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Inside Timeshare

Supreme Court Roller Coaster

It would appear that the roller coaster of rulings from the Supreme Court just isn’t going to stop, it was announced on 8 July 2016 that Canarian Legal Alliance had just received ruling numbers 12 and 13.

CLA Logo

In ruling number twelve, their Norwegian clients had their contract cancelled and were awarded 31,998€ plus all the legal fees. The court has upheld previous judgements that contracts over fifty years and floating weeks are illegal.

 

Following on from that, ruling number thirteen was for a family in the UK, they were awarded a total of 82,808€ including double the deposit paid, legal fees and interest. As before the same principle was applied, contracts cancelled due to being over 50 years, floating weeks and the taking of a deposit within the 14 day cooling off period.

 

So within two days Anfi has been penalised by over 114,806€ for breaches of the timeshare laws. This does go to show the Spanish legal system will not tolerate companies who defy the legislation put into place to protect the consumer.

tribunal supremo

It is a wonder the timeshare industry has been able to get away with these illegalities for so long. Could it be because they held so much influence in the past they actually believed they were immune from the law?

 

Yet, we hear nothing from the trade body for the industry the Resorts Development Organisation, or even TATOC, the so called owners committees association. Surely if these two organisations were what they purport to be, I would have thought they would at the very least, make some kind of statement that they would sanction any member who still broke these rules. It is their members who are selling products deemed illegal, but not a word of warning to them.

 

It must also be pointed out that although these rulings have been made against the Anfi Group, it affects all timeshares whether fixed weeks, floating weeks or points sold anywhere within Spain, Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands. These rulings apply to any company that has not complied with the laws which came into force in January 1999.

2 MORE SUPREME COURT SENTENCES ( THATS 13 SO FAR )

 

So once again congratulations to the two families and well done to the legal teams at Canarian Legal Alliance.

champagne glasses

If you have any questions about this subject or anything about timeshare, resale or claims companies, Inside Timeshare will do its best to give you the answer. If we don´t know we will find out.

Shawbrook Bank Announce Irregularities in Timeshare Loans, Similar Activities in the USA.

For many people their Timeshare or Holiday Ownership was paid for on Finance, these loans were usually arranged on the day of signing the contract by the sales staff. One of these lenders is a bank called Shawbrook Bank, with their head office located in Brentwood Essex. The bank was founded in 2011 and according to their web site works closely with the holiday ownership industry to provide finance for their customers.

 

Unfortunately it was announced recently that the bank had set aside around £9 million to cover any defaults in these loans. This has come about due to the discovery of irregularities in the issuing of these loans.

shawbrook

Shawbrook Bank has admitted that it did not do its due diligence when approving the finance for holiday ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts, whose aggressive style of selling has resulted in many people being over stretched financially, then being lumbered with a product that they find is unworkable. They are also stuck with management fees that are continually rising, also being unable to get out of their contracts.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/28/shawbrook-banks-shares-plunge-on-9m-hit-from-dodgy-lending/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3663651/Shares-Shawbrook-drop-challenger-bank-reveals-loan-irregularities-cost-9m-finance-chief-quits.html

 

What did Shawbrook miss on its due diligence?

 

Quite simple, finance agreements made out by sales staff on the day of the sale have not had the usual credit checks made. Normally when a loan is applied for there are several checks that are made, we all know this as at some point we have had them. Firstly, does the applicant earn enough to qualify for the loan. Secondly, can the applicant actually afford the repayments, after other payments are taken into consideration, i.e. mortgage, living expenses etc. Lastly does the applicant have a good credit history, in other words have they defaulted on any other finance, be it loans or credit cards, or have they had county court judgements made against them

 

All these are the usual checks, being unable to fulfil any of these criteria would normally prevent the loan from going through.

