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Fridays Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, Irene Parker continues our theme of “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with this latest article about the treatment of “Seniors” by the timeshare industry. This article edited by Irene is from another new contributor Jang Park.

But first the latest breaking news from Europe.

Legal history has once again been made in Spain, the Supreme Court has issued another two judgements, numbers 121 & 122. These cases again involved the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint, who has figured in a huge number of cases in the past year. They are also losing on an almost daily basis in the lower courts in Tenerife, this is a result of years of malpractice in the sales of their timeshare product which has seen hundreds of consumers lose thousands of Euros each. (See yesterday’s article, Silverpoint in the Courts: Criminal Action Vs Civil Action).

This weeks court figures are what can only be described as impressive, along with the two Supreme Court results there has also been the following:

In the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Anfi del Mar has had EIGHT rulings made against them.

Silverpoint have also figured in the lower courts.

In the Courts of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife, Silverpoint has lost FIVE cases.

They have also lost in TWO cases in the High Court in Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

Diamond Resorts Europe Ltd have also lost TWO cases:

In the High Court number 3 of Santa Cruz, Tenerife, this court upheld the previous sentence from the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, which Diamond appealed.

In the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife the client has been awarded over 24,000€, which also includes double the deposit illegally taken within the cooling off period. This particular case is interesting in that the company named is Sunterra Tenerife Sales SL, but under Spanish law Diamond are liable as they took over Sunterra members when buying out Sunterra years ago.

(See PDF files of the court sentences below).

Diamond 1st Instance

Diamond High Court

As usual all the contracts have also been declared null and void, leaving all clients timeshare free.

In all that is an incredible NINETEEN victories, totaling a massive 851,215.00€. This can only be described as a very expensive week for timeshare in the Canary Islands.

These cases were brought on behalf of these clients by the Gran Canarian law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. This does prove that despite what the industry is trying to tell people, these cases are genuine and the timeshare industry is losing.

Below is a video from a Spanish news program aired in December 2017 by TVE, which is the major state owned television station in Spain. It explains the Anfi appeal at the Supreme Court against a High Court ruling which they lost on the illegal taking of deposits. The Supreme Court rejected the Anfi argument that it did not take the deposits as these were paid to a third party. The Supreme Court rejected this appeal as the law clearly states that no money is to be taken within the cooling off period, even by a third party. (Law 42/98 Article 11 & Law 4/12 Article 13).

The video is in Spanish and is subtitled in English, it also has a short interview with Eva Gutierrez a lawyer from Canarian Legal Alliance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of9a5iX3Mmg

In other news, last month the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) announced that it was working with the Alliance of International Property Owners, to replace the discredited and defunct owners association TATOC.

This association is to be totally independent of the timeshare industry, it does represent those who own outright their properties abroad, so let us hope they will be more effective in protecting timeshare owners and helping to change the industry for the better.

Now for our Letter from America.

Another Senior Couple, Age 82, Driven into Timeshare Foreclosure

By Jang Park

June 15, 2018  

I am 82 years old, a California resident and a Korean American since 1978. I worked for a steamship company as an owner representative.

I submitted my complaint to my timeshare company March 31, 2018. I received a refusal from the company yesterday, June 13, 2018. I have asked Inside Timeshare to help me prepare an article to warn other seniors. I was a deeded owner for almost 20 years.We were happy with our timeshare.

We were willing to remain a timeshare member with this company if our last contract for 5,000 points, for which we paid $20,000, would be cancelled. We strongly feel these points were sold by deception.  Now we have to seek the help of an attorney or foreclose, but will work through Inside Timeshare to make sure we talk to the right people. We understand there are a lot of scams that offer to get you out of your timeshare but don’t. I will be filing the following complaints assisted by advocates. I have been told there is no charge to me for this assistance.

First: California Real Estate Division against the California sales agent  

Assisted by my CA Advocate

Second: Better Business Bureau – Assisted by my NV Advocate

FBI, resubmitted due to now six complaints against this sales agent

Federal Trade Commission

AARPhttp://AARP

I have learned through the advocacy group we are the sixth member to complain against this same California timeshare sales agent. I am #6.

Complaint #1  

RB, a veteran “We upgraded in California ONLY because this sales agent said our heirs would not be liable for maintenance fees if we gave up our deed. The sales agent said he used to be a financial advisor. We bought 15,000 points for no other reason. We now know that the survivor benefit already existed. We lost $13,000.

RB worked as a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison. “I know, but when you buy cars and houses all your life, you don’t expect the real estate agent sitting across from you to be a bold faced liar,” he remarked.  

The agent said he would have to look at our contract, but our heirs would likely be responsible for the timeshare. I told him I would be willing to hire an attorney to fight that. He indicated it would be futile to do so as my timeshare company has top notch attorneys and we would not be able to win the case. He then said if we upgraded by buying 15,000 more points, we could avoid those issues. He also said the contract would be an annually renewable contract that we could walk away from at some future time.  

We were led to believe we could pay all our maintenance fees by opening their credit card and charging purchases. We later learned we would receive only $50 credit for qualified purchased for every $5,000.

Compliant #2 Ages 70 and 68 (resolved)

JM, Disabled Vietnam Veteran

First points purchased June 27, 2012

10,000 additional points purchased for $12,500

15,000 additional points purchased for $13,903

Number of points per contract:  30,000

Original Loan Amount: $49,900 @ 12.2441%

We feel we were deceived by the sales staff.  We had been deeded owners since 2001.

On 1/13/2017, we were asked to purchase a trial package. This sales agent advised us that our additional 15,000 points combined with our original 15,000 points would be worth $9,000.  He stated that the value of our points could be applied to pay our maintenance fees. We learned only some members can pay maintenance fees with points at only $.04 per point. He stated that we could take any points we did not use and apply them towards our maintenance fees. He then spoke of the opportunity to earn an additional $2,700 towards our maintenance fees by using the Barclay Credit Card. We learned we would have to charge over $270,000 annually to earn $2,700 towards our maintenance fees.

The sales agent said that with the few points we owned we would be stuck with the contract as well as our heirs, but said if we upgraded, our heirs would be released. He said there would be a letter in our packet stating this. There was no letter.

We were told that the bank would contact us with an interest rate change to 6% from the contracted amount of 12.2441%. That did not happen.

In a phone call they said they had no reason to cancel our contract and that we never mentioned being told that we could sell our points to pay for maintenance fees.

The 6/26/17 written response from the company not marked confidential.

You were in fact properly advised on the fee structure of your ownership per your contract. The findings also went on to confirm through the use of Barclays and the use of Member benefits you can reduce or apply redemption gained back by your choice to your maintenance cost. They found an area of miscommunication regarding your heirs being liable. The information conveyed (but in contradiction to the sales agent) explained that no one is bound to ownership. The on-going correspondence referenced has been forwarded and we have now provided you with a summary of those correspondences in the details aforementioned. Please feel free again to let any of us or myself of course know any other questions you might have.

Complaint #3 GB

7000 points purchased August 2016

Purchase price: $22,975.20

I told this CA sales agent I wanted to sell our timeshare points online to pay for the maintenance fees and loan payment.  He said it wasn’t allowed but he would privately show me how to do this and gave me his cell number. I called numerous times and he never answered. He told us when we upgraded we would have access to multi-million dollar homes. He said we could rent those for a week @ $10.000 and he would show me how when I called his cell.

Complaint #4 AP

1500 points purchased for $6,975 at an October 2016

The presenter said we were not full members and we should have received a letter to go to full membership. We never received a letter.  He then gave us an option of a deal that would only be good right then but we would have to buy 1500 more points to become full members. He made this seem like a huge deal because upper management would not want to give us this deal but they were working with us so that we would be happy.  He informed us that what we had was worth nothing now and we would have to upgrade to be able to use any benefits.

#5 DT, over 85 years old

40,000 points purchased December 2017 for $116,400

Amount financed: $93,870

Maintenance fees $13,000

At the December meeting we were told we could pay all our maintenance fees turning in points. When we contacted the company we were told that we could only pay $2,000 of the maintenance fees turning in 50,000 points.

We were told we could give it up and walk away if we purchased more points.

I am complaint #6 against this same sales agent

I purchased 5000 points for $20,000. The California sales agent told me I could pay maintenance fees by redeeming points at $.20 per point through the 20/20 program. I confirmed this more than five times with his agreeing when I said there should be some $250 left over after paying our new maintenance fees of about $2,800 with his writing down on the working paper, which he refused to give me after the presentation when I asked.

He said if we get their sponsored Visa Card, they will put $1,000 cash to our credit card account as an Honored Member. When we said we will have two cards, each for me and wife, he said $500.00 of cash will be credited to each account. It was not so important benefit compared with above no. 1, but was found a lie.

The sales agent said we can exit from Timeshare Ownership at any time without any obligation, which his manager confirmed true.

In 2015 we gave up our deeded timeshare. We were told there is no cap on maintenance fees for people who hold a deed. This was not true. We were told there is a 5% cap on maintenance fees increases for points if we gave up our deed. This is not true. We purchased 10,000 points. The sales agent said we could sell the points if we needed to. He gave me the name of a company that could sell the timeshare if we needed to.

The agent said it is almost impossible to sell a deeded timeshare, but timeshare points can be sold easily for about $15,000. He checked with IPhone and gave the following companies to me:

  • Steve Likins – Hilton Head & timeshare sales, 843-816-1900
  • Jimmy ; 706-839-7798
  • Timeshare Resale USA.com; 407 345 9333

We tried to sell our timeshare, and attended about five times, timeshare exit companies’ presentation, but we found all of them asked some fees to get exit.

Thank you to Mr. Park and to all members hoping the public gets the Buyer Beware and do your homework message.

Self-help groups for timeshare members.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Jang for your story, it is one we have become so familiar with over the past year or so, ever since we highlighted our first seniors article, we have been receiving a constant stream of similar complaints.

As we have said before, the industry is destroying itself by allowing their employees to lie and cheat, then take no responsibility for those actions. We keep hearing from all quarters, “ We are not responsible for what our sales agent say”. That is the weakest get out imaginable, they are your employees, they are selling your product, they represent your company. It is about time you as an industry took responsibility and changed for the better.

Timeshare could be a good product, the complaints are around the sales not the resorts, accommodation or the resort staff, in this area it looks like the vast majority are happy owners / members.

We are not against business, but we are against business purely for greed, which is what the timeshare industry has turned into.

If you have any comments or questions about any subject in this article or any others published, then use the contact page and get in touch. If you are from the US you will be passed to our team coordinated by Irene. For those in Europe then you will be contacted directly from Inside Timeshare.

As usual we warn you to be vigilant when dealing with any company that contacts you or one that you have found on the internet, do your homework, check, check and check again. If you are unsure how to check, or you are not sure if what you are seeing is true, then contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide.

That’s it for this week, Friday is here, happy hour is calling, so have a good weekend and join us for more news from the world of timeshare next week.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, in this article by Irene Parker looks at the Seniors vs Crime project, but first another warning to our UK and European readers.

We have recently been reporting about the activities of a bogus law firm called Abogados Lopez, apparently working out of Malaga, well they are still at it.

They contact clients who have cases running against their timeshare resorts, the information they have seems to be fairly accurate, they ask for confirmation of details and explain that this is so they can put the case before the court within the next day or so.

A few days later a Hope Brugge or Megan Haywood calls with the wonderful news that the case has been won and that the court has awarded a substantial amount, but a fee to release the funds from the court is required. Depending on the amount awarded it is around £1000 to be paid by bank Transfer to the lawyer.

Two names have been reported for the account holder, Kingsley Ehigiator in Malaga and Isidro Palm Perez in Barcelona.

We have also now been informed that a second call from a Paul Tyler or Taylor, this time he needs a payment of 7% of the awarded amount to pay the fees for the bank transfer.

Again this is a scam and this is not a bona fide law firm, somehow they have stolen sensitive data and are using it to defraud timeshare owners.

Now for today’s article.

The Florida Attorney General’s Seniors vs Crime Project

Can the “Senior Sleuths” help timeshare fraud victims?

Perhaps even more important than the raw numbers is the psychological and emotional impact of crime on our older citizen.

By Irene Parker

June 12, 2018

The Florida Attorney General’s Seniors vs Crime Senior Sleuths act as “eyes and ears” of the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement by reporting on scams, high pressure sales techniques, false or misleading advertisement, or other deceptive or illegal activity. There is similarity in cases the Senior Sleuths have pursued and the 459 timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received.   

The senior timeshare buyers described below fell victim to “Defend against scams” points: #2 #3 #4 and #5. Following their case, we compare two Senior Sleuth cases and show how the crimes described are similar to timeshare crime. The FBI defines white-collar crime as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.”     

Reader complaint #452 was submitted by their son Eric. We have not identified the family or the company to allow the company time to respond to the complaint.

My parents are both 78 years old. My father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My mother is hard of hearing. Points were purchased in Florida at a hotel presentation and at a later date in Virginia. They were pressured for six hours in Florida, told the price was time sensitive. They signed electronically, despite having no computer skills.

In Virginia they dealt with seven sales agents who kept them for seven hours. My parents told the agents they had limited savings and could not afford the second purchase.  My mother said she started to cry. The sales agent said they had not purchased enough points the first time so they would lose everything if they did not buy more points and that the price per point would increase if they did not buy that day. My parents have never used the points. They cannot travel because this has caused their health to deteriorate. The $27,000 they spent represents all their savings. The first purchase of $13,000 has been paid in full. The balance is a loan.

We will be filing a complaint with the Florida Attorney General and the Virginia Attorney General, although I’ve learned through Social Media they will in all likelihood dismiss the complaint for lack of proof.  

