Browse Tag

Greg Crist

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday, yes that is correct, we are publishing a day early as we are travelling to the US on Friday.

Inside Timeshare is visiting our American colleagues, with Irene and Don meeting me at Orlando airport, while there we have arranged to meet with several attorneys including America’s very own Timeshare Crusader Lisa Ann SchreierWe will also be meeting many other people and hopefully having a few cold beers.

beer

Inside Timeshare is also pleased to announce a new collaboration, for sometime CLA International based in Dubai, has been getting their website up and running. They have been following the articles published on Inside Timeshare and have asked if we would run their news section.

They wanted an independent voice rather than their own take on things, Inside Timeshare has agreed to supply those articles, so many of the articles regarding international timeshare news we publish will be posted on their website. These will be from the many contributors who are now writing for Inside Timeshare. We also hope to add more from the following areas:

India (Goa), Thailand and the surrounding Asian area, Australia, Mexico, Central and South America, we welcome any contributor who would like to publish their experiences, news and views on the world of timeshare. You can contact us via our contact page or direct to admin@insidetimeshare.com

contribute

Update from Europe

Once again, Inside Timeshare has heard from another reader who found our articles on the Litigious Abogados family, namely Amador Galeca Abogados.

The reader had a call regarding their timeshare at Royal Sunset Beach, with the name Andrew Cooper again being named as the director being taken to court with all his personal property and assets being seized. For a sum of just under 1000€ they could be part of the case.

The reader then made a bank transfer, but then decided to check out the name Andrew Cooper, finding our previous article. When the reader contacted us we explained how the scam operates, they immediately informed their bank and the bank is now trying to stop the transaction.

The reader explained that when her husband became too ill to travel Royal Sunset actually took back the timeshare, so they no longer owned. Because of this there would not be any basis for a claim in any court.

This story just goes to show once again, before you pay any money, check who you are dealing with. Hopefully the readers bank was informed in time to stop the money being transferred.

stop think proceed

We started the week with verdict from the courts against Palm Oasis (Tasolan), the following day the Supreme Court ruled on another case against Silverpoint in Tenerife, that made 64 rulings from this court on timeshare. In this case the court again declared the contract null and void, awarding over £99,000 plus a double deposit of £6,082 including legal fees and legal interest.

Then yesterday Wednesday 4 October the High Court in Tenerife ruled once again against Silverpoint and awarded over 67,000€ plus legal fees and interest to the client. This was then followed by the news the Supreme Court had just issued another sentence against Silverpoint, bringing the total number of cases won at this court by Canarian Legal Alliance to 65.

Now on with Irene’s article where she recounts our first meeting and her visit and interview with Canarian Legal Alliance. We have certainly moved on since that first meeting.

Canarian Legal Alliance and Inside Timeshare

The meeting of minds

Irene with CLA
Irene Meeting with CLA Staff Sept 2016

By Irene Parker

October 5, 2017

We are judged by the company we keep, so shortly after submitting my first article to Inside Timeshare my husband and I flew to Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to meet Charles Thomas and his Canarian Legal Alliance friends. It was not an easy trip since we boarded the wrong plane in Madrid and ended up in AMSTERDAM!

We stayed at Diamond Resorts Cala Blanca resort on Mogan. A Diamond sales agent in the US actually introduced me to Charles by sending me one of his articles. The staff at Cala Blanca could not have been nicer. I talked quite a while with the manager as he was the head of a resort employee union of sorts advocating on behalf of refugees he felt were being treated unfairly at a resort on the other side of the bay. One of the sales agents working at Cala Blanca and a friend of Charles is one of my Facebook friends.

In today’s timeshare world you can’t be too careful. Attorneys come in all ethical shapes and sizes. In addition to meeting Charles, I was able to meet with the CLA office manager Csilla, named business person of the year for Gran Canaria, several intake workers showing sincere compassion as they listened to timeshare accounts over the phone, and a few CLA lawyers. Since this July 2016 video clip CLA has achieved several more victories for EU timeshare clients – 65 Supreme Court victories to be exact as of October 4, 2017. Watching this video for the first time, I remember thinking if Cristina ever decides she doesn’t like law, she could find a job in the motion picture industry.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-latest-updates-video/

Timeshare today seems to have lost all sense of direction. True, we hear primarily from the disgruntled, but developer lawsuits flying back and forth between timeshare developers and transfer agents has left many timeshare members in a state of confusion. Who do you trust?

I trust CLA and am honored to have been asked to have my Inside Timeshare articles featured on the new CLA International website with Charles webmaster of the news tab. Our Diamond Resorts member sponsored Advocacy Facebook administrator and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer and Australian Contributor Justin Morgan submitted their comments for this article about the Apollo Global Management buyout of Diamond Resorts.

http://clainternational.ae/2017/09/28/who-is-apollo-what-is-apollo-two-diamond-member-consumer-advocates-offer-their-opinion/

Timeshare members need help. It has been widely reported many aging baby boomers (like me) are desperate to be released from timeshare. Some timeshare companies have launched surrender programs, like Wyndham’s Ovation program, but the vast majority of members contacting Inside Timeshare succumbed to high interest rate loans and credit cards. Thus, they are not eligible for voluntary surrender programs. Often they are forced into foreclosure. The problem is exacerbated when the member alleges they were deceived into buying a timeshare or upgraded for maintenance fees relief or buy-back programs that do not exist. Out of 157 complaints received (as of October 4), 143 allege deceit on the front end of the sale. The others can’t afford rising maintenance fees.

From our humble beginnings, as more members started helping other members, we called ourselves Timeshare Advocacy Group™ as members turned anger and disbelief into action and advocacy. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ started as an afterthought. A former timeshare sales agent contacted me and said they wanted to do a press release in Arizona. We needed a place where readers could respond.

Irina Allen stepped up to the plate. She is our Facebook page administrator.

admin lady new

Irina (Irene) Allen purchased over $500,000 worth of timeshare points to share with family, friends and clients. On the advice of a sales agent, Irene opened a RedWeek account and posted one ad to rent some of her points. She gave up this idea after she never got paid for the rental. Rentals are not allowed, according to company rules, but there are hundreds of rental ads anyway. She also was accused of opening an Airbnb account. Irene says she has never had an Airbnb account. She was expected to pay $2,400 per month in mortgage payments and $29,000 in maintenance fees for a year while her account was suspended. Resorts are exempt from the rule for promotional purposes. Thus, the resort was able to rent out Irene’s points at Irene’s expense.

At Timeshare Advocacy Group™ members also help members with regulatory filings and media outreach. We have Wyndham, Bluegreen and Diamond members working alongside former Hyatt, Westgate, and Diamond timeshare sales agents in an effort to reform an industry badly in need of reform. In addition to timeshare members, other Advocates, like blogger Lisa Ann Schreier, lend their support. Lisa Ann and Charles are both former timeshare sales agents.

In America, it’s not easy these days for opposing sides to talk to each other, but every once in awhile there is a glance of a Republican sticking their toe over to the Democratic side of the aisle. It is our hope there will be a day when developers will take the time to listen to what critics have to say instead of only focusing on ambulance chasing unscrupulous transfer and listing agents. It is my belief, until the deception on the front end of the timeshare sale is acknowledged and addressed, the court of public opinion is the only court open for the beleaguered and often financially devastated timeshare member learning their contract is perpetual and the secondary market limited at best. For some timeshare companies, there is no secondary market. What other investment or product exists that holds the buyer of a product hostage?

Charles Irene

Charles is winging his way to America tomorrow, so let us know if you will be in the Orlando area October 8 – 12. Or, let Charles know the next times you happen to be on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.

I am a former stockbroker and financial planner. After I retired from the brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, writing court reports for Family Court on behalf of children in foster care. I have always had a problem turning my back on anyone who considers themselves a victim. There are many ways to volunteer time in retirement. Join us in our efforts to enhance timeshare accountability and transparency.

http://insidetimeshare.com/what-a-volunteer-does-for-nothing/

globe

That’s it for this week, tomorrow will be a long day as it is Gran Canaria, Madrid, Miami then to Orlando. I know Irene and Don have set aside a couple of days to show me some of the sights, so it will not be all work and no play!

