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Irene Parker

2016 End of Year Review

So here we are at the end of another year and what a year it has been, it started with the relaunch of Inside Timeshare, bringing you truthful information and news you would otherwise not get.

One of our first articles explained what fly buys are, the fact you would get a cheap holiday but be subject to attending a presentation. At this you would be pitched a holiday product of some sort, be it a holiday club or timeshare. The article also warned of the pitfalls of not attending the presentation, either being charged the full accommodation price and in many cases being removed from the resort.

We also highlighted many “scams” that timeshare owners have been subjected to over the years including many new ones. The latest being the article on Litigious Abogados (see links). We also showed how some of the so-called resale companies operate, giving you the reader the information to make an informed choice.

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-latest-information/

CLA Logo

Another theme Inside Timeshare published was the on-going woes of Anfi, the first article titled: “The Great ANFI Battle of the Partners”, explained the story of the two partners in the Anfi empire, the Lyngs and the Cazorlas. We then published the story of legal history being made with the very first Supreme Court ruling, this was the case of the Norwegian lady, Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her battle with Anfi. The case was brought on her behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Since that auspicious occasion, Canarian Legal Alliance has gone from strength to strength, securing 36 rulings from the Highest Court in Spain, 29 of these have been against Anfi. Others have been against TasolanPalm Oasis and Holiday Club Puerto Calma, with the ruling against Puerto Calma confirming the Fractional did indeed come under Timeshare Laws. This resulted in around 243,000 Euros being returned to a British client.

There have also been 24 High Court and 21 Local Court rulings against various timeshare companies including Resort Properties / Silverpoint and Club La Costa. Some of these Courts have been in Maspalomas, Arona, Barcelona and Fuengirola. There are approximately 800 live cases in various courts and over 2000 clients. The total claim value is around 80 million Euro, with 117.208.00 Euros reclaimed per month, there are on average 2 to 3 cases per week being heard.

(These figures are what we have on file, there have obviously been more cases, but we have yet to receive an update).

This is certainly an impressive achievement by this law firm, who has in the past suffered from some very negative press instigated by the industry itself. Inside Timeshare congratulates the whole team at Canarian Legal Alliance, including the clients who in some cases have waited years for these results.

Another series of articles have been about MacDonald Resorts and the ongoing battle of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price. It is a case that has riled us at Inside Timeshare, who are fighting on her behalf. The story revolves around MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept that she no longer owns a timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain, continuing to harass this 87 year old via a debt collecting agency Network Credit Services. This harassment has included threats of court action to recover a debt that is not owed, this case has been referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight this case until MacDonald Resorts abandon the chase for money. It must also be noted that the RDO, which is the industry trade body has also washed their hands of this company.

In the April article “The Resurrected” a warning was issued about an old company from Fuengirola had come back to life. It is the story of Ramirez and Ramirez, who several years ago were very active in deceiving many timeshare and holiday club members out of thousands for bogus claims. It must be said that very little has been heard of them since.

Mark of excellence

We have also had a few light hearted moments, although they did come with a serious message. In the spoof article “A New Member to EGTBW”, it explained about the trade bodies for the timeshare industry operate. This was extremely fun to write and gave many people a good laugh, the only problem was that it was actually based on fact.

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-member-egtbw/

Back in July we started to publish the ongoing story of the Tauro Beach Project, the fact that irregularities had been uncovered and an investigation had been started by the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA). As the story unfolded the Head of The Canarian Coastal Authority had been dismissed and is now awaiting trial for wrong doing in public office and forgery of official documents. Then in August we published the story of the local inhabitants and their homes being flooded, this instigated further investigations which also include the local mayor. The story continues. (search Tauro Beach for further information).

We also teamed up with Irene Parker in the United States, she has provided some valuable information and interesting articles on the world of timeshare across the Great Lake. Below is her latest article.

What Timeshare Owners Can Look forward to:

Timeshare Lawsuits 2017

By Irene Parker,  December 26, 2016

2017

Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:

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

The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys general:

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

Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and  solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.

Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?

round-table

Westgate

Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.pbyQ8MPbx#.pmA2BeVyM

Colorado Attorney General

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman is suing Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Wyndham $20 Million

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Hyatt

Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt timeshare agents would like to see the industry improved. They are in year five of a class action alleging deceptive practice.

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

The Manhattan Club

Attorney Douglass Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.

“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point.  The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed.  But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016

http://www.reuters.com/article/manhattan-club-ruling-idUSL1N18U0DL

Marriott Racketeering

“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.” Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.

 http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-racketeering-20161013-story.html

Diamond Resorts

A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/348667-diamond-resorts-class-action-high-pressure-timeshare-sales-deceptive/

Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

holidays-are-hereI don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,

People are listening!

Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:

  • A legitimate secondary market
  • Less aggressive and deceptive selling
  • Less predatory lending

Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Human leverage and a clearinghouse of information exchange is the answer.

inside final small

So that is the end of 2016, we hope you will join us in 2017 and also help us to get the news out to others. Without your information many of the articles, particularly on possible scam or bogus companies will not be published. So from the Charles and Irene, we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

happy-new-year

What’s Right about Timeshare?

A Holiday Spirit Look at the Industry

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

December 19, 2016

car

In the Spirit of the Season, Charles Thomas and Irene Parker would like to thank all our readers. Charles is a former timeshare sales agent and I am a veteran timeshare owner. We each have our stories about timeshare to tell.

Charles:

We have both over the past few weeks written numerous articles about the woes timeshare owners have been facing, some have been out and out horror stories. The story of Mrs Price and MacDonald Resorts has featured prominently over the past few months, this has still not been concluded. Other stories have highlighted the minefield of resales or as they say in the States the secondary market, another aspect has been the bogus law firms and claims companies that prey on those who wish to get out of their timeshares. Another theme has been about the sales agents and the methods employed to secure “the sale”.

I have personally been involved in sales side of the industry, having worked for several companies in the past, I was aware of the pressure that many sales staff are under to get the sale. The misinformation they are forced to give, if they didn’t hit their targets, they lost their job. In some cases if they were in company accommodation that meant they were on the street and homeless, usually in a foreign country.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are some owners who are very happy with what they have, for them it works well, a case in point are friends of mine, Kim and Andy. They very kindly wrote their story on their timeshare experience for publication. There is also a Facebook page called International Timeshare Appreciation Day, which is held on 1 November. (see links)

There are also some very good timeshare companies out there, who do sell with ethics and morals. They also put their members first, with excellent customer service. These are the ones we never hear about. Two in Europe are Hapimag of Switzerland, whose members are predominantly Swiss and German, the other, is one that you tend not to associate with timeshare, Butlins, who have their Blue Skies membership. In all the research I have done, I have never come across a single complaint about either of them. Maybe others need to change to their model.

http://insidetimeshare.com/happy-owners/

https://www.facebook.com/InternationalTimeshareAppreciationDay/?fref=ts

Irene’s story:  One day, in 1984, my fiancée told me he bought a timeshare. Little did he know it was owned by the Mafia.  Timeshare owners always receive notices of annual meetings, but shortly after his purchase, we received an invitation to Holiday Shore’s annual meeting encouraging us to attend because our deeded fixed week timeshare was scheduled to be auctioned off on Tuesday at 3:30 PM on the step of the Sheriff’s office.

It was the first and last timeshare annual meeting we ever attended. Holiday Shores is located in the Missouri Ozarks and was a popular vacation spot for the Mafia.

There was not enough room for all of us at the scheduled location, so we all moved to the church where we managed to get a seat in the rafters. The resort’s timeshare attorney dramatically rolled out a scroll that flew out about 20 feet as he explained the Bennett family of New York was putting a lien on the property as the construction company had not been paid by their cousins who owned the resort property.

Fortunately for us, Jim Marshall of Marshall Missouri was an owner and a state representative.

The story has a happy ending because, thanks to Mr. Marshall, our timeshare was taken over by the owners and the resort lived happily ever after. It’s still there.

The moral of the story is that owners can make a difference.

Timeshares are not all bad. Twice we exchanged our timeshare through RCI and did not return home because we bought a house at the exchange location. We moved to Hawaii because of that every year trip to our Maui Hill timeshare and my stumbling onto a job opening the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island called Hawaii.