The reason this meets the definition of fraud is because the couple did purchase enough points to be able to stay a week at a resort. They might have trouble booking Hawaii or the California coast, but there are many locations they could have stayed at with the number of points first purchased. In addition, they could bank their points into the next year and have double the points, easily covering a week’s stay. The complaint of being told the member did not buy enough points is a common ploy. “I can’t believe they sold you so few points! You can’t stay anywhere with only THAT many points!”

There would have been no trouble going back the next day, buying at the same price as the day before. This would at least have given Eric’s parents time to talk it over with Eric or with a financial advisor.  

Based on reports from members filing timeshare complaints, in all likelihood the company will respond, “We are not responsible for what our sales agent say,” falling back on the oral representation clause. Given the company’s response and the Florida Timeshare Division and Virginia Timeshare Division’s likely response, “You have no proof,” as our readers have reported back to us, timeshare sales agents are thereby encouraged to misrepresent. In effect, there is no timeshare regulatory enforcement in some states.

Senior Sleuths

“The Attorney General’s strong support for the Project, and dedication to helping consumers, ensures that those who fall victim to unethical business practices or frauds will have someone and somewhere to turn for help.”

This has not come to fruition for our readers complaining to the Florida and Virginia Timeshare Divisions. Maybe Senior Sleuths can help. Give them a try if you bought in Florida or live in Florida.

Once again we are left with public awareness as our only consumer protection.

From the Florida Bar Journal

“The Commission will find deception if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer’s detriment.”

The Third DCA confirmed that the standard requires proof of probable, not possible, deception; that the potential deception must be of consumers acting reasonably in the circumstances, not just any consumers; and that the deception must be likely to cause injury to a reasonable relying consumer.

https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-journal/?durl=/DIVCOM%2FJN%2FJNJournal01%2Ensf%2F76d28aa8f2ee03e185256aa9005d8d9a%2F1f23234b2401bb9885256af50015dc33

The family is asking the second purchase be rescinded. The Senior Sleuths resolved similar complaints described below.

The History of the Seniors vs Crime Project

Taken from the Seniors vs Crime website:

In 1989 the Florida Legislature ordered the Attorney General to form a task force to report on crime and the elderly. The Task force on Crimes and the Elderly, formed and chaired by Attorney General Bob Butterworth, held a number of public meetings around the state. Mr. Vern Thornton served on the Task Force as a consultant with the AARP Criminal Justice Services. The Task Force found that seniors were being targeted for scams, were being subjected to high-pressure tactics by salespersons, and were being deceived by false advertising at an alarming frequency. Perhaps even more important than the raw numbers is the psychological and emotional impact of crime on our older citizen.

Vern Thornton presented the Attorney General with a crime prevention program, to be run by volunteers and focused on Florida’s growing senior population. The program was to be called the Seniors vs. Crime Project. Volunteers, now called Senior Sleuths at the suggestion of the Attorney General, became more active in assisting law enforcement.

Examples of work performed by Senior Sleuths range from checking on scanner prices at supermarkets and counting pills when picking up prescription medications to performing undercover stings that captured salespeople utilizing high pressure sales techniques and engaging in false and deceptive practices.

What started as a fairly small organization, primarily on the (Florida) East Coast, has now grown statewide with over 2,000 Senior Sleuths. While methods used by the Project may change over the years the goal will remain the same – prevent victimization and provide a way for seniors to contribute to the safety of all Floridians.

Cases similar to timeshare handled by Senior Sleuths

An Auto Dealership Complaint

They told the salesman they wanted payments not to exceed $250 per month. When they returned they learned the monthly payment was $587 per month. The dealership agreed to take the automobile back and refund monies paid.  

This is a common timeshare complaint. Members report they are told they will be paying one loan amount but the actual loan amount turns out to be much higher. Also, many are told their maintenance fees will go down if they buy more points, but maintenance fees end up being higher.

A Going on Vacation Complaint

A St. Augustine couple signed up for a vacation membership with a travel agency that cost $2500. The couple could not access the website that promised them vacation discounts. Through no fault of their own, they were not able to access the website for five days. Once they finally gained access, they realized they could have arranged vacations on their own for a lower price than that offered by the membership website. The travel agent initially cited that the time to rescind the contracts had lapsed as presented on the website. Ultimately the couple was reimbursed the $2500.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from readers who describe how the company and/or the sales agent were able to dodge the rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site until after the rescission period had passed or saying bogus programs to sell points or pay maintenance fees would not be available until after the first of the year.    

Seniors vs Crime online complaint form (a description of how the program works is below) https://sites.google.com/a/svcproject.com/intakecenter/onlinecomplaint

How the Seniors vs Crime project works:

Victim must make the request. The services of the Seniors Vs Crime Project must be requested by the victim in the complaint. The Project cannot respond to suggestions that a third party has a problem and should be contacted. Victims may be assisted in filing their complaint by family, friends or Power of Attorneys but the victim must sign the Request for Assistance form before assistance can be rendered.

Two Options for Assistance.  When requesting assistance from the Senior Sleuths at a Project Office, a person has two options. The person may only be looking for coaching “assistance” through a situation. Seniors Sleuths can advise the senior on how to handle a particular matter and not get involved with anyone except the senior. The victim is not required to sign anything to receive this type of assistance. It’s just one senior talking with/advising another senior.

A second option is for a Senior Sleuth to intervene and represent the complainant. In these instances the Senior Sleuth will thoroughly research the complaint and attempt to mitigate the case with all parties involved. Many people, initially only seek advice, then after some discussion they quickly realize the situation is more complex, so they ask for a Senior Sleuth to assist in resolving the situation. This second option does require written authorization from the victim.

Civil Disputes involve many Civil Actions. All of the civil proceedings are expensive and arduous, and out of the financial and emotional reach of most seniors. While many civil lawsuits against scams are successful, to make matters worse, the proceedings expose a senior who has been scammed to public display for being naive or foolish, which is effectively making the victim a victim again. And making the victim a third time victim, most often when a senior “plaintiff” wins a civil case the efforts to collect the court award involve another long civil process. The Seniors Vs Crime Project’s Senior Sleuths do everything possible to reach a settlement for a senior without cost and without public or family embarrassment.

If you are involved in a civil situation and you request the Seniors Vs Crime Project’s assistance, the Senior Sleuths assigned to your case will do everything possible to reach a settlement without cost to you and without public or family embarrassment. Senior Sleuths are successful in a high percentage of cases. http://www.seniorsvscrime.com/history

Timeshare self-help groups:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Related articles: Unauthorized credit card charges and

Timeshare Advocacy Group’s complaint form

https://www.thebalance.com/what-to-do-about-unauthorized-credit-card-charges-960260

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

Inside Timeshare is pleased that the Attorney General’s Office is taking this matter very seriously, when you consider the number of complaints that we are receiving with the number going up on an almost daily basis, this is certainly a matter that needs to be dealt with.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other article published, use our contact page to get in touch. If you require any help or advice about any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet, then Inside Timeshare is here to help.

We would also like to inform our Danish (& Scandinavian) readers of a new website which Inside Timeshare is collaborating with:

https://www.timesharehjelpen.com

We will be sharing our information and reporting on each others articles. We wish this new site all the best.

Remember do your homework and keep your money safe.

Friday’ Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America submitted by our very own Irene Parker, but first some news from the Gran Canaria.

Canarian Legal Alliance has had what can only be called a very successful and dramatic week in the courts. At the Supreme Court in Madrid the judges once again ruled in two cases against the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint. This now brings the total number of rulings by Spain’s Highest Court against the timeshare industry as a whole to a massive

There was also a High Court ruling in Tenerife against Silverpoint, plus two Courts of First Instance rulings in Gran Canaria against Anfi Del Mar. In all, clients will be receiving over 148,000€ plus legal interest.

In four cases at the Courts of First Instance, numbers 2, 4 and 5, with Anfi Resorts once again the defendants, all judges came to the same decision as per the rulings of the Supreme Court. The basis of the sentences varied from the lack of a tangible object found in the contract, floating weeks, along with the contracts being over 50 years in duration.

In all the courts have awarded these clients over 138,000€ plus legal interest, also in all seven cases the contracts have been declared null and void.

So seven very happy clients and no doubt celebrations at the offices of the lawyers.

Now for our Letter from America.

How I Made my Worst Enemy so Much Money in the Stock Market in Six Days he probably didn’t have to Work Anymore!

The Flip Side – Consumers Drowning in Debt

By Irene Parker

May 25, 2018

After a pathetically aggressive and deceptive timeshare presentation my husband and I attended in 2015, I started researching timeshare. We had owned three timeshares having bought our first two timeshares around 1984. I didn’t know how to use Facebook and knew little about Social Media. I started posting comments on places like Tripadvisor. One site responded to my post asking me to fill out a form describing my work and educational background. That seemed odd, but I responded that I had retired from Edward Jones Hawaii and had an MBA and a CFP. A few days later I received a call from one of the TheStreet editors. I almost fell over when he said TheStreet was Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money’s investment news service!   

My first TheStreet article was an “editor’s pick” about how I made my worst enemy so much money in six days he probably did not need to work again. Another article was about creating wealth. Given most of the 431 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are struggling with oppressive timeshare loan payments, credit card payments and maintenance fees, I republish my advice to graduates on how to avoid excessive debt. I published about twelve articles for TheStreet before finding my writing and advocacy home at Inside Timeshare. The education I received while working with four TheStreet editors, all possessing the patience of Job, felt like I had earned a degree in journalism.

I hope a developer or two will take the time to read about how two adversaries can come together for the good old fashioned goal of making tons of money. Shooting yourself in the foot by allowing deception to become the norm is unfair to the consumer and has devastated many families. Let’s together turn this ship around and drain the swamp of predatory and criminal sales agents. At least that is what they are if allegations hold true, according to several FBI agents I have talked to over the last year.

Doctor Khalil in my article and I had a grudging respect for each other that we weren’t even aware of. It is my hope the angry timeshare member and developer can come to a similar understanding for the good of the industry. The timeshare developer needs to wake up to the futility of allowing and encouraging sale by deception via overreliance on the oral representation clause, making the consumer sign a perpetual contract, often at a high loan interest rate, often with no secondary market. It can’t continue as it has. Social Media is here to stay.

My investment hero is Peter Lynch, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan fund. As mentioned in my article, while sitting around waiting for my Series 7 score, I read Warren Buffett’s biography and Mr. Lynch’s book, One Up on Wall Street. Their sage advice guided my career. It was a great compliment when ValueWalk reposted my article referencing One Up on Wall Street. I may take a flyer once in a while, but I will always be a value investor at heart.  https://www.valuewalk.com/

May 22, 2016

 https://www.thestreet.com/story/13576145/1/the-markets-crashed-my-first-day-as-a-stockbroker-and-here-s-what-i-did-next.html

The consumer is not off the hook. My mother would admonish anyone who financed a luxury item like a timeshare at 12% to 18% for ten years, often relying on a 20% or higher interest rate timeshare credit card. That doesn’t make any sense, according to my mom.     

Predatory Credit Card Lending – Graduates Beware!

Heed the Cardinal Rule of Investing

How the Time Value of Money can grow $50 a month to $1 Million  

Originally published by TheStreet June 11, 2016

What does this have to do with timeshare?

Don’t finance a luxury item at 12% to 18% as this has been driving some families into foreclosure and sometimes bankruptcy. I don’t think there is a financial planner in the land who would think this is a good idea.

Timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare describing how they have ended up in a financial timeshare wasteland. Tomorrow is my 67th birthday, which has caused me to reflect on my mother, who would have reacted violently, had she learned I financed a vacation at 12% to 18% for ten years.

The importance of prudent borrowing and paying yourself first

First off, buy no vacation plan unless you are maxing out your 401K, 403B, IRA or company retirement saving plan. It’s always best to check with your accountant to determine whether a 401K or IRA is the best choice. The Roth IRA is of great benefit to younger people. But this is not an article about retirement vehicles – it’s about encouraging graduates to start early.

To become better informed, read Jim Cramer’s book, Get Rich Carefully, and then simply check yes to something, preferably 15% payroll deduction.

Here is my TheStreet article about my mom’s extraordinary forced savings plan and about how $50 a week starting early can end up over a million $. Please pass this lesson on to your upcoming graduate.

   

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13603800/1/recent-college-graduates-heed-this-cardinal-rule-of-investing-now.html

My mom drilled into me the time value of money principle every Friday night from the third grade until my high school graduation. This principle is so simple you would think it would not even need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, as an Edward Jones broker, only about one in twenty of my 1,200 client families working towards financial independence, got it. Many did not max out their 401K, 403B or self-employed retirement account.

My mother’s retirement savings method was extraordinary. Her finance education was nothing more than a bookkeeping class she took in high school; but she was a walking MBA. My father flunked 7th grade three times due to something about the school basketball team. He started and failed in six businesses, narrowly escaping a second bankruptcy. I was born into a dry cleaners, his seventh attempt at business.

The first thing my mother did was to hire an accountant. She had had it with financial mismanagement. The accountant, John Schmuck of Ferguson, Missouri, warned my mother, “Whatever you do – keep Johnny out of the books!”

On my ninth birthday, I was informed I was to start helping with the Friday payroll. Mom told me about her “background fund”. Every Friday night she would point to the checkbook balance and a number she recorded in a secret location. She would say each week, “This is our background money – and you are not to tell your father about it unless I die.” It was a lot to absorb at age nine. You see, if the dry cleaners took in $200 in a day, but had $100 in bills to pay, Mom would only record the balance as $100 so my dad would think they were broke. My Mom kept up this charade for 27 years! At age 65, my parents stopped by a Cadillac dealer. Mom pointed to a powder blue Cadillac and asked Dad, “Do you like this one Johnny?” He nodded. Mom looked at the salesman and said, “We’ll take this one.”  She wrote a check, turned to my dad and told him he could retire.

