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Irene Parker

Press Release from CLA, Plus a Quick Look at the Biggest Timeshare Fraud in History

As August is very much the summer holiday month, there is not a lot of news from the courts in Spain, but it is a month when some of the new names and old ones will be making a comeback on the scam front. We will be keeping a watch on these and will start reporting them as and when they do become active.

Following on from Start the Week on Monday, we reported the news from the Royal Courts of Justice regarding the case of the Financial Conduct Authority and the validation order issued to Barclay Partner Finance:

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-13/

We have been given the following press release from Canarian Legal Alliance.

On 19 June 2018, a representative from Canarian Legal Alliance attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Upper Tribunal, Tax and Chancery Division, to represent the interests of one of our clients.

These clients had been sold timeshare in Malta by Azure Resorts and were financed by loan agreements with Barclay Partner Finance. It transpires that these loan agreements were brokered by an unauthorised agent Azure Services Ltd. As such these agreements breached the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

This affected 1,444 credit agreements with a total value of £47 million, in the period between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016.

This made the agreements unenforceable, which entitled the borrowers to recover their money and have the agreements cancelled. Therefore BPF applied to the Financial Conduct Authority in May 2017 to have a validation order issued to rectify this. The FCA on the evidence and information at the time issued the order to validate the loan agreements in February 2018.

This validation would then entitle BPF to retain money paid to them under the agreements, also allowing BPF to enforce payments by any consumer who defaulted.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement, in his ruling he stated the FCA should re-examine the original order and take into account “client detriment”, a factor which the FCA had not considered in the original order.

In the case of our client, this “client detriment” is very clear, they were mislead into purchasing the timeshare as an investment with the promise of income rental and then resale, which never materialised. They were pressured into signing the loan agreement after hours of high pressure timeshare sales tactics, even though our client explained they could ill afford the timeshare.

They were not explained the terms and conditions of the agreement or the full extent of the cost, the product they were purchasing was not suitable for their needs and would not fulfill the promises given. They were also mislead as to the length of the loan agreement, being 2 years and not 15 years which it turned out to be.

There were no proper credit checks made with regards to affordability or the ability to afford the repayments, they were not asked to provide any proof of income (bearing in mind they were both in their 70’s and on pensions), or any proof of outgoings.

Once the validation order is overturned by the FCA, this will leave our client able to recover all money paid to BPF and have the loan agreement declared null and void.

This ruling may also have an effect on loan agreement for timeshares purchased via loans even by an authorised broker. As a law firm we have many clients who have gone through the same process, lengthy presentations, high pressure sales and no proper checks regarding the ability to afford the repayments. We believe this may give clients an avenue to have these agreements cancelled and be reimbursed the money paid.

Canarian Legal Alliance

Our thanks to CLA for that information, now a quick look at an old story which was prompted by an item on ITV News, this was an interview by the wife of John “Goldfinger” Palmer who was shot and killed at his Essex home in June 2015.

In the interview she expressed her disbelief at the inability of Essex Police to find her husband’s killer, which the police believe was a professional hit. She also claimed she felt “sorry” for those who lost thousands in the timeshare scam. This is after she started the interview with “It was a wonderful Lifestyle” and “We had everything we possibly could want”. On whose money is the question?

The timeshare scam involved 17,000 victims and was worth over £100 million, it revolved around the multiple selling of timeshare units, resorts that had not been built or ever going to be built and ones without any planning permission.

It has been regarded as the biggest timeshare fraud in history.

Palmer was eventually jailed for 8 years in 2001 in the UK after being convicted for timeshare fraud. He was also ordered to repay around £33 million to his victims, but as the Crown Prosecution Service bungled the paperwork this order was overturned to the consternation of the police. He was released in 2005 and returned to Tenerife.

He was eventually arrested on the runway and bundled into a military transport and taken to Madrid to await trial by the Spanish authorities, he spent 2 years in jail and was then released on bail returning to the UK. The rest as they say is history.

Click on the link below to see the interview and the second link which is a report by Roger Cook made around 2 years ago on the full story of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, from his involvement in the Brinks Mat bullion robbery through to his timeshare frauds.

https://www.facebook.com/ITVWestcountry/videos/2076879189011352/

Join us tomorrow for our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker reports on the Whistleblowers Summit which she attended in Washington DC in July, you will certainly find it a revelation.

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker looks at what Canada is doing to protect consumers of timeshare, are the events in Spain shaping the Canadian legislators views?

If so this can only be good thing for consumers, change is necessary, Spain leads the way in this field and the more countries that use their model the better off consumers will be. The industry needs to change, if they will not do voluntarily, then it is up to the legislators to make them change.

While doing our usual browsing of the many timeshare related websites and blogs this morning, we came across this rather interesting piece in Mindtimeshare, regarding a new cold calling company and timeshare claims.

Reclaims Yard, with a caller going by the name of Bob Cosgrove, who calls those who were taken in by bogus holiday clubs and resale companies. According to Cosgrove there is money set aside and waiting for them in respect of what they paid out. That even if the consumer doesn’t have any paperwork, that is not a problem.

According to Cosgrove, they do not expect any money from the consumer (no doubt that will come later to cover “TAXES”), but the consumer will be paid out by cheque, being paid out directly from some fund or other.

The telephone number they use is 0115 8242 356 which is a Nottingham code, they also use the email address [email protected] which as we already know is just another of those free email providers and is not linked to any website.

The interesting fact is that Reclaims Yard Limited, Company Number 07722606, is a genuine company, although according to Company House records has an Active order to Strike off.

This company has nothing to do with timeshare, they are in fact specialist in reclaiming, restoring a selling “interesting and unusual” pieces of the past, reclaiming building materials and architectural salvage.

They have also published on their website a warning regarding the fraudulent use of their name regarding the timeshare claims:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:-

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SPANISH PROPERTIES,  TIMESHARING OR ANY OTHER TYPES OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS OR RECLAIMING FUNDS.

THIS IS A SCAM!

OUR ADVICE IS TO NOTIFY THE POLICE IF YOU RECEIVE ANY COMMUNICATIONS REGARDING THIS.

WE ONLY TRADE IN RECLAIMED (PREVIOUSLY USED) BUILDING MATERIALS AND NOTHING ELSE.

PLEASE SEE OUR NEWS PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…….

https://www.reclaimsyard.co.uk/

Once again, we see a fraudulent operation using the name of a genuine company to give themselves credilbility when the consumer does a quick internet check. We cannot emphasise that when making these checks it is not just to see if they are registered but to actually look at the company name that is being used.

Now for today’s article

Quebec Canada Bill 178: An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection

187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.

Resiliate: fait d’annuler, de résilier un contrat canceling , termination
The verb resiliation means “To draw back from a contract”
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/french-english/resiliation

By Irene Parker
August 7, 2018

Once again the nature of the perpetual timeshare contract comes under the legislative microscope, this time in Quebec. Perpetual contracts are not harmful in the case of your home or car, but with little to no secondary market for unwanted timeshares, the consequences of signing a perpetual timeshare contract has financially devastated many of the 515 families that have contacted Inside Timeshare seeking release. Many members have been scammed by timeshare exit companies and listing agents promising, but not delivering results.  

Among other provisions, Quebec Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract as a service contract. This could have lasting consequences for Canadian timeshare buyers who have felt trapped by the perpetual timeshare product. Many timeshare members are saddled with high interest rate loans and some with higher interest rate credit cards issued by timeshare companies.   

Under Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions. The profound implication boils down to the ability to cancel the timeshare contract if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership. According to those familiar with the legislation, not getting benefits could be due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons.    

This is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to this 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property.

On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now rebranded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club. The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time. All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.

Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks and points, have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court. To date, Spain has ruled in favor of the consumer in a whopping 129 Supreme Court victories.

Marriott Vacation Club (VAC U.S.: NYSE stock symbol) filed an 8-K Other Events, as reported by Market Exclusive July 19, 2018. One of the events was mention of Spain’s Supreme Court rulings invalidating timeshare contracts.

