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Federal Trade Commission

The Tuesday Slot

My Experience with a Timeshare and a Timeshare Exit Company

Another Veteran Foreclosed

September 11, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By George Yamada

September 11, 2018

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

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

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

Summary of my purchases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transparency

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the link below for the article published in OpEdNews:

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

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we have another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, involving another serving member of the armed forces, USAF First Sergeant John Kim, on his experience with Bluegreen. John is not the first serving member or veteran of the armed force or law enforcement that have been in contact with Inside Timeshare, all their stories are the same, with some likely to lose their security clearance and therefore their jobs. This “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” must end, not just for these people but also the elderly we have highlighted, but all consumers. The industry needs to get their act together and reign in the lies and untruths of their sales agents.

At the end of today’s article is a report and a link to the breaking news that Bluegreen have had their stock downgraded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Apparently this is due to underperforming in the sales sector, well, what do they expect, the truth is getting out, new purchasers have heard the horror stories and are voting with their wallets. Yes folks, the timeshare industry really does need a severe shakeup or it will collapse!

We now issue another warning on a dubious company that has just come to light, cold calling timeshare owners: General Legal Associates, with the website https://generallegalassociates.com

Their contact details are:

Telephone:01274 792844

Address: 82 Horton Grange Road, Bradford, York’s, BD7 3AQ

According to Google streetview this address is a pharmacy

https://www.google.es/maps/place/82-84+Horton+Grange+Rd,+Bradford+BD7+3AQ,+UK/@53.7881897,-1.7782203,3a,16.9y,340.7h,87.81t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shM_j9C-Rff7Vf9ZsHRKImQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x487be6c777f11505:0xf23dda2c0d4c8979!8m2!3d53.7881719!4d-1.7776776

Email on the web: [email protected]

The website shows very little information regarding timeshare, the about section is to say the least, looking a little far fetched. It was registered only in September 2017, yet some of the testimonials go back to February 2017?

According to the callers named as Lisa Reid and Emma Newton, a court case has already taken place against a bogus company the timeshare owner has had business with in the past (scammed). The court has awarded them a huge amount in compensation, even though the owner did not even know they had a case in court. As usual, to release this money a huge percentage needs to be paid by bank transfer to APS Bank in the name of Universal Consulting.

This is obviously another “scam”, there is no company with this name registered at company house, there are no court cases where consumers haven’t instigated the proceedings and the courts do not operate in the way this company suggests. So beware these type of calls, if in doubt contact Inside Timeshare for further information on any company that makes contact with such claims.

This company was first highlighted by Mindtimeshare.

Now on with our main article.

Why Military Lending Oversight should not be Weakened and why Timeshare Lending Practices can Pose a National Security Risk

Air Force First Sergeant John Kim’s Bluegreen Experience

August 21, 2018

The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, according to internal agency documents.

New York Times, August 10, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/us/politics/mulvaney-military-lending.html

The already weakened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken the next step towards becoming the Corporate Financial Protection Bureau. Volunteer staffed Timeshare Advocacy Group™ has heard from 535 timeshare members, of which 70 are veterans or active duty members of the military or law enforcement alleging timeshare fraud.

If an active duty member of the military falls for a deceptive timeshare sales presentation, the after effects can include the loss of his or her security clearance. This is due to a foreclosure being reported on their credit report. Sometimes this can also lead to the loss of a career. One Marine lost his security clearance and his air unit command due to a timeshare foreclosure. It is not uncommon for a timeshare foreclosure to involve amounts of $100,000 or more.   

Air Force First Sergeant John Kim made this YouTube hoping to warn others not to fall victim to high pressure same day timeshare sales and to encourage readers to become involved with others who face foreclosure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izC_RzfD788

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2017 fraud report, these figures include all travel scams,

Travel, vacation and timeshare fraud reported losing the highest individual loss amount and the report also stated the median fraud loss reported by members of the military were more than 44 percent higher than the general population, a median loss of $619 compared to $429 for the general population.