We will however be trying to publish some articles while over there, so keep an eye on these pages.

Have a great weekend

cartoon-airplane

law

Legal News From the US: Castle Law Group PC v Timeshare Developers

Today Irene Parker gives us an insight into one lawsuit that has made the headlines in the US, it would seem that across the great lake it is the timeshare companies that are on the legal offensive. In Europe the timeshare companies are very much on the defensive as we have seen in some of our previous articles.

Yesterday we published an article about the legal battle being waged against Silverpoint, they have stated that they will be filing a case with the High Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that Spain has got the EU Timeshare Directives wrong.

eu court justice

Just to clarify one point on the EU Timeshare Directives, that is what they are “directives”, they are not law. A directive issued by the EU is a guide to all EU States to enact into their own domestic laws certain aspects which affect citizens. It is up to each individual state to interpret those directives as they see fit. The whole point is that each State may strengthen the directives, which is what Spain has done with their own timeshare laws, firstly with Ley 42/98 and more recently with Ley 4/12.

Directives are there to try and unify each State’s laws, especially on the matter regarding consumers rights, which the timeshare directive was intended to do. Before the timeshare directives came out, timeshare in Europe was what can only be described as lawless, timeshare companies could walk all over the consumer, there was no protection, timeshare was a new concept which nobody actually understood.

It followed an old economic system known as Laissez-faire, which has its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was to be free of any government intervention, such as regulation. More recently a new term was conceived by conservative politicians and economists ‘free-market capitalism’. Timeshare has always followed this model, profit, profit and more profit at the expense of the consumer. (Again it sounds like Star Treks Ferengi).

Until laws are strengthened to the benefit of the consumer, we are going to see many more of these legal battles, be it consumer against developer or developer against law firms, the stage is set, let battle commence!

Now on with today’s article by Irene

Castle Law and Judson Phillips is Sued in Federal Court for Fraud

Orange Lake v. Castle Law Group PC

Westgate v. Castle Law Group

Diamond Resorts v. Castle Law Group

Who Next v. Castle Law Group

Speak truth

By Irene Parker

August 22, 2017

Who is Judson Phillips?

Tea Party Nation is a conservative American group considered part of the Tea Party movement.   The group was created by former Shelby County, Tennessee assistant district attorney Judson Phillips in 2009

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Nation

Judson Phillips Ridiculed for Wanting to Deny Others the Right to Vote

Judson Phillips, the lawyer behind Castle Law Group (Nashville), latest idea has created a hurricane size backlash against Mr. Phillips. The Castle Law Group owner believes that only property owners should have the right to vote.  Phillips seems to believe those who aren’t the elite feudal lords of property can’t be trusted to vote. Instead, they must be put back in their place as serfs, working for their lords for scraps off the feudalistic tables.

http://www.brighthub.com/money/home-buying/articles/123520.aspx

A Bright Hub reader’s response:

Yes, I am Republican but in no way would I ever want to be affiliated with any political group who deemed renters shouldn’t vote in public elections.

Who Castle Law Group is not:

http://www.castlelawgrouppa.com/

I contacted attorney Ben Hillard of the Castle Law Group P.A. in Largo, Florida a few months ago – by mistake. Mr. Hillard responded saying he thought I had his law firm confused with Castle Law Group PC of timeshare fame, law firms differentiated only by the initials P.A. and PC. Mr. Hillard would like to make it clear his firm is in no way associated with Mr. Judson Phillips or his law firm Castle Law Group PC. In a recent letter to Mr. Hillard, Mr. Phillips said his firm is considering rebranding for reasons not associated with Mr. Hillard’s concerns, the similarity in names.

Here is the Castle Law P.C. and Orange Lake Lawsuit as reported by Paul Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando-based timeshare companies Westgate Resorts and Orange Lake Country Club filed nearly identical lawsuits in Orlando against Tennessee firms Castle Law and Castle Marketing. Westgate and Orange Lake accuse the Castle companies of charging some customers an upfront litigation fee of $7,500. Orange Lake said Castle filed no lawsuits for any of its owners who paid the fee; Westgate said Castle hasn’t filed lawsuits for some owners who paid the litigation fee.

A senior partner with Castle — attorney and Tea Party leader Judson Phillips — denies those allegations…. he said in an email he believes the suits are frivolous, and he and Castle have obtained good results for clients.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-timeshare-cancellation-fraud-20170618-story.html

According to a letter sent to Orange Lake attorney Brian Lower, from a Castle Law Group attorney, Castle accused Orange Lake of “gross misrepresentations regarding the terms and conditions of the Orange Lake timeshares in that they were fraudulently induced to enter into the timeshare contract and the debt instruments associated with such contracts in violation of federal and state laws.”

A letter from a lawyer like this triggers a “cease and desist” demand of all communication with the client, including collection attempts. This cease and desist letter has served as a bone of contention to timeshare developers in that a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer if the consumer is represented by an attorney or has an open Attorney General complaint, under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Among the twelve causes of action in Castle’s cease and desist letter against developers, are those our Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us asking for help would not disagree with:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

Castle Law Group PC is not Better Business Bureau accredited, is nonrated, and a consumer complaint warning has been posted.

https://www.bbb.org/nashville/business-reviews/timeshare-cancellation-and-litigation-attorneys/castle-law-group-pc-in-nashville-tn-37113357

According to the Castle Law website they are timeshare lawyers trusted by thousands with a 4.7 out of 5 star ranking based on 12 reviews (powered by GetFiveStars). When I reached out to the firm for comment, I was put on hold for a very long time.

https://timesharecancellation.com/

you decide

Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association was recently quoted by the Orlando Sentinel that more lawsuits against cancellation companies were likely in the works.

“Some of those cancellation companies that have been targeted by developers were actually started by their own former timeshare employees. Those folks learned how to exploit the system by learning what is called the inside track. They know how the high-pressure sales tactics work,” Crist said. “They attract timeshare owners in the same way — post cards offering a free dinner, or an evening out. They show owners how maintenance fees escalate, and literally scare the hell out of these people using calculations that are wildly inaccurate and overstated. These are not law firms but represent to have an attorney on staff, giving the illusion that there are legal services involved in the transaction. Rarely does the company even communicate with the resort and the timeshare owner doesn’t even know what is happening until it is too late. Why is that?”

Crist explained this is often due to an unqualified money back guarantee the company provides that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The owner is simply lulled into a false sense of security, until they are foreclosed on and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Crist has watched this happening for years, but says the industry is making a mistake by throwing legitimate attorneys in the same mix with resale, transfer and advocacy groups.

While the NTOA is involved with educating owners, advocating for their rights and helping them engage in the product they already own, they do not sell, transfer or offer services like TPE’s do. Any timeshare member or owner can join NTOA.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

GBUgly

The present legal climate in the timeshare world is reminiscent of the old west with summons flying like bullets back and forth across the corral. Lost in the middle is the consumer, many complaining they purchased a timeshare based on false promises. The timeshare lobby ARDA and the major timeshare developers seem determined to ignore outcries of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale.  

All attorneys are not created equal. It seems that timeshare developers don’t want a timeshare member to ever contact any lawyer and they lump all attorneys into a kettle of frivolous lawsuit filers. Two major developers attributed their rise in default rate due to “attorneys targeting members and cease and desist letters.” As in any profession, some attorneys do have questionable business practices, but any citizen should have a right to their day in court and the legal representation that accompanies that right if they feel they were deceived into purchasing a timeshare.

One former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent described “inventory recycling” as a hamster wheel that sometimes begins with deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. To date (as of August 16, 2017) Inside Timeshare has received 124 inquiries of which 110 allege they were deceived on the front end of the timeshare sale. Most have outstanding loans.