One of my brokerage clients was a cartoonist. She took this story and made it into a cartoon booklet. I handed out 2,000 copies to help build my brokerage business on the Big Island of Hawaii, currently erupting. I had just opened my brokerage office in Honoka’a. The local police officer went up and down the street warning residents not to invest money with this haole lady (haole means in Hawaiian “one who has no life” because the Hawaiians thought the white sailors were ghosts) as I would in all likelihood take their money and abscond back to the mainland. At the time, the local insurance agents were selling whole life insurance policies as an investment.

Undeterred, learning the sugar plantation had closed, and workers could not get their pension benefits, but could get Social Security disability benefits, I lobbied the ILWU. It took about a year, but they amended the plan, workers received their benefits. I began receiving calls like, “You’re the only haole we trust!”  My business flourished as $50 million in assets flowed in.

But – back to the cardinal rule of investing. The most important principle my mother taught me was – PAY YOURSELF FIRST!  As I typed payroll checks, she would point to the list of employees and sadly say, “You see these people! They live from paycheck to paycheck! Think of yourself as a light bill or a telephone bill. You would not miss paying those bills. Don’t wait until you pay your bills to see if anything is left over to save!” Pay yourself first!

If you heed my mother’s advice here is what can happen based on historical stock market performance:

Age 25 – first job at $40,000 per year – 15% of pretax earnings = $6,000

$6,000 in annual 401K contributions

(The Wow of throwing an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 a year in payroll taxes – to the IRS – and what that could have grown to if invested in a 401K convinced a lot of people to get with the program) To continue:

N = number of years (35) to work to age 60

8% – Average estimated growth rate or total return with dividends and capital gains reinvested

The estimated future value at age 60: $1,116,612.

Liquidating or receiving in dividends and capital gains 5% of portfolio income each year in retirement: $55,830 estimated annual investment income.

Most people can comfortably retire on 70% of current income (you should be earning more at age 60 than the $40,000 a year you started out with at age 25).

Sadly, it was not unusual for someone age 45 to come to my office and tell me they needed to start saving for retirement with nothing yet saved. This scenario:

Age 45 earning $40,000 = $6000 saved annually

N = 15 years until age 60 and average estimated growth rate – 8%

Future value estimate at age 65: $175,945.

5% of the $175,945 would generate an estimated $8,797 a year in income

The examples illustrate the power of the time value of money. I went through this exercise with all new clients and watched their eyes widen as my now ancient 12C HP Calculator blinked out the good or bad news. I recently showed my estate planning law firm how it works. Despite being a highly skilled law firm, my little calculator caused shock and awe. Teachers were the best savers; maybe because of the steady paycheck and their expertise in education.

Make sure to pencil in ten minutes every birthday to keep your annual scorecard by updating the numbers. There are an abundance of retirement estimators on the internet. My husband and I had kids to send to college, pitfalls and financial disasters, but overall, we kept the 15% rolling.

Thanks to our pharmaceutical bioavailability laboratory, my jumping ship to learn the ropes of Wall Street, and prudent investing, my husband and I retired at age 55. We don’t live in a palatial home or drive an expensive car, but we enjoy our comfortable lifestyle.

And you know what else? Not one of my clients ever told me they were sorry I made them save all that money.

Thank you Irene, a change from our normal theme, Next week in the Tuesday Slot we publish a story from Haley Saldana, another new contributor and her story of woe.

If you need any help or advice about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, whether is be about claiming or just getting out of your timeshare, use our contact page and we will give the correct information.

So that’s it for this week, it’s Friday and the weekend is now upon us, have fun and join us next week with more news from the world of timeshare.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, in this article which replaces the one scheduled, which we pulled once again at the last minute due to a very good response from the timeshare company, Irene Parker explains how US timeshare owners can file a complaint.

In Europe, Spain leads the way in protecting consumers of timeshare, we do understand that in the US, each state is responsible for their own laws, there seem to be no federal laws which govern the sale of timeshare. Europe has tried to unify how timeshare is sold, the unfortunate thing is that in many states the industry (with their large corporate law firms) have held sway.

Spain, which was one of the main areas where timeshare resorts were being developed, has suffered from the bad press associated with the industry. People being hijacked on the street while on holiday, bundled into taxis to endure hours of hard sell by unscrupulous sales agents. Although the blame must be on the sales and marketing companies,who paid only on results, commission only. Many start out okay, but the pressure to produce is enormous and an agent can be forced out by being given poor quality “ups” if they don’t produce.

The European Union developed a series of timeshare directives which each member state had to enact into domestic law, many have watered them down, Spain on the other hand decided that they needed to be strengthened and enacted Law 42/98.

This law came into force in January 1999, since then it has been strengthened by Law 4/12 along with the many Supreme Court rulings.

This now gives consumers more protection, no deposits within a 14 day cooling off period, no contract longer than 50 years, no points or floating weeks systems, with many other safeguards.

There are other laws which protect the consumer which are being used in the many cases coming before the courts, these include the civil consumer laws, mercantile law and by no means least, criminal law.

The way consumers are enticed to attend presentations has also been looked into, OPC’s are now regulated and licensed, unlike before. Infringements of the regulations can result in very severe penalties.

Timeshare in Europe has a very bad reputation because of the past, the original concept cannot be faulted, it is the greed around the sales that is to blame. We know this to be true due to the closing of many sales decks, with many of the sales agents now working for the “bogus” law firms and claims companies that are springing up on an almost daily basis.

Inside Timeshare is doing what it can to warn consumers of these companies, but as soon as we identify one there is another to replace it. Litigious Abogados is a great case in point, changing names every few months but the “scam” is the same.

It is only through the help of our readers that many of them are identified, as owners / members working together we will be able to protect the timeshare community.Now for this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (May 2018 revision)

Start with the Attorneys General Office

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

May 18, 2018

By Irene Parker

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. Rosa Parks

Inside Timeshare received 425 US timeshare complaints as of May 16, 2018 (238 was the number of complaints reported as of our last revision 12/15/17). An escalation in the criminal nature of member allegations, especially those voiced by 45 active duty and retired military and law enforcement, led us to the FBI (9 members of the military/law enforcement reported allegations of timeshare fraud as of 12/15). Some fear they could lose their Security Clearances due to a foreclosure on their record. Active duty military feel this is a threat to our national security as just about anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points.

Members need to be especially vigilant about “Get you out of your timeshare” firms because many are scams. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ (TAG) has a scam research team formed by members who have themselves been scammed. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below if you are contacted by someone you don’t know offering to help you get out of a timeshare.

This US Department of Justice timeshare scam report details the extent of the problem. Based on 425 complaints, our advocates feel the front of the timeshare sale contains a comparable level of criminal activity.  

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

Timeshare developers created the criminal cottage industry of transfer and exit scams by overreliance on the oral representation clause, iron clad developer based contracts, the lack of an adequate secondary market, and ingrained deception run amuck, according to reported complaints. The vast majority of our readers are highly professional, educated citizens with credit scores around 800 who have rarely been late paying a bill. Identical complaints, directed against the same sales agent, sometimes in cooperation with a manager or vice president, can establish a pattern of complaints.

It is one thing to say I am a sinner, but let someone else say that about me and then I feel it – I am up in arms. If I am falsely accused I may suffer, whereas if correction be found on even a small reality – something in me having deserved it – then often that hurts more. We must be happy that our faults are known as they are. Mother Teresa

With no way out if the timeshare company refuses to even acknowledge the deception, hiring a lawyer or foreclosure were the only options until real consumer advocates formed Timeshare Advocacy Group™ – bridging the gap between the developer and the member harmed. At times it felt like turning the Titanic, but closing gaps on social issues never comes easy and some causes take longer than a lifetime. Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus at great peril to her safety, but Rosa reached a decision that enough was enough and action was needed. It was a small action, but one that led to great changes. Educator and activist Parker Palmer explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK0dXNK94BM

Almost all members have reported their timeshare company responded to their allegations of deceit with, “Sorry, you signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” This knee jerk dismissal is backed up by some Attorneys General, via their timeshare divisions, responding the same. Unscrupulous timeshare sales agents realize this of course, so the hamster wheel of recycled inventory never ceases beginning with “It’s not a sales presentation.” If there is still truth in advertising, change needs to begin there.   

According to the FBI and to lawyers consulted, it is not legal to hide behind fine print, but it takes volumes of complaints to raise a regulator’s eyebrow. The Federal Trade Commission released its summary report of 2017 complaints listing travel, vacation, and timeshare as one of the most costly frauds at $1,710, although complaints we have received from members range from $25,000 to $400,000 or more. We wish members were only losing $1,710.   

Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population.

https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/04/06/ftc-releases-2017-complaint-statistics/493425002/

According to the FBI,

White-collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage. These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The FBI has advised our members, if the allegation involves credit card fraud, the member should also file a complaint with the Secret Service.

https://ask.metafilter.com/81136/Should-I-call-the-Secret-Service-over-credit-card-fraud

The two most common complaints reported:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points
  • They said I could pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a credit card, neglecting to add only about 1% of each purchase is credited to maintenance fees. Some fell for bogus maintenance fee relief programs. Already struggling, they buy more points.

How Advocacy Works

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is organized into seven teams:

  1. Team 1 is our Reporting Team. Once the timeshare member has related their concern or grievance, the member submits their written complaint to the timeshare company. If ignored or the member receives a negative response, the complaint is forward to one of six advocates assigned to a specific regulatory or law enforcement agency. For example, Sheilah Brust is our go to person for the FBI and the Secret Service. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-4/
  2. Team 2 is our Legislative Team. Members on this team reach out to sympathetic lawmakers to advocate for better disclosure. It would be nice to know that the timeshare you just bought for $100,000 had little or no secondary market the moment you signed the contract. TAG has received an alarming number of complaints from seniors 75 to 85 who have signed timeshare contracts for $100,000 or more. Not one of the 425 members reaching out to Inside Timeshare realized their timeshare in all likelihood could not be sold, even when costing as much as a house.
  3. Team 3 is our Military Team. We encourage anyone who has resolved their timeshare complaint as a result of our efforts to make a donation to Whistleblowers of America. WOA is a non-profit that seeks justice for active duty and veteran members of the military and government workers. WOA has supported our efforts by helping to distribute our articles. Our timeshare fraud report was presented as part of a Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018.  https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/
  4.  Team 4 is our foreclosure support group. Facing cruel and relentless debt collection calls can be an overwhelming experience for anyone who has rarely been late on a bill, but for those who have recently lost a spouse the experience is devastating. Some members of this team have been through this and are determined to stay involved to fight Elder Fraud especially.
  5. Team 5 is our Scam Research team. This team consists of members who themselves have been scammed. There is a very dark side to this illegal industry. We are careful in our approach.
  6. Team 6 is our Media Team. Given state regulators backing up the timeshare company by responding, “You should not have relied on verbal representation” or “You have no proof” the Court of Public Opinion and Outcry is the only court open in some states.
  7. Team 7 is our Technology team.  We have a support staff of volunteers to assist those without access to a computer due to age, illness or disability. This team also provides YouTube production support.

Contact Inside Timeshare or email Irene Parker at [email protected] or call 270-303-7572 EST if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Feel free to call any day of the week from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST. It’s best to schedule a call. All calls and emails are returned within 24/48 hours.

Now it’s time to begin filling out the form. Before you begin, raise your right hand.

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? It is important to present your information factually and without opinion or inflammatory language.

Our advocates are not attorneys and we do not provide legal advice. We have researched regulatory agencies and are here to direct consumers to the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies listed below. We have also developed media relationships and will continue to work with broadcast and print media to alert the general public as to what questions to ask before buying a timeshare. Life events can change your life in an instant or a day. If your timeshare provides no secondary market, it can make a member feel a hostage to their vacation plan. It’s a good idea to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out whether your timeshare has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

How to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Current Loan Balance

Loan Number

Current Maintenance Fees

Name of Credit Card if one was used

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment?

Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?

If your investment is $40,000 or less and you owned and used your timeshare for ten years or more consider relinquishment. There can be no loan outstanding and maintenance fees need to be current.

Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded as will a request based on not being able to afford the timeshare. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say you can’t afford it. The difference is you can sell your home. Your complaint should be filed with the FBI only if there are credible and serious allegations of deceit and bait and switch. If you feel you were deceived, list the reasons why.   

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the contracts and figures at the top of your complaint. Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong.

After you complete your complaint, email it to the appropriate resort department or to TAG if you need help with your complaint. Expect to be denied. Typically your resort reviewer will restate your concerns, produce your initials and signatures, point out the oral representation clause and inform you, “If something was important to you, you should have asked for it to be put in the contract.” File a rebuttal if you disagree with their response.

Depending on the seriousness of your complaint, your advocate may forward your complaint to the firm’s public relations office or firm and to ARDA, the timeshare industries PAC, for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics. ARDA’s Code of Ethics can be found on ARDA’s website.

We do not recommend owners make the voluntary opt in or opt out ARDA ROC contribution on your maintenance fee invoice. It is the opinion of our advocates that although ARDA lobbies for the industry and for timeshare members, when the issue at stake is one that is at odds with members, members lose because they have no voice. We also forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners. AVO has been tracking our complaints for research purposes. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-3/

Mark your email to the resort urgent if you are in financial distress. It is best to file a complaint before the debt collectors are hounding. The member will report back to us if the issue is resolved. Due to the required non-disclosure or mutual release form, terms and conditions will not be discussed.