A series of Spanish court rulings over the past several years invalidating timeshare contracts have increased our exposure to litigation and such litigation may materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/


Notes from the Quebec Bill 178
http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-178-41-1.html

Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly
Passed 6 June 2018
Excerpts from the bill:  

Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract is a service contract and not a purchase agreement involving a property transfer.

Bill 178 (2018, Chapter 14) An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection

The Act proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act to introduce a protection regime governing contracts relating to timeshare accommodation rights.

  • The Act introduces rules specific to the making of that type of contract and sets out the compulsory information such a contract must include. It grants consumers the right to resolve the contract without charge or penalty within 10 days of signing it and specifies the circumstances in which that right is extended to one year.
  • The Act imposes on merchants who enter into a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights the obligation to establish a payment schedule for each year covered by the contract…..Furthermore, the Act introduces a disclosure obligation related to promotion made by merchants engaged in the business of such contract, prohibits certain stipulations and provides that such contracts may not be automatically renewed.   

    Division V.3
    Contract Relating to Timeshare accommodation rights


    187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

    187.14 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights must be evidenced in writing. In addition to the information that may be required by regulation, it must contain or state the following, presented in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation:
  • (h) the term and expiry date of the contract;
  • (j) the fees to obtain an accommodation right, their amount on an annual basis if they are calculated on a basis other than annual, and the total of such amounts for the entire term of the contract.
  • (t) a statement that the merchant may not collect payment from the consumer before beginning to perform his obligation;
  • (u) the right granted to the consumer to resolve the contract at his sole discretion within 10 days after that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract; and
  • (v) the other circumstances in which the consumer may resolve or resiliate the contract, any applicable conditions and the time within which the merchant must refund the consumer.

    187.15 Any stipulation that results in the automatic renewal of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is prohibited.  

    187.16 The merchant may not make the entering into or the performance of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights dependent upon the entering into of a credit contract.

    187.21 The contract may be resolved at the discretion of the consumer within 10 days following that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract.

    That period is, however, extended to one year from the date on which the contract is made in either of the following cases:
  • the contract is inconsistent with any of the rules set out in section 25 to 28 for the making of contracts, or one of the particulars required under section 187.14 does not appear in the contract; or
  • a Statement of consumer resolution and resiliation rights and a resolution and resiliation form that are in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation were not attached to the contract at the time the contract was made.

187.24 Any contract entered into by a consumer, even with a third-party merchant, on the making of or in relation to a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights and that results from an offer, representation, or other action by the merchant who is party to the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights forms a whole with the latter contract and is resolved or resiliated by operation of law at the time the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is resolved or resiliated.

In addition, the consumer may, with respect to a contract entered into with a third-party merchant and contemplated in the first paragraph, exercise directly against the merchant a recourse based on the non-performance of the contract or on the provision of this Act.

187.25 Within 15 days after resolution or resiliation, for the reason set out in section 187.26, of the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, the merchant must refund all sums paid by the consumer under the contract and under any other contract contemplated in section 187.24, including sums paid to a third-party merchant.

229.1 No person may, when making or promoting a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, make representations implying that the contract is an investment, unless the person gives the consumer a document showing the truthfulness of the representations.    

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.


What’s next on the timeshare horizon?

The key word in 229.1 is “may” because in the U.S., the language in one state regulator’s ruling states “should” not make representations implying that the contract is an investment. What a difference one word can make.  

Thank you Irene for this very interesting piece of news, we do hope that others will follow in the footsteps of Spain and now Canada to put into place laws and regulations to protect consumers from the excesses of the timeshare industry. We can only wait wait and see.

From our warning of another fraudulent timeshare reclaims caller, this does really hit home that you must always do thorough company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet. Doing your homework is vital to protect yourself from scammers and fraudsters.

If you need help in checking if a company is indeed genuine, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare will help you find the truth and point you in the right direction.

Remember DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND KEEP YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY SAFE!

Another New Timeshare Claims Company

Once again one of our readers has pointed out another company that is offering timeshare reclaims, they are called Timeshare Redress with the website:

https://timeshareredress.com

With the following address Telephone number and email:

Ground Floor, 22 Vantage Park,

High View Close, Hamilton,

Leicester LE4 9LJ, United Kingdom.

0800 051 1738

[email protected]

The website is very new only being registered on 8 June 2018, with the registrar hidden by redaction for privacy, yet according to the Home page they are “helping clients claim back £thousands”, that they are “One of the leading claim handlers in the UK”, also stating they work on a “no win no fee” basis.

Well, for a website only registered less than 2 months ago these are rather grand claims to be making. So who are they?

The actual company is called Money Redress Limited with the company registration number 10483863 and registered at the above address. The company was incorporated on 17 November 2016 so only just under 2 years old.

The first director was Ian Richard Francis, who resigned on 25 April 2017, being replace by Robert James Jeffrey Ridge on 2 March 2017.

Mr Ridge who is aged around 41, has had a total of 18 appointments, 5 which are still active, 1 in liquidation and the rest are dissolved companies. One company is also registered at the same address which is called Pension Calculator Limited, Company number 08957148.

According to their website, (About us) they are working in partnership with one of the leading law firms in Spain, yet they do not name them anywhere on their website, surely that would be one of the most important points to give credibility?

They do go on to state the following about their Spanish partner:

  • Listed as recommended lawyers with the British Embassy/Consulate, US Embassy and Irish Embassy, as well as being members of regulated legal bodies such as the IBA (International Bar Association).
  • Qualified Legal Representatives: Their legal team are made up of fully qualified and experienced lawyers who can provide you with comprehensive information, detailed estimations of all fees, costs and taxes involved, and clear and concise explanations of the legal process.
  • No language barriers: Their office staff include native speakers from the UK and US, as well as Spain, and staff who can converse with you in English, French, German, Russian and Swedish – so you can be confident of fully understanding the legal process throughout the course of your case.

Inside Timeshare did contact the leading law firm in this field to check if they had any knowledge of this company, but they had never heard of either Timeshare Redress or Money Redress.

The website does emphasise the Spanish Supreme Court rulings and cases brought in Spanish courts against 5 of the major players in the timeshare industry, but again no mention of which law firm is responsible.

The Latest News section shows three reports, all three taken from other sources, one from New Business and the other two from the Telegraph. One of the articles from the Telegraph is extremely dated as it has quotes from the TCA by the late Sandy Grey, who as we know passed away in 2013.

When you check the Services section, you will get a drop box with the list of timeshare companies, each one takes you to a contact form asking for very basic details Name, telephone, email and was the timeshare purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and then a submit button.

So what can we assume from this website?

At first glance is does appear to be a “lead generator”, submit the details and they are then free to contact you and pass you on to another company, thus getting round the new data protection laws.

So what about the no win no fee aspect?

As we know any legal action through the courts in Spain requires a Spanish registered lawyer, it also requires that legal fees are paid upfront, so this rules out the no win no fee aspect. Although the no win no fee could be the success fee payable on completion of the case and a successful payout from the timeshare company through the court. Only one snag here, these cases can take a long time to actually get through to the payout stage, according to cases at court now, they have taken around 12 to 14 months to reach the trial date, this is without the timeshare companies making an appeal when they lose. One just wonders if these people will still be about by then?

Once again we have a new player on the block, with no actual evidence of who is behind it, after all directors are only the front men, not necessarily the owners of the business. We have a website that is very new yet makes some very big claims, a section which is typical of a lead generator and no mention of which law firms they are in partnership with. All this leads us to view them with great suspicion, as we keep saying the timeshare claims business is a very lucrative area and since the first Supreme Court rulings many have jumped on the bandwagon, even though they have no actual knowledge of the timeshare industry or timeshare law.

This is a classic example of why you should be doing your homework, finding out about any company that contacts you or you have found on an internet search, popup advert or even adverts in newspapers and magazines. After all, we even have the story of one reader who answered and advert in the Royal British Legion Magazine, a trusted organisation, then got scammed. As we explained to her, the marketing companies sell advertising space, they don’t do checks on the credibility of advertisers!