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/03/ftc-releases-annual-summary-complaints-reported-consumers

Unfair and deceptive trade practices are defined by Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commissions Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Predatory and deceptive timeshare sales practices include:

  • High-pressure and aggressive sales,
  • Unaffordable loans, after being told it would be easy to refinance,
  • Unauthorized opening of credit card accounts,
  • Unauthorized credit card charges,
  • A perpetual contract,
  • Little or no secondary market

If a timeshare is sold properly, it is of great benefit to a family, but if the timeshare is grossly oversold in terms of being an investment, or being easy to sell, the decision to buy can spell financial disaster. Accompanied by annual maintenance fees and the lack of a secondary market, the buyer can find himself stuck with a timeshare they don’t want or can’t afford, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life. No one can guarantee a release from a timeshare contract. The foreclosure process is demoralizing and stressful. Scams abound, so do not pay anyone upfront money to get out of a timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below.     

Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his wife Glory, of South Carolina describe their battle with Bluegreen Vacations. John has joined TAG as a volunteer to advocate on behalf of other active duty service members, and to help guide disgruntled buyers through the regulatory filing process.   

“My wife Glory and I realized our mistake when we filed our 2017 taxes. We purchased about $60,000 worth of Bluegreen vacation points financed at 16.99%.  The first purchase was in April 2017 at The Fountains in Orlando, and the second purchase June, 2017. We had been told the June meeting would be an orientation meeting, but it was just an attempt to sell us more points.  We were told at both meetings we could go to our bank and refinance as you would any mortgage. We have learned banks don’t finance timeshares,” explained John. In addition, John reports being told,

  1. Bluegreen points are an investment, like a mortgage. It was emphasized that we were purchasing deeded property (which it is not), so an investment. We have learned Bluegreen vacation points are a right-to-use product, like joining a fitness club. Managers assured us we were making a sound “financial investment” and in years to come, we would be able to sell our portion of Bluegreen for a profit because we would have a deed to Bluegreen Vacations properties.
  2. We could deduct the interest from the loan on our taxes, as you could with any mortgage. This was not true.

Bluegreen previously reported nonpayment of timeshare loans as foreclosures, but no longer does so. Bluegreen and credit reporting agencies Equifax and Experian entered into a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by the Finn Law Group on behalf of Bluegreen owners that resulted in 11,000 former Bluegreen members’ negative accounts being deleted from their credit reports.  Bluegreen, Equifax, and Experian also agreed not to report foreclosures in the future for Bluegreen members. Some timeshare companies do report a loan default as a foreclosure.

“We bought in Florida. I understand the Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, will in all likelihood, echo Bluegreen’s defense with, ‘You need proof and verbal representations are hard to prove.’ With no real regulation, we want our voice heard. Don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. I filed complaints with the Attorney General for the States of South Carolina and Florida, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, the Fraud Officer of Orlando Florida Police Department, Department of Defense investigative services for the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard and the AARP Fraud Watch Organization. Nothing happened. Our message – buyer beware.”

If you, or anyone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or a self-help group.

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

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

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/

Bluegreen Vacations Corp (NYSE: BXG) reported second-quarter earnings Aug. 2 that fell short of analyst expectations. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Shaun Kelley downgraded Bluegreen Vacations from Buy to Underperform and decreased the price target from $26 to $19.

Total Q2 revenue of $195 million was beneath Kelley’s forecast of $208 million. Bluegreen reported 8-percent lower tours, while vacation ownership interest sales were up only 3.4 percent year-over-year when the analyst was expecting a 10.4-percent increase.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bluegreen-vacations-interrupted-sell-side-190725946.html

Once again a very hard hitting story, it is obvious to everyone, except that is the timeshare industry, that change is needed, no longer should sales agents get rich by telling lies to gain a sale. The companies that employ them should be held accountable, it is no longer acceptable for companies to use the phrase “WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OUR SALES AGENTS SAY”, they are responsible, they are the employers, it is their product that these agents are selling!

If you have any comments or questions regarding this article or any other published, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes your input.

Been contacted by a resale, cancelation or claims company, found one on the internet and you are not sure if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Start the Week: Diamond Lose in Tenerife; Latest news on Tauro Beach and Anfi.

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we report on two cases Diamond Resorts have lost in Tenerife, but first we look at the disturbing scenes at Tauro Beach over the weekend.