The FBI complaint website is called IC3.gov which stands for Internet Crime. This is a bit confusing. IC is the name of the portal. That doesn’t mean it has to be an internet crime. We think they should have a white collar crime option to avoid this confusion. Click IC3 as your choice when filing. https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Serious allegations of fraud should be reported orally by calling the FBI field office’s public access line available 24/7 (see Sheilah’s article). Sometimes your local field office will pay closer attention than say Las Vegas, where losing money is a tourist attraction. You can find your nearest field office from this website.

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices

The next step is to file a complaint first with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed your contract and where you live. It can take a month or more to hear back from an AG but once your complaint has been accepted, debt collectors are not allowed to call. You can find any Attorney General by searching the state name and Attorney General.

If there was an unauthorized credit card charge or account opened or you feel you were deceived into signing off on a loan, you should file with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage) and select the bank that financed your loan or issued a credit card. This is the organization that helped Wells Fargo victims. The CFPB lost power after the roll back of the Dodd Frank act March 2018. The Dodd Frank act was enacted after the abuses caused by subprime lending. The CFPB is still considered a regulator. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

You should file a complaint with the state Real Estate Division in the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against a sales agent. Your advocate can help you find the agent’s ID number. Timeshare sales agents are real estate licensed in most states.

File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s BBB rating can be misleading in that the BBB only rates how efficiently a company responds to complaints. Sometimes the BBB allows you to log in and file a rebuttal.  

Most important, consider reaching out to local or national media. Reporters look for content and are surprisingly easy to reach. Write an article about your experience. The more people who come forward, the more the public is made aware of timeshare black holes before engaging in a timeshare sales presentation.

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The FBI at IC3.gov portal if you feel you were deceived by a bait and switch. For allegations of a serious nature also contact an FBI field office to file an oral tip. Have your facts and figures ready.
  • Attorneys General where you signed your contract. Most AG complaints can be filed online.
  • The Real Estate Division of the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against the agent.  
  • The media – the court of public opinion is often the only court available. Inside Timeshare, published in Spain, publishes timeshare articles online focusing primarily on the need for reform and oversight.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option selecting the bank involved. Timeshare has dodged this regulatory bullet because most members don’t even know the identity of the lender as the timeshare company often services the loan. Timeshare companies are not an option from the CFPB’s drop-down menu.
  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • The Better Business Bureau
  • Lawmakers – The problem is the timeshare buyer typically does not buy in their state of residence which is why lawmakers don’t seem to take timeshare seriously. Still, any effort to contact lawmakers is encouraged.

If this sounds like work, it is, but you can file with some, all, or none of the agencies. We have a team of advocates who can answer questions and help guide you through the process. We feel “Action and Advocacy” is the way to change questionable timeshare business practices.  

If you are granted a positive outcome, you may not say or write anything disparaging about the resort, but there is no harm in staying involved by referring timeshare members who need help to Inside Timeshare or to one of the self-help groups listed below we know are not industry influenced.   

Who We Are and Why We Do This

Timeshare members contacting us are often struggling with maintenance fees and high interest rate loans. Venting on complaint sites has no effect whatsoever but an organized campaign to track complaints and report criminal activity has already born fruit in the form of Attorneys General settlements and a greater awareness.

If all else fails, we will refer to an attorney if the member can afford one. If you are forced into foreclosure, but have an otherwise unblemished credit report, you can write to the credit reporting agencies in an effort to explain why you were deceived and why you were not able to resolve your dispute.

I worked three years as a CASA supervisor, writing and editing court reports for Family Court on behalf of foster children. I find two commonalities between children of abuse, neglect or dependency and deceptive timeshare sales.

  1. The abnormal becomes the normal. After receiving 425 complaints, I fear deception is endorsed and encouraged by some timeshare companies. Of course not all sales agents are dishonest. Inside Timeshare endorses Disney Vacation Club because of their scarcity of complaints.
  2. Victims are silenced and isolated via non-disclosure agreements and arbitration. Buyers should opt out of arbitration immediately after signing a contract.   

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. My husband and I owned three timeshares for 25 years with no problems or complaints. After we attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation in 2015, I began researching the industry, writing articles and assisting timeshare victims. My solo effort has grown to a network of 44 Advocates. We are not compensated. We are volunteers. We hope there will come a day our advocacy group is not needed.

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

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

http://tug2.net/

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2018 Irene Parker Timeshare Advocacy GroupTM

 

That’s it for this week, the weekend once again beckons so join us again next week for more news and information on the world of timeshare.

Latest news just in from the Court of First Instance Number 3 Abona Tenerife.

The judge in a case against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, has declared the clients contract null and void. The infringments are the points system which has been made illegal, the contract in perpetuity, when the law stipulates that it should be for a maximum of 50 years and the taking of deposits within the cooling of period, which is also illegal even by a third party.

The client will now receive a total of £44,790 which includes double the deposit illegally taken, the court also awarded legal interest.

The laws in Spain have been put into place and strengthened by the Supreme Court to protect consumers, they are having a profound affect on the industry, which for too long believed it was untouchable.

Friday’s Letter from America

In this weeks Letter from America we welcome another new contributor, Robin Law, with a “Buyer Beware Warning” about Bluegreen. This is a story that is not unfamiliar with us at Inside Timeshare, the only difference is the name of the developer.

But first we issue a warning about another company that is cold calling owners in Europe, we have been informed by a UK resident and Diamond member who received a call from this company, Claim Your Claim.

In the call our reader was informed that since Apollo had taken over Diamond, there were only four resorts that they could go to in the whole of Europe!

Now that is very strange, according to the Diamond website they have many more than that, I can personally name at least a dozen.

Our reader was also informed about how they were mis-sold their timeshare and had a valid claim, which this company could help and retrieve their money back! Sounds great, until you start to look at this company.

Their website https://claimyourclaim.com shows no company registration or any other details apart from the address and telephone number on the contact page:

Calle San Francisco Javier, 22d, 38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain (which is an aprtment block).

Tel: 0845 621 3233

https://www.google.es/maps/place/Calle+San+Francisco+Javier,+22,+38001+Santa+Cruz+de+Tenerife/@28.4709569,-16.2494615,3a,60y,45.65h,109.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s9YYai_iGjgQcg65WwTBsNg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0xc41cb7e58580589:0x9e73f0cfdf824dfe!8m2!3d28.4709875!4d-16.2493926

The Home page gives very little information apart from they are “Specialists” in “Claiming your Claim”, “Peace of Mind” and “Customer Care”.

In the Services section they have four categories, Financial Management, which tells about claiming, Holidays, showing three hotels at rather high prices, Deals, which are low cost resorts and Other Services such as airline tickets, car hire and places to visit.

The About Us section is rather interesting, they state Claim Your Claim work alongside a company formed in 2003 as a subsidiary of an Anglo/Polish Travel Agency based in Krakow Poland. They “boast” 7 offices in the Canary Islands, with their main operation based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Under the heading Our Clients they give the following statement:

Claim your Claim and its associated companies are proud to announce as of 31.12.2017 their customer base exceeded the 70,000 mark, 86% of all their bookings made between 01.01.2013 – 31.12.2017 were for holidays to the Canary Islands, 89% of these were to Tenerife.

Well nothing there about “Claims”, just a load of figures for “Holidays”.

They also give the “Locations” of their offices:

Krakow, Poland, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Mogan, Gran Canaria, Arrecife, Lanzarote, Tazacorte, La Palma.

They also show several “Client Reviews”, this is just one of them, copied and pasted direct from their website:

John Burton

South Sheilds

Wednesday, 20 December, 2017

Thank You

Excellent job Claim Your Claim just received the £20,642 This happened within 60 days as promised from meeting consultant to money paid into our account.

Very well done and many thanks

Not bad is it, from seeing the consultant to getting back over £20,000 all in “60 DAYS”, miracle workers or what!

The only other problem is the website was only registered on 18 January 2018, yet all the client reviews are dated well before that date. So can you actually believe these reviews?

The owner of the website is also hidden by privacy protection, so this along with no company registration numbers, either Spanish, UK or Polish, leaves us in no doubt that this outfit are not what they say they are. A typical “SCAM!”

Now for this weeks Letter from America

A Bluegreen Timeshare Buyer Beware Warning

By Robin Law

May 4, 2018

I believe the timeshare industry has been riddled with deceit, commonplace since before Social Media, but Social Media now allows those who feel they have been defrauded to share experiences. We believe what happened to us, purchasing Bluegreen vacation points, meets the FBI definition of white collar crime, “deceit concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” We check all of the above.

We live and bought in Florida where regulators seem to be in partnership with the timeshare industry, dismissing timeshare buyers who feel they have been preyed upon with, “You should not have relied on verbal representations.” The NY, TN, MO, AZ, and CO Attorneys General have launched timeshare investigations that resulted in settlements.  

We will file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office, but according to Social Media reports, the Florida AG will respond in support of the timeshare developer. Below is the response from the Florida Timeshare Division to one timeshare owner.

Timeshare developers are required to provide full and meaningful disclosures to purchasers in the documents they are required to deliver to them including the public offering statement, sales contract, and all supplemental documents at the point of sale.  A document called “Acknowledgment of Representations” or “Purchaser’s Understanding” or a similar document provides the disclosures which each purchaser initials and signs at the time of purchase and it contains all the relevant information about the timeshare product.  A developer heavily relies on these documents to refute any claims by a purchaser regarding the alleged misrepresentations.  Therefore, in light of these written documents, it is very difficult to prove the allegations raised in the complaint.  

We have reached out to Inside Timeshare and will reach out to other Florida media outlets because the public needs to be warned, to not to believe anything a timeshare sales agent says. Florida probably sells more timeshare products than any other state, yet seems to offer the least enforcement. The last Florida investigation I could find was a Bluegreen investigation in 2012

http://www.myfloridalegal.com/EC_Edoc.nsf/0/1702C8F78E74E8B285257B0B005747D2/$file/Bluegreen+Corp.pdf

Before I share our Bluegreen experience, I found the following results for Bluegreen as reported by Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. Clearly, we are not alone in our grievance. Bluegreen seems to never admit a problem with sales agent deception, yet there are a flood of complaints to be found on the internet. In comparison, there are few Disney Vacation Club complaints.

Bluegreen Consumer Affairs Score 1 ½ stars out of 5

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/bluegreen.html

Better Business Bureau Rating C+

129 customer review

12 Positive

4 Neutral

113 Negative

807 Complaints

2.48 out of 5 Stars based on reviews

https://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/vacation-clubs/bluegreen-vacations-unlimited-in-boca-raton-fl-8195/reviews-and-complaints

4/18/18 a recent Better Business Bureau complaint

This company offers falsehoods and half-truths. We have sunk thousands of dollars into this company, and are repeatedly told that nothing is available at the places or times that we want to utilize our points at one of their resorts. However, if you use Travelocity.com, or other vacation booking websites, the places they claim are not available, are available. We have been told we could sell back our deed at any time. When we contacted the company to do just that, because we are tired for paying for something that is never available, we were told that is not an option. We have been told we can use our points to pay for maintenance fees. When we tried to do that, we were told there is a minimum point requirement to do that, and we did not have enough. We have had nothing but problems and lies from this company. They continue to try and solicit you to purchase more points, yet fail to meet simple requests. In over two years, and thousands of dollars invested, we have been able to use our points one time, and it wasn’t even where we wanted to. We had to settle for what was “available.” The room we had was in a horrible spot (at the back of the resort, with a view of other buildings and parking lots, and noise and filth from construction), and when I asked to move to a different room, was told no other rooms were available, even though I walked by rooms that stood vacant during our entire stay. Guess they had to keep those available to sell on Travelocity. Why make it available to an “owner?” I would never recommend this company to anyone. They care about nothing but lining their pockets. They have zero concern for the happiness of their customer, and are unwilling to make even the smallest accommodations.

Comments

Comment from the Business:

Dear Ms. *** Thank you for taking the time to share your experience! We sincerely apologize to hear of all the difficulties you have experienced in getting on vacation using your ownership, as well as for any misunderstanding surrounding the resale process or use of other benefits. We would be more than happy to help address any of these concerns! So that we can assist you, please send an email to ***@bluegreenvacations.com referencing your BBB review, and making sure to include the names, phone number, and email address associated with your Bluegreen account. We look forward to assisting you further! ~Bluegreen Customer Care

by Business on Apr. 19, 2018

Bluegreen has a long history of consumer complaints

On April 5, 2013, Bluegreen Corporation responded to BBB’s concerns. Bluegreen Corporation does not believe they fail to grant cancellations and refunds where they are factually and legally appropriate. Bluegreen states their company does provide timely cancellations and refunds to those consumers who properly rescind their timeshare purchases within the rescission period. Occasionally, a consumer does not follow the properly prescribed cancellation method contained in the timeshare sales documents. Nevertheless, once the appropriate business area within Bluegreen becomes aware of the request, even when not properly given by the consumer, diligent efforts are made to process the cancellation and refund as promptly as possible. With respect to the purchase of a vacation package, such purchases are accompanied by details of participation which advise a purchaser how to cancel their vacation package and the amount of time they have to do so. Also, in some instances, the consumer may have purchased the vacation package from a third party provider or vendor, and not directly from Bluegreen Corporation.

BBB reviewed this company’s complaints again on July 12, 2013, again on December 11, 2015, and again on August 18, 2016 and found that the pattern of complaints identified by BBB continues.

BBB reviewed this company’s complaints again on September 5, 2017 and found that the issues regarding the cancellation policy have decreased. However, the issues regarding high pressure sales practices, availability, and refund issues still exist.