If you have any questions are need help in checking any company, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Join us tomorrow for our Friday’s Letter from America, with a Timeshare Report by the St Louis Better Business Bureau, edited by our very own Irene Parker.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we publish another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with the introduction by Irene Parker. As with many of the other articles published on Inside Timeshare this is a story from the Veterans own personal experience, these stories have become all too familiar with us at Inside Timeshare, not just from Veterans but also serving members of the armed forces and law enforcement. But first some other news.

It looks like Diamond Resort International have yet another legal action filed against them, this was filed by Labaton Sucharow LLP, on 23 July 2018, on behalf of their clients Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Pension Fund, under the Securities Exchange Act 1934.

Once again this is a Class Action lawsuit, which others who may be affected being invited to join, further details can be obtained from: www.labaton.com. (See link below).

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/07/25/1542302/0/en/Labaton-Sucharow-LLP-Files-Securities-Class-Action-Lawsuit-on-Behalf-of-Diamond-Resorts-International-Inc-Investors.html

There is another new name has come up on the radar, Martinez Notarias with lady called Victoria Holmes contacting consumers who had dealings in the past with our old friends Ramirez and Ramirez. She claims that they can recover along with compensation what the consumer paid, now the worrying aspect is she knows exactly how much was paid, which only leads us to conclude that she is either working with Ramirez or has managed to get hold of all his old records. We actually believe that she is working with Ramirez.

She sends out to those interested Non Spanish residents tax exemption form, which is downloaded from the internet, once the form is completed it then has to be faxed not posted back. There is no website but there is an email [email protected] which is just a normal Gmail free account,  the telephone numbers being used are:

(+34) 603208693 Spanish mobile

Fax: 070 1197 2107 The code 070 is a personal number.

Personal numbers allow a person or businesses to give out a single phone number, then redirect their incoming calls to different locations as and when they choose. 070 numbers can also be used as temporary numbers. For example, somebody selling a car through classified adverts could set up an 070 number to receive enquiries then disable the number after the car has been sold, rather than publishing their real home or mobile number. So this is not a very good sign!

Another new “fake” Procurador has also been flagged, CARLOS RIHOM IGRAIM, with the website:

http://procuradores-igraim.com

The website was only registered on 25 June 2018 so is only just over a month old, yet according to the website they have been established since 1973 and have over 40 years experience. The email they use is [email protected] which again is not linked to the website but is another free email provider such as gmail or yahoo.

The address they give  Calle Yamun 23, Edif. Ifuami, Oficina 328D, Santa Cruz, 38009, Tenerife, when checking this address on google maps, guess what, nothing comes up!

It appears that this “Procurador” is also part of the Legalidades Abogados setup, (Litigious Abogados family). Remember unless you have instigated any legal action, any call to tell you that your timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you will be in for substantial compensation, it is all a lie, they are after your money and that is all.

Now for this weeks article.

Timeshares Affecting the Lives of our Veterans

Another Veteran Family

A Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience

July 31, 2017

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare reached out to Tahiti Village. I talked to a Tahiti reservation agent. He was very nice, explained Consolidated was bankrupt, and that we would need to contact Soleil Management as to their response to this article submitted by a Tahiti owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. The Tahiti agent took my information and said he would forward to Soleil.  We did not hear back.

By a Discouraged Tahiti Village Member

Inside Timeshare can forward comments to this Tahiti member requesting anonymity.

Nevada and the businesses and agencies operating within it have no intention to do anything about timeshare fraud, so I hope the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please Share my article on your Facebooks to let people know about timeshare business practices and to seek answers to questions you should ask before signing any timeshare contract. If you don’t, you may find yourself stuck in a timeshare trap as we are.

I am writing this article to let people know about our Tahiti Village timeshare experience. I hope to warn other people to ask the right questions, so they don’t find themselves saddled with a timeshare they can’t get rid of. We made our last payment December 2017. I last heard from Tahiti Village in April. We have always had good credit, but now, as seniors, we face foreclosure.

I retired from a ATT & T, so I understand customer service. Our experience with Tahiti customer service has been disappointing. When I wrote good comment cards, Tahiti would respond, but when I submitted our concerns, Tahiti ignored those comments.  

When searching the internet, I found this email address from a member seeking other members who wish to pursue a class action lawsuit against Tahiti Village:  [email protected]

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-scam/las-vegas-nevada-89119/tahiti-village-scam-shannon-deceptive-sales-lies-and-misrepresentation-of-facts-l-1432118

Tahiti Village has a Better Business Rating of A+ despite two of two negative reviews.

https://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/resort/tahiti-village-vacation-club-in-las-vegas-nv-77371/reviews-and-complaints?section=reviews&reviewtype=negative

We have been Tahiti Village timeshare members since 2008. We enjoyed our Tahiti experience for several years until 2015 when we were steamrolled into purchasing an upgrade. By 2012, things had changed. Once when we checked in, we discovered our unit was nasty, the carpets were worn, the couches ripped. One year there was a bad smell in the master room. They just sprayed deodorizer, which did not help. The next year the microwave did not work. As we were checking out they brought the microwave. This is what our maintenance fees are supposed to cover.

Pressure to upgrade ensued. After one presentation, we felt like we had been held hostage after a four hour sales. We ended up upgrading from a fixed to a floating week with RCI. Since then, many things have happened that have turned what was a bearable irritation into an unbearable nightmare. In addition to seeing the fees rise, we now realize we were pressured into purchasing a timeshare product that we never really wanted in the first place. It is a timeshare product not worthy of what we are paying.

My husband, a Navy veteran, served his country for 20 years. Our Armed Forces Vacation Club benefits far exceed this timeshare. We paid Tahiti our hard-earned money for a product that has never lived up to its billing and has been a source of much stress.

As we explored ways of getting rid of our timeshare, it became apparent that many things we were told were not true, including

  1.    The timeshare is an investment that would appreciate in value,
  2.    We would be entitled to tax breaks,
  3.    We could rent the timeshare to pay maintenance fees,
  4.    The timeshare would be easy to resell, assisted by Tahiti.

So, after 10 years of paying for a timeshare that we were told would appreciate in value, could be rented and could be sold for a profit, we are left disappointed and angry. You can sell a house, even with a mortgage, but it seems there is no way out of a timeshare trap.

At times I stayed at Tahiti without my husband. If he was not with me I was treated markedly poorer. I felt that this is because they would always try to upgrade us if we were staying there together. When my husband was not with me, the customer service was worse, and the rooms were of a lesser quality. If we had a problem, even when staying together, reception would tell us they would look into our concern without ever doing so. One time,I asked for a first floor room because my daughter was on crutches and we ended up with the furthest room on the fifth floor. It seemed the only time we were treated with respect was when they wanted more money. This has been a source of irritation through the years, but not enough to warrant action.

When I wrote directly to Tahiti Village Resort asking to be released from this timeshare, I received no reply. I wrote to Soleil Management. They told me that they were not responsible for any misrepresentations that may have happened at the presentations because they were carried out by Tahiti Village Resort and they were merely the managing agent. Tahiti Village Vacation Club also said they were not responsible for any wrongdoing.

I wrote to ASNY, who claimed to be the developer and seller of the resort, as well as the managing agent for Tahiti Village Vacation Club. They said they were not responsible for any complaints about the quality of our stay and we should contact Soleil Management. They then proceeded to give me the usual spiel about how I signed the contract and they were innocent of any wrongdoing perpetrated by the sales staff. They also said that because we had been customers for 10 years, we had no case so would no longer correspond with us. (Inside Timeshare comment: Where have we heard this before?)

