Most timeshare owners have over the years received cold calls, be they for resales, claims and the cheap holidays commonly known as flybuys. In many cases the caller has been met with verbal abuse, well not surprising considering the number of calls owners have had to put up with.
But have you ever thought that the person calling is not actually aware that they may be working for a “scam” outfit. Many of these call centers are based in Spain and the workers tend to be expats especially women just out to earn a living for their family. That is not to say that all callers are unaware of what they are doing, many are well aware that they are calling to “scam” people of their hard earned cash.
Inside Timeshare has recently received several emails from workers, not only from call centers but also from the sales people based in the resorts. The following email is from one such worker, she tells of her experience, we have kept her anonymous for obvious reasons.
Worked with Signallia (Silverpoint) as telemarketer – was told we were just selling a cheap holiday to clients and they could use their Keys Credits given at the airport in Tenerife – turns out the credits aren’t worth anything – clients were never given credits – just a ploy to get them to Beverley Heights or Mirage to sell them more credits – Im told it will cost them tens of thousands of pounds and its not worth anything – beware – just another offshoot from timeshare being run by the same people who should be in jail for commiting what is clearly a fraud! Telemarketing staff are really not aware of what is going on – staff are treated really bad. They are now employing all other languages in Europe, beware Europe the Silverpoint/Signallia/Keys-Concierge con is coming your way. They are selling a cheap week from €325 now dropping to €299 for 10 days – just go on the net and get the week just as cheap yourself and you don’t have to do a meeting with Keys – Concierge who will just try to get you to buy something for 10s of thousands of pounds which is not worth nothing! Timeshare in another disguise.
This is a very stark warning for a “product” that Inside Timeshare has published about in the past, it is marketed as a “lifestyle” credits based club, which the members are supposedly able to received massive discounts, These are not just for holiday accomodation but “discounts” from many well known high street chains. Having looked at the product, it is nothing but fresh air, it would take years to even recoup the initial outlay from the “supposed” discount promised.
As for the sales representatives that have contacted Inside Timeshare, they also tell a very similar story, taking on the job to be able to live a life in the sun. One sales rep who emailed us explained how he applied for the job from the UK, he was unemployed and thought this would be just the right new start in life he wanted.
He travelled to Tenerife with the promise of three months free accomodation, then began training. At first he believed in the product he was selling, it was pitched very much like it is to the potential purchasers, a dream.
At first he was having trouble selling, he was then taken to one side by a very experienced rep and told how to make the sales and earn his commission, that was the only source of income as there was no basic pay. You don’t sell you don’t eat.
He took on board what he was told and began to embellish his pitch with the usual lies, “you are buying property, it will go up in value”, “it’s an investment”, well you know the rest. Eventually this rep was making lots of money and certainly living the dream.
So what changed his mind?
As he explained, he had an elderly couple on tour, using all his charm and the usual lies, he eventually sold them a pack of several weeks in a one bed apartments, all with the promise that they would receive a rental income for the weeks they didn’t use and a resale with a substantial profit after two years. All this was financed with a loan from Barclays Partner Finance, totaling around £50,000.
The following year he met the couple again while they were on holiday, the story they told him made him feel guilty. This couple had great difficulty in repaying the loan, they ended up having to remortgage their home in order to pay it off. This had brought them great financial difficulty and they asked for the timeshares to be sold.
He had the unenviable task of telling them that there was no call for what they had purchased, that the only way was to upgrade, which they could not afford to do. Again the Barclays Partner Finance loan was offered. The couple were in tears, they could not afford to take on another, they were now lumbered with timeshares they did not want and were also in a considerable amount of debt.
There was absolutely nothing he could do for them, guilt took hold as they reminded him of his own grandparents. He realised he had been used by the timeshare company to make them unlimited amounts of money. Subsequently he handed in his notice, luckily he had not fallen into the usual trap of spending his money on drink and drugs so had a fairly large amount saved up. He eventually found a job managing a bar and continues to do so although not in Tenerife.
The company he worked for was none other than Silverpoint.
Inside Timeshare has heard many stories such as this, it does go to show that there are some people who have worked in the timeshare industry who do have a conscience and some morals.
Have you had an experience such as these, if so contact Inside Timeshare and let us tell your story.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker reviews a new book EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES by Wayne C. Robinson, incidentally Irene has written the forward, but first a very brief look at Europe.