“I am asking you to look at the moon and you are staring at the end of my finger,” deceased Jesuit Priest Anthony DeMello once wrote. That’s how I feel listening to case after case from family members, often financially devastated, alleging they were deceived, sometimes just days after a rescission period. Why won’t developers take a closer look at their own house?

ethics cartoon

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share, through your experiences others may have a better understanding of what they are going through and see that they are not alone.

If you need any further information regarding any article published, or wish to know where you stand legally with your timeshare, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this Friday’s Letter from America, first a recap on the past week.

On Monday we wished the National Timeshare Owners Association a happy anniversary. For 20 years this organisation has been the voice of US timeshare owners, it is a totally independent body, not governed by the industry. Greg Crist the CEO works very hard to create a dialogue with the industry, he believes as we do that without dialogue there can be no changing of attitudes.

We also warned about another new addition to the Litigious Abogados family, Abogados Amable & Garcia.

Their website http://www.abogadosamablegarcia.com/ is the same as all the others, except for new photographs of the so called “lawyers”, (probably just downloaded from the images on the web), even the names are variations of the others used. We have yet to see what the paperwork is like and what names appear on those and the emails, somehow we think the “Departmento Legal” will have the same ladies names as all the others.

Yesterday we publish the story about the legal action by the London law firm Edwin Coe, who are representing around 106 clients against Barclays Partner Finance. This case is being held at the High Court in London, it revolves around the issuing of loans for the sale of timeshare as an “investment” by Resort Properties / Silverpoint, with a claim of over £1.5 million.

This article has already prompted a huge response on both sides of the great lake.

On another matter, it would look like that MGM Muthu (formerly Petchy) are being very aggressive in chasing “arrears” in maintenance. Many of these that we are hearing about are those who believed they no longer owned as they “sold” years ago.

These demands are coming from “Customer Services” and signed by Luliia Sulovei. They threaten court action if they are not paid and also demand around £3000 plus the “arrears” to be paid for them to grant a surrender. Most of those contacting Inside Timeshare are elderly and some are widows. This is not a nice situation and in our view amounts to bullying and extortion!

extortion

We will be publishing a full article on this in the next week or so.

Now, on with this weeks Letter from America.

Don and Irene are making their way back home today from Arizona. Irene met many new and old Diamond Advocacy Group friends during her stay and two baby rattlesnakes. (These may have been trainee sales agents). Irene has a degree in biology and said she used to teach a class on reptiles. Irene says she likes snakes and alligators (you would need to to survive a timeshare presentation). Yes, they were rattling.

Irene would like to thank Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, intervening on behalf of the ailing pool table at Spoke and Wheel restaurant at Los Abrigados in Sedona. Kyli, the restaurant manager, contacted Irene informing her that the antique Brunswick pool table (and I thought Brunswick only made pin spotters) is to be restored to its original glory and another manager, that same day, went out and purchased additional pool sticks (we call them cues). Don and Irene ate at the restaurant. The food was superb. While dining, the Diamond Advocacy Group gained a new member. Many of the guests staying at Los Abrigados are original ILX owners. Now they are Diamond members.

Eron Grant is not a pool table, but she hopes Mr. Flaskey will show her family the same compassion.

Diamond Resorts was a Huge Mistake!

Good choice

By Eron Grant

May 12, 2017

I have asked Inside Timeshare to publish an account of our experience with Diamond Resorts. We hope to warn others to not fall victim to high pressure same day sales and encourage readers to become involved with our Diamond Advocacy Group before buying something they will live to regret later.

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

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

Many Diamond members are happy with their Diamond membership. I believe if sold properly, Diamond’s vacation program could be of benefit to some families. In our case the program was grossly oversold in terms of availability. The Diamond program will not work for us as we have all the basic timeshare benefits we need as Marriott timeshare owners.

Here’s what happened

We stayed at Diamond’s resort, The Ridge in Sedona Arizona, over Thanksgiving 2016. We booked our stay through Interval International. At the time, I had not heard of Diamond Resorts.

I called the concierge at The Ridge to ask for restaurant recommendations. She said she would get back to me. I thought it odd that a concierge needed to get back to a guest about restaurant reservations.

Later that day the concierge called back asking if anyone had scheduled us for a presentation with a DRI team member. She told me about a few restaurants she thought we would enjoy, adding that Diamond would give us a $150 gift card if we agreed to attend a 90 minute sales presentation. We agreed.

When we arrived we told the sales representative, Karen Calvano, we had a tee time scheduled in a few hours. She seemed irritated and said we would not be finished in that amount of time. Puzzled, we told her the concierge told us the meeting would only take 90 minutes. She wanted to know who told us that. She complained about the tee time when we followed her to the presentation area. She kept saying that she felt rushed going through the presentation. The presentation lasted six hours.

Ms. Calvano told us that Diamond owns numerous properties and that finding something in our local Texas area would not be a problem. We specifically asked about Texas and Louisiana because we are both working and with the kids, we can’t easily fly to take vacations due to the expense and trouble flying entails. We did say we could drive to New Mexico to ski with our kids, and added that we wanted to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.

We agreed to purchase 3500 Diamond points. When I tried to book Great Wolf Lodge, I learned it would take approximately $11,000 in equivalent DRI maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at Great Wolf Lodge when it could be booked online for $3,300. The same holds true for New York City and other big cities because Diamond does not own these properties. They are “affiliated” properties so never discounted.

I recently got in contact with another Diamond member on our DRI Advocacy Facebook group who reported an almost identical complaint. According to a DRI customer service representative, the only property available near Boston was Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg.

The Fitchburg property was available August 14 – Aug 18 for 16,000 points.

Diamond only had availability for a Deluxe Queen.

Searching the Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg site directly, Great Wolf had availability for a Wolf Pup Den for four nights for $1429.96 plus 270.31 tax totaling $1700.27.  At $.23 per point DRI maintenance fees, this equals $3,680 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars so $3,680 for the same property, the same week, could be booked directly with Great Wolf for $1700.

Back to our Diamond experience

Ms. Calvano told us we would be assigned the Platinum loyalty level due to being Marriott members. We own a three bedroom Marriott timeshare in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Therefore, Ms. Calvano said we could book a studio room and upgrade three times at no additional fee. Later we were told this was not true.

As we were leaving, Ms. Calavano said to contact her at any time if we had questions or needed anything at all. I emailed her on December 1, 2016 with a question but never heard back.  

In December 2016 Linda Barton, Member Marketing Agent called us and asked to attend an “orientation for new members”. She said we would learn all about our new membership, and told us to be sure to bring our tablet given to us by DRI. The orientation took place January 13-15, 2017. It was called a Diamond “Once in a Lifetime Event” in Orlando, FL. My husband had asked what this event of a lifetime entailed. He was told we would learn all about our new membership and possible upgrades. “But we just purchased our membership! We are not going to spend any more money,” my husband informed Ms. Barton.

Looking back, we should have suspected the orientation would end up a sales presentation. At the orientation the sales representative, Chris, told us we would only be allowed to upgrade one time at no extra fee. This contradicted what Karen Calvano had initially told us.

Chris said at the orientation we could sell our points back for 30 cents per point if we were platinum, but the brochure we had been provided said it was 10 cents per point. When my husband asked Chris to show us on paper where it said $.30 cents per point, Chris pointed to his handwritten notes to show us where he had written that number down. My husband demanded he show us somewhere in the DRI paraphernalia where it said points could be sold back for $.30 per point, but Chris said, “Never mind if you’re not interested. I don’t want you to have hard feelings.”

Next, we were handed over to another DRI employee who repeatedly said, “I am not sales.” He then proceeded to encourage us to purchase more points, because we could get them at a low cost of $4 something per point which, according to him, was unheard of. The fee to purchase the additional points was over $3,000 with another $4,000 something due in a year or so after that. We turned it down. This ordeal took over 3 hours.