Over the past year Inside Timeshare has been reporting on the debacle that is the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, this has been an ongoing saga, with charges being brought against the former head of the coastal authority along with others and a full blown investigation by Seprona, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service.

It has been well reported that Anfi had plans to transform the old shingle beach into a man made one with sand, build a marina and also several hotels with a shopping complex on the land behind. It turns out that part of the investigation into the beach found the sand had been illegally imported from the Western Sahara. (see link to The Guardian Article).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand

Now a company called Desokupa went in over the weekend and began demolishing the homes of those who live there. The reason is the land “belongs” to Anfi, who claim that these dwellings are illegal. Whether they are or not is not the point, considering that there are no planning permissions in place and the fact that the Anfi concession to run the beach is on hold while the Gran Canarian government apply to the courts to revoke the licenses. Should these demolitions have waited until the outcome?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIHbrdIC_To&feature=share

Was there a court order which allowed Anfi to bring in the bulldozers?

All valid questions which will eventually be answered, but what we have lost is a little bit of old Gran Canaria and a very popular paradise spot, for locals and tourists alike. The bar Pio Pio is one of the most popular venues in the area at the weekend, with a wonderful atmosphere and great music. Is that now in danger!

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

Since publishing this following has appeared on facebook for Nueva Canarias

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155352630021755&id=185892306754

It will take you to the link below, this is very disturbing news.

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

Now for the court cases against Diamond Resorts and a look at timeshare law compared to other places.

Both these cases were heard at the High Court No 3, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, both were appeals on behalf of the British clients. These cases were originally held at the Courts of First Instance and unfortunately the clients lost those cases. These were heard before the Supreme Court in Madrid issued the numerous rulings (now 126) on how the timeshare laws should be interpreted and applied.

Before these rulings, different courts and judges interpreted the laws differently, no one actually knew how the laws should be applied. This is nothing unusual in legal work, laws are put into place, but it is not until they are tested and challenged are they effective, this is what the Supreme Court has done, issued a definitive interpretation.

In the first case, the client has been awarded over 19,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

In the second case held at the same court, over 30,000€ has been awarded plus legal interest, again the contract being declared null and void.

The court found several infringements of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, (along with other relevant Consumer Laws), with contracts being over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of payments within the cooling off period. The court also found as per the rulings from Spain’s Highest Court that the contracts lacked any substance or tangible product as they were points based. These have been declared illegal in Spain. (See PDF’s below for the court sentences).

HC n 3 Diamond 1

HC N3 Diamond 2

So how does Spain’s timeshare laws compare with elsewhere?

During the early days in Europe, timeshare was virtually unregulated, know one actually knew what it was, was it real estate, as that is how it was “sold” to the public, a share in your own holiday home, or was it purely a holiday product which was not an investment?

The free for all lasted some years, then the European Union issued the first of many Timeshare Directives, these were to try and regulate the industry, with the directives supposedly being put into the domestic laws of each member state. Basically all singing off the same hymn sheet!

In some countries, the directives were very much watered down, the industry trade body The RDO and the “representing” owners body TATOC, (now defunct), successfully lobbied the UK parliament and those laws are probably the weakest in Europe, they tend to be in favour of the industry not the consumer.

Spain on the other hand had a very different approach, which in some respects is not that surprising. Spain was one of the major places for timeshare development, they had just recently found freedom and democracy, with the country in dire need of development. The building of resorts and the tourist industry was one of the most important factors in this development.

The unfortunate thing is the free run timeshare developers had, timeshare was being sold even before the resorts were actually started, known as off plan. Many consumers got stung in these enterprises, with the resort they paid for never even getting built.

People on holiday were being picked up off the street left right and center, taken to sales presentations and coerced into parting with huge sums of money. Spain’s reputation as a great holiday destination was being sullied by these practices.

That all changed in December 1998, when the government introduced Law 42/98, based on the EU Timeshare Directives, but stronger. Spain was going to have the strongest laws in Europe and this was going to hurt the industry if they didn’t comply.

