountability for our team members.”

Pogoda noted that 70% of its sales are to existing members, however, Diamond Clarity “will improve the overall customer experience by increasing transparency for the consumer and accountability for our team members. At Diamond Resorts, we are always working to provide our members with the best possible vacation experiences. This focus on hospitality and creating lasting experiences has made Diamond Resorts an industry leader. We have always believed that customer satisfaction creates loyalty. So while the definition of customer loyalty has not changed, our commitment to finding new ways to drive customer satisfaction to create loyalty evolves constantly. Diamond Clarity is evidence of that.”

Creating a Consumer Advocacy Channel within the company’s corporate headquarters, to quickly address any issues or concerns members may have. This new platform will allow Diamond Resorts to maintain the highest standards of service in the industry.

https://www.loyalty360.org/content-gallery/daily-news/diamond-resorts-international-raises-the-bar-on-cu

No one doubts there are are Diamond members who are sold honestly and fairly, but over 250 Diamond member families have bonded together through our advocacy Facebook to support one another as we fight off endless up-sell attempts that have driven families further and further into debt.

To date our Advocacy group has received and assisted the following complaints.

Our Advocacy Efforts Statistics Update

75 Inquiries for assistance

55 Formal interventions complaints filed or assisted with

Reasons for 75 complaints as provided by the complainants

34 Sold by deception and bait and switch

09 Barclaycard upsell/predatory lending

02 30 cents to convert to MF relief (non-existent program)

06 Switch back from HI to US Collection or vice versa

06 Maintenance fees increases

02 Survivor benefit program (non-existent as already available)  

08 Bought more points told it was the only way to exit the timeshare

08 Lack of Availability

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/

According to Maya,

Diamond Clarity is not limited to just one state, it’s a national program that includes four new operational initiatives. One of these initiatives is recording quality assurance sessions subject to consent from purchasers, to review compliance with all policies and procedures, and to augment and enhance the company’s sales and quality assurance training.  The company has invested in technology to ensure that these recordings can be archived and searchable. Recording sales presentations would not meet these objective and thus are not currently part of the Diamond Clarity Program.”

The recording of the QA session is the biggest sore point Diamond members have with Clarity. Many of our complaints include the sales agent advising the buyer not to say anything about an exciting new program because “The program is not public yet so I could lose my job if you tell anyone.” Arizona allows the recording of the sales session but few buyers will go to the trouble.

Marjorie Menacker’s experience is an example of this. To date, Diamond has denied her release.

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

We end with some member advocate comments as to why these upsold members are wary.

inspired advocates

Irene Allen

Jan 28 (5 days ago)   

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

This new program by DRI is a very predictable step after the Arizona Attorney General’s action. If Clarity is about transparency, why does Maya not once reveal the only reason the company issued the program is because Diamond is essentially under state supervision in Arizona after the issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance” after over 400 complaints received claiming Diamond violated Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act.

 DRI is obligated to demonstrate cooperation and compliance to new disclosure requirements by the AZ AG, but the company will do nothing for existing owners because they purchased contracts during the “Murky Stage”

“Clarity” does not have any provision of fixing the existing and growing problems which are flooding the courtrooms all over the world where DRI operates ….

  1. Regarding recording the QA sessions by DRI, this should be only offered if attendees, who are, according to “Clarity“, 70% existing owners, be allowed to do the same in order to establish a level playing field. Otherwise it is a trap participating owners will end up in, because it will give DRI additional defense tool in the courtroom.
  1. Regarding creating a Consumer Advocacy Channel. This Channel should have consumer rights attorneys and secret observers not employed by DRI in order to eliminate conflict of  interest.
  1. Regarding increase training to frontline personal. The frontline personnel had superb national training during the “Murky Stage”. How else can you explain the fact so many owners all over the world had exactly the same upsell by deceit and “bait and switch” during sales presentations? Many of our 250 Facebook member families claim sales representatives all over the world presented exactly the same falsified and misleading comments in order to entice owners to buy additional points. The name of the national sales training program should be: “101 ways how to deceive owners during sales presentation process and increase the volume of sales.”

Second member comment

I realize we are all skeptical about “promises” made by DRI, but this program has the potential of making a positive impact on our relationship with DRI.

Third member, a Diamond member and an attorney

  • Is the idea that none of these rules were previously in place?  It appears to me these are designed as Diamond CYA’s going forward, “we have a recording” or “there as an observer” or “contact the consumer advocacy channel within __ days”.  For Diamond to say the allegations we all experience did not happen.  

What does this accomplish for the victims of the bad business practices from the past?