 

Another aspect is how the applications are filled out, Many people spoken to over the years have said that the application had been filled out by the staff. It later transpired that the purpose of the loan had been made out as “home improvements” nothing to do with the purchase of holiday ownership. In some cases, even the income has been falsified. Unfortunately, for the applicant this could lead them to the possibility of criminal charges, after all they have signed the form.

edwincoe

This is not the first time a bank has hit the news in relation to holiday ownership, Barclays Partner Finance has been the subject to action in the High Court on this matter. Edwin Coe LLP, represented many clients of Resort Properties, who had been sold “investment packs” which were then financed by Barclays Partner Finance. On 16 August 2015, Edwin Coe LLP announced that the High Court had decided in favour of the consumer.

http://www.edwincoe.com/our-expertise/group-action-litigation/resort-properties-barclays-partner-finance/

http://www.edwincoe.com/high-court-decides-in-favour-of-the-consumer/

 

Many of these loans did not have the usual credit checks made, in fact Inside Timeshare is aware of an elderly couple who had been given one of these loans. They had been talked into one of the Resort Properties / Silverpointinvestment packs”, at the time he was 8o years old his wife 76, the loan was for £30,000, yet both are on pensions. When Inside Timeshare spoke with them, the question asked was, had you gone to your bank, do you think they would have provided the loan? Well we all know what the answer to that is. They are now taking legal action.

barclays

Unfortunately this is not just the case for Europe, in the United States the same controversy exists.

 

Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation has been highlighting this, on 27 April 2016, he published an article on a Credit Union which has been supplying loans for Diamond Resorts clients. Quorum Federal Credit Union has been in operation for 82 years, as with all credit unions they are member based.

quorum

http://sirf-online.org/2016/04/27/the-enabler-and-the-lifeline-diamond-resorts-and-quorum-fcu/

 

Quorum, has been supplying loans for the holiday ownership industry for years, Diamond Resorts are their largest portfolio. Diamond tend to send the riskier applicants to the credit union, these are those in the lower credit ratings, what the Americans call “subprime”. In other words the banks would not touch them with the proverbial barge pole.

 

According to Roddy Boyd the deal provided around $40 million in loans for Diamond and in return these borrowers became members of Quorum. Sounds like a win win for both, (not the consumer).

 

At least Shawbrook Bank have admitted that it has seen a problem in this area, setting aside a substantial amount to cover any future problems. In the end a loan for a holiday product which will on average be around £10,000 or more, is a huge commitment, not one that should be signed and approved on the day. Especially by the sales staff who have a vested interest in getting the “deal”.

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene Parker of the The Street for supplying the link to Roddy Boyd´s article. Do read it in full yourself as we have only just touched the surface, also read the following link, again it makes interesting reading.

 

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

 

If you have any questions relating to this article or any others published contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answer for you.

Warning to Diamond Owners from across the Atlantic.

Since Inside Timeshare published the article on the Apollo Global Management buyout 30 June 2016

 

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

 

We have been informed that Apollo and Diamond have issued a Fraudulent Calls Alert in the United States, this is published below.

 

Fraudulent Calls Alert

It has been brought to our attention that some of our members have been contacted by a company purporting to be representing Apollo Global Management, (Apollo) and referring to the recent merger agreement between them and Diamond Resorts International®. These calls are not genuine; Apollo does not, and will not, engage in any communication directly with any Diamond owner or member. Please be extra cautious when accepting contacts from anyone using any such introduction in which to discuss membership issues, particularly if you have been ‘cold called’ and/or being offered services such as resales and relinquishment options. Various tactics are sometimes used to manipulate timeshare owners into making payments on the pretext of promises made to resell, transfer or relinquish their ownership. Members can be persuaded to pay a significant up-front fee and very often, no service is provided.

 

We are publishing this as a preliminary warning to Diamond owners, no doubt as has happened in the past what goes on across the Atlantic will surely happen in the UK and Europe. The advice is be cautious and do your research before committing to anything. Inside Timeshare would like to thank the American readers for this information.

 

If you are contacted in this manner Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you so we can publish details in order to warn others.

News from across the Atlantic.

Recently Inside Timeshare has been collaborating with Irene Parker, who writes for the online Financial Journal The Street. Irene is a long time Diamond owner and has had many battles over the years, she has highlighted the way members are treated and the continual upgrading resulting in many people having financial difficulties.

 

She has written many articles on the subject of timeshare, mainly showing the financial side regarding the stocks and shares. Thanks to Irene and The Street, Inside Timeshare was able to break the news about the buyout of Diamond by Apollo Global Management. So it would seem that members of Diamond Resorts in Europe are not alone in how they are treated, they do have allies over “The Pond”.