We contacted the Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group at Diamond that promises “to assist Diamond member from Day One should a member have questions or concerns about their purchase!”

Diamond refused to cancel our contract. We filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General after learning Diamond had been issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” as a result of over 400 complaints filed against the company just in Arizona. Diamond automatically denied our claim, but after filing a rebuttal the Arizona AG said we are eligible for consideration.

In response to the Arizona AG action, Diamond has introduced a new program called Clarity that is about Accountability, Transparency and RESPECT for the customer. As far as we are concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here’s a bit of information about one of our local Texas businesses owned by Jim McIngvale. Mr. McIngvale has owned Mattress Mack since 1981. It is a hugely successful business in Houston.  

Gallery Furniture believes in being on the right side, in other words, to be on the Gallery Furniture customers’ side instead of defending the industry. Advocate for the customers! Gallery Furniture makes it very clear, that we’re here for the Gallery Furniture customers, to better their lives with high quality furniture sold at the best price possible, not to pad the pockets of our manufacturers. Come out to Gallery Furniture TODAY for the best customer service in the business… (August, 2015):

http://www.mattressmack.com/macks_weblog/satisfied-customers/

Mr. McIngvale can be booked for speaking engagements.

Customer care

Perhaps Diamond would like to book him soon?

Thank you Eron for your contribution and another thank you to Irene Parker for coordinating it from the States.

Inside Timeshare welcomes contributions outlining your experiences, it helps other to know that they are not alone. Together you can influence the industry, changing the way they view the owners / members, along with the NTOA, the advocacy facebook pages and this publication you do have a voice. The industry is taking note, we know that for a fact, it is just a matter of time before they actually implement real changes.

All it leaves us to say is we hope that Irene and Don have a safe journey home from vacation, that all of you have a great weekend.

weekend cat

 

birthday

Welcome to Monday and a Happy Birthday to the National Timeshare Owners Association

Welcome to our Monday article, we start with some news from Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been at it again. More news from the courts in Tenerife finding for CLA clients against Silverpoint.

On 2 May, the judge presiding over The Court of First Instance No 5, ruled the contract these clients had contained several infringements and declared the contract null & void. The judge also ruled they should be awarded over £25,957.79 plus the return of their legal fees and legal interest. In this case the main infringement was the floating weeks. The Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, a timeshare contract must include a specific date, location and period.

The following day, the same court declared yet another contract from Silverpoint illegal under law 42/98, this infringed the length of the contract. The Supreme Court on numerous occasions have stated that under the law no contract can be over 50 years. The judge in this case again declared the contract null & void, ordering Silverpoint to return over £8,856.71 plus legal fees and legal interest to the client.

Canarian Legal Alliance also received a visit from the Kavli Family, who had their Anfi contract declared null & void awarded back over 39,413€ plus legal interest. Their visit while enjoying a relaxing holiday was to thank the entire team at CLA for all the work they put in to resolve their situation.

Kavli

On another note, this weekend saw the awards presentation of the Canary News Business Awards. Canarian Legal Alliance won the the award in the Service Category, with the Head of Operations, Csilla Nazali being awarded Business Person of the year, this was accepted on behalf of the entire CLA Team. So congratulations to them.

It would also appear that our “Fake Law Firm” the Litigious Abogados family have a new member, Abogados Amable & Garcia. The website is very much like all the others, accept they have a few new photo’s of “Lawyers” with some new names: Juan Hernandez Amable, Armando Ignacio Garcia and Ramon Quemon Cremul. These have not been traced on any Bar Association register. Even the logo on the website is a rehash of the Abel Garcia one. More on this as the information starts to come in.

abogadosamablegarcia-amable-garcia-logo

So on we go with the NTOA article, this follows the news that TATOC, the association that is supposed to represent owners committees, is going into administration. As you will see from the article, there is a difference between the two organisations. The NTOA is independent of the industry, whereas TATOC was funded and run by the industry for the benefit of the industry and not you the owner’s / members. After all we know that Harry Taylor took up his position with TATOC while still a senior figure with Diamond Resorts Europe. We also know he supported MacDonald Resorts to the hilt against owners, when MacDonald’s decided to remove all fixed week owners and replace them with a points system, legal action on this is still ongoing. Somehow we think that is a conflict of interest and not conducive to being “independent”.

stop press 1
Just before publishing today’s article, ARDA once again unleashed its powerful propaganda arm in retaliation against Don and Irene’s FOX Property Man interview with Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi. This was Don and Irene’s attempt to warn the public about Diamond Resorts points not being able to be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. A timeshare member can list any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts with any of the 64 members of the LTRBA. The members feel the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points are more onerous than any of the major timeshares they do list.  

You decide the merit and purpose of this interview. The industry continues to ignore the secondary market preferring to promote surrender programs. While the elderly are often mentioned, many young families who feel they were defrauded on the front end of the timeshare purchase have reached out to Inside Timeshare to let their voices be heard.

http://wjla.com/features/7-on-your-side/7-on-your-side-uncovers-the-smart-way-to-break-away-from-your-timeshare

One of the many Diamond Advocates has reached out to the ABC reporter to offer a 101 in Truth. Why Diamond will not loosen its restrictions so that a member can actually sell their timeshare is a mystery.

Our National Timeshare Owners Association 20th Anniversary

NTOA – A Timeshare Member’s Only Voice

Lobbying

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

May 8, 2017

European timeshare member lobby efforts are in a state of upheaval due to the bankruptcy of TATOC. It is not always easy to determine if an organization is on the side of the timeshare member or on the side of the developer. One thing is clear. The timeshare developer is not on the side of the member when the interest of the member is at odds with the developer.

The National Timeshare Owners Association in the US is one timeshare member/owner organization unquestionably on the side of the owner or member. As the industry moves towards points, timeshare buyers don’t “buy” or “own” anything. I will use “member” from now on when referring to timeshare purchases.

Timeshares today are mostly a “right-to-use” program. Buyers “join” the program. Unlike a country club that charges a nominal initiation fee upon joining, a timeshare purchased directly from a developer usually involves an initial outlay of $25,000 to over $100,000. Unlike a country club, you can’t cancel at whim.

Signing a perpetual contract without a secondary market, or a limited secondary market at best, has given rise to a robust transfer agent scam industry and has been a boon for timeshare lawyers assisting those sold by “deceit, concealment or bait and switch”, defined by the FBI as White Collar Crime. There have been numerous lawsuits.

Timeshare developers have been unwilling to address the need for a secondary market, preferring to focus on voluntary surrender programs, which are not guaranteed. Often members must grovel before the developer seeking release from a timeshare they no longer need or want.

This unwillingness to allow a legitimate secondary market could lead to the industry’s demise. As one member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association told me, “Many of the calls to our office begin with – my parents got roped into this timeshare.”

Timeshare has had its share of ups and downs over the years. My husband and I bought our first timeshare in 1984, so we have ridden the waves. Never have I seen such an upswing in predatory lending and aggressive strong arm selling tactics. Never before has there been such a need for an organization that truly and purely is on the side of the timeshare member.

I asked Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association to describe the organization in a nutshell.

NTOA is a source of real and unbiased information and education. Over the organization’s 20 year history in the timeshare community, we have seen many ownership programs develop and later change. For example, developers have been converting to points programs from deeded intervals for several years. There are other major changes happening in vacation ownership and often owners are not keeping up with those changes. Our role is to help educate those owners (our NTOA members), assisting them to better understand their current ownership benefits”.

“Advocacy is another area we focus a lot of attention on in the United States, Canada and now Mexico. We work with law enforcement, regulators, legislators and attorneys, assisting in consumer protection and again educating all stakeholders on various threats to consumers that exist in the marketplace”.