According to Ripoff Report, Tahiti is also known as Consolidated Resorts but have learned Consolidated filed for bankruptcy protection:

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc/las-vegas-california-89145/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc-tahiti-village-soleil-management-awsuit-479999

Why is the length of time we owned the timeshare be relevant if we always believed our timeshare was an investment that could be sold if need be? It wasn’t until we wanted to get rid of the timeshare did we learn we had been lied to. If you are in a dead-end relationship and your partner decides to go one step further and punch you in the face after 10 years, should you have no recourse?

So far, we have filed a complaint with the BBB and had our complaint dismissed before any real dialog took place. The Nevada AG referred us to the Real Estate Division. We filed with the Real Estate Division, who said they could not help.

In my opinion, Nevada, and the businesses and agencies operating within it, have no intention to do anything about this so I’m hoping the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please share my article on Facebook to let people know about our Tahiti Village experience and to warn potential buyers to do their homework before buying any timeshare.

Comments from Irene

The public, especially the military, need to be aware that a decision to sign a timeshare contract means signing a contract in perpetuity, often with no secondary market. Maintenance fees have a tendency to increase, so the timeshare can easily become cost prohibitive, even when there is no loan outstanding. Attorneys General investigations and settlements are appreciated, but seem to be only financial speed bumps in the life of a timeshare company. There has been no federal enforcement.

When a timeshare has little to no secondary market, even if you spend $100,000 or more, there is a good chance you might not be able to sell it or even give it back. Scams abound, promising to get you out of your timeshare or your money back. A few of these companies are legitimate, but several readers have reported they did not receive their money back, even when the timeshare returned to the developer due to foreclosure.    

Inside Timeshare has received timeshare complaints from 63 active duty and retired military and law enforcement personnel. Some of the active duty members are concerned about losing their security clearance due to timeshare foreclosure.   

Whistleblowers of America is an organization dedicated to seeking justice for veterans and Active Duty military. WoA presented a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ report to a Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. We hope lawmakers will wake up and do something about this. If a timeshare member is helped by our efforts, we encourage a donation to Whistleblowers of America.

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D,C.

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group™ which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Thank you to our Veteran for their story, they also wished to remain anonymous, also thanks to Irene for the hard work you put in to edit and write the introductions for many of these articles. In Friday’s Letter from America we will be publishing the Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report, which also has some very interesting recommendations to the industry.

If you have any questions, comments or even would like to have your experiences shared with others, then contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Have you been cold called by a company offering any service from resale, claims or relinquishment, or even found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing you due diligence and homework will save you your hard earned cash.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish an article from a new contributor, Meryl Stefan, with the introduction from our very own Irene Parker, but first a quick look at Europe.

Another warning is being issued on a fraudulent resale company which has just come to our attention, Mundo Tours Viajes SAC, with the address, Calle Serrano 78, 28006 Madrid – Spain, Tel: +34603108836 a Spanish mobile,  fax +34 917693079, a Madrid number. The email address is [email protected], which is an email  address provider just like gmail or yahoo and is not linked to any company website. None of the registration numbers show up on any Spanish registry and are false, Licencia S.A. 253797/ES , Registro mercantil 679-369-GOY-98.

There is a genuine Mundo Tours SAC, but this is registered in Lima Peru and is a genuine tour company, it has nothing to do with this operation in Spain. The paperwork sent to the client even has the logo of the genuine company at the top, including the company name as it appears on the genuine website. Again we see a fraudulent operation using the name of a genuine company to give some credibility when you do a search on the internet, this is a ploy that has been used for many years.

Click to see a PDF of the letter.

mundo_tours  

According to our information they tell the timeshare owner they have a buyer for the timeshare, this buyer has offered a substantial amount 27,000€ and is a guaranteed sale even naming the buyer! The only thing is to get the sale underway and sort out all the legal paperwork and transfer, a large sum of money is required. In the case of our reader, this amounted to 2,900€, which needed to be paid upfront!

Remember, as far as resales are concerned, there is no resale market, timeshares do not sell for the fantastic amounts these companies tell you, there are no “guaranteed” buyers. Just look on ebay, people can’t even give them away, even if they are fixed weeks and cheap on management fees!

We have also had a few emails from readers who have been asking the question on The Timeshare Association, another website trying to fool owners that they are genuine and concerned about owners. They have all asked the same question and it is the logo that has confused them, “we thought the Timeshare Association was part of TATOC, and they no longer exist, is this Timeshare Association the same as the logo is very very similar to the original?”

Simple answer is NO they are not the original, they have hijacked the name and the logo, again this little enterprise has none other that David Cox from TESS behind it. How do we know David Cox is behind it, they tell you on the website, plus just read the news, it is unmistakably Cox’s writing, full of grammatical errors, sentences that don’t make any sense and his usual diatribe against all and sundry.

The one problem is that the names that are the front for this website are the ones in the firing line when it comes to those being slated take the matter to court. They are the ones who are the “company” and therefore will be the ones held accountable. Do they actually realise what they have let themselves be drawn into?

We let you the reader decide on that one, now on with our letter from America.

Americano Beach Resort – post Hurricanes Matthew and Irma

What does the Future Hold?

By Meryl Stefan

Introduction by Irene Parker

July 27, 2018

Inside Timeshare published our first Americano Beach Resort article June 19. Since then we have heard from several Americano owners wondering what their vacation future holds. Obviously, no developer benefits by keeping a resort closed unnecessarily. The issues at stake are complex for both sides.

ARC has a public website that provides construction updates. According to the website, work is progressing. The installation of new windows is underway. One major area of concern to owners is the possibility of additional special assessments. According to ARC FAQs, no additional special assessments are planned, but that uncertainty remains, especially for seniors on a fixed income.    

http://www.americanobeach.com/irma-update-center.html

From our prior article:

Americano Beach Resort, a/k/a The Suites at Americano Beach, now managed by ARC Resorts, LLC, has been shut down since a few days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September 2017. http://www.insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-9/

By Meryl Stefan

We have been an Americano owner for 22 Years. One of our primary concerns is the special assessment of $1,834 levied because of hurricane damage and the possibility of future assessments. We can accept that increase might have been necessary, but on top of possible additional special assessments, it’s too much for many seniors like us living on a fixed income.  

Hurricanes can’t be predicted, but I feel that by now ARC should have been able to determine how much money will be needed and how much owners will be required to pay. If this was a one time assessment of $1834, we would understand that there could be a shortfall in insurance. The ambiguity of possible unknown assessments has forced us to walk away because of not knowing the extent of the liability. In addition to the special assessment, we paid our 2018 maintenance fee, booked a week for June 2018, but then learned the reservation had been cancelled.  

We originally paid $6,500 for a floating summer week. Maintenance fees in 2016 were $899. In 2017 they increased to $1,086. We never had a problem paying annual maintenance fees. We had always been able to book any week as long as it was 60 days in advance. I always paid my maintenance fees in January and then booked our week.

I am 65 years old, and my husband John is 75. We just don’t know what to do. We have always been responsible citizens. This is painful for us, and I know it is for many others as well. We had two other timeshares which we gave away to friends and family. We wanted to keep Americano so that we could vacation there every year with our family.

We attended one ARC meeting June 2017, after hurricane Matthew, but before Irma, after ARC acquired Americano. They tried to get us to buy into a different plan, which required more money. We declined. ARC agents wanted us to upgrade. They showed us many pictures, but the plans did not seem practical. We did not like the remodel proposed.

Comments from members,

We have heard nothing as far as an opening date other than possibly January 2019.  One member reported that he had heard it could be a couple of years before it might open. New windows are being installed but nothing has been done on the inside as far as anyone knows.

Since June 1, there have been 72 units deeded back to the Association. Some who have deeded back are under non-disclosure agreements so cannot reveal the circumstances.  Some claimed hardship, some are individuals who may have completed special warranty deeds and have submitted them to the court for filing.

The Freedom 365 plan (described below) has been purchased by some members, but other members have reported that they will not pay special assessments; although some have paid, hoping it will open.  

Many Americano owners are senior citizens now. The majority just want out of their obligation.  Some have hired attorneys but members should do due diligence before retaining any lawyer or timeshare exit company, as scams abound.