After nine years in Hawaii, we exchanged our Port Elsewhere week in the Ozarks for Petoskey Michigan and bought a house while on vacation. It worked until we realized moving from Honolulu to northern Michigan wasn’t all that smart, but the place is really pretty in August. Tired of white out roads, we exchanged Port Elsewhere for Cave City, Kentucky at Diamond Caverns (no relation) at Mammoth Cave. Again we bought a house.

This prompts our kids to pause when we tell them we are going on vacation and ask, “Are you coming back?” We’ve become known as the Prodigal Parents.

We look forward to continue our battle fighting for timeshare reform; a better secondary market, less deceptive and less aggressive sales practices, but for now we wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.

A Christmas Present Complement to Disney from Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn

He’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

The End

children

 

Both Myself and Irene wish all our readers in Europe, The United States and beyond and very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

Friday: The Week in Review.

We ended last week with the ongoing story of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price and her continuing battle against MacDonald Resorts. The article explained the events leading up to the present dispute over a “So-called” debt for past maintenance and MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept she no longer owns.

In the article “The Story of Mrs B: Open Letter to MacDonald ResortsInside Timeshare called for MacDonald Resorts to do the right thing and let two elderly and not well ladies out of their contract. It also called for them to call off the debt collecting agency Network Credit Services, from issuing threats of legal action. So far there has been no response, even though they did receive the article via email along with many others including several newspapers. The story continues.

On Monday we published an article by Irene Parker, entitled “Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics”. This was originally published the previous week but was withdrawn for re-writing.

colerado-seal-ag

This follows on from others she has contributed about the battles in the USA between timeshare companies, workers and owners. It explains the story of the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman and how she is suing Highland Resorts at Christie Lodge Colorado for deceptive trade practices in the Denver County Court. The State is also sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants.

Irene in her article also spoke about how sales agent are made to commit these practices, and were prevented from saying anything due to confidential non-disclosure agreements. She is preparing part II of this article which Inside Timeshare will publish in due course.

On this note Inside Timeshare has a message for the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) who published “Highland Resorts Legal News”.

Irene Parker was surprised to read such similarities from her Highland Resorts article on Timeshare Consumer Association as it so closely paralleled the article she wrote this week. The same thing happened the day after she wrote the Saldana family story. As the TCA article was published so soon after the Inside Timeshare article was published, she wondered why credit was not given to the author of the original article. This is how professional journalists do things in the US. She wondered if things were different in Europe. She is glad to see the information disseminated to a wider audience. Since she is planning on writing a second part, she wondered if TCA would like her to just send them her article so they could publish it under her name?

la-provincia   the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

 

 

On Tuesday news came in about the saga that is Tauro Beach Project, La Provincia (Spanish daily paper) and Canary News (local English language paper), published the story about how much of the beach has been washed away by the sea.

Inside Timeshare has been following this story since August, when the sea flowed up the beach and flooded local homes. There is currently a huge investigation underway, which also includes the Mayor of Mogan. It is also investigating alleged corruption and impropriety at the highest levels of the Canarian Coastal Authority, the former head has already been formally charged with wrongdoing in public office and forgery of official documents. The case is already at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

Yesterday, we published the story of a company that was highlighted in September, Litigious Abogados. Since the first publication, more information has come to light, with one reader supplying vital information about how they are operating. This reader also provided documentary evidence with court papers and bank details, these court papers are almost certainly fake. Below is a “stamp” we have made in around 2 minutes just from a google image download and basic windows paint, with a little more work it could be made to look better. It is also a “stamp” not used by the courts.

jl

The week has also been a good one for clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, with several more victories in various courts.

On 14 November it was announced that the Court of First Instance in Tenerife had found for the clients of CLA against Dinastia Resorts SL. In this case they were awarded 15,950€ with their contract being declared null and void. The sentence followed Supreme Court rulings that contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) were illegal.