“Finally we do everything we can to encourage owners to get the most beneficial interest out of their Vacation Ownership. As timeshare owners ourselves, we feel these are the three areas that owners typically seek knowledge and support from us.”

gregcrist600
Greg Crist: CEO NTOA

Inside Timeshare previously published an article about NTOA’s efforts chasing fraudulent timeshare transfer agents caused by the limited secondary market. This is one area the NTOA and the timeshare developer lobby organization ARDA share a common interest. As NTOA works so much behind the scenes, many timeshare members are not even aware of the organization’s existence.

We hope that will change as we launch a membership drive.

Here is one example of how NTOA worked with Eagle Crest in Oregon to stop this particular timeshare transfer fraud.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

As to the demise of TATOC in Europe, Greg expressed some dismay over the demise of this organization.

“The NTOA has worked with TATOC in identifying a number of rogue resale and secondary market companies over the past several years. To that end, our staff has shared intelligence and best practices for consumers and for foreign purchasers of timeshare intervals. We have always considered TATOC a partner in the war on resale fraud.”

I posed the following questions to Greg:

What can a timeshare member do to promote legislative changes to reduce the volume of complaints about aggressive selling and predatory lending?

Greg: The various state legislative processes are often fast moving and difficult to keep up with. Having success in this area requires a grassroots effort in states where owners reside. The optics that many legislators have is that our owners/members are not voters in the states where industry lobbying is prominent. We have to change that perspective so that elected officials are more receptive to the voices of owners.

What is NTOA’s three to five year plan?

Greg: NTOA is in the final leg of its expansion plan in North America. We have been working in Canada for the last three years and began working in Mexico in 2016. This year, we are participating in two industry conferences in Mexico and intend to have a consistent presence there going forward.

To accomplish this part of our mission, we rely on close relationships with other associations in those countries. This includes the CVOA, CARE, ASUDESTICO and ACLUVAQ. In working with partners, we can not only better assist our members/owners but also promote regional tourism as well.

Is there anything NTOA can do to promote a legitimate secondary market?

Greg: The secondary market is a very complicated problem and no one-size fits all solution will work. The NTOA is working with the C.A.R.E. resale task force to develop a better understanding of the barriers, challenges and opportunities for owners and HOA’s.

When you support the NTOA, you are supporting the only recognized independent association in North America supporting timeshare owners.

ntoa-logo

Timeshare Advocacy needs more member voices. We look forward to hearing from you. For more information about how to join NTOA, here is their website.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

NTOA has assisted many of our Inside Timeshare readers through member supported advocacy groups. We have several upcoming articles contributed by timeshare members reaching out to the general public and to current members by sharing their story hoping to promote increased awareness.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy is one Advocacy Group Inside Timeshare supports. We hope other timeshare member groups join the cause.

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

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

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

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA for his contribution to this article, as usual Irene has done a superb job of conducting the interview.

We would also welcome any views or comments on any article published, it is your voice, use it.

your voice

letter from america

A Timeshare HOA Collections Agent Shares her Experience

By Irene Parker, March 13, 2017

Hair pull

Inside Timeshare has written many articles about timeshare transfer agents, but not often does a timeshare developer offer insights from their perspective. Kristie works in HOA Collections at a west coast legacy resort. Her job can’t be easy, so we appreciate Kristie taking the time to answer our questions.  

The timeshare resort asked not to be identified. Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman’s response to the interview is posted at the end. We reached out to Timeshare Exit Team but they have not responded.

Irene: We are grateful that you have come forward to offer a developer’s point of view. Tell us your biggest concerns.

Kristie: I am excited to have been asked to offer my thoughts concerning this difficult topic and happy to provide any assistance you may need in the future. The biggest problem we see is that only the seller has to sign the deed. One thing that might help alleviate transfer scams is if both the timeshare owner and the resort representative had to sign to sell and receive property. Year to date I have tracked 85 individuals, representing $352,000 in uncollected dues because of what we consider to be fraudulent activity.

We have been able to address many fraudulent practices by working closely with the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA). Our establishment met CEO Greg Crist at the TBMA Orlando Conference a few years ago. Since then, we have worked together to stop some of the seemingly never ending fraudulent activity. Greg and his team have always provided positive outcomes. I would encourage every timeshare establishment to reach out to NTOA. They are the best in the industry.

Owners pay transfer companies thousands of dollars to be relieved of their timeshare which in the end often does not relieve them. This negatively affects the current dues paying owner with Maintenance Dues increases due to “Viking ships” that have no intention of paying dues. The term Viking Ships refers to Vikings who put their dead on ships and then shipped them out to sea.

We also work with Dave Heine @ requestmyestoppel.com. His program was set up to try to assist timeshare companies in an effort to stop fraudulent transfer activities by having a place for the purchaser & seller to sign as well as the estoppel & account information pages. His program can be built into any resorts policies. This saves all parties time and money.

Real Life Examples

The following article is about a Waunakee Wisconsin businessman who took over unused timeshares for a fee and will have to refund money to owners and return the timeshares to resorts, according to a consent judgment.

Jail

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/state-gets-judgment-against-waunakee-time-share-wholesaler/article_11d2cf8b-f2d9-5cdb-86d3-054e9148e417.html

NTOA works behind the scenes in their effort to stop fraudulent transfers.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

“Most NTOA members are timeshare owners, but twelve HOAs have joined NTOA as non-profit Associate Members. We assist HOA members when an HOA suspects fraudulent activity by working cohesively with the resort under attack while cooperating with and coordinating regulatory and law enforcement agency efforts,” Greg explained.

“Our HOA members agree to abide by NTOA’s Timeshare Owner’s Bill of Rights and Best Practices Agreement. Most if not all legacy resorts, meaning sold out traditional timeshare resorts, fight fraudulent practices on a daily basis. When a deeded timeshare is not properly transferred, the resort must hire a lawyer to resolve “clouded title” issues. This costs a resort from $200 to $2500,” he added.

Our interview continues:

Irene: Question 1 – Have you seen a dramatic increase in owners seeking release or more children and heirs taking over their week?

Kristie: We have seen both. Individuals seek a release because either they don’t want to burden their children or they have stated the kids don’t have the money or the time. Our resort and our owners have matured.  Other reasons for release include age, health, finances or are not able to travel like they used to.

If they do transfer the timeshare to the kids, they have stated it’s because they don’t want to give up the property and because of the wonderful memories. They want to keep the family tradition going.

Question 2 – Have your owners been successful selling their weeks and does your resort maintain a resale department or refer to Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers?

Some of our owners have had great success selling their week and some have had difficulties. Based on feedback, it seems that it is about 50/50, with half selling on their own and half having a licensed resale company sell it.

When a customer calls we strive to give them all the information they need to make an educated decision. We advise customers about the many frauds and guarantees and to stay away from timeshare attorneys. We advise them of the transfer costs and re recording fees and even provide the paperwork they will need.

Question 3 – What are the some of the problems you have encountered when owners seek release through transfer agents?

We see fraud and incorrect deeds being prepared and recorded.  It seems that nine out of ten transfer companies are fraud and when one gets shut down 20 more open up. We have seen timeshares that have been transferred to individuals and companies that keep buying them but then never pay dues.

We have new transfer policies in place for all resale companies. All companies requesting a transfer must provide their company information so we can make sure they are a legitimate company.  We also cross reference addresses and phone numbers and if we find that the customer has chosen a resale company that is not legitimate we immediately advise the customer.

Question 4 – Are you familiar with Resort Release, endorsed by FOX celebrities Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey? If so, what is your opinion?

I am not familiar with Resort Release but I am familiar with radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey and how they have endorsed certain resale companies. Unfortunately they are endorsing the wrong companies giving false information to clients. They both get paid to endorse companies to make it sound good regardless of the outcome. They are in advertising.

Most resale companies promise to get an owner out of their timeshare, but if it’s a deeded property they have to transfer the deed. The resale company might be able to get someone out of a contract, but they can’t get our customers out of a deed. The deed must be transferred to a legitimate party and all of our transfer procedures must be met for a transfer to be valid.

Question 5 – Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?