It has been reported from one court in Tenerife that one Judge in Court No 5 has decided during a pretrial hearing that a case against Silverpoint does not need to go to a full trial. His reason is that he clearly sees the breaches of the timeshare laws in accordance with the 129 Supreme Courtrulings which all lower courts must follow. He will be delivering his sentence in due course, this follows some Judges in Gran Canaria who were the first to do this. This will obviously speed up the process to the benefit of the clients.
Inside Timeshare has also been receiving many emails from timeshare owners on vacation in Tenerife, most of these are Silverpoint members, they have been approach at their resorts by Centaurus Mediationsand Keys Concierge, who we have written about on many occasions.
In the meetings that they have been coerced into attending it is the same old story, Centaurus tell them they can get them out of their Silverpoint contracts and get them compensation, for fee that is. Keys Concierge offer the same but with a membership to their “Lifestyle” product, which offers “massive” discounts on holidays etc.
Both these companies are closely linked to Silverpoint, so we know what this is all about, Silverpoint are losing heavily in the courts, costing them hundreds of thousands of pounds for their illegal product and contracts. By getting the members to “cancel” these contracts it then stops them taking Silverpoint to court to have the contracts declared null and void plus get all their money back.
Do not fall for this, if you have a Silverpoint membership and would like to know if you do have a valid case, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will check this for you free of charge and then point you to the best solution.
Lisa Ann Schreier has a media opportunity and is looking for timeshare owners who can assist. The first is for an owner who has not been able to get into their home resort despite trying to book months in advance, yet found rental opportunities available on non-owner websites. The second is for anyone who has purchased a DRI or other ‘sampler’ or trial package.
In America, Democrats and Republicans may be a member of the same political party, but that does not mean all Democrats or all Republicans agree within their own party. Similarly, I may not agree with all points Wayne presents in his book, but we agree on the following points:
Timeshares are sold by some agents deceptively,
The oral representation clause has been overused and over abused,
The buyer often makes a timeshare decision without adequate information,
The consequences of making the wrong timeshare decision can be financially devastating,
The buyer is almost always unaware of the limited to sometimes non-existent secondary market. Most timeshare contracts are perpetual.
There is little enforcement of timeshare regulations in some states without undeniable proof. Consequently, complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said,” are dismissed. In those states there is little to stop deceit and misrepresentations, short of public awareness. In other states volumes of complaints, illustrating a pattern of unfair and deceptive trade practices will warrant an investigation. As of September 10, Inside Timeshare has heard from 578 U.S. timeshare members.
Charles Thomas and I are honored to be a part of Wayne’s book and we hope collectively to unveil the deception we believe has been allowed to flourish at some, but not all, timeshare companies. The press release for Everything About Timeshare, followed by Wayne’s timeshare tips.
Book Promises Relief For Dissatisfied Timeshare Owners
Former Timeshare Exec Discloses “inside secrets” of the Timeshare Industry
Las Vegas, NV—Date — EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES: Before, During and After the Sale, authored by a former timeshare executive, might be the relief that thousands of timeshare owners have been seeking. The book shares “industry secrets” that consumers might want to know about and includes much needed exit strategies.
Author Wayne C. Robinson believes that the book provides a level playing field for consumers before they attend a sales presentation. He claims that he doesn’t discourage consumers from buying a timeshare, but suggests that they research the company and the product before signing a long term contract that may have little to no secondary market.
“Timeshare companies have always been very savvy when it comes to marketing – baiting consumers with free vacations, discounts on excursions and even cash to get them to attend a sales presentation. Unless consumers know exactly what they’re doing, the sales teams are professionally trained to execute powerful strategies to make the sale the same day, regardless.”
Robinson has worked for some of the most popular resorts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, including The Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Wyndham, The Manhattan Club, Royal Resorts, and more. He states that there are industry secrets consumers are not supposed to know about, but will be included in his book.
“If consumers knew what really goes on behind the closed doors of the timeshare industry, most would definitely not buy. I am concerned about the plethora oftimeshare owners who are frustrated and not sure where to turn. Either the company did not deliver what was promised, or the member can no longer afford the debt.”
Robinson has recently partnered with timeshare advocate, Irene Parker and EU based Charles Thomas, who authors a blog, Inside Timeshare, to educate consumers and timeshare owners to make informed decisions before they buy, sell or otherwise dispose of their unwanted timeshares. Robinson says that Inside Timeshare attracts timeshare members, attorneys, journalists, other timeshare advocates, and especially timeshare owners who feel that they have nowhere to turn.