Yesterday 15 November, saw 2 more announcements, the first was for Swedish clients of CLA being awarded over 114,000€ including legal interest against Anfi. Again the High Court No 5 of Las Palmas found in accordance with the Supreme Court that floating weeks and perpetuity contracts were illegal. The contract was again declared null and void.

In the second announcement, again Swedish clients, have been paid out 72,885.78€ in compensation, following a recent judgement. This was against Holiday Club Finland / Puerto Calma. Again the ruling made was for the length of the contract, over 50 years (perpetuity) with the contract being declared null and void.

So an early Christmas present for some.

This again goes to show, through the hard work of the legal team at CLA, their clients are finally getting justice and the Supreme Court rulings are having a profound effect on the lower courts.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/news/

If you would like any further information on articles published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help. Also if you have any questions about any company that you are not sure about, send us a message, we will then contact you by personal email and if we don´t know them we will help you find the answers.

 

Have a good weekend. weekend01

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Timeshare is not having a good time right now, in Europe and especially Spain the industry is reeling from very costly litigation. This is costing resorts and developers a fortune in returning money for purchases made which have gone against the laws put in place to protect consumers.

In the United States the industry is also under fire, most recently a former sales agent has been awarded $20 million for unfair dismissal by Wyndham. She had been branded a “troublemaker” after she complained about unfair and dubious sales tactics being employed.

We have also seen the NY Attorney General close down the sales operation at The Manhattan Club, due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The following article by Irene Parker explains the most recent news coming in from across the Great Lake.

Colorado Attorney General Scores a Goal for Timeshare Reform

By Irene Parker

December 12, 2016

keep-calm

All timeshare owners and buyers want is honesty and a fair price for their timeshare, along with reasonable maintenance fees and a legitimate secondary market. Now a third US Attorney General scores a goal for timeshare reform by exposing deceptive timeshare business practices.


There is something flawed if a product cannot be sold, if it is not sold same day. Even car shoppers are allowed to think about it, and many timeshare purchases cost as much or more than a luxury car. There are first day pricing incentives and consumers are told they cannot buy in the future.


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://www.businessden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/5B3AF6808EF5C.pdf


Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman has sued Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge in Avon, Colorado for deceptive trade practices in Denver County Court. The state is also suing sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants. Several were outbound telemarketers.


Sedona Pines Resort in Arizona was also named in the lawsuit. I spoke to a former Diamond sales agent. Diamond agents cannot disclose any company policies or procedures due to a “CNDA” sales agent agreement they are required to sign. It stands for “confidential non-disclosure agreement” discouraging Whistleblowers. Not all agents are dishonest, so the sales agent who realizes something very wrong and harmful is being done to consumers, wants to tell their story.

In this case, the former sales agent said Diamond Resort owners, desperate to be released from rising maintenance fees, went to presentations at nearby resorts hoping for alternatives. Some Pines brokers would inflate the price of the Pines program to make Diamond owners think they were getting something for their Diamond points or weeks as a trade-in. A dollar amount would be added onto the purchase price as a “trade-in” if the consumer purchased a Sedona Pines program.

The Colorado lawsuit provided an example of fake pricing. “A fake price sheet itemized costs totaling $25,224, which included $6,995 in RCI upgrade points. If the buyer purchased today, Highlands promised to pay the $6,995.  However, Highland did not pay the $6,995. They only paid $179 in RCI dues instead of the $6,995 for RCI points.”


Amy DiPierro is a reporter for BusinessDen. She writes:


According to the state, “Highlands Resorts and its owner, Telluride resident Todd Herrick, “intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured consumers” using high pressure selling tactics. Highlands Resorts is one of a larger group of timeshare companies controlled by a resort called Sedona Pines in Arizona. On its website, Highlands Resorts says it operates one resort in Durango and two resorts in Arizona.   


The state, which is represented by the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, is seeking payments of $325,000 from those four defendants and a permanent injunction that would stop them from, among other things, advertising timeshares without displaying fees and conditions. A spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

http://www.businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/


Similar deceptive and misleading sales and marketing tactics are outlined in other lawsuits. Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt sales agents filed a class action Whistleblower lawsuit against Hyatt timeshare. Candace is seeking Hyatt owners who feel they have been deceived by misleading and deceptive tactics.


http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/


A jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams a $20 million Whistleblower award. Wyndham issued a statement saying the tactics used are not representative of their company policy, according to the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1


The Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recovered $3 million for Festiva timeshare victims.  


https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the second year of a Westgate timeshare investigation.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-probe-westgate-resorts-tactics-20160318-story.html

It’s getting harder to believe these practices are not representative of timeshare.