BBB will continue to monitor the complaint activity of the company and update the Business Review as needed.

Our Bluegreen complaint

My husband and I work long hours in very high demanding jobs. We cannot discuss personal matters during work hours, which made it virtually impossible to talk to anyone at Bluegreen about our dispute. I work as a project assistant at a large engineering firm, and my husband works as a project manager for a general contracting firm in Florida. I cannot take personal calls during the day.   

Bluegreen customer care agent Kimberly arranged to speak with us after hours. The first telephone appointment was arranged, but Kimberly did not call or otherwise notify us that she was unable to make the scheduled call. We felt Bluegreen did not care and that we were not important, but we feel considerable attention is placed on selling points and collecting money not paid. Kimberly eventually contacted me again by email, but just advised that the actions of the Bluegreen agents we experienced are not the way Bluegreen sells. She refused to consider a refund or cancellation. I requested to speak to a manager and was put in touch with Autumn Fechner. All Ms. Fechner offered was a one-time day use pass for Tradewinds, which was in essence, no response.  

The deception we experienced:

We bought 10,000 every other year points at Tradewinds July 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg

Our purchase price:  $13,150

Loan 1: Amount Financed: $11,456 @ 16.99%

We were told Bluegreen would be purchasing the land next door by the end of 2013. They told us that if we purchased Bluegreen points we would have day use privileges because Bluegreen was buying Tradewinds. Since we live not far from Tradewinds, this sounded like the perfect vacation plan. We were told we could use bonus points to rent rooms for $69 or $79, not needing to use our Bluegreen points.  When I tried to book around August 2012 there was no availability. I was told I must have been mistaken about the day use privilege and bonus time privilege when I contacted customer services. There was no mistake. My husband was with me. We know what we were told.

We can’t even read the signature of the sales agent on our contract. The sales agent said they were not allowed to give out personal business cards, which is odd. A sales agent is not allowed to give out business cards?

Tradewinds gave me the name of Barret Shank, Director of Field Administration, Bluegreen Tradewinds Preview Center I. I contacted Mr. Shank via email.  Mr. Shank emailed in response saying Tradewinds is not available for bonus points, only for $99 for promotional purposes. He also said day use is only listed on the back of our charter for very specific places, but not Tradewinds.

We were baited and switched.  Nothing the sales agent advised was correct or ethical.  Timeshare sales deceit and bait and switch is supported by the response of Mr. Shank, and all others involved in the sale and customer care follow up, in response to our complaint. In my opinion, timeshare point sales are a minefield of deceit waiting to happen.

We bought a second time at Tradewinds November 29, 2013. It took a year to find availability for this stay. We were told we had to do an update because the program we purchased one year earlier in 2012 was worthless. We did not want additional points, but attended and purchased fearing what we had purchased was worthless.

We purchased 10,000 additional every other year points November 29, 2013

Purchase price: $10,950

Loan 2: Amount financed $9326.17

I kept saying through the entire sales pitch, we did not want two loans. The sales agent said to complete this sale and then we could combine both loans through Bluegreen.  She said we would just need to call the mortgage department after the sale was completed. When I called the Bluegreen mortgage division as advised, I was told I must have misunderstood because they could not combine the two sales.

I was advised to go to my bank or credit union because they would know how to refinance and that Bluegreen has dealt with multiple customers who refinance because Bluegreen is property. Bluegreen is a right to use product that has nothing to do with real estate. The company should not assume all Bluegreen buyers will be able to refinance. My bank said timeshare is not considered real estate and could not be refinanced. We were stuck with two loans at a high interest rate and what we were told was a real estate investment is not considered property. Bluegreen also told us we owned deeded property. Bluegreen points sold today are not deeded and a lawyer told us our Bluegreen deeds are worthless and not really deeds in the traditional sense.

Florida Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group settled a class action with Bluegreen and credit reporting agencies, forcing Bluegreen to not report the failure to pay a Bluegreen loan as a foreclosure. Foreclosures are now reported as settled for less.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151222006023/en/Finn-Law-Group-Settles-Consumer-Class-Action

The third time we purchased Bluegreen points was at The Fountains in Orlando August 24, 2014. We were again told it was mandatory to attend an update. It lasted 10 AM to 7 PM. We were told that because we were such loyal Bluegreen customers, they were giving us a special price on all additional Bluegreen investments. We were told Bluegreen points are an investment. They said we would own a coveted property in Dennisport, Massachusetts. After hours of repeated “no”, and multiple sales agents offering additional perks, we purchased once again. All the documents said Bluegreen, but when we received our first bill, it was with a completely different company and had a higher interest rate.   

We purchased 10,000 annual points upgrading to Silver

Purchase price $15,000

Amount financed $13,425

At every sales meeting, we were told it would be easy to refinance a Bluegreen loan and we were also told that we could sell points back to Bluegreen. Every sales person that we dealt with at Tradewinds and The Fountains in Orlando had an almost identical sales script. All sales presentations lasted five hours or longer, with increasingly aggressive sales agents and managers.

Bluegreen’s decision not to grant a refund or cancel our contracts was based on our using the timeshare that we paid for and because we have owned it for so long. We have paid $30,000 for Bluegreen points. Supervisor Autumn Felcher stated she could provide evidence of our deeds. On April 12, 2018 she produced three documents she stated were property deeds. After a review by a lawyer, I was advised that these were NOT real property deeds. I quote, “Resort Title clearly identifies the interest as beneficial interest in the trust. The Cibola deed transfers the interest via a deed but not to you, but to the trust. The Sounding deed does the same. I stand by my earlier opinion that you folks are not deed holders.” Thus, Bluegreen again made untrue statements. In my opinion Bluegreen’s intentions are not to support the customer, whether it is in a response to the BBB, an Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, or the FBI.

The following are self-help groups for timeshare members. This is our attempt to warn the public: Don’t believe anything a timeshare sales agent says!

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Robin and once again thanks to Irene Parker for her editing, again this is a story that Inside Timeshare is very used to hearing, it goes well with today’s lead about Claim Your Claim.

The timeshare industry is full of rogues, from the timeshare developers right down to the scam companies the industry is responsible for developing. The only way to stay safe and keep your money is to check and check and check again, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

So Friday is here, the weekend beckons, time to relax and enjoy the company of friends, have a good one and we will see you next week with more stories of “A Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

Friday’s Letter from America

This week Friday’s Letter from America tells the story of army veterans Gad & Noreen Liebmann, it begins with an open letter to the Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, then goes on to explain their experience. They are currently holding a protest outside Diamonds Daytona Beach Resort, the article was edited by Inside Timeshares Irene Parker.

First we have a quick look at Europe.

Yesterday Canarian Legal Alliance published in their news section a case study of a recent trial, nothing unusual there, except this had a rather different twist. This particular trial was dealt with at the pre-trial stage rather than the full trial, the venue was the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, the lawyer representing the clients was Judith Diaz Pascual of CLA.

Judith Diaz Pascual (ICALP No 4480)

The pre-trial is a formality where the defending party may argue why the case should not be accepted, it is also a point where the judge will ask if there is a possibility of a settlement out of court. Usually the judge will then decree that a full trial date be set, with the defendants demanding the appearance of the clients.

As there was no agreement that day Anfi, the defendants, asked for a full trial to take place with the clients in attendance, CLA lawyers argued that this was not necessary as the case and infringements of the timeshare laws was based on documentation, so there was no need for a trial or for the clients give testimony. The judge agreed, he stated that he would issue a resolution after the preliminary hearing, three days later the judgement was issued.

The judge concluded that due to the infringements which included, floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, the contract was declared null and void. Anfi were also ordered to repay over 49,000€ which included double the deposit paid, the court also awarded legal interest.

Apparently this is now becoming more common, it is not the first case to be dealt with at the preliminary stage, it will only be a matter of time before more judges decide that this is the best course. After all the cases are based on the contracts and documents, if the timeshare company has sold floating weeks or points, the contract is longer than 50 years and any payment taken within the cooling off period, these are breaches of the law, so why prolong the issue with a full trial?

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/case-study-anfi-speedy-resolution-no-need-trial/

Yesterday we again published information concerning TESS and David Cox, keeping a check on his website, he has still not published anything about any subject since his last defamatory article on 29 March. We just wonder if this could be a sign that TESS is going the same way as those companies highlighted in yesterday’s article?

Now for our Letter from America.

Gad and Noreen Liebmann, Army Veterans

An Open Letter to Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey

April 20, 2018

We are one of 29 Diamond Platinum Member Families Up-sold alleging we were defrauded

A Diamond Daytona sales agent’s response to Gad and Noreen:

While picketing yesterday one of the salesman came down to talk to us. He brought some water and wanted to “thank us” for picketing. He claimed that our presence increased their sales. He also told us that we could have more effect by working as greeters at Walmart and using the money earned to help pay our dues.

Inside Timeshare has received 375 Diamond Resorts complaints from our readers, Diamond members alleging they were sold or up-sold by fraud. Families are devastated. Platinum member #29 contacted us April 16, 2018, a disabled Vietnam veteran, age 71. He says they were told by a Florida Mystic Dunes sales agent if they purchased additional points it would take care of maintenance fees. Now they too are forced to foreclose or walk away from their points. We hope AARP takes note.

A Diamond Vice President’s response to Joshua Parker:

“We are not responsible for what our sales agents say”4/5/18

The Diamond CLARITY TM Promise:

Accountability, Transparency and RESPECT for the customer

A Quote from CEO Michael Flaskey:

Clarity seeks to build on Diamond’s already impressive standing with its members. Almost 70% of the company’s sales are to existing members seeking to increase their Diamond resorts vacation memberships,” said Mr. Flaskey.

Mr. Flaskey, We are one of 29 Platinum member families alleging we were upsold by fraud. We have been Diamond members for 20 years, but we made the mistake of believing Brad Leslie at Daytona Beach Regency. So did Sheilah and Thomas Brust. We did not know about Diamond’s official policy, “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.” What kind of accountability, transparency and RESPECT for your customer is that? There are over 1,200 members on our Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook, many alleging fraud.

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

Gad and Noreen Liebmann protesting outside Daytona Regency – Sheilah and Thomas wish they were here but Sheilah is too busy with tax season.   

Sheilah’s article on how to file FBI complaints:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

Josh Parker is an Iraqi veteran. Josh says he was told his points are an investment and would be easy to sell. Now, expecting twins, a high risk pregnancy, they have learned the truth, so will in all likelihood have to suffer through 180 days of endless collections calls. Josh is 90% disabled, a combat veteran. Josh’s YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Our Diamond Experience

By Gad and Noreen Liebmann

My wife Noreen and I have been protesting outside Daytona Regency for the last month. We are Platinum Diamond members. We own 96,000 Diamond points only because we bought an additional 25,000 points to take advantage of a program that did not exist. We are not confused. Sheilah and Thomas Brust are not confused. Sheilah has an accounting background. Sheilah Brust does not get numbers confused.

We had purchased eight Diamond contracts over 20 years and had been happy Diamond members until Daytona sales agent Brad Leslie sold us 25,000 points November 22, 2017, we allege by fraud.  Brad told us that if we purchased 25,000 additional points for $70,000 we would get additional benefits. He showed us how using these benefits, we might not have to pay more maintenance fees if we used the same amount of vacation time. What Brad Leslie neglected to tell us was that we were already eligible for these benefits. He knew this. The calculations shown to us were false. Sheilah has a copy of Brad’s “Pencil Pitch” promising her double points. He also claimed that we could recover the cost of the additional points after 10 years. This was also false. Brad made it sound like these were new benefits that could only be obtained by purchasing additional points. Brad said that we would be even on the $70,000 within ten years if we only booked through Value Getaways. When we returned home we learned booking vacations using Valued Getaway and Point Saver were already available to us.

We appealed to the local DRI marketing VP. He was unsympathetic. A call to Michael Flaskey, CEO, who leaves his card at every front desk, got a response from a lady who offered to allow us to give back some of the points we purchased in the past, lowering the dues but not eliminating the latest purchase.  In other words, give back points we already paid for, requiring us to pay the company $70,000 after being sold points we didn’t need because of a convoluted scam. We may be older, but we’re not stupid.

We feel we meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch”, in addition to Elder Abuse.

Many Diamond members feel there is no timeshare enforcement in Florida. The Arizona Attorney General opened an investigation after receiving hundreds of Diamond complaints, just in Arizona, accusing DRI of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. They did not turn Diamond members away because Diamond is not responsible for what Diamond sales agents say.”

Veteran Teresa Laird is planning to protest outside DRI Polo Towers. DRI sales agents tried to sell her dad, at age 83, in a wheelchair dozing off, a recipient of two Purple Hearts, $234,000 in additional DRI timeshare points.

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

There is little to no regulatory enforcement because the Attorneys General in Nevada and Florida dismiss complaints, also falling back on the oral representation clause, or in Nevada at the Nevada Real Estate Division, “You have no proof”, so there is nothing to stop timeshare fraud.

From the Florida Attorney General’s Timeshare Division DBPR

Timeshare developers are required to provide full and meaningful disclosures to purchasers in the documents they are required to deliver to them including the public offering statement, sales contract, and all supplemental documents at the point of sale.  A document called “Acknowledgment of Representations” or “Purchaser’s Understanding” or a similar document provides the disclosures which each purchaser initials and signs at the time of purchase and it contains all the relevant information about the timeshare product.  A developer heavily relies on these documents to refute any claims by a purchaser regarding the alleged misrepresentations.  Therefore, in light of these written documents, it is very difficult to prove the allegations raised in the complaint.  