ARC has offered owners at all their resorts the opportunity to get out of the perpetual deeded timeshare by deeding the property over to ARC via the new Freedom 365 plan.

http://perspectivemagazine.com/060320175942/arc-delivers-membership-adaptability-with-freedom-365

https://www.insidethegate.com/2017/03/arc-delivers-membership-adaptability-with-freedom-365/

One owner reported that ARC Freedom 365 requires a purchase price ranging from $12,995 to $21,995. Another owner reported being quoted $5,000. For some seniors on a fixed income, spending more money is not a viable option. One member expressed reservations about Freedom 365, because she said she would need to book one year in advance. A member provided this description.

The Freedom 365 Platform gives you unlimited weeks of travel in timeshare accommodations for $299, any size, any season, anywhere. Additionally the ARC Platform gives you access to inventory not available through RCI or II at great rates!

Our future retirees love the fact that they will have travel dreams fulfilled in their retirement with our RENEWABLE CURRENCY (Savings Dollars)! A currency that not only allows them to get GUARANTEED best rates on hotels and cruises but restaurants, and thousands of everyday products and services!!

Additionally we offer the opportunity for you to discover Europe without paying for your accommodations through our Heritage Program!

Let’s take a look at your options. Do nothing, keep your unit, and in ten years you will pay over $12,000 (without inflation or assessments) and get 1 week of vacation every year. You will have an expensive week of vacation, a liability that will continue to get more expensive and difficult to opt out of.

Trade in your unit and replace them with the Freedom 365 platform and a Deed to a 2 bedroom at Magic Tree, our ARC resort in Orlando if you are interested in continuing to own a deed or have RCI points (the maintenance fee is $600 per year but is given back to you in Savings Dollars to use for future travel or to purchase products and services 365 Days a year)

Trade in your unit, have no deeded liability and use the unlimited weeks through Freedom 365 for $299 for all of your travel needs. Additionally you will enjoy $2000 savings dollars per year to travel to hotels, take cruises, purchase products, entertainment and even restaurant cards using your renewable currency.

ARC worked in cooperation with RCI Club 365 on ARC’s Freedom 365 plan:

The benefits of Club 365 are wide-ranging, with multiple uses for affiliates in North America. Club 365 can be seamlessly integrated into virtually any sales process, and can be utilized to best suit business needs by serving as:

  • A low-cost, value-added benefit to enhance core product offerings
  • An enhanced purchase incentive to increase closing rates
  • A strong non-buyer program to increase revenue and build the pipeline of future prospects

https://rciaffiliates.com/north-america/en-us/rci-news/rci-launches-club-365-to-deliver-year-round-benefits/

From the FAQs found on the ARC website

In addition, ARC sponsors a travel & leisure discount program called Freedom 365 which affords its members steep discounts on cruises, hotel & resort stays and consumer products. ARC Freedom 365 is not a deeded product, and the Member may remain so for as long as they like or may cancel their membership at any time.

From Irene

Americano members are seeking answers they hope will be forthcoming. Posting answers to questions on the ARC website helped me understand the situation better. It looks like there is a long way to go, but progress is in the works. Owners hope to be able to vacation with families and friends as they have in the past.  

If you or anyone you know has a timeshare story to share, or needs help with a timeshare issue, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help members sponsored Facebooks and websites. Remember not to pay anyone to get you out of your timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups below. Meryl paid two exit companies $395 each to get out of her timeshare, to no avail.

This Better Business Bureau report, released July 24, 2018, is the subject of next Friday’s Inside Timeshare:

In this report, we look at all aspects of the timeshare process — from buying an initial property to attempts by businesses to sell consumers on vacation club memberships to consumer endeavors to divest themselves of their timeshare investments. BBB advises consumers to use extreme caution when considering the purchase of a timeshare or vacation club offering.

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Meryl and Irene, a very informative article, we just hope that some kind of resolution is forthcoming. Next week in our Tuesday Slot we highlight another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this contributor has requested anonymity which we have agreed. We welcome our readers to submit their stories, we will always respect their wishes if they wish not to be named.

Well here we are again the end of another week, Friday and the weekend beckons, whatever you are doing, having a BBQ or just relaxing down at the beach or pool, have a great weekend and join us next week.

The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners Round 2

Back in March 2016, Inside Timeshare published the article The Great Anfi Battle of the Partners, this highlighted the long running arguments between the Lyng family and Santana Cazorla, the 50% partner in Anfi, who also controls the Board.

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

It centered mainly around the disappearance 8 million Euros between 2012 and 2013, the diversion of these funds was apparently noticed  by the Lyng’s while a lawsuit was pending between Cazorla and Lopesan. This lawsuit revolved around a 14 million Euro debt, which Lopesan claimed was owed to them by Cazorla as they had bought the debt from the Cardenas family. This debt it is claimed was for the land which Cazorla purchased from Cardenas for the golf course and complex at Anfi Tauro.

Well the story has not ended there, round 2 is up and running.

Just recently the Spanish press has been running several stories on the continuing battle between Cazorla and Lopesan, it also involves the new head of the Costas, Rafael López Orive, who is facing charges of “Prevarication”. (For the full story on this click the link below).

https://www.elconfidencial.com/empresas/2018-07-22/anfi-canarias-direccion-general-costas-juez-investiga_1595609/

http://espiral21.com/santana-cazorla-demanda-a-ifa-por-fraude-en-la-compra-de-anfi/

In another twist in this long running dispute between the two major players in the tourist sector in Gran Canaria, Santana Cazorla has issued a lawsuit filed in June 2018 at the Mercantile Court in Las Palmas, involves Bankia, the public bank of the Spanish State and 6 million euros.

http://espiral21.com/bankia-rebajo-6-millones-a-lopesan-la-compra-de-creditos-de-anfi/

Apparently it looks like Bankia lowered the price for the purchase of credits from Anfi del Mar by Lopesan by 6 million euros and according to the lawsuit Cazorla states:

“Lopesan ha estado comprando créditos existentes contra las sociedades de Anfi y contra las empresas del grupo Santana Cazorla a diversas entidades bancarias”.

“Lopesan has been buying existing credits against the companies of Anfi and against the companies of the Santana Cazorla group to various banking entities.”

The situation between the factions is complicated and we will no doubt be seeing many more lawsuits and counter lawsuits being filed, this now begs the question, what does this actually mean for those members of Anfi?

When IFA Lopesan purchased their 50% share, it left many wondering where Anfi would be heading, would Lopesan if they do take full control turn Anfi into a hotel and do away with the timeshare model?

Looking at the history of Anfi and comments from members, since the Cazorla’s purchased their 50% share and took control of the board, Anfi has been seeing a slow decline in standards, a series of scandals and lawsuits, with the latest being the Tauro Beach Project. It must also be remembered that Anfi are also losing heavily in the courts for the past mis-selling of their timeshares.

What the future has in store for this once great resort, no one really knows, what we can say however is that it is going to be at a cost of millions of euros in legal bills, something the Anfi members should be very much aware of, yet we believe that they will as usual be kept in the dark and fed whatever “spin” Anfi can put on it.

https://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-sandwich-holandes-lopesan-incordia-santana-cazorla-anfi-mar-201806210739_noticia.html

If you have any questions or comments on this article or even want to know if you have a valid claim to retrieve your purchase price and have your contract declared null and void, then use our contact page. Inside Timeshare will get back to you and endeavour to answer your questions and concerns with facts.

Tomorrow Friday’s Letter from America asks what the future holds for Americano Beach Resort after the hurricanes Matthew and Irma, this is from another new contributor Meryl Stefan, with the introduction by Irene Parker.

So join us for our last article of the week for more news and information on the world that is timeshare.

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome a new contributor Diane Creiger, with her article Elder Advocates, but first a quick update on the article published yesterday regarding Anfi Tauro Beach.