 

whos-next  Who’s Next?

 

 


Part II of this article will examine the fourteen defendants charged with violating the “Do Not Call” list to offer vacation incentives they proclaim are valued at $1,900. The lawsuit claims these certificates cost the developer $40.

I personally received a call from Fort Lauderdale yesterday. When I mentioned I was on the DNC list, he apologized and proceeded with his pitch. This is outbound telemarketing, so there is no way to contact the person or company that called.

We’re up to three Attorney Generals who have sued the timeshare companies. Timeshare developers figure in the cost of owner lawsuits as part of their annual budget. They do not figure in the cost of an Attorney General suing the company.

In the case of Christie Lodge, the resort is open but the sales program is not operational.

get-involved

So the question that must be asked is when will the industry wake up and change how it operates, not just in the USA, but in Europe and the rest of the world?

Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her contribution, without her efforts we would not be able to bring you the news from across the water, bringing consumers together in a cause that affects all timeshare owners. Honesty, integrity and fairness are the elements that are missing in this industry, it must be said that not all are guilty of this, there are some who do work by these principles, but it is those who don´t that give it a bad name and reputation.

If you have any questions or comment about this or any other article published, use the comment section to send us a message. If you have a story or information that you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

  weekend

Call for Change in the US Timeshare Industry

Continuing with our US timeshare theme, Irene Parker today highlights some of the problems that beset consumers in the USA, she asks the question who do consumers go to when they have a problem or complaint?

In this article she tells the story of an elderly couple Kathie and Wes Olds, who are Diamond Platinum members, 50,000 points, the concerns they raise about the constant upgrades and how they were encouraged to open a Diamond ResortsBarclaycard”. By using this card for purchases they could earn a 1.5% cashback award that could be used towards maintenance fees. As they found out later, it was not going to be that easy.

Irene also explains how the Olds, were told they could use their points towards the $8,200 a year maintenance fees at $0.50 a point, only problem is to be eligible they would need to purchase more points. As Irene put it previously the Olds were now part of the “Continuous Money Making Machine”.

Enjoy the article, it is certainly an eye opener.

FTC = Federal Trade Commission

FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation

Is the FTC or FBI an avenue for Change for Diamond and other Timeshare Owners Devastated by Little or no Secondary Market?

By Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare

December 5, 2016

burglar

Timeshare today has been reduced to high pressure, often hours long sales presentations demanding prospects sign a perpetual contract today or lose incentives and perks that will be gone forever. The contract language often includes, “Heirs, successor trustees and personal representatives bound by the contract obligations.” Throw in the limited or nonexistent secondary market and you have a recipe for disaster.

Inside Timeshare previously told the story of the Saldana family. The family has since surrendered their Diamond contracts due to rising maintenance fees. Remaining is a $33,000 home equity loan. With legal help, they quite possibly could have been released from a timeshare loan. Timeshare buyers are often encouraged to obtain a home equity loan due to timeshare’s 14% to 18% loan interest rate. This conveniently lets the timeshare developer off the hook when the owner can no longer afford the rising fees.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

The Saldana family was encouraged to open a Diamond ResortsBarclaycard” to become a Diamond platinum member so that they could charge their maintenance fees. A Diamond “point” historically costs $2 to $4 a point, but if used for maintenance fees, is worth only a few pennies on the dollar. They declined.

The Olds Family did open a Barclaycard.

Kathie and Wes Olds, ages 68 and 69, acquired enough Diamond points to become Platinum members. Like the Saldana family, the maintenance fees have become cost prohibitive. The Olds family own 50,000 Diamond points.