  • Recording Quality Assurance sessions, subject to consent from purchasers, to review compliance with all policies and procedures, and to augment and enhance the company’s sales and quality assurance training.
  • Creating a Consumer Advocacy Channel within the company’s corporate headquarters, to quickly address any issues or concerns members may have.  This new platform will allow Diamond Resorts to maintain the highest standards of service in the industry.
  • Increased training of frontline personnel.  All sales and marketing personnel will take part in quarterly training exercises to reinforce their awareness, understanding, and compliance with all sales and marketing rules, principles, and practices.
  • Regularly placing “Consumer Engagement Observers” at sales presentations to continuously provide the sales organization with feedback necessary to achieve constant improvement.  
  • I would suggest these are great improvements to the training and consumer friendly positions Diamond should have had all along.  It does nothing to help people who have already suffered with no recourse from Diamond.
  • If their product was so great, Clarity would be evident within the first 6-12 months of an owner’s experience with the company.  It would be clear that this is “everything they said and represented” or it is “nothing that I was promised” and the consumer would still have options to exit, sell or rescind on some compromised plan. The longer you wait the less you retain.

I am not impressed.

Fourth comment anonymous due to Litigation

Enforcement of DRI “PROMISE” is difficult, unlikely, and merely a smoke screen to generate a false sense of security regarding oversight. It is another set of unenforced regulatory promises which incidentally spawned the crisis currently engulfing Diamond owners. The paltry AG financial agreement and appurtenant agreements simply demonstrate that the AZ AG is taking steps to protect itself from accusations of inaction.

Their behavior is reminiscent of the legal machinations demonstrated by ADRE and California Department of Real Estate. Complainants with ADRE regarding fraudulent practices at Diamond are told that such a complaint is an employee/employer dispute.

When filing complaints with RE regulatory agencies, it must be understood that determinations that deflect the fraud accusations are made to avoid costly investigations. This embraces the policy of waiting for some catastrophic event to prompt unavoidable enforcement action. It does not eliminate the need to continue to create a public record of these complaints, and legitimate demands to be made whole from recovery funds. Misleading determinations by these agencies should be challenged in order to demonstrate the lack of responsible enforcement pertaining to regulatory obligations.

Fifth anonymous member

If we only hear one side of the story or information how are we truly being informed? That is what happened with the hard sales only hearing their side. Our Advocacy members and Diamond need to hear and listen to both sides instead of the constant media spin.

You can share.

Sixth anonymous member

I’m afraid I don’t have much hope that this “Diamond Promise” will change much. I purchased a Sampler package in Sedona in 2012 and annual points the next year in Las Vegas. As best as I can recall, the procedures enumerated in the “new” Diamond Promise existed then, and still I was misled on some important issues.

The Diamond Clarity program has no mechanism which commits the vacation counselors, sales managers, and quality assurance officers to the Promise. In other words, there is no effective enforcement mechanism. Such a mechanism must impose a cost on the seller when the promise is violated.

The economic analysis of warranties has shown that a product sold with a warranty creates an incentive for companies to improve product quality. Reductions in the level of quality – like the misleading sales information in the case of timeshares – leads to higher warranty costs and thereby penalizes such behavior. We have good reasons to believe that in the absence of warranties high quality products get driven out of the market, while low quality products are driven out when warranties are used.

This new program depends on the trust in and good will from Diamond managers. But this is the same group that is incentivized to increase sales and revenue for the organization.

Seventh anonymous member

Promises are only as good as the party providing the assurances. I too see no real means of enforcement, and if anything this could provide an excuse for relaxed oversight by regulators.

I have been pressing the AZ Dept. of RE for 3 years to take enforcement action against DRI’s brokers.  It has been clearly demonstrated that they are negligent in discharging their responsibilities pursuant to RE statute.

I would recommend that owners look at filing a claim with ADRE as complaints are mounting regarding DRI behaviors.

Eighth anonymous member due to litigation

Clarity is definitely a meaningless program – except to bolster Diamond’s position in court.  I can hear it now – our QA monitored sessions prove no widespread fraudulent practices.  

Agents will know when they are being monitored or recorded so they will be on their best behavior.

Shacking hands

Will there ever be a day when we can all get along by communicating and responding to voices of the concerned?

Once again thanks to Irene and all who contribute from the other side of The Great Lake, one thing is for certain, owners on both sides are starting to see that by joining together they can make a difference.

To those owners at Los Claveles, you do have support, we only need to bring it together.

getting together

If you have any comments on any article published or would like to contribute, Inside Timeshare welcomes you.

 

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