We are veterans in our late 70’s and two of 40 active duty or veteran military and law enforcement timeshare members alleging we have been defrauded by timeshare sales agents. Several are in danger of losing their Security Clearance.

Whistleblowers of America, an organization headquartered in Washington DC, seeks justice for Active Duty military, veterans, and government workers. If families are made whole, we encourage a contribution to Whistleblowers.  https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

LICENSED timeshare resale brokers will not even accept a Diamond listing feeling it would be a waste of their time and your money, due to restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points LTRBA members feel are too restrictive. Sheilah and Josh contacted Florida LTRBA members. None would accept a Diamond listing. Scammers have no problem taking your upfront money.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

The Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, and Diamond’s Transition department send members on a wild goose chase to contact a real estate broker, but legitimate brokers won’t accept a Diamond listing, because they are honest.

A Diamond member talked to a Diamond Transition’s specialist:

I tried last night to speak with someone in Financial Services with no luck.  I tried again today as well but the phone just rings and rings. I did speak with Tiffany Davis in Transitions and she said our maintenance fees would have to be paid in order to do the Transitions program.   She then said that I didn’t have to do Transitions – if I wanted to gain anything from my Timeshare that I should speak to a real estate agent to get it sold.   I said I was unaware this could even be done. Tiffany said “Oh, absolutely, if you don’t want to just relinquish it, you can sell it”.

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

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

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

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

Section 5 of the FTC Code states: “Unfair and deceptive business practices are unlawful.”

http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2013/01/fraud-vs-lying-whats-the-legal-difference.html

A fraud is an intentionally false representation made with the intent to mislead the listener, and that the listener relied on “to her detriment.”

The first part means that fraud must involve an intentional lie. If you truly believe you’re telling the truth and end up being wrong, that doesn’t qualify.

That doesn’t excuse willful denial or ignorance of the truth. If you should have known the truth or could easily have discovered it before telling the lie, it could still be a problem.

The second part is about the liar’s intention. A lie that you don’t mean anyone to take seriously, such as a joke or hyperbole, wouldn’t constitute fraud.

When it comes to proving intent for fraud, courts often look at what the liar could gain if someone believes the lie. If the liar benefits from someone believing and acting on the lie, that tends to show intent.

The legal analysis will also rely on context. A lie while you’re trying to sell your house is more likely to result in a lawsuit than a lie told over drinks at a bar. Those are obvious examples, but there are many situations in between where the line isn’t so easy to see.

The third element is whether the lie actually caused harm.

If the listener believed the lie, acted as if it were true, and suffered some kind of injury because of that belief, then there may be some liability for fraud.

Injury can mean actual physical harm or financial loss. In general, emotional “pain” isn’t enough to build a case for fraud.

While fraud could potentially apply anywhere, it’s most commonly brought up in the area of contracts when one party lies about an important part of the agreement.

In general, anything other than a white lie (like how nice your spouse looks) should be avoided. Remember, a lie runs the risk of becoming fraud if you expect the listener to act on the lie. Keeping it honest isn’t just a good personal policy; it’s a sound legal strategy too.

For timeshare buyers, the customer is always wrong because they signed a contract. And no one cares. Inside Timeshare has heard from 131 Diamond members alleging fraud since January 1. The company does not respond to requests for comment.

Thank you Gad and Noreen, you have the support and thoughts of many timeshare owners not just in the US but also from across the great lake in Europe and beyond, also thanks to Irene once again for taking the time to edit these articles.

If you have any questions, comments or need to find information on any company mentioned here or that has contacted you then use our contacts page and we will point you in the right direction. Remember doing your homework saves you money!

Well the weekend is once again upon us and Inside Timeshare hopes that you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot is not from Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker, but has been contributed by Meryl Reyman another new contributor, today she highlights the problems in Nevada.

First we have a look at the timeshare world in Europe and the latest court cases.

Last week we published the news of the 100th Supreme Court ruling then the 102nd and 103rd, after publication we received the news of yet two more rulings from Spain’s highest court, bringing the total now to 105

The first is another ruling against Silverpoint in Tenerife, the main points are the illegal taking of deposits and the contract being over 50 years in duration, the sentence which can be seen in the PDF below runs to 15 pages and shows even more infractions of various laws not just timeshare law 42/98.

1st N4 Silverpoint data protected (tay)

The court declared these clients contract null and void, awarding over 34,000€ plus legal interest.

The second Supreme court ruling is yet another against Anfi, at the moment we do not have details on what the infractions were, but the court again declared the contract null and void with the return of over 78,000€ plus legal interest.

These rulings from the Supreme Court are the proof the timeshare companies are losing, despite what they and others may be telling the public.

Going back to the articles regarding the David Cox and TESS allegations against Inside Timeshare and Canarian Legal Alliance, the TESS website and Mr Cox have been very quiet. In fact nothing has been published since 22 March, well, we wonder if Mr Cox can’t think of what to write, after all his ramblings clearly show he is not sound of mind. We leave you the reader to decide on that one.

http://insidetimeshare.com/david-cox-tess-attacking-sundry/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tess-allegations-facts/

Now for our Tuesday Slot by Meryl.

Timeshare Companies, Preying on the Young, the Elderly and Military Personnel, are under your Noses Here in Nevada

section 5

By Meryl Reyman

A retired attorney and former senior executive of a large marketing/advertising agency located in New York City. I am now a resident of Henderson, NV.

A Nevada Timeshare “Buyer Beware” Media Campaign

April 17, 2018

During a recent stay in Las Vegas my husband and I attended a hard sell timeshare sales presentation. After 5+ hours of promises, and a 15 minute perfunctory signing of extensive opaque written documents, we went home with a contract only to discover that very little of what was said over those five hours was in the written documents. We successfully rescinded the contract. Since timeshare sales agents rely on the vacationer not taking the time to review documents, we were lucky that we lived in the area and had time to catch the concealment.  

The FBI defines fraud for profit as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, and bait and switch.” Oral misrepresentation fits the bill. And so does deceit and concealment if new purchasers cannot access the booking website until after the expiration of the rescission period. Many complainants tell us they can’t determine the value of their purchase until they’ve passed the time period to cancel.

Given the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract, the lack of a viable secondary market, and rising maintenance fees, consumers can find themselves stuck in a hamster wheel of “recycled inventory” with points foreclosed or taken back, only to be sold again to the next unsuspecting vacationer.

Of course there are many who use and enjoy their vacation points. I’m sure there are timeshare sales agents selling the product honestly, but the escalations in timeshare company default rates, lawsuits and the number of Attorneys General investigations (TN, MO, AZ, CO, NY, WI) indicate a serious problem. Are we in timeshare haven Nevada going to allow deceit to continue by dismissing families with, “you have no proof”?  

I hope not. If you are in agreement, we need your help.

We are launching this media campaign to alert and educate the timeshare consumer, because the Court of Public Opinion seems to be the only court open if you bought timeshare points in Nevada.  

After our experience I started digging. I learned that timeshare deceit has been ongoing since before Social Media. I have decided to use my skills to advocate for timeshare reform. This is not a one company problem.  In my opinion, and it is the opinion of 44 timeshare advocates from our Timeshare Advocacy Group™, timeshare, and especially the point-based timeshare system, has evolved to encourage and allow sleight of hand, predatory sales.

Timeshare Advocacy Group TAG has had a hard time keeping up with the flood of complaints. TAG has received 136 timeshare complaints just since January 1, 2018. Most of these complainants have reached out to the Nevada Attorney General and the Nevada Real Estate Division, where the timeshare companies and their agents are licensed to do business, to no avail.

Timeshare sales agents know they are protected by their corporate goliath. One vice president endorsed this by responding to one member, “Our Company is not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In actuality, there is proof, if the Nevada authorities would simply aggregate the complaints. They would then see the weight of allegations of deceitful sales practices that, because of their similarity, appear to be orchestrated from the top down.

Some of these predatory practices include:

  • Delaying delivery of important information so that the legal contract rescission period is undermined. Several complainants could not get onto the website until after close of escrow to determine the number of points actually needed to go to their desired destinations.  
  • Luring customers to “owner updates” and “new customer orientations” that are really hard upsell opportunities,
  • Instilling fear by falsely advising that current fees of existing owners will go up astronomically unless they purchase “new program” points,
  • Instilling fear by falsely advising that heirs of the elderly will be saddled with astronomic fees unless they purchase “new program” points,           
  • Holding onto customer ID and credit cards, and their children! One member reported hearing children screaming while customers sat through hours of hard sell,
  • Feeling pressured into high interest rate loans (12% to 18%) and higher interest rate credit cards.
  • Claiming that timeshare points will increase in value over time!! In fact, a class action lawsuit has been filed to fight this “investment” claim. For many timeshare points, there is little to no resale value.

We have a summary report of more than 50 families who have filed complaints against a Nevada sales center. This report is available upon request. Two of the complainants are:

  • Roy and Lillian Simmons, in fear of losing their home, up-sold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments, living on Roy’s letter carrier pension.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.b

  • Raymond Mori, recipient of two Purple Hearts, 23 years a Marine, at age 83, in a wheelchair, told to buy an additional $234,000 in additional timeshare points. Teresa is sure her parents would have signed if she had not been with them.

Do not believe anything a timeshare sales agent says in Nevada. If you do intend to do business with a timeshare sales agent, make sure they put promises in writing.  

For more information, please contact me at: [email protected] or Timeshare Advocacy Group: https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

Thank you to Meryl for her advocacy efforts. If you or someone you know needs help with a timeshare concern contact one of these self-help groups that Inside Timeshare feels is not industry influenced.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

advocate 1

Thank you Meryl for your contribution and also Irene for the editing, we also once again thank all the volunteers who give their time effortlessly to help other timeshare users in trouble.

In this Friday’s Letter From America we will be highlighting the story of Gad and Noreen Liebmann, who are currently staging a protest outside Diamonds Daytona Beach Resort. We are through Inside Timeshare readers and those on the various facebook pages receiving many messages of encouragement and support for both of you. We will obviously be keeping our readers posted as the story unfolds.

If you have any questions, comments about any article published, or need any help in identifying any company that has contacted you, use our contact page and ask Inside Timeshare. We are here to help and point you in the right direction.

stop press 1

News has just come in from the Bournemouth Daily Echo, the trial against Francis Madden, Claire Garland, Keith Furneval and Jean Furnaval, regarding a timeshare fraud which ran for several years has started.

Their company Central Marketing Ltd, defrauded thousands of pounds in selling bogus holiday clubs and other products. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks, for the full story see link below.

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/16164465.Four_face_trial_on_timeshare_fraud_charges/

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the Easter edition of Friday’s Letter from America, by Joshua Parker, Sheila Brust and Richard Sokolowski, edited by Irene Parker.

Just as we were getting this ready to publish, Josh has been informed by the Florida Timeshare Division, they will be initiating a new investigation into his complaint. Josh and Nicole’s first complaint that they were told their Diamond points are an investment and easily sold, had been closed. They are now expecting twins and cannot afford the timeshare, Josh is a combat veteran who has seen service in Iraq. So at least some good news before we start.

Normally we have a roundup of news from Europe, but that was published yesterday, so straight on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

Earth to ARDA Part II

Another Open Letter to ARDA CEO Howard Nusbaum

Robert Clements, Lobbyist and General Counsel

Peter Roth, ARDA media

By Joshua Parker, Sheilah Brust and Richard Sokolowski

March 30, 2018  

consumer1

From: American Resort Development Association’s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”  

Diamond Resort members Sheilah Brust, Joshua Parker, and Richard Sokolowski have learned there is no timeshare regulation and there is no timeshare enforcement for us. We have been filing complaints with every regulatory agency known to an American citizen and all we get is a passing of the buck to another department or agency. In addition, we have been given some ludicrous advice from regulators that are clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality.

Sadly, we agree with Eron and Irene. We think ARDA’s Code of Ethics is meaningless. Like Eron and Irene, we are professionals.

Sheilah Brust: Worked for the New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations

My experience speaking with an FBI agent and what I learned about the process    

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

Josh Parker: Army combat veteran, Sergeant

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Richard Sokolowski: Arizona Real Estate

Earth to ARDA by Eron Grant and Irene Parker – Part I

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-40/

Eron’s YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMk_45zRzk&feature=youtu.be

Sheilah Brust: So far the only light on the horizon is the FBI. Through Social Media members are talking to other members. No one doubts there are those who use and enjoy their Diamond points. I enjoyed my Diamond points as a Platinum member until we were pitched a program that does not exist. We weren’t confused. The numbers were easy to understand. Gad and Noreen Liebmann are enjoying their retirement by protesting outside Diamond’s Daytona Beach Regency Resort. We were both up-sold by the same Diamond sales agent, Brad Leslie, the same program that does not exist, and still Diamond will not listen.

Protest

According to Facebook postings, the FBI has been responsive and agrees our allegations constitute fraud – deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch. In our opinion, Diamond, in effect, endorses and approves of these tactics by maintaining the position the customer is always wrong. Hospitality agents from the Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department automatically respond, “Sorry you signed a contract” and the emailing of your initials on fine print rewards bad behavior with a commission check.  

Josh: I was advised by Hector Tapininge at the Florida Department of Business Practice and Regulation DBPR to call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Like Sheilah, I learned licensed timeshare resale agents won’t even accept a Diamond listing feeling the resale market for Diamond points is non-existent. I almost signed up with a scam until finding our Advocacy Facebook.

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

When I informed my reviewer that licensed resale brokers won’t accept a Diamond listing; he said he was aware of this. In other words, send the consumer on a wild goose chase that often leads Diamond members into the nets of scams.