The book highlights a variety of relevant topics such as how to get rid of an unwanted timeshare, why he feels that the points system is the worst investment for consumers, and how to get the best usage out of any timeshare. Additionally, it discloses the entire sales and marketing strategies that timeshare resorts use that consumers need to be cautious of.
“As a former timeshare executive, I believe that most sales people may be unaware of the damage that they have caused many families long after the sale. Most seem more concerned about the money they make from each sale rather than the service after the sale.”
Robinson has worked for several resorts that expected him to lie during sales presentations, and this was something that he was blackballed and fired for.
He admits that the book is not for revenge against any of the resorts, but wants to provide consumers with the facts they need to make the right decisions whether they want to buy, sell or get rid of their timeshare.
Contents of the book would be of interest to many timeshare owners who are frustrated between what they were told during sales presentations and their actual experiences.
“I recommend that consumers, particularly minorities and seniors, a major target for the U.S. industry, make sure that everything that is stated in the sales presentation is in writing, or don’t buy.”
Robinson says that he has noticed a significant change in the timeshare industry that he feels is not in the best interest of the consumer. One change that he has noticed is the increased pressure to convert deeded weeks to a point system. He believes that this is the worst-case scenario for the consumer and was only designed for the best interest of the developer. He says that the flexibility is merely a perception at a high cost and can be a financial sink hole for the consumer.
Another change he has noticed are the plethora of travel club memberships where owners purchase nothing but air. Many of these travel clubs, according to Robinson, are using hiding behind brand name resort chains.
“Owners must understand how the business works. Many of the companies don’t even own resorts. They simply rent out rooms from brand name resorts and list them into the exchange directories. This is misleading as the member perceives that brand name resorts are dedicated to timeshare when they are not.”
EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES: Before, During and After The Sale is available on Amazon.com, or at the author’s website:www.everythingabouttimeshares
Thank you Irene and Wayne, we also look forward to contributions in the future from Wayne.
If you have been contacted by any company or fund one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine or will actually do what they say, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.
Do you have story to tell about any “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which you would like to share with others, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.
So that’s it for this week, have a good weekend and if you attend any presentation or update, remember stay strong and focused, do not give in to the slick sales patter and keep your hard earned money safe.
Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, the last one for 2017, this week Irene looks at the past year from across “The Great Lake”, while we look at the past year in Europe.
Our first article of 2017 was about the family of fake lawyers from Tenerife, Litigious Abogados, it highlighted a new firm called Abogacia Española, which happens to be the name of the official website to check the validity of lawyers registrations. This was a very good move on the part of this well planned out fraud, as it did give an air of legitimacy when you did a web search.
Since then, we have seen many incarnations of this fake law firm, although the names have changed, one thing hasn’t, that is the nature of the fraud. They are still duping consumers into believing that they have a case at court, then to be part of it you need to pay the Procurator fees. That is only the start, it get even more sophisticated. Search Litigious Abogados for the full story.
While we are on the subject of Silverpoint, It was announced in April that Silverpoint were withdrawing their membership to the RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) and would no longer be selling timeshare. Hence the product Keys Concierge, which does not appear to fall into the realms of timeshare laws.
This was a great blow to the RDO, as Mark Cushway was not only a director, but Silverpoint was also a major contributor. Funds this organisation could ill afford to lose. It has since come to our attention that the RDO is to form a partnership with ARDA (American Resorts Development Association). This particular organisation is well endowed with contributions and is very strong in the world of lobbying for its members. So it begs the question is the RDO going to be taking on board the tactics of ARDA?
Staying on the subject of Silverpoint, January was a momentous time on the legal front, with the Supreme Court making their first ruling against this company. This was the case of Mrs Shirley Wilson and her long battle against the selling tactics of Silverpoint.
Within a week the highest court in Spain ruled three times against Silverpoint, opening the doors for many more cases against them. Since then the rulings have been coming in thick and fast, leaving no doubt that what they had been selling was illegal.
February brought the news that Alberto Garcia had “stepped down” from Mindtimeshare and that the RDO would not be renewing the contract with that “Consumer Association”. Alberto Garcia for many years had been running the RDO’s“Enforcement Programme”, attacking any company which threatened the timeshare industry. This has now been given to Kwikchex and the “Timeshare Taskforce”, run by Chris Emmins.