After publishing it became apparent that this news was still breaking in the Spanish press, with the publishing of more information regarding the demolition of the shacks and the company employed by Anfi to carry this out. Canarias Seminal published

“UN COMANDO DE BOXEADORES PENINSULARES VIAJA A GRAN CANARIA PARA DERRIBAR CHABOLAS (VÍDEO)”

(A COMMAND OF PENINSULAR BOXERS TRAVELS TO GRAN CANARIA TO DEMOLISH SHANTIES (VIDEO))

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

This follows from the El Diario article “Violento derribo de chabolas en Tauro”

(Violent felling of shanties in Tauro)

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

With following photo posted on facebook:

(These are the sicarios and godosjediondos of the business  DESOKUPA traids by Santana Cazorla and the government of the Canary Islands from Spain to curb the Canaries with their corrupt laws of eviction and appropriate the public domain ¡¡¡Espabilate Canario that you eat the jediondo godo!!!) (Apologies for the translations)

I just wonder how all the members at Anfi feel that their “club” is a party to this type of behaviour?

Now on with today’s article.

“They told us if we did not give up our deeded timeshare, our children would be sued and their credit would be ruined. I recorded the presentation.”

A frequent timeshare member complaint, reported by our readers, concerns faulty estate planning advice given to members concerned about passing on a timeshare liability to their children and heirs. Members say they are told their children will be responsible for the timeshare unless they give up their deeded timeshare and buy timeshare points. Timeshare members should receive estate planning advice from their estate planning lawyer, not from timeshare sales agents. Irene Parker  

By Diane Creiger

July 24, 2018

I am writing to let seniors know how financially devastating a timeshare decision can be. I am 74 years old and my husband Tom is 77. We bought Diamond points only because we were repeatedly told our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees if we did not give up our deeded timeshare. We have learned this was not true. We were given false estate planning advice.

In Branson, June of 2014, our sales agent Kimberly told us three times, “Your children will have to take this timeshare whether they want it or not.” I had asked what would happen if our children could not pay the maintenance fees. Kimberly said our children would be sued and their credit ruined. I recorded this in-person presentation in Missouri on June 18, 2014. In Missouri one party recording is allowed. Kimberly was very threatening.

On the recording, DRI sales agent Kimberly states, “The HOA companies want their maintenance fees and they say this will go to your kids whether they want it or not.” I asked, “what if they can’t pay it?” Kimberly replied, “Then the HOA has the right to sue your children and ruin their credit. If you have a deed, which you own, that’s what we are looking at here today. That’s the difference between Diamond and what you have.” She repeated, “If your kids don’t want this, they still have to pay the maintenance fees on it, regardless. This will be willed to them whether or not they want it. Your kids do not have a choice.” That sounded pretty threatening to us.

We did not buy then, but worried about the liability we would pass on to our children, we purchased 4,000 vacation points later in Florida, only for this reason. The Florida sales agent told us the same thing.

I learned this was in no way true in our situation, but now made worse because we used a credit card to charge the purchase. This debt could complicate our estate settlement. In other words, we had no estate problem, UNTIL we gave up our deed. With a credit card liability, the settlement of our estate could be jeopardized by this outstanding debt.

I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy, Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, Diamond’s PR Firm Prosek, Barclays President’s office, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Better Business Bureau, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Florida Attorney General’s Senior vs Crime Project, and AARP. The Senior Sleuths never responded. There seems to be no timeshare enforcement. We feel trapped. Everyone responds, “You signed a contract.”

After numerous attempts to resolve our dispute, I received an unusual call from a Mr. Edward Florez. Mr. Florez stated his department was recently set up, and his job recently created, because Apollo Global Management wanted their customers to have the best customer service available and that is why they created his office. Mr. Florez said he had been a police officer for 20 years. He said he wanted to help me. I was informed our account is now a corporate account and we are to deal only with him. Mr. Florez allowed me to record our call, which is a first. He was very explicit that we should not go to any more timeshare updates, unless we wanted some particular gift. He said there was no reason for us to experience so much pressure.

I told Mr. Florez that six different salesperson had told us about the problems our heirs would experience inheriting the deeded timeshare we owned before Diamond acquired our resort. Mr. Florez agreed this was not correct. He said that there may have been a few sales people who needed to be brought up to their (Apollo’s) level of customer service.

I asked Mr. Florez why our maintenance fees had increased $500. He said this was an “impact” fee that occurs when a deeded owner gives up their deed. I said that would mean our maintenance fees should not go up because of this being a one time fee. He laughed and said “I will never say that.”

I then became a little forceful and told him I was thinking about writing some articles, and writing letters to AARP, DoJ, and Consumer Affairs. I told him that the senior community needed to be warned and the Department of Justice needs to look into the timeshare industry. There was a lot of stuttering on the other end of the line.

Diamond’s CLARITY program is about Diamond members receiving clear, concise, accountable, transparent information. We received the opposite of accountable and transparent information.

As a last resort, I reached out to Apollo Global Management. After contacting Apollo, I received a call from Diamond corporate within an hour. I was encouraged, only to be told no one will talk to me anymore. I was informed I must send my complaint snail mail to Diamond’s corporate office from now on. I feel like I have been sent to the Principal’s office.

We feel our Diamond Orlando sales agent Randy used deceptive tactics to coerce us into giving up our deeded timeshare by telling us the following:

  1.  Randy said if we did not give up our ILX (Arizona) deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees. We had heard sales agents at five prior sales presentations make this same claim.
  2. Randy told us that once we had completed and paid for our Diamond purchase we could walk away from Diamond at any time with no repercussions. No misunderstanding here. I asked this question pointedly.
  3. Randy said our current maintenance fees were much too high. He said our maintenance fees may not go up if we converted to points. Randy explained that this was because our deeded week was in a small pool. He said points are in a much larger pool which serves to dilute the fees. After we converted to points our maintenance fees went from $2,000 to $2,500.
  4. When I asked Randy about the $500 increase in maintenance fees, he just said we could deduct the fees on our income taxes. When I told him the IRS doesn’t allow maintenance fees to be deduction, he replied, “Well, many people do it.”   
  5. After signing a few papers, we were directed to the office of a DRI QA agent. She had us sign numerous documents electronically which we could not entirely read. We signed in a master block, and then were told to tap the blank blocks. One of the blank blocks stated that Diamond could not raise our maintenance fees more than 25% per year. We could not read this until we reviewed the hard copy after we returned home. We would never have signed a document that allows maintenance fees to be raised by 25%.
  6. The initials on the documents are not mine. My initials are DMC, but the contract shows DMN.
  7. When we told Randy and the QA agent that we were electronically inept, they suggested we attend a training class on the use of the Notepad. We received a letter stating we were to attend a “New Member Orientation” at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. We incurred the expense of the airfare to Las Vegas, in addition to other expenses. When we showed up for our orientation we were told there was no such thing as a New Member Orientation. We were furious. All they did was try to sell us more points.  

We have not used any of the Diamond points we purchased. We have asked Diamond to return our $16,000 that we paid for 4,000 points. We are even willing to forfeit our ILX deed for which we paid $19,000 to get out of this nightmare.

When Diamond calls us, they record the call, but when I ask if I can record the call, I have repeatedly been told no. This is very intimidating, especially to seniors who feel they have been victimized. They say it is against company policy.

I had the opportunity to sit on a federal grand jury from January of 1999 until June of 2000. I understand the patience and determination it takes to get to the bottom of a situation and to seek justice. I will not give up. I have learned we are one of many seniors who bought Diamond points and were told if we didn’t give up our deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees.  I have joined our Diamond member sponsored Facebook.  

In my complaint I included:

If the decedent left a will and named you as a beneficiary and you decline the bequest, most states treat the event the same as if you had predeceased him. The executor must probate the will as if you had died and were no longer available to accept your inheritance. Your bequest will then revert back to the estate. info.legalzoom.com/happens-someone-refuses-accept-inheritance-21217.html

We also had a terrible experience in Sedona at Los Abrigados. They put us in a handicap unit, which we didn’t need. The room was dirty with the contents of a broken colostomy bag that had dripped 15 feet across the carpet. We took pictures. They would not accommodate us with other lodging. We had our children and grandchildren with us. All they did was put rugs or runners over the carpet until the next day when they cleaned the carpet. They only refunded our points after we complained.