I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.

Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back. It seems as long as they get their money they will make an effort, but if it doesn’t work out in their favor they just transfer the deed to anyone without making sure of whom they are selling it to.

Our newest issue is with the US Consumer Attorneys. They also specialize in Timeshare contract cancellations. They have transferred deeds to the same individuals as stated above that have never paid, and seem affiliated with timeshare Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman.

We were never notified of the transfers and none of the procedures were followed. This seems to be a repeat of the Timeshare Exit Team accounts all over again. We would be happy to work with any timeshare resale company as long as the procedures were followed.

Question 6 – When you deny someone a release, and they foreclose, with no loan, do you or the collection agency file a lien or report this to credit reporting agencies?

The account is considered delinquent 30 days after the due date. We send a few letters before filing a lien on the property. Once the lien is recorded and the customer has received the final notice we send the account to a 3rd party collection agency. They will report the account to the credit bureau. They work the account and report it negatively for a year. After the year we pull the account out of collections and evaluate the account for litigation.

Question 7 – Are there any transfer agencies you feel are appropriate for owners denied surrenders or are they better seeking help from a timeshare attorney?

We refer our clients to a company called The Timeshare Guys @ 877-987-4897. This is a legitimate resale company that we use all the time.

http://www.timeshareguys.com/

We never refer our clients to a timeshare attorney. Everyone we have dealt with has taken money from our owners and not been able to perform the work they promised they would do. The timeshare attorneys send us letters telling us that their clients will no longer pay the dues and we need to transfer the deed back to the association. That is not our policy and unfortunately our customer paid thousands for something an attorney cannot do. In this situation we refer our customer to the Secretary of State, or State Bar Association to file complaints to try to get their money back.

Question 8 – If an owner is denied a release, how likely is it a transfer agent will be able to release the owner, as some transfer agents guarantee a release and others offer money back guarantees? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed transfer agent?

If our owner is denied a release, a transfer agent will certainly not be able to get the owner released. If they offer a guarantee and money back they are only deceiving the customer. The board members are the only ones that have the authority to release a client and there are policies that must be followed for that to happen and it does not happen often.

Question 9 – What do you charge an owner for a one week deed-back if your resort accepts the transfer?

Usually we charge two times the amount of the dues plus hard costs.  Each owner’s request is reviewed by the board and our owner’s situation is taken into consideration. The board will never agree to transfer the deed just because the owner is tired of paying. This is deeded property like a home and is treated as such.   

Question 10 – Are transfer agents necessary? If an owner is denied a release, ads say the owner can get released through a transfer agent. The deed goes back to the developer anyway and the owner can be charged $5000 or more.

Our association would rather deal directly with our owners to avoid the transfer agent fee but it seems the customer reaches out to transfer agent first. If the transfer agents were legitimate they would be helpful because they can prepare & file any paperwork.

Question 11 – Are there any other specific company names you can provide that timeshare owners should watch out for?

 

Kristie: There are so many timeshare resale companies that just pop-up and think they know what to do. I am not sure how they get lists of owners but they get the names and prey like wolves on consumers. Some of companies we have had the most problems with and would advise owner to stay away from are: Tek Solutions, Vacation Ventures, Resort Access, Tanya’s Timeshare, Superhealth Technologies, Sunshine Groves, Sunshine Clearing, Starla Missions, and Fireside Registry, just to name a few. Then we have the deliberate scams that timeshare attorneys and resale companies transfer to – individuals that never pay and never notify us. We usually find out about things like that when the customer gets the bill or we stumble upon it in the recorder’s office.

Irene: Thank you Kristie for answering my questions. It sounds like the popular timeshare slogan “Vacation Planning Simplified” does not apply to vacation un-planning. I learned a lot from Kristie’s answers. It will take some time to digest. Inside Timeshare will continue to unravel the mysteries of our timeshare world.

think box

Mr. Sussman responded as follows:

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit.

Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset, the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable.  When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a deadbeat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them and bravo to any attorney, willing to sue or otherwise punish the resorts for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

The views expressed in this article are the views of the interviewee. Timeshare transfer agents and the problems resulting from fraudulent transfers – as evidenced by the Department of Justice timeshare scam report linked in our article below – is a subject Inside Timeshare will be closely following.

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

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kristie for her time and insight, it gives owners / members more information on this mysterious world called timeshare. Also a big thank you to Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman, his views on owners being able to hand back without the need of an attorney will, we believe, be welcomed by many on both sides of the pond.

 

We welcome your comments and stories, contact Inside Timeshare if you have something you would like to share. It you the reader who provides the information which will help others.

 

friend-or-foe

Timeshare Transfer Agents and Exit Companies: Friend or Foe?

Irene Parker and I take a look at timeshare relinquishment comparing Europe to America. As many Europeans own timeshares purchased in America, it’s useful to have the complete picture. This time she asks the question “Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

For those not familiar with the term, Transfer Agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. (more on this further on).

In Europe we have a different take on this subject, as we do not have the same model of Transfer Agents like the US. We tend to have resale firms and exit companies, some purport to be legal firms, who for a sizeable fee will relinquish your contract. Many of these companies do both, so the lines can be a ltiile blurred. Although we do have some of the same problems, such as resorts /developers who do not recognise the sale and or transfer.

Here we bring in the ongoing story of two elderly sisters, known as Mrs B. Around two years ago they took up the services of a company  who claimed they would get compensation for them if they joined their “Class Action” group. But in order to do this they had to pay around £5965 to relinquish their two timeshares, one was Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote, the other was Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, run by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels.

Mrs B signed a power of attorney so the company could work on her behalf, all appeared to be above board. After around a year she eventually received notification that her timeshare had gone, both had been transferred / sold to a gentleman for £1 each. Inside Timeshare has all documents relating to this.

Sounds all well and good.

Well, as far as Oasis Lanz is concerned it is, Mrs B has not had any contact from them or received any maintenance bills. The problem is Dona Lola Club and MacDonald Resorts, they will not recognise the transfer. This has now caused a problem for Mrs B and her sister.

They have been subject to threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency, Network Credit Services, employed by MacDonald Resorts. According to them there is £1412.54 (as of April 2016) for maintenance, accrued after the supposed transfer, (this amount increases as time goes on).

So why do MacDonald Resorts not recognise this transfer?

On speaking to Network Credit Services and explaining that the debt was under dispute, Maureen stated that MacDonald Resorts will not recognise any transfer made by this company, because in Maureens words McDonalds just get paperwork back from  saying no longer required”. In other words, there was no actual sale or legal relinquishment. You will see the same in the article by Irene, using a company to take on the transfers.

This case is still ongoing with official complaints about the chasing of this “debt” going through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Another aspect that is very common in Europe is the “Bait and Switch” tactic employed by many companies claiming to be “resale” firms.

The basis of this method is very simple, the timeshare owner either contacts a company they have found on the internet, or, they have been cold called by. They promise they can sell your timeshare and even give a very high valuation over the phone. Next they arrange a meeting to discuss your options.

Unfortunately there is no resale market, with one company actually stating this, so what then happens?

Simple, in order to get rid of your timeshare you must now purchase another product, be it leisure credits or discount holiday club. At the meeting ( read sales presentation), you are told that the product will cost around £10k to £12k. But don’t worry, we will discount that price for the value of your timeshare, so it will only cost you a fraction of that amount.

This was used to dupe many owners into Club Class and DWVC, where the incentive was the cashback offer. With this you are given a certificate for the value of the timeshare plus the cost of joining the club. In 3 to 5 years, as long as you follow the rules (which were complicated) you could then claim back the value on the certificate. So far we have never known anyone who did get paid out.

But what happened to your timeshare?

For many it was simple, they did not get rid of it, then after a couple of years they found they owned years of back maintenance. The timeshares were not transferred or relinquished, they are still liable for the maintenance and still own it, causing many a stressful situation with debt collectors.

So, let us look at what the situation is in the USA.

Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

dollar    By Irene Parker November 20, 2016

Lately, a company by the name of Resort Release has been running an ad on my Facebook feed. It is always frustrating to invest time and energy campaigning to improve the timeshare industry, only to have companies we don’t approve of take out ads promoting their service. At least Inside Timeshare can control who posts on their site.

Transfer agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. The upfront fee ranges from $3500 to $7000 or more. Contracts taken back are “bundled” 25 to 50 and sold back to the developers, similar to what happened during the worldwide subprime mortgage crisis. The developers resell for full value.

What else can happen to the points or weeks or “inventory” recovered?

According to Greg Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association,   

“There are basically four buckets that transfer companies often attempt to put inventory into…

Bucket 1 – Works with an inventory broker who may or may not have a direct inventory recovery agreement. *Branded properties only

Bucket 2 – Lists timeshare properties on eBay and Craig’s List for $1.00

Bucket 3 – Transfers to “Mules” *Foreign Nationals who may be judgement proof

Bucket 4 – Transfers to Companies who later dissolve the corporation administratively. *Leaves resort pursuing a clouded title, doubling recovery costs and impacting association’s bad debt line, which all remaining owners on the roster end up absorbing.”

saleman

Keep Reading

flags

Dialogue: The Way Forward!

Today Inside Timeshare publishes another article submitted by Irene Parker, with the end of the election in the USA, Irene looks at the divide in the nation and how this also equates to the divide in the timeshare world. In this article she looks at the great gap between owners and developers, using a video from Parker J. Palmer titled Stand in the Tragic Gap, showing how there are two sides to any controversial issue.

Again Irene calls on developers to join with owners to find a solution which will benefit both parties, it has been said before in previous articles, until both parties work together then there is little hope for this industry. There are many owners who love what they have, but there are also many who feel they have been let down, either with the “resale” or “secondary” market, or down to the problem of handing back when no longer being able to use either from illness, financial changes or just old age. This is also a problem for many owners in Europe, some developers have put in place exit strategies, some are fair, others are downright greedy with up to 4 years maintenance payments and only limited numbers being allowed to exit on a first come first served basis. In other words you need the luck of a lottery win.

Inside Timeshare hopes this article will explain the problem and how it can be solved, enjoy.

 

How Will the Outcome of the US Presidential Election Affect Timeshare?

c1By Irene Parker, November 9, 2016

Like the Clinton and Trump camps, timeshare owners and developers cannot heal until the two sides listen to each other. If we continue to

“Stand in the Tragic Gap”

Timeshare will continue to be a battlefield with timeshare owners at odds with timeshare developers. True and meaningful dialogue could heal an election or timeshare. Sometimes timeshare and elections overlap, as in the case of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

According to the Tragic Gap, creator Parker J. Palmer says there are two sides to any controversial issue. One side Parker Palmer calls “corrosive cynicism” – “greed is how this works, I take mine, run and forget these other people and their needs.” The other side is “irrelevant idealism”. Parker Palmer claims both sides cause a functional disconnect that takes us out of action.

Ironically, my name is Parker and the CEO of Diamond Resorts is David Palmer.

Take a listen:

http://www.couragerenewal.org/723/

Next consider:

Timeshare owners of the Diamond Resorts Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.

But here’s how the CEO, David Palmer, described it to investors in 2014, per a NY Times article written by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morganson

“Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee,” Mr. Palmer explained to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript. “That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Many remember the junk bond debacle and subprime mortgage issues that drove unsuspecting homeowners into foreclosure, while unscrupulous lenders like Drexel Burnham Lambert made billions.

Keep Reading

data-theft1

Owners Data: Update.

Inside Timeshare has received an email from Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA in response to Edwards article yesterday on Owners Data. In his email Greg addresses the fact the developers community has been battling the issue of the the breach of owners records for decades. In his opening he states:

“I think the developer community has been dealing with “owner records data breach issue” for decades. Those lists of owners have been stolen…sold and resold many times over and it continues to happen at present day. (***Get a quote from the Orlando Florida PD – timeshare resale task force…and they will tell you that people are making more money selling lists of owner records than actually selling timeshare or resale***)”.

When you consider the last part, that people can make more money from selling these lists than selling timeshare or resale, it goes to show how valuable this information is. It is not just timeshare that has suffered, in the UK there was a proliferation of calls regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance), again where did this information come from? Was it stolen by ex-employees or sold by the companies themselves?

landing-pages

 

There is also another form of compiling these lists which does not involve theft, that is the landing page on the web. When searching the internet for say a resale company, you will quite often find a website which offers the service, on many there are no company details, they direct you to a form which you then fill in. It will ask for your contact information, what timeshare you own, the maintenance fees etc. This information is then sold to resale companies for quite substantial amounts per lead. There is nothing wrong in this, you have initiated the search and voluntarily given the information.

Another area which has resulted in personal information being sold is one that many have fallen foul of. When taking out a loan or even applying for a store rewards card, such as Tesco Club Card, how many people did not tick the box, this box was the opt out for your information being passed on to third parties, which may have or provide goods and services which may be of interest to you. Whether it has been changed we don’t know, but many declared that it should be an “opt in” not an “opt out”, quite simply the box was so small most never even noticed it.

The two examples above are not illegal, what is illegal is for employees or ex-employees to steal and then sell this information. In the world of timeshare, especially in Europe, many sales staff in the past were on commission only, in many cases some of the sales companies did all they could to withhold commissions. It was not uncommon for a client to “cancel” then the salesperson did not get paid, when in reality the client completed. This practise was instrumental in staff “stealing” the data, many even kept their own records for future use, a kind of unemployment insurance policy.

data-theft

Wyndham according to Greg has gone after former employees:

Wyndham has actually pursued former employees who either acquired the data illegally or purchased it from an insider to use for the thief’s own ill-gotten gains”.

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, Diamond has also informed their members of a claims company set up by ex-employees, who they say are using “stolen” client lists. They then contact the owners with a view to claiming compensation for misselling.

This is a problem and one can understand the industry in their view that legislation preventing owners groups such as HOA or Owners Committees from accessing this information, will protect them. But the question is who stole the information, was it the owners or the employees?

Will this legislation stop the theft of these lists by employees? Somehow we think not.

As highlighted in Edwards article, the Spanish Data Protection Agency even stated the information belonged to the owners, the resorts or management company were just “Custodians”. The Community of Owners are the true owner and controller. Yet we see them being denied access using data protection and protecting them from abuse as an excuse.

Is this just another example of a huge divide between the industry and owners?

In the end the developers need to work with owners if the industry is to survive, they need to listen and take note of the concerns of the people who in effect pay their wages and keep them in business. Without some level of cooperation there is no hope, both sides will be at loggerheads and who in the end will be the losers?

Word Cloud with Data Protection related tags

Owners Data: A Battle for Control.

Inside Timeshare is publishing the following article from one of our readers. Edward has been following Inside Timeshare for some time and regularly contributes information he has found while researching his own timeshare problems. This piece was prompted by previous articles on Wyndham and also the article submitted by Greg Crist of the NTOA, in the latter article Greg spoke of the Senator who stopped a bill which would have prevented HOA members from having access to the members database, this was for contact purposes about the issues which would affect the owners. The industry was against this, after all they do not want owners to band together and becoming stronger through knowledge. (see pdf at the end).

guest-contributor

Here is Edward´s post:

My resorts Committee, has been trying to get the members database from Wimpen for nearly 2 years to no avail. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency’s own 2009 consultation into the Data relationship between Administrator, Community of Owners and third parties concluded that the administrator was merely a user and custodian of the members database on behalf of the Community of Owners who it says are the true owner and data controller.

Wyndham

However, our efforts pale in comparison to Worldmark Resorts owners in the USA. As you probably know, Worldmark are part of Wyndham as are RCI.