Throughout the year, Inside Timeshare has been following the Anfi “Tauro Beach Project”, this has been a story that has now seen the former head of the Coastal Authority being charged with falsifying official documents and wrong doing in public office. No doubt we will see his trial sometime in the new year.
This project was to build a man made beach at Tauro, with the building of hotels and a shopping center. This was given to Anfi to run for 50 years, the Government of Gran Canaria is now seeking in the courts to remove these concessions in the light of the evidence of malpractice. This story is not over yet.
Anfi have been on the receiving end of many Supreme Court rulings since March 2015, they however have continued to deny any wrongdoing and inform their members that they have not lost any cases. In fact they have embarked on a campaign to attack Canarian Legal Alliance, trying to sow seeds of doubt among their clients. Below is a link to a video showing the National Spanish TV news on TVE 1, in this clip, one of the CLA lawyers explains the Supreme Court rulings. For the National Television to broadcast this item shows that CLA is doing what they say and that Anfi is trying to divert attention from this.
Another story we have been following is that of Los Clavelesin Tenerife and the battle for control of the resort. Again this is an ongoing story which at present seems to be dragging on. It revolves around the selling of Wimpen to ONA Grup, who were the managing company of this resort. Their contract has been ended but they still seem to be trying to run the resort against the wishes of the Owners Committee.
There has been a lot of argument on this issue, with some very nasty consequences, it is clear that this issue is not going to be resolved in the near future. It may also end up being a rather costly one with only the lawyers benefiting.
In July we published a rather different article on the timeshare world, this was a positive one, featuring a company that we have not been able to find any adverse comments or complaints. It is off course Disney.
This is a shining example of how the timeshare industry should operate, fair, truthful and with the consumer in mind. There again, it is what we expect from an organisation which prides itself on putting people first.
After a long reign TATOC finally went into liquidation, with Harry Taylor and TATOC being totally discredited. For years this organisation has duped not only timeshare owners but also organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Any owner that went to CAB with a problem would be recommended TATOC as the place to go. Little did CAB know that this organisation was funded and basically run by the industry. All we can say is good riddance to a very bad and foul smelling egg!
There have been so many articles it is difficult to review them all, but Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of the most dodgy companies that have emerged over the course of the year. These articles have saved many readers considerable sums of money, we intend to continue with this.
But before we go on with Irene’s roundup of the year from the US, we finish with the news of yet three more sentences issued by the courts. On 27 December the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared yet another Anfi contract null and void with the client being awarded over 29,000€ plus legal interest.
On the same day the High Court in Tenerife announced another ruling against Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and the client in this case being awarded over £9,000 plus legal interest.
There then followed on the 28 December another Supreme Court ruling from Madrid, this was number 82! Again the company was Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and an award of over £23,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.
These cases were brought on behalf of clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, so this does show this law firm is doing what they say.
Now for the year from a US perspective.
What Timeshare Members Can Look Forward to in 2018 and what
I wrote looking forward to 2017 on December 26, 2016
Our Advocacy Group did not have a name one year ago, or a Facebook page. Our advocacy Facebook page was launched February 2017 and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ April 2017. As I write this, our advocacy Facebook page has 706 members. We encourage industry observers, as long as they are respectful.
Back in February, I remember scrolling down my Facebook feed, a pianist, waiting with nervous flute, oboe, trumpet, and bassoon middle school students for our competitions to begin, when I suddenly saw a post called “Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy” launched by an economics professor. This Facebook page was launched in response to a draft article I had written and distributed, requested by a few former timeshare sales agents who felt the practice of “pitching heat” to sell vacation points needed to be addressed and brought to the attention of the general public. Based on reader responses, only Disney Vacation Club seems to disavow this sordid selling technique.
Our professor also prepared this mission statement for our DRI advocacy group, but as our Inside Timeshare readers started to reach out to us asking for help with timeshare issues concerning other timeshare companies, I borrowed our DRI mission statement and generalized it to apply to all timeshare companies.
We seek to provide timeshare members and owners 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.
April 2017, a former Diamond sales agent contacted me, urging me to write a press release as she was worried Diamond members were not aware of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800,000 DRI settlement and the Assurance of Discontinuance announced December 23, 2016. There was a May deadline to file a complaint.