At their last Diamond “Owner’s Update” at Mystic Dunes in Orlando, Wes and Kathie expressed their concern over rising maintenance fees. The sales agent said they were in luck. Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm that purchased Diamond in a $2.2 billion buyout this past September, said effective February 2017 owners could “cash in” their points for $.50 a point and use them to pay maintenance fees, but they would need to buy another 10,000 points for $37,000. The sales agent suggested a home equity loan. Remember, we said points historically have sold for $2 to $4 a point.

Keep Reading

Whistleblowers Expose Timeshare Sales Tactics.

There seems to be no end to the problems that beset the timeshare industry, the latest is the news of a $20 Million award by a San Francisco jury to a former timeshare sales representative. She brought her case for unfair dismissal, after she complained about the way she was made to sell the product.

We all remember the old days, when reps would say anything to get the sale, the high pressure tactics and in some instances the intimidating placing of “security” at the exit doors. This may sound a little far fetched but it is well documented, fortunately in Europe this practice is in demise.

Most sales teams now operate in a more professional manner, although this does depend on the company involved. We have highlighted in many articles how timeshare has been sold, including the practice of financing consumers who would not have been eligible for a loan, had the normal credit checks been made.

Also it must be remembered that in the past there was no basic pay, everything was commission based, no sale no pay. This particular method will always lead to sales staff using heavy handed, pressure tactics and lies. It was also a very transient business, especially in Europe, where reps would travel from one company to the next, believing that the grass was always greener on the other side.

Now to the main story from Irene Parker.

Wyndham’s $20 Million Woes

Is Hyatt Next?

By Irene Parker December 1, 2016 –

 gavel

November 18, 2016 Dolan Law Firm Press Release

Whistleblower Exposed Financial Fraud of Elderly by Wyndham Vacation Ownership – World’s Largest Timeshare Company.

A San Francisco jury awarded $20 million to Trish Williams, a former Wyndham timeshare sales representative, who was wrongfully terminated for reporting timeshare fraud on the elderly (San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-12-526187). The verdict, read late on Thursday, November 17, 2016, followed a one-month trial in which Williams was represented by Chris Dolan of The Dolan Law Firm and Anne Costin of Costin Law Inc.

Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.”

Franz Hanning, head of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation’s timeshare division, has submitted his resignation.

Timeshare sales agents targeting the elderly to sign perpetual contracts, with little or no secondary market, in a same day “impulse” buy are nothing new. There are good timeshare companies and honest timeshare agents, but the overwhelming number of complaints voiced on the internet and on angry owner timeshare Facebook pages and websites are disturbing.

It’s a worldwide problem. The Canarian Legal Alliance in Spain has over 2000 timeshare cases pending. The selling tactics, resale scams, problems with limited availability and rising maintenance fees are pandemic.

Many timeshare victims struggle under the weight of rising maintenance fees. They cannot afford the cost of a legal defense or wait out a lengthy and costly trial. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halted sales at The Manhattan Club in 2014 due to problems with availability. “The investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now,” said Douglas Wasser, an attorney representing a number of Manhattan Club owners.

Two former timeshare sales agents talk about their experiences working at Hyatt. Whistle blower is a legal term, but I dislike using this term to describe those who come forward only to benefit others in order to stop harmful business practices. Both the former agents I spoke with would like to see the industry improved. They are in year five of a three whistleblower class action against Hyatt.  Hyatt did not respond to my request for comment.  

Candace Czarny

“I worked in the timeshare sales industry for approximately 2.5 years.  What happened to Trish Williams at Wyndham is very similar to what I experienced at Hyatt.”  

If you are a Hyatt timeshare owner who feels that you have not been dealt with honestly and fairly, Candace would like to hear your story.   

You can contact Candace at:  [email protected]

Concerns:

Former Hyatt timeshare sales agents have testified that they were instructed by Hyatt to make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to Hyatt owners and potential clientele in order to make more sales.

Specifically, they were told to tell owners that they had previously signed a document (a document that didn’t exist) that waived their right to upgrade.  

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The Alphabet Soup of Timeshare Lobby Organizations: TATOC – RDO – ARDA ROC & CARDA

Should Resort Timeshare Owners Worldwide Pay the Voluntary ARDA ROC Contribution?

questman    By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

November 27, 2016

Across the oceanic great divide, there is an alphabet soup of timeshare political lobby organizations.  Are they on the side of the timeshare owner or on the side of the developer?