The law became effective on 5 January 1999, although they did allow a period where the timeshare companies could get their house in order and comply. One aspect of the law was regarding the duration of the contract, before, these were sold in perpetuity, there was no end date. The law now demanded that contracts be for a duration of a minimum 3 years and maximum of 50 years. Timeshare companies were allowed to place a deed of adaptation to all contracts sold before the law came into place, this allowed the pre 99 perpetuity contracts to remain, but all new sales must conform.

Many ignored this, on advice from their lawyers many continued to sell perpetuity, citing the deed of adaptation as the basis for carrying on. This obviously was one point that needed to be tested in the Supreme Court, but that would be many years ahead.

As a point of interest, there were two countries where timeshare laws only allowed for a maximum of 30 years on contracts, they are Madeira and Malta. Those had been put into place right at the start of timeshare development.

Another aspect of the law which Spain has put into place is the illegality of the Floating Weeks and Points systems. According the the Supreme Court they have ruled the timeshare law clearly states that any contract must have substance and tangibility, in other words the guarantee of the apartment and the week being sold. Floating weeks and points do not do this, you only have a right to use subject to availability.

So how does this compare with our friends experience across the Great Lake in the US?

Well from the many articles we have published on Inside Timeshare, they are sadly lacking any control or real consumer protection, it is pot luck which State you have purchased as to what protection you have. There appear to be no Federal Laws governing the sale of timeshare.

In Europe we have the 14 day cooling off period, where no payments should be taken and the consumer has the right to cancel, in some States we have been informed this can be as little as 3 days!

From what we have published, there are so many different agencies and authorities for the consumer to turn to, from Attorneys General (that depends on which State you are in) to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI. (See link below on filing a complaint).

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-teusday-slot-with-irene/

We are seeing many complaints coming into Inside Timeshare on the practises of sales agents, which the timeshare companies seem to condone. There needs to be regulations to govern what is acceptable and what is not, these should be right across the board so that no matter which State you purchase in, the rules are the same for all.

Canada is preparing new legislation on the regulation of timeshare, we hope to bring you news of this from our Canadian readers in the near future.

South Africa is also pushing for changes, there have been several high profile cases against the timeshare industry, resulting in jail time and massive fines. It will not be long before they also have some of the strongest laws regulating timeshare in the world.

In Australia, there is also a move to regulate the timeshare industry, we have published in the past a couple of articles on timeshare down under. Again we wait for our Antipedian friends to submit their articles.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, it may not suit everybody, after all we are all different, but it is how it is sold and administered that is the problem. For too long the industry has and in many cases, the US in particular, still carries on as though they are untouchable.

Diamond believed this in Spain, these cases highlighted today and those in the past along with the many more waiting to be heard, are letting them know that they are not above the law and will be curbed and brought to justice. Consumer protection is paramount in any industry, after all it is the consumer’s money that keeps any company afloat!

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

Are you being contacted by different companies offering claims or relinquishments? If so and you are not sure if they are genuine and will do what they say, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you look for the information and point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we publish an article by a new contributor, Diane Creager and titled Elder Advocates, so join us tomorrow and welcome Diane.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker looks at the 2nd quarter of the year from The Timeshare Advocacy Group™, it clearly shows how this group has grown. This group is clearly making the industry very jittery, but as we have said before, “they only have themselves to blame”.

In tomorrows article we will be having a quick look at the latest news from the courts in Spain, there have certainly been some incredible results this week. So rather than give them here they deserve an article to themselves.

Now on with the Tuesday Slot.

The Timeshare Advocacy Group™

2nd Quarter Report

By Irene Parker

July 10, 2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™  assisted 483 timeshare families as of June 30, 2018. TAG took root February of 2017. About a half dozen of us started a clearing house of information and as Inside Timeshare gained readership, more and more timeshare members reached out to us for assistance and advice. One of our Facebooks that began with 30 members February 2017 now proudly posts comments from 1570 members from 30 countries!

TAG received a total of 267 requests for assistance for all of 2017. Just through the first half of 2018, TAG received 228 requests from timeshare members, so we approached double the volume of complaints, just in the first six months of 2018.  Timeshare members seek straight answers which our advocates provide free of charge from Australia to England and between.