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

collaboration

Scott Miller published an article in Latticework titled My Investment Case for Diamond Resorts International, this appeared to incense quite a few people, so Irene added her questions to it creating the Virtual Interview. This is it, hope you enjoy.

 

Is There a Disconnect Between Timeshare Owners and Venture Capitalists?

My apologies to John Bird and John “subprime” Fortune

 

By Irene Parker

July 7, 2016

I believe there is a bit of a “disconnect” between owners and venture capitalists.

http://latticework.com/my-investment-case-for-diamond-resorts-international/

Mr. Scott Miller, founder of Greenhaven Road Capital wrote the above article in defense of Diamond Resorts International.

The following are my responses to Mr. Scott Miller’s declarations about Diamond Resorts. His instructor was Adam Wyden of ADW Capital. Front Four Capital and ADW sent a letter to David Palmer last year urging a leveraged buyout – or in Wall Street lingo – exploring alternative ways of maximizing shareholder values……

 

My virtual interview with Mr. Miller:  

Keep Reading

Diamond Resorts or A Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

sunterradri logo

Diamond Resorts were unknown in Europe until the takeover of Sunterra in 2007, for many members, they believed it was going to be a new start. Sunterra formerly Grand Vacation Club had a reputation that was to say the least heavy handed, the sales side was aggressive and showed no quarter to those pulled in from the streets. Long standing members with fixed weeks refused to change as they had originally been sold their timeshares as “investments” in property. They also had the right to vote on maintenance fees and other matters which affected the resort they owned.

 

When Sunterra filed in the US for Chapter 11, which is the equivalent to filing for bankruptcy, many owners wondered what would happen to their “investment”. For those on holiday the talk around the pools and bars was what would happen next, rumours abounded. Information was non existent, the sales decks had been closed with all the reps being laid off. There were still a few of the in-house reps but they had no idea what was going on.

 

It was then announce that a new company from the States was looking at taking over from Sunterra. The takeover was announced in the Las Vegas Review Journal 28 April 2007. Steven Cloobeck´s privately owned Diamond Resorts paid around $700 million, and also took on responsibility of Sunterra´s debt of $375 million. Was this the new beginning the owners had been waiting for?

 

Unfortunately, as time has moved on, it has turned into a nightmare for many.

 

The points system was marketed very aggressively, more so than under Sunterra, owners were basically forced into converting. Around 2008 the first additional levy was introduced, Diamond claimed it was due to the state of the Euro to the Pound. This was only the start, in the first three years management fees increased by around 20-25% annually, for many owners this was a huge burden and they wanted out.


Keep Reading

New Claims & Disposal Company, But Where are they Based?

Another company has just popped up on the radar, Charles Ashworth Consulting, with the website:

http://www.charlesashworth.com/

 

According to their website they are a claims specialist company, they list various types of claims including PPI and Solar Panel claims. But their specialist area appears to be timeshare claims and disposal.

timeshare claims

Now the website was registered 6 May 2016 only just 2 months ago, with hidden registration details. On the home page they show three customer comments, two are for disposal and one is for what looks like a section 75 claim. What is strange is if the website has only been running for this length of time, how could these have been done? Section 75 claims usually take months and cancellation of contracts also take a long time. Fine if this company has been running long before the website, but no registration can be found at UK Company House or the equivalent in the Republic of Ireland.

 

The address for contact is Phoenix House, Monahan Road, Cork. This is business center which offers rental office space including one day use, virtual office facilities with telephone answering and mail collection.

 

The telephone number they give is: 028 9521 5532 which is for Belfast Northern Ireland. Where are they actually based, is it the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland? Another number found is 0121 667 8770 which is Birmingham England.

 

Nothing really adds up, surely if they are a company pursuing claims, should they not be registered?

 

They show no company registrations or any type of registry with any organisation such as the Ministry of Justice who oversee claims management. These are usually fundamental inclusions on any company website.