Some years ago, Worldmark owners began a lengthy battle to gain access to the members database (register). Worldmark Resorts repeatedly refused to comply with successive California court orders to hand over the database to the members community. It went right up to the California Supreme Court who also ordered them to handover the database. Apparently, Wyndham are now sponsoring a bill in the California State Government that would in essence overturn the Court’s ruling.

Many years ago, Worldmark owners set up a very informative website and forum which is very scathing of Worldmark and Wyndham and details their battles which are still on-going

http://www.wmowners.com/forum/index.php?sid=f157827b2e092f5f1970da40bc056582.

Wyndham, I have read, consolidate all their groups’ members details into one database.

In 2008 and 2009, Wyndham’s database was hacked resulting in thousands of personal details being stolen, (which probably explains why, in 2010, I started to receive numerous suspicious telephone calls about my timeshare, which is information only Wimpen and RCI were party to and which both denied being the source of, but said it was a scam). The USA Federal Trade Commission investigated and found that Wyndham had very little in the way of security to their systems, their database wasn’t even encrypted.

http://scarincihollenbeck.com/law-firm-insights/litigation/cyber-security/wyndhams-data-breach-settlement-shakes-up-privacy-law/

I have also read that Wyndham have consolidated their timeshare owners points system with the RCI points system which some owners have claimed has diluted the value of their timeshare ownership.

Wyndham may have launched Ovation, their surrender programme, but as many Worldmark owners say ‘ Wyndham only do anything that benefits Wyndham’.

Personally, I would certainly be very wary of anything Wyndham do, in fact I am wary of anything timeshare related nowadays.

Diamond Resorts International

Another resort that has battled to get their members register is Poipu Point in Hawaii,

http://www.poipuowners.org/Home_Page.php.

The court papers makes very interesting reading

http://www.poipuowners.org/uploads/Lawsuit.pdf

as it sets out on pages 11 & 12, through CBS television’sUndercover Boss”, how DRI came about and their plans involving the acquisition/merger with Sunterra.

Thank you Edward, this will certainly get the debate going again.

discus

Data protection is a very serious matter, but when access to these members lists is required for a legitimate purpose, such as contacting fellow members about changes which will affect their ownership, surely bodies such as HOA and owners committees have a right to use them.

We know that there are some very unscrupulous people out there, from bogus resale, transfer and claims companies, but it must be remembered that the biggest source of data for these companies tends to be from disgruntled or ex-employees. It is not difficult to see the ease with which a disgruntled employee can obtain the data, it is then a valuable commodity and can earn them a small fortune.

This has been going on for many years, how many companies have been set up by ex-timeshare people, where did they obtain their data?

A recent manifestation of this problem has occurred concerning DRI members, they have been receiving text messages and calls from a new “claims” company. It is believed that they are ex-Diamond employees, even Diamond believe this to be true, they issued a warning letter recently to their members, Inside Timeshare checked on this and published the following article back in September.

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-owners-receive-text-messages/

Below is an extract from the Diamond letter:

“A number of ex-Diamond employees are claiming to have left the employment of Diamond when “it came to their attention that Diamond had mis-sold fractional points”, asserting that they can’t work for an unethical company. They are now offering a reclaim service, suggesting that they will secure a refund of the purchase price paid for points in Diamond Resorts European Collection Limited (DRECL) and the Diamond Resorts Fractional Owners Club”.

So is denying owners access a legitimate data protection concern from the industry, Greg Crist of NTOA said the following in the Redweek article. (Link follows the quote).

“When people need answers to questions about what’s happening at their resort, they deserve to get them,” said Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, based in Florida. “I am sensitive to the fact that there are bad operators out there seeking to take advantage of consumers by obtaining board data records, but there are legitimate reasons why members should be able to circumvent their boards and communicate independently.”

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

Inside Timeshare also published the following from Greg Crist on this subject in October:

http://insidetimeshare.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/More-from-Greg-Crist-at-the-NTOA.pdf

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.co.uk/2016_10_01_archive.html

This is obviously an ongoing debate, which will see a polarising of views, that of the industry versus that of the owners. Owners want a say in how their clubs are run and work, the industry it seems want to control, there must be a way for them to work together and turn what has become a tarnished product into something better. Once again only time will tell.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Edward, Greg and Irene for their contributions, Irene has been a great source for many links in this and previous articles, look out for more from across “The Great Lake”. 

thoughts

My Thought Today: End of October

So here we are the end of another month, we started October with news of a Supreme Court ruling which stated that “Fractional” was indeed timeshare. In this instance Puerto Calma, Holiday Club Finland was ordered to repay over £235,542.00 as they had sold it as an investment.

Then Inside Timeshare reported the news of the first prosecution in the ongoing Anfi Tauro Beach Project.  The former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority José Maria Hernandez has been charged with administrative malfeasance (wrongdoing in public office) and forgery of official documents. The prosecutor Javier Ródenas considers that Hernandez verbally authorised the works despite warnings of serious breaches then committed an act of forgery by drafting a document which was then signed by him in April. This document gave the impression that it was written in February when the work actually commenced.

Local residents build defences to protect their homes

We then published an article from Gran Canaria Info which explained recent developments into the goings on at Anfi.

http://gran-canaria-info.com/content/timeshare-law/anfi-del-mar-and-the-future-of-gran-canaria-timeshare-in-2017

This online publication is a great source of information to the expat community and visitors in Gran Canaria, it often publishes in English, news from the Spanish press.

letter from america

Moving on from timeshare matters in Europe we published a piece by Greg Crist, the CEO of NTOA (National Timeshare Owners Association) in the USA. He explained about a timeshare donation scheme which had recently been slammed by a US Federal Judge. In this scheme, owners donated their timeshares, which were valued at high amounts and then received tax relief as charitable donations. The scheme has cost the tax man around $19.4 million.

http://insidetimeshare.com/u-s-federal-judge-slams-timeshare-donation-scheme/

Greg again sent over information on what was happening across the pond, with the article about combating fraud. It was very much a month of information from the USA with articles from the Orlando Sentinel and Irene Parker on Marriott facing charges of “Racketeering”.

Irene Parker submitted another article, this time on how Barclaycards are being issued by timeshare sales staff. Irene was comparing this to the scandal of finance being arranged by sales staff in Europe without the normal due diligence being carried out. We finished the US theme with Irene´s article on timeshare and politics and how it is split between the two political camps.

The Anfi Tauro Beach project again hit the headlines with the news that the current Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno has been place under investigation for licences and permissions for the project. This followed on from the first prosecution and is still underway.

Also published was an article on Trustees in the timeshare industry and whether they are independent or not. This article was prompted by several enquiries from readers, with some of the content supplied by them. legal clipart

So to finish the month, Canarian Legal Alliance announced another two Supreme Court victories on behalf of their clients. In the first to be announced on 26 October, their client will receive 11,806€ and their contract declared null and void. Again the court reaffirmed its position that floating weeks are illegal, this case was against Anfi.

In the second announcement made on Thursday 27 October,another Supreme Court ruling, again against Anfi. In this ruling the client has been awarded 19,000€ and again the judgement was about floating weeks. The contract was also declared null and void. This now brings the total of rulings from the Supreme Court in respect of timeshare contracts to a staggering 27, with more still waiting to be heard, so there is more of this to come.

Just as we were about to publish news came in of yet another victory at the Supreme Court in Madrid, this brings the total number of rulings from the highest court in Spain to a phenomenal 28, you can’t argue that this particular law firm is not doing what is says.

The latest ruling this time involves another resort, Palm Oasis / Tasolan, the court ruled the client was not provided with all the information required by law, this resulted in the court ruling that the contract was flawed. In this instance the contract was declared null & void with the client being awarded 10,608€ plus legal interest. It would seem the courts in Spain at least, are on the side of the consumer, it only now needs other countries to follow that example.

It now remains to see what November will bring, if it is like this month it certainly will keep Inside Timeshare Busy. Have a good Halloween night and enjoy the party.

haloween

  • 1
  • 2