This former timeshare sales agent said we needed a Facebook page so that readers had somewhere to respond. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I got mad at timeshare July 2015, but I struggled through the establishment of a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ page, delighted to find a butterfly with a “Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens” quote by Jimi Hendrix. My first concert I attended in high school was Jimi Hendrix, second row, in front of the mic.
I expected my new creation to last for a month or two, until the press release ran its course, but it continues to receive views. We consider this Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebook a clearinghouse of articles written about all timeshare companies and are grateful to all our volunteer admins for both Facebook pages.
Now a look back to what I wrote December 26, 2016 with updates
Timeshare Lawsuits 2017
By Irene Parker, December 26, 2016
Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:
The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys General:
Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.
Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?
WestgateUpdate 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegelwas seen campaigning next to the candidate in 2016. That’s Mr. Siegel to the left of Trump. Charles Thomas reported on the timeshare the Trump family is launching in Scotland, reported as a golf course in the US during the campaign.
“Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016
Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.
The Manhattan Club Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneidermanmanaged to ban the owners of The Manhattan Club from working in the timeshare industry and achieved a $6.5 million settlement. Rarely is wrongdoing admitted. However, attorney Douglas Wasser, representing TMC owners, said “Hundreds of members will be helped, but there are over 14,000 members.” Even a settlement this size will do little to curtail predatory marketing and sales practices. The investigation took years.
Back in 2016
Attorney Douglas Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.
“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point. The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed. But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016
Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Update: Most disturbing of all, political and legislative maneuvering in Florida resulted in a change in the definition of timeshare, seemingly in an attempt to circumvent the merit of the case, according to attorneys involved with the case. That was not the end of it. We will hear more about this case in 2018.
“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.”Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.
Diamond Resorts Update:A judge ruled in favor of arbitration in the billion dollar lawsuit filed against the company, and Congress reversed the CFPB ruling that would allow class actions. Diamond Resorts is one of the only timeshare companies to have a class action ban in their contract, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is binding and private. Lawsuits filed are public record.
A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:
Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
I don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,
People are listening!
Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:
⦁ A legitimate secondary market
⦁ Less aggressive and deceptive selling
⦁ Less predatory lending
Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Since last year we have found a few more self-help groups we are confident are on the side of the timeshare member and are not industry influenced.
So that is 2017 in a nutshell, if this coming year is anything like the last we will be seeing many more stories like these.
Inside Timeshare thanks all those who have contributed to the articles and also to all the readers and those who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help and advice. If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of using but need to know about them, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
We wish you a prosperous New Year, enjoy your celebrations and we will be with you in 2018.
In this case, the court ruled that the contract be declared null & void with the return of over 13,279€ plus legal interest. In this case the infraction was the length of the contract was greater than the 50 years allowed by Spanish timeshare law 42/98, which came into effect in January 1999.
Again this flies in the face of Anfi’s assertion that their contracts are legal and that they have not lost any cases, see the article “Truth, What is Truth?” Published on 10 August.
It is not just Anfi who deny these facts, Silverpoint have been doing so for years, they have even left the RDO and claim they no longer sell “timeshare”. So what are they now selling?
Well, we do know one product is Keys Concierge, a so-called “Lifestyle Credits” product, which promises a great deal but does it actually deliver? Another ploy by Silverpoint is the move to transfer the blocks of timeshare weeks they sold to clients (with the promise to sell in 2 years for a profit), into what is euphemistically called a “Company Participation Scheme”. Not much is known at present, a lot more research is yet to be done, but it appears that clients sign a document at the notary which makes them shareholders of the company Club Paradiso. If this is the case, then all liabilities of the company will fall squarely on those clients shoulders. More on this when the research is complete.
Customer Service is a Spectator Sport, according to Hug Your Haters author Jay Baer. Although Hug Your Haters was written primarily for the providers of customer service, users of Customer Service can benefit from the book as well. Social Media has dramatically changed Customer Service in a way many timeshare companies have yet to acknowledge. The Marriott hotel chain seems to have gotten the message and has adapted to the new world order.
Mr. Baer discusses in his book the difference between onstage and offstage Haters. Many of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received are from offstage Haters, unfamiliar with Social Media. Sometimes offstage Haters need an onstage Hater to plead their case.