Florida’s Seniors vs Crime project, Senior Sleuths never responded.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-8/

Thank you to Diane for sharing her experience and becoming our own Senior Timeshare Sleuth, volunteering her time to assist other seniors who feel they have been victimized by timeshare sales agents. We look forward to future articles.

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.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/

Thank you Diane, we hope to read many more from you, but I am sure that this will hit home to many of our readers.

Tomorrow we will be publishing the article about Marriott and their report to shareholders, which also highlights the fact that they are facing a plethora of lawsuits in Spain with a substantial amount set aside to cover the costs of this.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article published, or just need information on a company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker looks at Whistleblowers of America and their report to the Veterans Affairs Committee. As we have reported in previous articles, we have received many complaints from veterans who have had very bad experiences with timeshare sales agents. These practices are unexceptable and need to be stopped, but that can only come from the top of the timeshare companies, if they have the will to do it!

Now for some news from the Spanish courts, more legal history has been made at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Silverpoint has had another 2 judgements made against them, bringing the total of rulings from Spain’s Highest Court to to 126!

The tally this week is:

2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;

3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;

3 Provisional executions of sentence against Anfi del Mar, (this has secured over 93,000€ for clients with Anfi depositing the funds at the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana);

2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.

In the Diamond sentences, the clients have been awarded their full purchase price plus double deposit for a total of 19,504€ and 30,000€ respectively. These and the contracts for the clients above have all been declared null and void.

In total the 7 sentences amount to over 370,000€ another expensive week for the timeshare industry in Spain. All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients from all over Europe by none other than those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance.

As we near the end of July, we only have one more week where the courts are working, August is the annual close down, so we will see no new cases being heard until September.

Now on with our Letter from America.

Whistleblower Retaliation against Government Workers, Employees, Timeshare Members and Timeshare Sales Agents

62 out of 500 timeshare complaints we have received are from veteran and active duty members of the military and law enforcement

A Whistleblower Summit in Washington D.C. July 30 – 31

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

July 20, 2018

There are several federal and state laws in place to protect government and corporate employee whistleblowers from retaliation, but whistleblowing is never easy and can take a personal toll. A whistleblower friend of mine suggested I attend the Whistleblower Summit linked above, because of threats and accusations our advocates, Charles and I have received over the past two years. I have heard the following false statements made about Inside Timeshare and our advocates through the timeshare grapevine:

  • That our articles are based on false information. Many articles are submitted by our readers, which I edit, or the content provided by our readers.
  • Our advocates are compensated financially for assisting members,
  • Our advocates are practicing law,
  • Our advocates are compensated for soliciting business for lawyers,
  • We’re targeting certain timeshare sales agents (we call repeat offenders)

Articles written by timeshare members describing their timeshare experiences are revealing and important. One of the Whistleblower Summit presentations I am looking forward to attending is titled,

Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story

Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW

“Story is what defines us and set us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each other. Story is powerful. Story is grossly misunderstood. A good story has conflict, but ultimately resolved. A story is messy and full of confusion, but there is meaning and completeness to it. Stories have natural momentum to them, fueling our passion to find out more from the teller. Stories are laden with bait and intrigue, with suspense and tension. Stories are provocative.” Jeff Goins

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Founder Jackie Garrick will moderate a panel discussion at the upcoming Whistleblower Summit that will address resilience after retaliation

“My numbers are going up with new reports every day,” says Jackie Garrick, founder of Whistleblowers of America (WoA). Garrick created WoA earlier this year after discovering firsthand how difficult the process of reporting wrongdoing can be, and the personal toll it can take on the people blowing the whistle. By offering up the help and insight of former government insiders and whistleblowers like herself, Garrick is hoping to not only encourage more people to come forward, but also to simply support them once they do so.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/10/va-whistleblowers-under-threat-seek-help-from-outside.html

So far the only information available on timeshare whistleblowers concerns a lawsuit in which a jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams $20 million.  

She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

Despite several relatively recent Attorneys General investigations and settlements, lawsuits galore, and a flood of internet complaints, the timeshare industry continues to place blame on their customers and on advocacy groups. In other words, the industry believes Inside Timeshare either invented 500 timeshare complaints or that the 500 members would be happy timeshare members had they not read Inside Timeshare articles or joined one of several members sponsored advocacy Facebooks and websites. Almost all of the 500 members are highly educated, professional, high credit score citizens. At least they had a high credit score until they were sold or upsold into timeshare insolvency.

It doesn’t matter how many millions love their timeshare. What matters is that the majority of the 500 families have alleged they were fraudulently sold a timeshare product. All but a handful received an automatic “You signed a contract” dismissal from the timeshare company.

Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:

How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims

Here are a few steps that you (a corporation) can take to reduce the risk that your company will be subject to such a lawsuit. In parenthesis are my observations as they apply to timeshare:

  • Don’t retaliate — Try to remember not to treat employees (timeshare members) that have complained about your company any differently than those who have not.
  • Have a complaint policy in place and be sure to use it — It is a good idea to have a complaint policy in place, even if it is not required by law. Train and educate your employees in using the system. Once you have your complaint policy in place be sure to abide by it. (According to member reports, the timeshare complaint policy has been to provide the complaining member with their initials on fine print and dismiss them with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”)
  • Investigate all credible complaints — If you receive an internal complaint about alleged wrongdoing, be sure to investigate it, so long as it is credible. If you find that the complaint was truthful, take the steps needed to remedy the situation.(The timeshare member has often reported that they were told they were wrong and the timeshare sales agent judged truthful)
  • Be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for other misconduct — If you have a whistleblower in your company that needs to be disciplined for other conduct you must be very careful. Get evidence to support your claim that you are disciplining for reasons other than the whistleblowing and make sure the employee knows the reason he or she is being disciplined.

 

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/whistleblower-retaliation-could-land-you-in-trouble.html

Following the above advice would eliminate the need for timeshare advocacy groups and whistleblowers.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004

Jackie presented testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. She included Timeshare Advocacy Group’s veteran timeshare fraud report in her statement. Several of the 62 veteran timeshare members we have assisted struggle with disabilities and PTSD as described in the report. Jackie believes that retaliation can cause PTSD.     

  • The veteran population has very complex needs due to unique exposures/injury during military complicated by having two plus significant medical problems in one patient.
  • Veterans experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD). According to the CDC, about 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year making it the 10th   leading cause of death. (Several of the veterans we have helped struggle with PTSD and TBI, one is a decorated Marine, and another a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts.)
  • Agent Orange exposure – For example, eye cancers are a continuous issue. (Two of our disabled veteran timeshare members are disabled from Agent Orange exposure)
  • Gulf War Illness – Illness haunts Gulf War veterans. (One of the timeshare members served in the Gulf War and is on 25 meds)
  • Camp LeJeune: Due to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base, Camp LeJeune, increased reports of cancer in veterans and their families have been documented over the last several decades related to the solvents in water.
  • Burn Pit Exposure: Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 were exposed to a concoction of burning substances on military installations that has caused them to raise health concerns from cancers to respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. (One of the members we assisted was diagnosed with blood cancer having lived next to a burn pit in Basra)

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Jacqueline Garrick is a former Army social work officer who has worked in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as well as for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She is a subject matter expert in mental health and program evaluation. She is an advocate for disabled veterans and the use of peer support to improve resilience in traumatized populations.  She founded Whistleblowers of America in 2017 based on her experience reporting attempted fraud with DoD Suicide prevention funds.

We thank Jackie and Whistleblowers for their support. It is our hope that through public awareness and knowledge, the consumer will be better able to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare, especially one financed at 17%, is a good idea for the family.