How many timeshare buyers knew they were buying a lifelong timeshare product that could not be sold? As a veteran, I can tell you no service member would ever buy an unsellable asset. The Diamond contract states you can sell your points. Since you are dealing with a licensed real estate agent, it is logical to assume the timeshare can be sold, especially since we were told Diamond points are an investment.

Given so little enforcement and regulation, our mission is to reach the general public to make sure they know they are spending thousands of dollars, signing a perpetual contract, with rising maintenances fees and no secondary market.

Veterans, Active Duty military and law enforcement and government workers are encouraged to support Whistleblowers of America, a nonprofit in Washington DC that seeks justice.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Sheilah: I was contacted by Mr. Alan Parkinson, Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement, Division of Consumer Services.

Mr. Parkinson recommended I contact DBPR, the same Florida Department of Business Practices and Regulation Josh contacted. We saw how much good that did with the response Josh received. I will follow up and we will all continue to report on our progress or lack of. I too spoke with licensed resale brokers. I was told even timeshare companies that do allow a secondary market; the net to the consumer is often negative after commission. I was told I could list a deeded week I own, but it would end up costing me money to get rid of it. Consumers defrauded, are left with a perpetual contract, rising maintenance fees and no secondary market. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Richard Sokolowski: I tried to file a complaint against Diamond Resorts with the Nevada Attorney General’s office. They won’t do anything if I did not buy from a Nevada sales agent. I can’t believe a consumer complaint can’t be filed against a company headquartered in Nevada.

I was also told to contact an attorney. Diamond is the only major timeshare with a class action ban, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is known to be pro-industry. Diamond hires the arbitrator. If the arbitrator rules against the member, the member can be ordered to pay Diamond’s legal fees; and that amount can be higher than the disputed amount. Besides, Diamond has armies of lawyers and outside law firms. They can outspend the average citizen. I’ve talked to lawyers. Getting a lawyer will do nothing to stop predatory and criminal business practices.

Sheilah: According to Josh, this response from the Florida Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement is useless.

Ms. Brust,

By way of introduction, my name is Alan Parkinson and I am the Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement, Division of Consumer Services.  I have received your concerns and would like to take a minute to respond.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has a Timeshare and Condominium division that can likely address many of your concerns regarding the sales practices and issues you have with Diamond Resorts.  If your issue is with the purchase and contract for the timeshare, they would be the appropriate agency to speak with. You can contact them through the link below:

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/  

 

If your issue is outside of those parameters then you may consider filing a complaint with us so that we can reach out to them and asked that they address your concerns.

www.floridaconsumerhelp.com  

If you any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

Alan Parkinson

Comment from Irene

The Florida timeshare division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014, in contrast with the Arizona Attorney General’s office that opened an investigation after receiving 400 DRI complaints and, according to a source, received 500 additional complaints after the press release. The AZ AG has issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, accusing the company of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. Diamond did not admit wrongdoing.

From Eron’s March 9 article:

Inside Timeshare will be following Platinum Diamond members Roy and Lillian Simmons as they make their way through Vacation Ownership’s highly regulated industry. Mr. and Mrs. Simmons are worried about losing their home, up-sold at age 69 and 70 to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. They live on Mr. Simmons letter carrier pension.   

Roy and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori a recipient of two Purple Hearts, remains devastated. Based on the response daughter Teresa Laird reported to us from a hospitality agent working for Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department, the company doesn’t care if sales agents have allegedly ruined their lives. “Sorry, you signed a contract” after being sold 17,000 MORE points over the phone by a Las Vegas company representative after daughter Teresa called to explain the Sampler or trial product should be cancelled. In the middle of her archeology thesis, she is making signs to protest outside Diamond’s Polo Towers.  

In response to a draft sent for comment, Josh received this response from DBPR:

Josh’s responses to Ahmed Y. Kassoo  are in bold

Thank you for contacting the division regarding your concerns. Please note that the division is not authorized to comment on or give its opinion of or approve any articles written by any individual which he or she intends to publish in any form including at various websites or in other publications.

I understand.

Since the division does not regulate the operations of real estate brokers, we are not aware of their criteria with regards to offering real estate listing and marketing services.  As a courtesy and for information purposes only, we provide the web site information of licensed real estate brokers (LTRBA) who specialize in selling timeshare interests and vacation club membership in Florida.  We neither recommend nor endorse a particular broker.

I understand, but why is nothing done about Diamond sales agents allegedly selling vacation points as an investment, yet the points are worthless the moment the contract is signed, should the buyer need to sell. LTRBA members will accept a listing for any major timeshare EXCEPT Diamond Resort, so not only is there no resale value when they are selling the points as an investment, they are the only major timeshare company that can’t be listed with them. Our Diamond Advocacy Facebook of over 1,100 members is flooded with similar complaints, the BBB has over 1,000 complaints and the AZ AG received over 900 complaints, yet the Florida AG timeshare division sends you to LTRBA? Can you see how frustrating this is? Not only is there no regulation or enforcement, Diamond victims are sent on a wild goose chase.     

Please note that it is always safe to employ a licensed real estate broker who are prohibited from collecting advance fee for listing the timeshare for rent or sale, except when permitted by law, and who are strictly regulated by the state.

What does this have to do with Diamond members if the LTRBA members won’t list their points? They feel Diamond has restricted the use of points purchased on the secondary market to the point it does not exist; it’s a hamster wheel 1. Lie to sell 2. Force foreclosure (I know of over 30 active duty and retired military and law enforcement alleging they were defrauded by Diamond, Bluegreen and Vacation Village, seven are concerned they are going to lose their Security Clearance, one lost his air unit command) 3. Take back the points 4. Resell to the next victim. With so little enforcement or regulation, there is nothing to stop timeshare sales agents from using and abusing the oral representation clause.    

If they cannot help the owners, they will let them know upfront and will not waste their time and money to advertise their properties which they know are not marketable. They will not give a false hope unless they are sure they can sell the timeshare.  Despite your statement that “resale market is nonexistent”, please note that timeshare interests do sell in the secondary market, however, buyers are selective and only buy those timeshares which they consider to be in high demand at choice locations. Therefore, it is not true that the timeshare resale market is non-existent.  If it was, these brokers won’t be able to survive.

One of them told Shielah they survive because they get paid a commission even when the seller ends up with a net loss. We don’t hold that against them, but that’s how they survive.  

An owner is free to select any entity to market his/her timeshare interest or club membership.  However, based on the history of complaints we have received, we have learned that many owners have been burned by the individual and entities who take their money and run without providing the promised services based on false and misleading claims.

Exactly, I rest my case. The industry is the cause of the scams because desperate consumers who feel, know, they were defrauded, are easy prey for professional liars.  

I hope this information was helpful

No, I’m sorry. It was of no help. It is my opinion the reason there is so little enforcement and regulation is because Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is influenced by the timeshare PAC ARDA. I will be researching through FOIA how much money she has received in campaign contributions and other means.    

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

If you have any other question or concern, feel free to contact us at your convenience. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to address your concerns.

Thank you. I would like to speak with you. My wife and I have been defrauded. I am a combat veteran, 90% disabled. My wife is pregnant with twins. We bought this because we were told it was an investment and that the points could be easily sold. I know many other members who would appreciate your help, like Eron, Sheila Richard and Gad mentioned in the article.

How many consumers need to contact DBPR to convince DBPR some timeshare sales agents in Florida are engaging in criminal practices?  Irene said Bluegreen has as many complaints as Diamond, but they have their own Advocacy Facebook.

Josh Parker

If you are having a timeshare nightmare, contact our Facebook or one of the non-industry influenced, self-help Facebooks and website listed below.

star

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you to all our contributors and we hope we see more positive results in the weeks ahead. If you would like to share your story with others, contact Inside Timeshare.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter and don’t eat all the eggs in one go!

easter egg

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with our very own Irene Parker, this week Irene explains the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook and what it stands for. Since its inception it has been growing its membership base on a daily basis, it is also becoming an influential force in US timeshare. But first a quick look at some news in Europe.

The UK news has been dominated recently by the death of a former Russian double agent and links to the murder of another Russian Businessman, but what has this to do with timeshare I hear you ask?

Well, according to the Daily Express and a story they published on Friday 23 March, police are also re-examining the murder of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, who many of you will remember from the Brinks Mat bullion robbery, but most of all for his timeshare empire in Tenerife.

John Palmer was found dead at his Essex home in June 2015, but it was not until around a week later they discovered he had been shot. According to the Express police are looking into his international associates, especially his connection with money laundering for a former associate of the Russian President. So the story of John Palmer continues, see link below for the Express story.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/936107/Russians-kill-John-Palmer-British-gangster-linked-Boris-Berezovsky-death-re-examined#

Once again Inside Timeshare warns readers of the fake law firms and claims companies that keep springing up. As always the call tells the owner their timeshare resort / company has been taken to court or are about to be taken to court, that there is a significant amount of money being held and just waiting to be paid out to them.

The next step is to have this money released, there is usually a tax that has to be paid to the court, or even that you need to get a Spanish NIE number, which they can get for you, obviously for a fee. Most of the time the money has to be paid by bank transfer to an account of a named individual. Don’t pay it!

If you are paying “tax” or costs for a service, you would not be paying into the account of a named person, would it not be the tax office, court or a named company?

Remember, once you have paid by bank transfer, the money will have disappeared and you will never get it back. Now for this weeks article from Irene.

What is the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook About?

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/

By Irene Parker

March 27, 2018

A Comment on gun violence in America

There were a lot of voices being heard throughout America this past weekend, teens voicing their feelings about gun violence. Whether you are for or against their position, one can’t help but admire their courage, determination and persistence.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/march-for-our-lives-huge-crowds-gather-for-rally-against-gun-violence-in-nations-capital/2018/03/24/4121b100-2f7d-11e8-b0b0-f706877db618_story.html?utm_term=.6143e61d44d4

You can succumb to being a victim or you can use your experience to foster a greater good. Charles Thomas and I have listened to 366 US timeshare members express their anger since we began counting late 2016. We have received 101 US Diamond member complaints since January 1. Many of the families are outraged alleging they were sold by sales agents employing deceitful bait and switch tactics. Many members have been helped, but only after endless rebuttals, regulatory and law enforcement filings, and media outreach. Still, any timeshare company can just say no, knowing there is little timeshare regulation or enforcement.    

Inside Timeshare supports families through the 180 day foreclosure process. The vast majority of those going through this painful process are responsible citizens who have rarely been late paying a bill. The timeshare contract is perpetual, there is virtually no secondary market. There are DRI Facebooks that have some exchange of Diamond points from member to member. Families in foreclosure:

Deneice Vargas: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-21/

Amanda and George Jones: http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Scotty Black: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-36/

Greg Jennings: http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-15/

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.be

Ramond Mori: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

Josh Parker: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

There are several others facing foreclosure who have not published an article. Three of the above are concerned about losing their Military/Law Enforcement Security Clearance. Four are disabled veterans, two 90% to 100% disabled.

Diamond Resorts has been responding to member complaints. About 100 of the 345 DRI complaints have been resolved through relinquishment, loan cancellation, refund or foreclosure. http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-37/

One advocacy silver lining is that members foreclosed do not have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Like America’s teens raising their voices demanding change, foreclosed members can remain outfront and vocal advocates.

What the Diamond Resort Owners Advocacy Facebook is not:

The Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook is not a complaint site. If members join only to express displeasure, they are better served by posting on Trustpilot or Tripadvisor. While venting may make a person feel better, ranting on a complaint site will do nothing to change what we feel are predatory and criminal business practices, as defined by the FBI. Sheilah Brust wrote this article about her experience reporting her complaint to the FBI. Sheilah can now advise others. Sheila has not signed a non-disclosure agreement. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

There has been no response from ARDA challenging their Code of Ethics. Timeshare members need to research what the “Voluntary ARDA ROC “donation” is doing on their maintenance fee invoice.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group was launched by a small group of advocates that has grown to a solid group of 44 advocates concerned about the volume of timeshare complaints found on the internet directed against Wyndham, Bluegreen, Diamond Resorts, Vacation Village and a few others. The only timeshare that seems to have almost no complaints is Disney Vacation Club. TAG feels timeshare members should have a safe place to get straight answers about their timeshare concerns and be provided with assistance when regulatory and law enforcement fillings are called for.  

Book worm

We hope lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so  prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

Our Advocates are here for support. The only reasons for removing a member from our Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook are:

  1. A member will be removed if they are insulting or disrespectful to another member.
  2. If a transfer, listing agent, or “get you out of your timeshare guaranteed” company solicits a member, they will be immediately removed. Karen Krokosh wrote this article about her experience with Sell My Timeshare Now and is now researching member complaints of this nature. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

Members need to be aware that there have been reports of timeshare members being charged thousands of dollars for a guaranteed exit, only to learn the exit company considers foreclosure a guarantee. No one should sign up with anyone demanding upfront money, even an attorney, without checking with us because we have learned there are some lawyers with questionable business practices.

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

We support our members from their first Facebook post through resolution. This is our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

Inside Timeshare is part and parcel of the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook. Timeshare Advocacy Group™  was formed hoping timeshare members will look beyond just their own timeshare company concerns. We feel there are some deceitful and predatory timeshare business practices so ingrained; they are endorsed and encouraged from the top levels of the management down to the person who responds with, “Sorry you signed a contract.” Checking with the FBI we have learned many of the complaints reported to Inside Timeshare meet the FBI’s definition of White Collar Crime – deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. See Sheilah’s article for more information about the FBI.

