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Hawaii Collection

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter From America, Irene Parker’s article this week focuses on eleven Platinum Diamond Members who have had problems. But first a round up of the news from Europe.

Once again, those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have made legal history in Spain. Back in March 2015 they secured the first Supreme Court ruling against the timeshare industry, on Tuesday 13 June, they did it again with their 50th ruling from Spain’s highest court. From our sources, no other law firm in any field has managed to get this many rulings through this court. It certainly has shaped the way the timeshare laws are now being applied.

This latest ruling was against Silverpoint in Tenerife, a company with a long history of litigation against them. Since January the Supreme Court has ruled on no less than 10 cases brought by CLA on behalf of their clients.

Yesterday, Thursday 15 June, it was also announced that the Court of First Instance of Granadilla de Abona Tenerife, has ruled against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. The client’s contract was declared null & void and the court ordered the return of over 29,000€ this was because the contract was the Diamond points system.

On Wednesday 14 June we published the Anfi CEO’s letter to members, in his letter he still indicates that the Supreme Court has got the perpetuity contracts decision wrong, he also says that it is not true that Anfi are losing. Well here we go, Wednesday 14 June, the High Court No 3 of Las Palmas once again declared an Anfi contract null & void in respect of the contract being over 50 years in duration (perpetuity) and that it also contained “Floating Weeks”. In this case they have been ordered to pay back over 10,950€

The truth is there and plain to see, it can also be easily verified through the courts themselves. Sounds like the “Fake News” syndrome is catching!

At least in Spain, consumers are getting the protection of the law, maybe our cousins across The Great Lake will take heart, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Now to Irene’s article.

 

Eleven Platinum Diamond Members Cry Foul

Romeo and Lily Dalisay Share their Story

be strong

By Irene Parker

June 16, 2017

It’s not easy to stand up against wealth and power, whether you are a woman accusing a famous comedian, or a former FBI Director accusing the President of the United States. Any timeshare member who has come forward to share their story can relate to the discomfort felt when the decision has been made to stand up publicly for truth and justice.

Inside Timeshare previously published the story of Romeo Dalisay, age 70, and his wife Lily, age 71, a California Filipino family. Romeo is a retired physical therapist and Lily a hand therapist. The family has maintained a good credit score until now, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life.  Mary was working just to pay for their Diamond Resorts loan and annual maintenance fees, but can no longer work due to complications from diabetes.

Romeo and Lilly decided to release their identity after reading Angela Johnson’s Inside Timeshare article. It was also of great comfort to read about the Fournier family and the lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts by attorney Amir Goldstein, as the Fournier family is struggling with the foreclosure process as well.

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

The Dalisay family is one of eleven Platinum Diamond member families that have reached out to Inside Timeshare alleging they were up-sold to a higher loyalty level by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.

Out of the eleven Platinum member complaints, Diamond’s Advocacy Department has resolved three. Three of the eleven complaints involve Diamond’s rental policy change, which states Diamond members can only rent to friends or families. All hold contracts allowing rentals and were sold on the benefits of renting.

philipines flag

The Dalisays are one of four Filipino families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare. Diamond has helped two of the four Filipino families resolve their complaints. The Dalisays first article was translated into Tagalog.

Diamond Resort’s non-deeded vacation points cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, so families find themselves forced to foreclose if they are not eligible for a voluntary surrender due to a loan outstanding. Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with an LTRBA member due to restrictions the company has placed on the use of secondary points the LTRBA members feel are more onerous than other major timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints from Diamond members concerning Diamond’s Polo Towers and Cancun Resorts sales tactics. Of the eleven Platinum members filing complaints, six are from these two resorts. One of the six was up-sold by a Polo Towers sales agent while she was training Diamond’s sales agents in Virginia.

In brief, here is a description provided by nine of the eleven Platinum member complaint allegations that do not concern the rental issue except for Irina. Irina Allen has been accused of renting, although she says she only posted one ad on RedWeek on the advice of her sales agent. There are many Diamond rental ads posted on RedWeek. Irina also alleges she was upsold by deceit. The families are listed only by number.