All but a handful of our 483 families reported back to us that their complaint was dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.” If this is the official position at some timeshare companies, we feel the consumer should be aware of this in order to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare is right for you or your family.

Not one of the 483 families that reached out to us was aware that there is little to no secondary market for many timeshares. We encourage timeshare buyers to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare. Licensed timeshare resale brokers, charging nothing to list a timeshare, work in all timeshares and can cover the spectrum of available choices helping you decide whether it is best to buy on the secondary market or direct from the timeshare developer. There are pros and cons for both. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

About half of the members reaching out to us are battling serious medical issues or hit one of life’s road bumps that made the timeshare unusable or unaffordable. Many are saddled with high interest rate loans and some with higher interest rate credit cards. Unlike your personal residence, it is difficult to get rid of a timeshare that has an outstanding loan. We have been contacted by senior after senior, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life, because of defaulting on a timeshare loan. Almost all have high credit scores and have rarely been late paying a bill. The foreclosure process can be devastating.  Just knowing you are not alone can be a comfort. This is a difficult process for the young as well.

Our Military Team leader, John Collick, experienced his complaint dismissed with “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” As described in John’s Inside Timeshare’s July 3 article. John said he was told the timeshare he had owned for years was being acquired by the company he booked a stay with, told he needed to buy timeshare points from that company as the points would cost much more after his resort was acquired. According to John, this information was false.

“We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say,” seems somewhat of an admission that Section 5 of the FTC code has been violated. According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5:

An act or practice is deceptive where

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

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

Our standard disclaimer is that we know there are millions who use their timeshares with no complaints. We are encouraged by some timeshare developers who seem sincerely interested in improving timeshare sales practices.

We are proud to have grown to 44 advocates, professionals bringing their skills and life experiences to the table to advocate on behalf of timeshare members seeking to address concerns about their membership. We have established seven teams. Although all our advocates are dedicated, it is understandable that once a dispute has been resolved, enthusiasm diminishes, especially if the member was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Over the past year, more core advocates have volunteered to stay with us for the long haul, as we continue to organize and improve operations. If you signed an NDA, it does not prevent you from joining our legislative outreach team, for example.   

Leading our efforts:

  • Reporting Team, functions as a quality circle management team     
  • Media Team Leader – Richard Sokolowski, real estate agent, Arizona
  • Military Team Leader, John Collick, First Sergeant, USMC (Retired)
  • Legislative Team Leader, Sheilah Brust, retired from the New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations
  • Scam Research: Deniece Vargas, California
  • Technology Support (Open due to Team Leader signing an NDA)
  • Foreclosure Support, Scotty Black, M.S. Criminal Justice

Probably the most common comment we at Inside Timeshare hear is, “At least I know I am not alone.” Proactive action, working with a volunteer towards timeshare resolution, relinquishment, refund, or even foreclosure, takes the problem from the unknown to the known.

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

Consultants and behind-the-scenes advocates add an additional layer of advice and protection. One very important consideration is that many of those we have helped were on their way to the upfront “guaranteed to get you out of your timeshare” firms that sometimes prey on those already victimized. Not all are bad, but scams abound.  From this perspective, the developer, the timeshare lobby, and TAG advocates are on the same side. This 15 page Department of Justice report listing timeshare fraud, jail terms and fines, says it all:

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

Thank you to all our Contributors and upcoming new Contributors. Contact Inside Timeshare if you, or someone you know, needs assistance or would like to share their timeshare story for the benefit of others.

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix

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

So that’s it for today, all it leaves us to say now is if you have been contacted by any company or found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine and can be trusted to what they claim. Contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

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

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

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

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

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

By Sheilah Brust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

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

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

$8,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diamond’s Response:

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

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

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

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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”.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this week’s Tuesday Slot with Irene, we welcome another new contributor, Alicja Tandecka from Poland, with comments from Irene Parker. This story is one with a happy ending, so Inside Timeshare is pleased to share this with you. But first we have a quick look at Europe.

On the legal side, it now looks like we have two courts where the judges have decided to dispense with full trials and issue judgements at the pre-trial stage. Usually the pre-trial is a general review of the case and the judge will then decide to set a date for a full trial.