First off, who are they and what are they:

RDO (Charles)

TATOC (Charles)

The RDO, or Resorts Development Organisation, is the trade association for the timeshare industry in Europe, its function is to ensure standards within the industry are maintained and that members abide by a code of conduct. These members fund the organisation with annual subscriptions, they also provide the board of directors, it is a self policing organisation, funded and controlled by the people who make their money selling the products.

The RDO says that it helps to protect the consumer, but as we know, it is their own members who have breached the timeshare laws, just look at the many cases being brought in Spain. The only protection they appear to offer consumers is constantly attacking any company offering a service who is not one of their members. They say you should only deal with RDO “accredited” companies, any other company who is not a member is likely to be a scam.

The press has highlighted in the past, many transgressions RDO members have perpetrated, MacDonald Resorts is just one. This company was the subject of several articles by the Award Winning Journalist Tony Hetherington, one was titled “The timeshare contract that even death will not save you from”. It followed the story of one owner who could not get out of her contract on the death of her husband. What did the RDO do, nothing.

They state one of their missions is to “Educate” journalists as they are ill informed on the subject, that the industry has been the victim of poorly researched articles. Yet these articles are highlighting the plight of their own members customers!

Another partner of the RDO is TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, as the name suggests they represent the owners committees, but how can they represent owners when they are also funded by the industry?

The current CEO, Harry Taylor is no stranger to the Industry, between 14 June 2007 and 18 June 2013, he was listed as a director with Diamond Resorts European Collection Ltd. The strange thing is he is also listed as being appointed director of TATOC at the same time, 23 January 2007. (See Company House PDF).

harry-taylor-personal-appointments-free-information-from-companies-house

TATOC should be representing your rights, but we have seen on many occasions they have backed the plans of the resorts / developers themselves, again a case in point is MacDonald Resorts. There has been a move by this company to remove all fixed week owners into their points system, this has been resisted by many owners and is the subject of ongoing battles. Yet the advice from TATOC is to change to the points system, saying it will be better for them, backing MacDonald Resorts to the hilt at the expense of the people they say they represent.

It has been stated by Inside Timeshare many times, there does need to be dialogue between owners, resorts and developers, but the owners should be a separate voice, not one funded (run) by the industry. (See following link on trade associations inc, Tony Hetherington articles)

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-member-egtbw/

As for the “voluntary contributions” added to maintenance bills, this does not appear to be the case in Europe, so far we have not seen this and it is possible it would be highly contested if it were to be introduced.

ARDA and ARDA ROC

Timeshare owners worldwide who own a timeshare in the US may pay more attention to ARDA ROC’S “Voluntary” donation this year. Depending on the developer, the fee can range from $3 to $10. Owners must call their resort accounting department to have the charge removed unless it is an “opt-in” request.

For owners asking: “ARDA what?” – ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC is the timeshare owner arm – Resort Owner’s Coalition.

One reason timeshare owners are taking a closer look is because legislation passed in Florida last year outraged timeshare owners and timeshare advocacy groups. The legislation went into effect July 1, 2015.

One clause, simply put, “Currently, if there are errors in the contract, then a buyer has a right under Florida law to cancel that contract after 10 days. Under the new bill, errors or omissions that are “nonmaterial” would NOT allow a buyer to cancel after 10 days.” (Deanna from Winning the Timeshare Game)

http://timesharegame.com/florida-bill-weaken-timeshare-protections/

RedWeek also weighed in:

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

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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

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Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender Your Timeshare!

Today’s article is one many European owners will identify with, getting out of your timeshare when no longer being able to use or travel due to illness. Yet they are expected to continue to pay the yearly and often risings maintenance fees regardless, Mrs B a MacDonalds owner that Inside Timeshare has been working with for around 6 months is a classic case. She and her sister owned at the Dona Lola Club, they purchased around 15 years ago, due to illness both of them were unable to use or travel, even to the resorts in the UK for the past 11 years. Yet they continued to pay the maintenance year on year.