  • Ka’anapali Hawaii sales center, up-sold from US to Hawaii Collection or there would be no Hawaii availability. Virginia sales center, up-sold to take advantage of a 30 cent maintenance fee reduction program that did not exist, Polo Towers Las Vegas sales center, “should have been invited to a meeting” up-sell from Hawaii to US Collection, or they would regret being Hawaii Collection members.
  • Branson MO up-sold to obtain a survivor release benefit, already available, a Ka’anapali up-sell US to Hawaii claiming only Hawaii points can be rented and only Hawaii members have survivor release options.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell because points will appreciate and buying Legacy points is the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy upsell so they could sell their points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Unresolved Irina Allen up-sold in order to use secondary points, the subject of an upcoming article.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved.
  • A Polo Towers sales agent, working in Virginia to train Virginia sales agents (as she said she helped developed many of Diamond’s policies), a Hawaii to US upsell or there would be no US availability. US to Hawaii upsell or there would be no Hawaii availability and renting Hawaii points is allowed only in Hawaii to cover maintenance fees.
  • Romeo and Lily Dalisay described herein.

Back to Romeo and Lily’s story in their own words

The Dalisays are former Monarch owners. Convinced to give up their Monarch deed, they currently own 60,000 Diamond points. The mortgage balance is $85,968 financed by Diamond at 13.1% and the monthly payments are $1,375. Maintenance Fees for 2017 are $9,034. Historically, according to information culled from lawsuits, Diamond points have sold for $3 to $4 a point, so the Dalisays have spent at least $200,000 on vacation points.

Many Monarch owners at all loyalty levels have contacted Inside Timeshare alleging deception, claiming they were told they had to buy additional points due to Monarch’s bankruptcy as they were responsible for their share of Monarch’s debt, when in fact many Monarch owners were able to deed back their Monarch week for a $250 fee.

In Romeo’s and Lily’s words

In Las Vegas at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in 2013, we were told we should have received an invitation to attend a dinner to discuss the transition from Monarch Grand Vacations to Diamond.

“You should have been invited to a dinner” is being used today on Gold Key and Intrawest owners. It seems designed to confuse.

The sales agent asked us to write a letter stating we did not receive the dinner invitation and therefore should be given the same price per point as those who attended the dinner. He faxed our letter to a Las Vegas Diamond office. We were told that due to Monarch’s bankruptcy we would lose our equity if we did not purchase additional Diamond points. The promised one hour meeting lasted five hours. We eventually broke and signed a contract to buy more points.

We constantly received telephone calls asking us to attend more updates. We generally turn them down, but accepted an offer from Diamond’s Cancun Resort. A previous telephone sales encounter from Cancun lasted over three hours.

In Pomona, California July 2015 at another meeting, we again were told we had to get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch.

This is a difficult topic and one of great interest to Intrawest and Gold Key owners as well because it is unclear how diminishing numbers of deeded members will be treated. At a 2016 Monarch Annual Meeting it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners had not paid their 2016 Maintenance Fees.

The Pomona sales representative said that if we keep our Monarch deed, we will be assessed increased maintenance fees to pay for the repair of the Cabo property caused by a hurricane. Another example he gave was the water damage at The Point at Poipu, a Diamond acquired property in Hawaii.

This meeting lasted over five hours until midnight. Focus, decision making ability, and judgement falter if kept that long. The increase in maintenance fees after this purchase started our financial struggles.

A total of four credit card accounts were opened to pay the down payment.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-finance-barclays-hot-water-high-court/

In 2016, we took out loans to pay our maintenance fees. We also used points to pay maintenance fees, but a point purchased for around $4 is only worth $.04 if used to pay maintenance fees.

stick men

Many of the tricks of the timeshare trade, like promising a buy-back program when none exists, are not unique to Diamond. What is unique is an organized effort among 5,000 Diamond member supported Websites and Facebook members determined to report deception when it occurs by obtaining the sales agent’s name and ID number, the resort location, and date and nature of alleged deceit. In other words, we act to hold Diamond accountable when members feel “the script” is nowhere to be found.

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

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

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

We hope the goals of accountability and transparency promoted by Diamond’s new CLARITY™ program are acted on and enforced as we work in partnership to make sure they are.