The Courts of First Instance No 1 & 4, of San Bartelomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas have now in several cases decided that a full hearing is no longer necessary. Their reasoning behind this is very simple, it is a matter of contracts, they are in breach of the timeshare laws 42/98 & 4/12 along with the rulings from the Supreme Court. In these cases the judge has decided to rule and issue his sentence, the last one was issued within three days of the hearing.

This is obviously good news for clients, as it will speed up the legal process no end.

Another lawyer known to these pages has now started to publish the results of his cases, Javier Correa, who at one time worked with Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos of Canarian Legal Alliance. With the news that Javier is now publishing his results does go to prove that what timeshare companies such as Anfi, along with David Cox of TESS stating that these are all fictitious cases is not true. They are a matter of public record, Inside Timeshare even published links to the official website where these case files can be accessed.

News has just been received on the EZE Group case, Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly his daughter, are to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 30 April 2018 for sentencing. This will be good news for all those EZE Group clients who have been taken in by this company. One question which we will ask, is how will Birmingham City Football Club deal with this, after all EZE Group are linked to them and also have a stand named after them?

As we were about to publish , we went to check some details on the EZE Group website, the account has been suspended and cannot be accessed.

More news on this next week.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

Alicja Tandecka’s Trip to America turns into a Polo Towers

Diamond Resorts Issue Resolved!

The Federal Trade Commission’s Report on Complaints

April 24, 2018

By Alicja Tandecka

My visit to America from my home in Poland to attend an Arbonne conference turned into a travel dilemma after I signed a contract to purchase a Sampler product from Diamond Resorts. I signed a contract to buy 20,000 Diamond Sampler points for $4,000.

Two hours after I signed the contract, I decided I had made a mistake, so I went back to cancel. I was alarmed to read that this Sampler product has no cancellation period, even though I had found on the internet Nevada has a seven day cancellation period. I feel this is a very unfair business practice.

As a foreigner in a foreign country, I did not know where to turn. I reached out to Inside Timeshare and the Diamond Member Sponsored Advocacy Facebook for help. I will be eternally grateful to have found them and their pro bono help in all this will not be forgotten. This is what restores my faith in humanity.

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

As you can see, we were having a great time in America until I realized I had made a mistake buying something I really did not understand.

https://www.facebook.com/alicjatandecka

Irene Parker from Inside Timeshare directed me to the Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy department. I told her about the high pressure sales presentation I attended. Irene explained that Diamond has introduced a program called CLARITY that promises no high pressure and that I should explain to that department what happened.  

When I went back two hours after I signed the contract to cancel, the office was closed. The next morning I went back again and was asked to write down the reasons why I wanted to cancel so the agent could send this to Diamond corporate. The agent I spoke with assured me I would be refunded, but I was worried.

Irene explained that Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates have helped 404 timeshare members because reports indicate there is no enforcement of timeshare regulations in Nevada and a few other states. She suggested I submit an article to Inside Timeshare about my experience. She sent my article to Diamond Resorts for comment to see if someone might reach out to help me end this ordeal. Someone did so my trip to America ends with many new Facebook friends and a timeshare issue resolved!   

Comments from Irene

The Federal Trade Commission released complaint statistics and timeshare made the highest dollar amount. The amount of $1,700 seems low as timeshare member reports from members reaching out to Inside Timeshare include members losing money in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $400,000 or more.

The most common comments:

I’m so embarrassed! I feel so stupid! We haven’t told our kids!

Excerpts from the FTC report:

The Federal Trade Commission has released statistics on complaints and other problems reported in 2017. Some came directly from consumers, while others originated with law enforcement agencies and other organizations, including the Better Business Bureau.

The FTC received 2.7 million reports in 2017, a slight decrease from 2016. However, the amount of money people reported losing to fraud increased 7.5 percent to $905 million. The true numbers are much higher since many people don’t report being defrauded because they’re embarrassed, afraid, or don’t know where to turn for help.

Abusive or fraudulent debt collection calls were the top source of complaints in 2017, representing 23 percent of all reports. Identity theft, led by credit card fraud, and impostor scams rounded out the top three.