EU Judge

Remember, if you are claiming under section 75, the mains points of the claim are: you have not received the goods or services paid for or the company no longer exists. If you have had your timeshare for a number of years and have used it, then where is the claim? The credit card company will argue that you have received the goods or services paid for. Credit card companies will not pay out just because the contract sold has been deemed illegal. So in respect of companies promising claims under section 75, all you are paying for is a relinquishment. Then you must ask yourself will your resort accept it? Will they argue they do not recognise the company you are dealing with? If this is the case then you will have paid for nothing and are still liable for the maintenance.

In order to claim the full amount paid for your timeshare, you must have purchased or upgraded after 5 January 1999 in Spain, the contract must be for more than 50 years, a payment made within the 14 day cooling off period or you have been sold floating weeks or points systems. Then the only way to get this money back is through legal action in the courts, then your contract will be declared null & void also.

 

So once again it pays to do your research before dealing with any company, if you have had any contact with a company and want to know more about them, Inside Timeshare will help you find the answer. If you want to know how to find a law firm who can help you we will point you in the right direction.

 

Diamond Resorts Bought by Apollo Global Management

News came in to Inside Timeshare yesterday afternoon 29 June 2016 that a Private Equity Firm, Apollo Global Management had bought Diamond Resorts International.

 

The deal is reported to be worth $2.2 Billion, the stock for Diamond had risen from $25 to $29 a share within hours of the announcement. One analyst in the States, Chris Demuth has already suggested that the Wyndham Group may even purchase the company. He believes that Wyndham may even pay around $36 to $39 a share.

dri logo

Apollo Global Management was founded in 1990 by Leon Black, he was a former banker with Drexel Burnham Lambert. Drexel had closed earlier that year after a securities scandal which resulted in the bank having to pay $650 million in fines. Being unable to repay a $100 million debt it collapsed.

 

According to the online financial journal The Street, Bloomberg had called Drexel Burnham Lambert “Renegades of Junk”, due to its involvement in the junk bond market. Irene Parker a writer for The Street and a Diamond timeshare owner herself, believes that this title is more fitting for Apollo Global Management after its acquisition of Diamond Resorts. (follow link below).

 

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

 

In her article for The Street, she explains her anger at the way Diamond has treated owners of its timeshares. She is in the process of writing a series of articles highlighting this, Inside Timeshare will be keeping you informed as they appear.

nyt logo

On the subject of the share prices, Inside Timeshare published an article in April, based on a report by Gretchen Morgansen of The New York Times. It highlighted the plunge in share prices following a series of reports about Diamonds treatment of owners, especially the elderly. It followed the story of a 77 year old lady called Mary Ann Gutierrez, she was subjected to an intense presentation by Diamond reps and basically held captive for around 5 hours, It was an attempt to upgrade her for a steep upfront fee, even though she had firmly told them no she was not interested.

 

The article also highlighted how Diamond hike up the maintenance fees after it buys a bankrupt resort. European owners are well aware of this themselves, after all they did see huge rises when Diamond took over from Sunterra around ten years ago. We are also well aware of how they make it virtually impossible to get out of the contracts. For those who purchased in Spain there is at least hope that these contracts can be declared “Null & Void”, also resulting in all the original payments being given back. All this has been made possible due to the strengthening of the laws in Spain, and the rulings of the Supreme Court, these can be found on the Canarian Legal Alliance website. (see following links).

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-resorts-international-share-price-falling/

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/diamond-resorts-court-case-victory-2/

 

If you have any questions as to how this may affect you, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answers for you. If you would like to know where you stand as far as making a claim or how to get out of your contract Inside Timeshare will be happy to give you the best advice and information possible.

 

My Thoughts Today End of June

So here we are the end of another month and half way through the year, and what a month it´s been. More rulings from the Supreme Court, more clients awarded substantial amounts and even more cases in the pipeline.

 

The article published 13 June 2016, regarding maintenance arrears and debt collectors has had a great response. Lots of support for the plight of Mrs B, including some personal messages from some legal eagles on how to help her, for that Inside Timeshare is grateful.

 

So far there has been no contact from Network Credit Services, even though they gave her a final notice to pay up within 7 days. Since then she has had her phone connected to BT Call Guardian, so she can block any unwanted calls. Having spoken with her today she is in good spirits especially after giving her the news of support coming in from many different quarters.

debt collectors

On the point of timeshare companies actually going to court for maintenance arrears, Inside Timeshare has been advised from a reliable source that one company has indeed done so. The owner actually had court officials knocking on his door to enforce the order to pay Anfi the arrears. We are waiting for written confirmation of this. Again are these companies by-passing the Spanish legal system to enforce payments, due to the fact that under Spanish law those contracts are illegal and unenforceable? Is it a case that the courts in the UK need to get a grip and realise what is going on?