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. It is our hope that one day timeshare developers will not look upon customers such as those described in this article as “the enemy”. Those mentioned in this article with issues resolved issues were initially denied and had to fight for a positive outcome. We teach our children to admit when they make a mistake, but grown-ups working in the corporate liability world must abandon this important principle in order to survive in a sometimes customer unfriendly world.

truth set you free

So there we have it another week over in the murky world of timeshare, thanks to all those who contribute, either by writing their stories or just giving us the heads up on the latest news. The truth is out there as Mulder and Scully from the X-Files would say, it is just a matter of who you wish to believe, those who sold it to you or independent sources?

friday dog

Have a good weekend.

stop press

Just as we were about to publish this news came in from the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, (Diamond Resorts Management Ltd), Club Sunterra Europe Ltd,(Sunterra Europe Ltd) Diamond Resorts International have just been ordered to return over 33,451€, with the client’s contract being declared null & void.

Friday Review: News from Across the Ocean

Inside Timeshare once again publishes the Friday article from across the Great Lake (The Pond to our American Cousins). Today a new contributor, Laurie Sabbagh, with additional notes from our senior writer Irene Parker, who is doing a great job in rousing timeshare owners in the US to work together and improve the industry.

Firstly, we are getting more and more information on that outfit operating out of Tenerife, the Litigious Abogados family. The latest addition which we reported on 14 March Abel Garcia, was very interesting. As we said in the article, the website was registered on 5 January 2017, the name of the “law firm” was never heard of, yet the court document showing “Keith Baker” being sentenced, is dated 17 January 2017. Well we have never heard of a case going to court and being adjudicated with sentence being passed within 12 days. Wow, these lawyers are good!

We have also heard from another reader who had dealings with Stephen Fairclough and Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultancy Limited, another figure of just under £6000 has been paid, given the details of Jose Dorta of D&M Lawyers, yet no case or anything. This reader also suspects that the elusive Stephen Fairclough is back in Portugal.

So now on to our new contributor.

A Diamond Resort Member Does Her Timeshare Homework

Timeshare Members Instructing Other Members

Board

By Laurie Sabbagh  

Notes from Irene

March 17, 2017

Diamond Resorts member Laurie Sabbagh is also a member of our Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Page. Our mission statement:

We seek to provide Diamond Resorts 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/

Today Laurie educates prospective and current owners. Not many timeshare buyers comparison shop. Timeshare sales presentations are almost always same day sales. A timeshare sales agent named in the Colorado Attorney General’s investigation of Highlands Resorts explains why:

“According to Highlands Resorts” sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

From Laurie:

I recently started reading the invaluable Inside Timeshare articles and web postings of timeshare advocate Irene Parker after joining the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group. In February I posted that I would soon stay at Diamond’s Los Abrigados resort in Sedona. Irene asked me to attend the “members update” to find out if sales agents were adhering to the Arizona “Assurance of Discontinuance” rules.

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

After more than ten years of dodging the member updates, (i.e., sales pitches), I reluctantly accepted the invitation from the concierge to attend a 55 minute presentation.First, a little background on my Diamond “The CLUB” membership:

My membership started in 2006, when I purchased 8500 points in the Hawaii Collection when it was part of Sunterra. This vacation ownership interest (VOI) gave me a right of use equal to one week at either the Point at Poipu in http://Kauaior the Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Maui that I could reserve 13 months out, plus have access to resorts in the US and California Collections. In 2011 I received notice of a special assessment (SA) for a water intrusion problem at the Point. I scoured the internet to find out what was happening and learned that Sunterra knew about this massive liability when I purchased my vacation ownership, but its salespeople most likely weren’t informing prospective buyers about the problem prior to DRI’s impending purchase.

http://www.tstoday.com/members/magazine/issue123/7-poipu%20point.pdf

I was able to absorb the cost of the SA and considered myself lucky compared to owners who were on the hook for around $6,000 per deeded week for the water intrusion project – as many as 500 owners defaulted on their units because they either couldn’t or refused to pay the assessment. By reading Redweek and TUG I learned that management companies can change the terms of the Vacation Ownership Interest VOI membership agreement at any time, for practically any reason. I also read posts about high-pressure and questionable sales tactics being used to get consumers to buy into the various Collections  – some Hawaii Collection members were being told to get out of that collection by buying more points to transfer into the US Collection to avoid future SA’s, and vice versa. Reading about other people’s’ experiences was a wake-up call that it was not in my best interest to buy any more points.