For the first time, the FTC broke out the numbers by the age of the person filing the report and the results mirror what the BBB has found in analyses of complaints it receives. Younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than seniors, but seniors suffered a greater dollar loss.

The median loss from all types of fraud was $429. 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.

Florida had the highest per capita rate of reports to the FTC, at 993 per 100,000 population. Tennessee came in 10th at 649 per 100,000 and Mississippi was 27th at 514. North Dakota had the lowest ratio at 277 per 100,000 population.

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

Inside Timeshare will walk with Alicja until her issue is resolved or foreclosed. We’re checking into whether defaulting on $4,000 will have any great effect on her credit report in Poland or create any problems coming to America in the future.  

More helping hands:

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 Alicja for your contribution, Inside Timeshare and all the team who work with Irene are very pleased to have been of help, we are glad that your trip has ended with a host of new friends and we wish you luck for the future.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns about this or any article published, or need help to decide what to do and who you can trust, then use our contact form and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

 

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

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot with Irene has been submitted by Angela Simmons Sandstede, as you will see the story of what her parents have been through is not a happy one, it is another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

First some European timeshare news.

Yesterday, the Court of First Instance Number 3 in Maspalomas announced yet another Anfi Contract null and void, the judge sitting on the trial was new and this was his first ever timeshare case. He awarded the UK clients £11,923 for the purchase price along with £13,248 for double the deposit paid within the cooling off period. The clients have also been awarded their legal fees and legal interest. Again this judge was following the rulings by the Supreme Court.

The case was brought on behalf of these clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, the lawyer representing them is one of their newest and youngest lawyers Eduardo Álamo, who only obtained his law degree in 2014, he then went on to study extra courses in 2015 and became a member of the Las Palmas Bar Association in 2016. Definitely a lawyer to keep an eye on.

eduardo

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been receiving enquiries about a company called RSB Legal, these readers have paid this company for relinquishment and to lodge a claim on a no win no fee basis. Unfortunately they are are unable to contact them.

In another twist it has just come to light that another company Stanton Mortimer which we believe are linked to RSB run by Ricky Walker, Kevin Walker, Kevin O’Connor and Matt Lowe have now shut down and seem to have disappeared with many clients making criminal complaints.

RSB have also been the subject of many discussion forums, the one below goes back to late 2016.

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5510732#topofpage

If you have dealt with either of these companies contact Inside Timeshare and we will give you information on what you can do.

Now for this weeks article.

March 4 – 10 is NOT Consumer Protection Week for Timeshare Members – Part I

An Extraordinary Diamond Investment Opportunity that Wasn’t

Part II – Friday “Earth to ARDA” by Eron Grant

couple

By Angela Simmons Sandstede on behalf of my parents

Please help my Mom and Dad Diamond Resorts, AARP, ARDA, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin

March 6, 2018

I am writing this article because my mom and dad had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. When my mom, who is diabetic, started slipping into a diabetic sugar shock during a sales presentation, the Diamond “Hospitality” representative at Mystic Dunes, Randy Siegel, told my parents to sign papers to lock in a price per point. What they really signed October 2017 was a purchase agreement to buy a Sampler (trial) package for $3,995. They already owned 78000 points. Why would they need a trial program? Diamond refunded all but the down payment. For this they had to sign an NDA? But guess what – this was nothing compared to what happened next. If you do the math, there is no alleged about what happened.  

Roy and Lillian Simmons, ages 69 and 70, Minnesota residents

My dad is a Navy Veteran

Our YouTube: You have to listen to the YouTube for this to make sense

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

My parents, Roy and Lillian Simmons, had been loyal and happy Diamond Platinum members for almost 20 years. By 2014 they had purchased three or four US Collection Diamond vacation point packages ending up with 27000 US Collection points. In 2014 they bought 25000 Hawaii points transferring their US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection now owning 52000 Hawaii points. Everything was fine up to this point.  

The horror began in 2015 when they were told they needed to transfer from the Hawaii Collection to the US Collection, buying 25000 more points for $151,192.  Now they owned 77000 US Collection points. Why back to the US Collection?