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

That’s it for this week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, on Monday we will be publishing the court cases against Diamond and how Spanish law is protecting consumers, we will be comparing this with what is happening across the Great Lake with our US cousins.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all contributors to these articles and also to those who supply the evidence and information on the “fake” companies that are trying to rip you off. It is your valuable information which goes to help and save others from these unscrupulous charlatans.

Remember to check, check and check again, doing your homework will save you your hard earned cash. If you are unsure how to check, then use our contact page, we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week at Inside Timeshare.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker asks a very important question, What is a Defamatory Statement? This is in fact a very appropriate article considering Irene and Inside Timeshare have been accused of making them in respect of some of our readers “experience” stories. Inside Timeshare asks this question, how can a statement be defamatory if it is someone sharing an experience they have had with a particular company?

We started the week with an article highlighting two new companies that are what can only be described as dubious, the first was Davies & Howell Associates Ltd, with a registered address in London. They claim to have over 40 years of timeshare experience and can extricate owners from their timeshare, along with gaining them compensation.

The other is Ashton Group, apparently based in Nottingham, they have been cold calling timeshare owners with the same type of story. They apparently have a legal representative going by the name of Sir Drummond McFadzean!

So far no company record or website has been found about them, which is never a good sign.

On Tuesday, Irene published the 2nd quarter report from the The Timeshare Advocacy Group™, considering it is only halfway through the year, the number of pleas for help is huge. Thank you to all the advocates who work so hard to help these readers.

Another dubious setup was reported on Wednesday, this concerns a company called Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists, with the names Lance Steer and Joanne Johnson. It turns out from information received that Lance Steer is in fact one Lance Oakley, a former Diamond sales agent who also worked for EZE Group. Again they claim to be able to get you out of your contract and claim compensation.

Now on with our letter from America.

What is a Defamatory Statement?  

When to File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Irene Parker

July 13, 2018

The above cartoon was not selected to play partisan politics. It was selected because it is thought provoking. Clearly the elephant is a Democrat and is feeling defamed. Does that mean he or she was defamed? For EU readers who may not be familiar with our political symbols, the Republican Party portrays the elephant as their mascot.  

Inside Timeshare always considers defamation. Our stance is that truth is not defamatory. The reports received from 496 timeshare members describe deceptive and unfair trade practices. A pattern of complaints creates compelling and compounding evidence, even without hard evidence like a recorded conversation. If timeshare companies and some state regulators are over relying on the oral representation clause, the public needs to be aware that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. Are our readers’ allegations defamatory?   

Definition of defamation in law (from Webster’s Dictionary)

The act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person

Following is an excerpt from a New York Times article. I have edited out the names because we are exploring the topic of defamation, not singling out any one timeshare company. Are the following statements defamatory?

New York Times economics specialist devoted a long article…. One timeshare owner told the journalist: “The Company is much more ambitious, aggressive and downright nasty in their sales presentations compared to other companies. This Company just has an amazing reputation of being tough on people.”

A 77-year-old California woman said a 5-hour hard sell left her “shaking.” The Company gave her a voided receipt for a $4,840 charge on her credit card: “The representatives had been so certain that she would agree to the offer that they had charged her card for the down payment – even though she had not given approval,” the Times reported.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints and published many articles submitted by timeshare members who say they were not aware a credit card had been opened or that they had been charged for the purchase of a timeshare product.

Unlike Wells Fargo victims, the timeshare buyer complaining of the unauthorized opening of a credit card, or unauthorized charges, often could not file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has lost influence since the roll-back of the Dodd Frank Act, but even before the agency’s demise, timeshare buyers could not easily file a CFPB complaint because the timeshare company serviced the loan. A lender must be selected from a dropdown menu. Timeshare companies are not an option. When the member selected the bank that issued the credit card, the bank would respond that they did not actually sell the timeshare points or fill out the application for a credit card. End of story.  

The response from the company to the article:

The CEO said he had “belligerently zero tolerance” for any of his sales representatives who “goes off script.”  

In my opinion, some companies could care less if their sales agent “goes off script” unless the buyer happens to work for the media or holds a smoking guy, like a recording of a fraudulent transaction. Two of our readers who worked for the media resolved their dispute in one day. According to FBI agents our readers have contacted, or attorneys I checked with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” is in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.

In order to determine whether an act or practice is “unfair,” the FDIC will consider whether the practice “causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers themselves and are not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.” (5)

To correct deceptive trade practices, the FDIC will take action against representations, omissions, or practices that are likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances, and are likely to cause such consumers harm. The FDIC will focus on material misrepresentations or omissions, that is, those that affect choices made by consumers because such misrepresentations are most likely to cause consumers financial harm. 6

https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/compliance/manual/7/vii-1.1.pdf

Almost all members reporting are highly professional, educated people, alleging they were a victim of unfair and deceptive trade practices. All but a handful were angry, desperate, overwhelmed, and confused until empowered with straight answers about how to report and rectify their timeshare nightmare. A few were just tired of aggressive attempts to sell them more points. They just wanted out.  

More on Defamation

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/what-defamatory-statement

A defamatory statement is a false statement of fact that exposes a person to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, causes him to be shunned, or injures him in his business or trade. Statements that are merely offensive are not defamatory (e.g., a statement that Bill smells badly would not be sufficient (and would likely be an opinion anyway)). Courts generally examine the full context of a statement’s publication when making this determination.

In rare cases, a plaintiff can be “libel-proof”, meaning he or she has a reputation so tarnished that it couldn’t be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.

Defamatory statements that disparage a company’s goods or services are called trade libel. Trade libel protects property rights, not reputations. While you can’t damage a company’s “reputation,” you can damage the company by disparaging its goods or services.

Because a statement must be false to be defamatory, a statement of opinion cannot form the basis of a defamation claim because it cannot be proven true or false. For example, the statement that Bill is a short-tempered jerk is clearly a statement of opinion because it cannot be proven to be true or false. Again, courts will look at the context of the statement as well as its substance to determine whether it is opinion or a factual assertion. Adding the words “in my opinion” generally will not be sufficient to transform a factual statement to a protected opinion. For example, there is no legal difference between the following two statements, both of which could be defamatory if false:

“John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

“In my opinion, John stole $100 from the corner store last week.”

For more information on the difference between statements of fact and opinion, see the section on Opinion and Fair Comment Privileges.

Defamation Per Se  

Some statements of fact are so egregious that they will always be considered defamatory. Such statements are typically referred to as defamation “per se.” These types of statements are assumed to harm the plaintiff’s reputation, without further need to prove that harm. Statements are defamatory per se where they falsely impute to the plaintiff one or more of the following things:

  • a criminal offense;
  • a loathsome disease;
  • matter incompatible with his business, trade, profession, or office; or
  • serious sexual misconduct.

It is important to remember that truth is an absolute defense to defamation, including per se defamation. If the statement is true, it cannot be defamatory. For more information see the section on Substantial Truth.

Emily Doskow, attorney

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html

  1. A defamatory statement must be false — otherwise it’s not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don’t count as defamation because they can’t be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, “That was the worst book I’ve read all year,” she’s not defaming the author, because the statement can’t be proven to be false.
  2. The statement must be “injurious.” Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement — for example, the person lost work; was shunned by neighbors, friends, or family members; or was harassed by the press. Someone who already had a terrible reputation most likely won’t collect much in a defamation suit.

Scotty Black is a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocate. The FBI definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Scotty has an MS in Criminal Justice and works in law enforcement. A few months ago Scotty sent me the criminal code that stated that someone aware that a crime may have been committed must report the alleged crime because it is a crime not to report a crime. When timeshare members report actions that meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, FBI agents have advised us that we should direct those members to file a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov and with the FTC.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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

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

Related article: Timeshare Advocacy Group™

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-11/

That’s it for this week, we shall be busy watching the World Cup Finals this weekend, unfortunately England didn’t make it to this years final, that is between France and Belgium.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more information and more stories on the world of timeshare.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

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

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

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

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

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

By Sheilah Brust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

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

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

$8,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diamond’s Response:

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

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

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

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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