MacDonalds would not let them surrender, despite their ages (both over 80) and the fact they are both unable to travel. Eventually they signed up with a company to get rid of the timeshare, this was duly done and recorded by a notary, (we have the documentation). Unfortunately MacDonalds do not recognise the transfer and have sent in a debt collection agency to recover the unpaid maintenance. (The case is with the Financial Ombudsman).

Is it fair that people such as Mrs B and Ralph Marble should be tied into something they can no longer use or even afford?

Once again Irene Parker has sent the following article on the case of Ralph Marble and his Diamond Resorts membership.

Should those with Debilitating Medical Issues be required to pay Vacation Maintenance Fees until they Die or until the end of their Descendant Lineage?

image03       By Irene Parker        November 14, 2016

Mae West, German Immigrant turned Vaudeville and then Hollywood star famously said, “Less is more.”

image00

Today, we ask timeshare developers, ARDA, TATOC, RDO this simple question:

Is what happened to Ralph Marble alright with you?

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Surely not even Wall Street, venture capitalists and private equity investors think the situation that exists, requiring those with serious illnesses to pay maintenance fees for vacations they can’t take, is all right? If they do, there is something deeply wrong with our society.

According to the interview,

Marble told Washington that he tried to cancel his timeshare membership several times to no avail. Marble was told they couldn’t let him out of his membership, even though he disclosed to them that he had a medical condition.

Diamond Resorts International responded with a letter stating, “We are unable to grant your request, a surrender of ownership.”

Statements from Marble’s membership show that maintenance fees have gone up every year.

The first initial payment was $200 a year, but the last bill he received was for $684.

Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group only handles timeshare cases, and he says Marble’s story is not uncommon.  “It’s not intended to let anybody out and it’s intended to be a lifetime obligation.”

The timeshare industry is a billion-dollar industry, and once you join many say you can’t get out.

And if you think that you can sell your timeshare, Finn says think again. “The resale market for timeshares is nearly non-existent. Your timeshare must be paid off, and most are completely worthless.”

Marble said he attempted to sell his timeshare twice. “They turned out to be bogus, they went off with our money,” he told reporter Washington.

The good news for Marble was that Diamond Resorts International did let him out of his contract after we (the reporter) contacted them.

Is the media our only hope?

Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:

“At Diamond Resorts International, we regularly work with our owners who find themselves in difficult health, financial or other circumstances and are seeking to relinquish their ownership. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, earlier this year we announced a program called Transitions by Diamond Resorts that will launch in the coming months. It is intended to formalize the process for owners in good standing who wish to relinquish their ownership without having to resort to third party timeshare relief companies.”

Mae West also said, “Your line isn’t low enough to trip me.”

image02    Public awareness is our goal. Prospective timeshare buyers should ask:

  1. May I take the unsigned contract and have a timeshare lawyer review it?
  2. May I see a five year history of maintenance fee increases?
  3. Please provide details of a secondary market. In the US, owners can call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask, in advance of signing a contract, whether a secondary market exists for the timeshare you are considering.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

To find out what your timeshare is worth, check Sharket: https://sharket.com/

For those Diamond Resorts owners in Europe, there is at least a ray of hope, Diamond are putting into place ways that people can surrender their membership. They already have a programme whereby those over 75 can be released.

They also allow for those where a partner has died and the remaining member can surrender, there is also provision for those in financial difficulty and illness to also hand back. Much of this may be due to the changes in the timeshare laws within Europe, which have strengthened legislation in favour of the consumer.

Inside Timeshare also asks the same question as Irene, is it right that people such as Ralph Marble and Mrs B be locked into paying for something they no longer have any use for, especially when maintenance has been paid when never used?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

It now remains to be seen what the trade bodies ARDA, RDO and TATOC have to say about this, after all it is their own members who are making life difficult for owners such as these. Surely, there must be a way forward, it does the industry no good when matters like this get into the news, giving the impression that it is an industry solely interested in getting your money. At least for Ralph his nightmare is over, thanks mainly to the publicity and help from News 6 and the story from Eryka Washington.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for another insight into the world of timeshare in the USA. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

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.

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