In Orlando Florida Diamond sales agent Rafael Cabrera told my parents they should not have bought Hawaii points. They were transferred from the Hawaii Collection back to the US Collection. The reasons:

  • Maintenance fees will go up because Hawaii is so expensive
  • They have hurricanes in Hawaii so they can have special assessments

March 31, 2016 they went to Diamond’s Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Hawaii. There they met with DRI sales agent John Jessup. Mr. Jessup told my parents they should transfer the US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection to take advantage of a remarkable investment opportunity my dad described on our YouTube. It was remarkable, but it didn’t exist.

Transferring 77000 US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection involved a weird 1000 Hawaii point purchase and transfer fee costing $32,840 or over $32 per point. You have to buy some points to transfer from one side of the ocean to the other. In other words, they were charged $32,433 for the non-existent investment opportunity. Diamond points, according to member reports, sell for $3 to $4 per point. Sales agents are quick to point out the list price is $9 going up to $11.     

According to my dad, he was told:

“Hawaii real estate is so valuable! Diamond can’t buy any more property. The “shares” are going to split! You can double your profits! You can get $3000 or $4000 a week for renting out your points!” said Mr. Jessup. “Being able to pay for maintenance fees and rent points is what sold us,” explained Mr. Simmons.

“I don’t know anything about Hawaii special assessments?” Mr. Jessup added.  

http://www.poipuowners.org/News.html

YOU CAN’T SELL OR RENT DIAMOND POINTS UNLESS YOU RENT TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY. DIAMOND DOES NOT ALLOW RENTING FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES. THERE IS NO SECONDARY MARKET FOR DIAMOND POINTS.

My parents are about to lose their house over this! Their monthly Diamond loan payment is $2,750 per month.  

My mom and dad live mostly on my dad’s pension from the US Post office plus Social Security. My mom teaches piano part time. My dad works part time as a substitute in a school kitchen. They were able to manage 52000 points before the last fraudulent up-sell but can in no way afford 78000 DRI points.

Three Barclay cards were opened – two in my mom’s name and one in my dad’s name to charge the down payment. The interest rate jumped to 13.9% for the Hawaii points, but was 9% or 10% previously. When filling out the Barclaycard application, the sales agent crossed off with a black marker all their credit card/Diamond loan expense information, I assume so they would qualify. “We don’t need that information. We just need your home mortgage and car,” he said. I just found this out as well. Mr. Jessup also suggested my dad pay off the Diamond loan by taking the money out of his retirement plan. “I worked as a Financial Advisor. This would only be an 8 to 9% penalty,” Mr. Jessup advised. When my dad spoke to a real Financial Advisor, he was told taking money out of his government retirement plan would have cost over 40% in taxes and penalty.  

My mom is so stressed over this pathetic attempt to make them STAY VACATIONED she is losing her health and so upset she could not participate in our You Tube. Her sugar levels are worse, affected by stress.

Through Social Media I have learned this “ping pong” upsell is a common and deceptive false claim – sales agents working for the same company telling members you should not have bought this or that collection, depending on what side of the Pacific Ocean you are on. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get confused about the back and forth transfer up-sells.

hands in hand

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

Diamond at first acted like they cared. I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy January 8, 2018. They asked for income verification because of the up-sell dispute. My dad sent income verification three times, but they couldn’t find it even though it was faxed. Each time Diamond’s hospitality agent would say they didn’t receive it, but then would say they did. Then they told my parents they were making over $100,000 a year. My parents did not even make that much money when my dad worked for the US Post Office.

A Better Business Bureau report was filed the end of February. A few days after filing, the Better Business Bureau closed out the complaint because Diamond responded, “They signed a contract.”

The FBI advised a recent Diamond member, those who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in addition to filing at IC3.gov and orally through the FBI’s public access line calling your local FBI field office (#4 then prompt #3 white-collar crimes). Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions.

With all the complaints Inside Timeshare is receiving and passing over to the US team, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Irene and her other volunteers are inundated with formulating complaints ready for filing with the FBI, as we get results we will be informing you on these pages.

Remember, if you don’t know what to do whether it is similar to the above story, or you have been contacted by any company or just found a company on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice available. It will also help if you let us know if you are US or European based, this way we can point you to right team.

us-eu-coop

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