 

There is still no news from the courts regarding the RCI Action, being brought by Edwin Coe LLP. As stated before the wheels of the law do move at a rather slow pace, but when we find out we will let you know.

 

On 14 June 2016, the spoof article on the new member to the blog writers trade association was published, it was fun to write and certainly made people laugh. But underlying the article was a very important point, this has been borne out by some of the comments received. It was very surprising to find how many people actually agreed with it. Yes it was scathing, but that was point. A trade body set up to regulate an industry should do just that, not allow its members to do as they wish and ignore the laws that are in place to protect the consumer.

 

The TCA also published an article about Silverpoint Vacations (an RDO member), losing at the courts in Tenerife. The full translation of the document shows the case was another to do with the perpetuity contract being illegal. In their article the TCA do state which company brought the case on behalf of the client. But it does show the courts are finding on behalf of the consumer.

 

Also this month we have highlighted a company which is stating they can claim against the timeshare companies. From the many enquiries received and the information given by those who have attended meetings, our first impressions have been found correct. Again this goes to show that in-depth research is required in order to safeguard yourself.

on holiday 2

The summer holiday season is also now upon us, for those travelling to Europe, the only advice is beware the ticket touts. Remember if you do decide to purchase anything such as timeshare or one of the numerous holiday clubs, it is illegal to take any payments within the 14 DAY COOLING OFF PERIOD. Do your due diligence, if it sounds too good to be true, alarm bells should ring. If you are unsure, then don’t sign. Happy holidays.

Victory Number 11

here we go again

Last week 17 June 2016 Canarian Legal Alliance announced that it had just achieved another ruling at the Supreme Court. This now brings the total in just over a year to Eleven, with from what I have been told many more in the pipeline.

 

In this particular case, the court ruled as before on the precedent it previously set, that any contract sold in Spain which is longer than 50 years, is illegal according to the law 42/1998. In this case the English client will receive 11,000€, and their contract with Anfi cancelled. As usual the legal fees will probably have been awarded as well, although this was not mentioned. (But in all previous rulings this was the case).

 

This can only bode well for other firms who are now taking up the challenge of representing timeshare owners, as before this it was very hit and miss. Many firms would not risk the task, as the odds tended to be in the favour of the timeshare companies. It may have been due to the complexity of the timeshare laws and the fact very few had the knowledge or experience to represent the owners.

 

It would seem then that the tide has really turned in the favour of the consumers, rather than the companies, who in the past believed they were above the law. When these case are brought by other firms, Inside Timeshare will publish the results. So watch this space.

 

So again congratulations to this particular client and the legal team who must have worked hard to achieve this result.

champagne

If you have any questions about this or any of the articles published contact Inside Timeshare for free and impartial information.

Another Warning to Timeshare Owners

It has just come to the attention of Inside Timeshare of yet another bogus company. This has come from Citizens Advice Bureau Spain

and can be found at the following link.

http://citizensadvice.org.es/yet-another-timeshare-scam/

It concerns a company cold calling timeshare owners going by the name of Malaga International Services, claiming to be translators for the Malaga Courts. The call comes from a Grace Stead, who claims that a substantial amount has been awarded by the courts to timeshare owners. They claim this follows a case in which their timeshare company has been prosecuted for fraud and found guilty. In order to claim this money, the person needs to deposit 10% of the awarded amount into a bank account, in order to pay the courts, then the money will be released.

Beware this is not how the courts or the system operates, if you have not instigated any legal proceedings yourself, or if you have not been informed by any official channels then there is no money being awarded.

Luckily the lady who received this call was advised by her husband to contact Citizens Advice Bureau Spain, before she went to the bank.

Further information will be forthcoming about this, I am waiting for information from this organisation who do have the telephone numbers and bank account details. Watch this space.

If you have had any calls such as this by this company or any other Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. We will look into it for you and publish our findings to warn others.