Note from Irene:

I have received several complaints from people who attended sales presentations (one at Daytona Regency) told they should not have bought Hawaii Collection Points because Hawaii maintenance fees were going to increase dramatically or were encouraged to transfer Hawaii Points into the US Collection because Hawaii real estate is valuable, Hawaii Collection owners only can rent Points and only Hawaii members’ heirs can refuse inherited Points. Each transfer requires the purchase of more Points.   

Now to Laurie’s member update:

Two people

The promised 55-minute update turned out to be about three hours. The first salesperson, with whom I spent most of the time, was courteous and not high-pressure, although she did advise me to buy more Points to bring me into the Silver loyalty level which is 15000 Points. But to upgrade to Silver they were going to charge me over $8.00 a point, which would have cost more than $50,000! She also said the Hawaii Collection maintenance fees were more expensive and that I should join the US Collection. However, the second sales person I spoke with said with my small number of points, it costs only about $100 more per year.

Note from Irene:

According to SIRF Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Diamond points historically have sold for an average of $3 to $4 a point through 2014, according to data obtained from lawsuits. In a prior article, we reported Apollo plans to raise the price per point to $10 and then $12 per point.

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

Back to Laurie’s sales presentation:

The sale’s agent also said that Apollo Global Management, the owners of DRI, would freeze that price for me for 18 months, and that the price was likely to rise soon.

Note from Irene:

Apollo Global Management founder, banker Leon Black, also founded Drexel Burnham Lambert of junk bond fame. Junk bonds did have some value, but a Diamond contract becomes worthless the moment it is signed should an owner need to sell, unless a friend or family member is willing to buy the Points.

Laurie:

I was also told that DRI members can use Points like cash for items such as airline travel, hotels, luxury items, and guided tours and adventures.  For example, Diamond Luxury Shopping enables Platinum and Gold members to apply Points towards products that are 30% off the best market price. But at a redemption point of $.30 per Point, this seems exorbitant to me.

Note from Irene:

I tried to use Points for an airline ticket. The Points we bought for $4 were worth $.07 for travel awards (Platinum $.10) so for $2,300 in equivalent maintenance fees dollars I could buy one domestic US flight. Customer Service told me this benefit is for convenience, not value.

Back to Laurie

Another example is that members can use 1500 points to purchase America the Beautiful – the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass.  My 8500 Points cost $1,973 this year, which includes maintenance fees, The CLUB fee, taxes, and mandatory membership in Interval International. That comes to about 23 cents a point.  For me, 1500 Points for the pass equates to $348, not including the $10 processing fee for my “Valued” level of The CLUB membership. I paid $80 for the same pass at a National Monument we just visited. Seniors over 62 pay $10.

At the end of the presentation a third person asked me some questions, including if I was treated courteously. I said yes, but also said I was not interested in buying any more Points with DRI. I declined the $100 Visa gift card, since that was not my reason for attending the update.

All said my elderly parents and I had a wonderful week at Los Abrigados. I was able to secure the historic Stone House, an 1800 square foot property with four separate entrances for only 6500 points. I almost always book weeks for 50 to 75 percent off, within the 59 day discount period, and have experienced good value for my points.  Every year I’ve been forced to vacation or lose my points, and I’ve taken about 18 weeks of vacation at DRI resorts since I bought my membership. If I had not purchased this VOI, I never would have gone to all the places that The CLUB membership has enabled me to visit. However, I advise other members to only use points for timeshare use, not the auxiliary products or non-resort vacation experiences DRI offers.

Thank you to Laurie for sharing her knowledge and experience. Email us at Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare story you would like to share.

share

Thank you Laurie and Irene, once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who contribute, either through writing articles or supplying information on possibly rogue companies. It is through your efforts that we can inform the timeshare world on what is going on.

On another note Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated for the Canary Awards which recognises individuals and businesses that make a difference on the Canary Islands.

Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated in the Real Gran Canaria category for their outstanding services to timeshare consumers and their efforts in the changing of consumer law.

In the Business Person of the Year category is Csilla Nazali, the operational manager of CLA for her outstanding work with all the clients.

Follow the link and vote for them, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

http://thecanaryawards.com/vote/voting-categories-page-1-of-2/