Other self-help Timeshare Support Groups, in our opinion, not industry influenced,

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

We don’t mind if industry insiders or Diamond employees join our Facebook as long as they are respectful. In fact, we encourage this hoping they will confront the serious problems we have uncovered. It would be great if we could all just get along. I have always said, “Half a problem goes away when confronted.”

happy kids

Thank you Irene and also a big thank you to all the volunteers who give up their time to help others, between us we are changing the face of timeshare.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other article published, or just need information about any company that has contacted you or you are thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Once again welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker interviews yet another military veteran family about their experience with Diamond. Joshua and Nichole Parker are just another couple in a long line that have reached out to Inside Timeshare in the past few months, we do not expect them to be the last.

First we have a quick look at Europe, we begin with a warning about a company cold calling Diamond owners in the UK.

cold call

One of our regular readers who is a member of one of the Diamond facebook pages, received a call from a company claiming to be called Scottish Heritage. It seems that the caller knew our reader is a member with Diamond Resorts, the offer was for a stay at a choice of hotels in Scotland for 5 nights for the knockdown price of £99.

This sounds like the old “flybuy” offers that we have warned about in the past, cheap stays along with the obligation to attend a presentation usually to purchase either a timeshare or holiday club package.

When we searched for any company called Scottish heritage we drew a blank other than the official Scottish organisations, which we very much doubt would be making these type of calls.

The number used for the call is:

01244470152

Which is a Chester number, when we did a check on this number it did show some rather interesting results, on Who Called Me,

https://who-called.co.uk/Number/01244470152

there were many entries about this number, including the name Scottish Heritage. It also belongs to a website called

http://loyaltyweeks.com/

In their About section they go on to say:

“As a guest of Loyalty Breaks, you would receive heavily discounted accommodation in a selection of leading hotels and resorts around the world that would otherwise cost a considerable amount of money.  All that is required from the guest is that during their stay, they take a morning or afternoon of their time to learn about the benefits of the resort in a relaxed environment, and donate valuable feedback to improve customer care and satisfaction.

The developers will heavily subsidies the accommodation for up to 7 nights, with the intention on enlightening their visitors on the benefits and perks of their exclusive residences in some of the most sought after destinations around the world.”

Which does confirm what we expected, discounted breaks with a presentation. Unfortunately we can find no company registration for either Loyalty Weeks or Loyalty Breaks, and the website does not give a name of who is behind it, although it was only registered on 29 July 2017, so it is only around 8 months old.

The question now is who is behind it and how did they get the information, especially as they knew they were Diamond owners. Could it be that some unscrupulous sales staff who knew that they were going to be laid off, got hold of the members data either selling it on or starting their own little enterprise?

It has also been a busy week with sentences from the Supreme Court in Madrid being issued against Silverpoint, Palm Oasis and Puerto Calma, a good week for the lawyers and their clients.

Now on with this weeks Letter.

A Veteran’s Family Bought Diamond Points

Dismissed by Diamond Hospitality Consumer Advocates because,

“You signed a contract”  

An Interview with Joshua and Nichole Parker

vets

By Irene Parker

March 16, 2018

Joshua “Josh” and Nichole Parker attended a timeshare sales presentation that lasted from 8AM in the morning until 8PM at night at Diamond Resorts Mystic Dunes resort in Orlando on November 8, 2017 after attending a Diamond’s Event of a Lifetime. “Why didn’t you just leave?” the critics ask. Joshua explains why on his YouTube. They purchased 4,000 Diamond timeshare points. Joshua and Nichole say they were told their points would go up in value. Now, expecting twins, they do not have enough points for a family of five to vacation and have learned, not only did their timeshare points not increase in value – there is virtually no secondary market for Diamond timeshare points. Josh’s YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Josh suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Josh is the second 90% disabled, PTSD diagnosed, Iraqi veteran Inside Timeshare has assisted this year. The other veteran and his wife had been subjected to a five hour predatory and fraudulent timeshare hard sell. They recorded an hour of their ordeal which has been turned over to law enforcement. After listening to the recording, I can firmly say there was no alleged about it. Their timeshare dispute was quickly resolved after a copy of their YouTube interview was sent to the timeshare company. Others who allege fraud, but did not record their alleged fraudulent timeshare sale, face an uphill battle of repeated denials and dismissals. Timeshare companies often respond, “You signed a contract.”

The FBI disagrees with this reasoning, and has advised timeshare members to file complaints with the FBI at IC3.gov and orally through the FBI field office nearest to where the timeshare contract was signed, if their allegations meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” The FBI agent Josh spoke with advised Josh to also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (option other – timeshare sales).

Post-traumatic stress disorder

The tragic events that took place at the Veteran Home in Yountville, California, Friday, March 9, a formerly safe place for Veterans suffering from the effects of PTSD, reminds us that the effects of war or a traumatic event can live long after the event or the battlefield. It’s not an easy topic, but one timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents should be aware of, if they care.

My interview with Josh and Nichole

Irene: Josh, tell us about your military service.

Josh: I joined the army in 2005, partly for the health benefits, and because joining the army was what I always wanted to do. I became a military police officer. In Iraqi I was part of a Police Transition Team. We taught Iraqi police how to be police because they lacked training. I was part of Operation Iron Maiden in 2006 when an attempt was made to catch Ayman-al-Zawahiri. We knew there were weapon caches and hostiles. We performed an outer cordon searching for hostiles. We were out there three days. I hurt my lower back from a fall while on this mission. The weight I was carrying made the injury worse. It is considered a combat injury because it was in reaction to incoming rounds.

Irene: You suffer from PTSD. Explain how that has affected your life.

Josh: The experience of combat changes the way you think from that time forward. During those three days, at one point I came to the realization that I was going to die. That moment changed me for the rest of my life. I have a high priority for security. Most people get up in the morning and think about what they are going to do that day, food, work, entertainment and security. For me it is food and security. The first thing I ask myself when I wake up in the morning is if what I am going to do today is safe.        

Irene: I too suffer from PTSD, so interested in the subject from a personal perspective. I followed the role model of John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted channeling my anger and grief into advocacy. Mr. Walsh lost his six year old son Adam, a victim of a homicide. I revisited the topic again and found this symptom:

You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal.

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

It’s hard enough for anyone to endure an eight hour hard sell timeshare presentation, but PTSD, combined with a high risk pregnancy carrying twins, obviously made your experience even worse.

Josh: Nichole has had several miscarriages, and has gone through eight years of fertility treatments. So expecting twins, we are in a constant state of worry. In addition, they forced us to leave our crying 4 year old in the kids club because they could not proceed with the sales presentation with her there. Our daughter was born with a genetic disorder called Klippel-Feil syndrome, a bone disorder that also affects her heart and kidneys. She also has many food allergies. It was unfair to leave a child in the play area for hours, told by our sales person Tiffany that she would only be there two hours.

Nichole: They don’t really feed the children. They only offer snacks and our daughter Vanessa could not have some of what they offered. Had I not have almost passed out from low blood sugar due to my pregnancy, they would of expected us to leave our child there thru lunchtime.

Josh: We didn’t leave because they would not return our credit card and driver’s license, even to leave for lunch, telling us to just drive to the restaurant on property. The reality is, you ask and they say yes, I’m going to get it from so and so. Then 10 minutes later someone else arrives and they start over saying, “I let him know and he’s going to bring them.”  There is a constant push off to delay getting the IDs and credit card. It’s relentless.

It was like being tortured, being held hostage, and they did the same to our child. When the sales people were talking, they refused to let us check on our kids saying, “If there was a problem someone would come get you.  Meanwhile, you hear kids screaming.”

Irene: As mentioned earlier, those with PTSD are jittery and on the lookout for danger. You are prone to be angry or irritable.

Josh: Yes, and around 5 PM I went out to the car to get something. I have handicap parking, but the handicap parking had been blocked off with cones. I rolled my ankle stepping between the cone and the cement block.

Nichole: This was why we did not get the papers signed until 8 PM. We reported the incident at the front desk. They called security to file an incident report. While waiting for security, Robert, the sales manager and Omar, the sales center manager, continued to pressure us to buy points even though Josh was in visible pain, with ice on his ankle.

Josh: We kept saying we could not afford the points, even though I was visually in pain. My ankle was starting to swell right before we signed the documents. We were not even on the sales floor. They kept saying, sign this and this, including the Barclaycard that we did not want in the first place.

Irene: So, after all this, why did you buy?

Nichole: The same children’s hospital I know that my four year daughter old goes to, to see maternal fetal medicine they said we could stay by. So they really got us when they were saying we would be able to be closer to the hospital. But the fact remains, at the time of purchase, even if this is an option, we can’t afford this timeshare and were told it was an investment and could be easily sold.

Irene: When are the Parker twins due?

Nichole: July 18 is 40 weeks but twins are full term at 37 so June.

Irene: I love babies! We would love to visit after they arrive.

Irene: Back to timeshare – Some have asked why you did not just call 911 when they refused to return your driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Josh: The biggest thing was to get it over with. We knew we could not afford it but they kept saying it was an investment and it was good for our children, and they said if we purchase it now we would be assured our children could always take vacations. As an investment, we thought we would not lose money on it. I didn’t count, but I am sure I said 100 times, “I can’t afford this.”

The next up-sell attempt at Polo Towers:

Josh: Next, we were told we had to attend a new member orientation. We had told our sales agent Robert we did not want to attend any more presentations. Robert said we would not have to. When we went to Diamond Polo Towers November 2017 we were told we had to attend a new member orientation to learn how to use the tablet and how to navigate the Diamond website. My wife lost her mind. They called Robert and their demand to attend was dropped.

Irene: When did you realize the hopelessness of your situation?

Josh: We started to question the legitimacy of what we had experienced December 2017.  We know 4,000 points are not enough points to travel with a family of five. We will be struggling with the double expense of two newborns instead of one. The answer for us is not to buy more timeshare points, only to get deeper in debt.  We would have never bought Diamond points if we thought we were obligated to pay maintenance fees for the rest of our lives for a timeshare that could not be sold.   

Nichole: We are stressed beyond endurance over what Diamond Resorts has done to our family.

Josh: We have filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There has been no response. We have filed a complaint with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. We did receive an email today with further instructions.

We filed a Better Business Bureau complaint. There has been no response. We will file a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General. We intended to file a complaint against our sales agent Tiffany with the Florida Real Estate Division, but when I called Diamond, they would not tell me her last name. We do have the names of Robert Gonzales, Director of Sales and Mario Hernandez, the highest person there.

I have joined a group of 34 members of active duty and retired military/law enforcement claiming they were defrauded by timeshare sales agents, seemingly targeting the military. We have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, an organization that seeks justice for military and government workers, active duty and retired.  

We contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare because we were going to sign up with Primo Management Group and had a conference call scheduled for February 15. Below are the documents PMG provided, including a Diamond release from Eric and Angela Wood, as a testimonial and an illustration of our Diamond liability projected out 40 years.  Irene told us to cancel the conference call and not sign up with PMG. She advised us to contact Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy. She said she felt confident DRI Advocates would be able to help us. She explained the Diamond program CLARITY about transparency, accountability and respect for the customer.

The history of our vacation nightmare:

Sampler purchased 20,000 points for $4000 Parkway International Celebration Area 7/2017

4000 annual points were purchased at Mystic Dune November 8, 2017 Event of a Lifetime. We were told our Sampler points and money paid would be credited towards the purchase of annual points but it wasn’t.

Purchase price $15,133

Amount financed $12,636

Sales agent Tiffany

Robert Gonzales, Director of Sales

Mario Hernandez was the highest person there

Javier was QA

We were told the new thing is that all your points are worth money.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it because the points are worth money. We were told points can be converted to dollars to pay maintenance fees because fees will go up 10% every year and the inflation on the fees won’t match our fixed income.

The Timeshare Exit Company we contacted to get us out of this nightmare:

PMG (Primo Management Group, Inc.) quoted us $3,000 to $6,000 to get us out of our Diamond timeshare.

Thank you for considering PMG, the country’s most respected timeshare relief agency, for assistance in completely cancelling your timeshare obligation.

We have a 100% success rate.  Your deed cancellation is backed by our 100% guarantee and we guarantee to protect your credit throughout the entire process.

Our program includes:

  • Timeshare Contract Cancellation
  • Immediate Cancellation of Payments
  • Cancellation of Maintenance Fees
  • Mortgage Balance Cancellation
  • Protection from Harassment
  • Credit Protection/Correction

 Subject: *PMG Consultation Email

Your Financial Obligation to Diamond

ILLUSTRATION WAS PROVIDED SHOWING A 40 YEAR PROJECTION OF $95,710 BEGINNING WITH OUR $243 MORTGAGE PAYMENT

Please feel free to ask your Consumer Advocate any and all questions you may have.  Best wishes and again, thank you.

Grand Lodge_Michael & Barbara Wagner.pdf

Holiday Inn-Orange Lk_Vanessa Pena

Summer Bay_Shovan Anwar & Aniva Zaman.pdf

Wyndham_Tiwuanda Howard.pdf

Diamond_Eric & Angela Wood.pdf

Best Regards,

Ken Crawford

Sr. Consumer Advocate

Irene: What a mess! Will timeshare companies that do not allow a secondary market ever realize they are causing the problem? Never pay anyone or any company money upfront to get you out of your timeshare. If you are contacted by such a company contact one of the groups listed here.  

These are US self-help, member supported groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

thanks vets

Thank you Joshua and Nichole for sharing your story, also thanks to Irene all the volunteers for all the hard work they are doing to help those such as the veterans and the elderly.

If you have any questions, comments or need advice on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare from our contact page, please state if you are US or European based.

That’s it for this week, it’s Friday and the weekend is calling, have a good one and join us again on Monday.
friday dog