Disney Vacation Club seems to have bucked the timeshare trend, refusing to fall back on the oral representation clause that states, “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase” which translates to the customer is always wrong. Disney has few timeshare complaints so it’s not surprising to find former Walt Disney theme park executive Lee Cockerell, author of The Customer Rules, mentioned in Hug Your Haters. Mr. Cockerell explains in his book how he would encounter employees blaming the customer:
“From time to time over the years, a customer would complain to me that a frontline employee had been belligerent. When I asked the employee what happened, I’d usually be told the customer was wrong about the facts, or had been abusive, or trying to cheat the company. Most of the time, the employee believed it was better to lose a bad customer than appease one.” p. 115
Another Hug Your Hater example is Pella Windows and Doors, VP of marketing Elaine Sagers. “Monthly, our executives call a random selection of unhappy customers to talk about their experiences with us…..We’ve also played recordings from the call center so you can hear the emotion in our customers’ voices around what’s been happening with jobs and their homes.” p. 120
Having listened to 133 timeshare complaints, mainly about maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist, or the ability to sell points when no secondary market exists, it’s hard to understand how companies can so often ignore or dismiss allegations, especially when a volume of complaints (119 out of 133) meet the definition of white collar crime – “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” – painting a compelling and compounding picture of trouble within a company or within the timeshare industry as a whole. I challenge any timeshare executive to listen to the tone of the voices of families devastated financially by their vacation plan. “Well you signed a contract,” is not the appropriate answer. I’m sure Mr. Baer would agree.
Mr. Baer makes another important point I have often stated when it comes to offering a customer wronged an apology. “In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’”Mr. Baer quotes Michael Lasky, an attorney and litigator with the Davis & Gilbert law firm in New York City. Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125
Page 138 of Hug Your Haters discusses the importance of rapid complaint response time. My husband and I have been Platinum Marriott Rewards members for several years. About a decade ago I complained about something I can’t remember at a Marriott Hotel front desk. I was just complaining, not asking for compensation, yet the company responded with an automatic adjustment in reward points. Every 20 or so stays, something might happen that I would complain about had it not been for the times the company responded rapidly and appropriately.
Right out of the Hug Your Haters playbook, I posted a comment on the Marriott Facebook about how a trainee and a manager patiently and pleasantly changed our room three times to address our concern about highway noise. I posted this experience on Marriott’s Facebook and they almost immediately responded, “Irene, we would like to share this on our comment site if that’s alright with you.” As Mr. Baer explains, onstage Haters (or Lovers) don’t expect to be answered. When they are, they are taken aback, astonished that a company as large as Marriott would care.
I can’t speak for Marriott Vacation Club, the timeshare company, because I am not a member, but one of our Advocates, a senior manager with a Fortune 500 company, also a Marriott Vacation Club member, made this comment about Marriott in Part I of our Inside Timeshare article Hug Your Haters, “I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also, while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience.”
Onstage Haters compared to Offstage Haters – Chapter 7
Some companies respond to negative comments by expanding their advertising budget. “Advertising is a tax paid for being unremarkable,” is a quote Mr. Baer said is usually attributed to Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad, but he rephrases the comment appropriately, “Advertising is a tax paid when you’re poor at retaining your current customers.” p. 18
“Listening is the ability to pay attention to what the sounds means and understanding it. We hear noise, but we listen to music. That is because noise falls on our ears without any effort at our end,” said an anonymous writer explaining the difference between hearing and listening. Too often customer complaints are dismissed as noise in the form or automatic denials to a complaint filed against a timeshare sales agent (s).
These are but a few timeshare Advocacy Facebooks and websites of members helping members because company complaints so often fall on deaf ears. They are closed groups, but all would welcome corporate representatives bold enough to listen and learn. We hope timeshare industry executives, ARDA and lawmakers will take the time to not just hear, but listen.
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.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently sent a message in the form of a $6.5 million settlement against The Manhattan Club timeshare accused of restricting availability for members who paid thousands of dollars for a timeshare while allowing access to those booking online. The settlement response was a reaction to a chorus of timeshare members mobilized and action orientated. All timeshare owners are grateful because a victory for one is a victory for all. Lack of availability is a universal complaint.
Thank you Irene, once again you have given us a look into the world of “Customer Service” or in some cases lack of. It is one of the main complaints that Inside Timeshare does receive, in many cases the sales staff are only intent on getting more money from you, rather than helping to get the best from your membership.
It then explains that Signallia is stepping away from the timeshare industry and selling the new product “Keys Concierge”, which Inside Timeshare highlighted some time ago. This product is a “lifestyle membership club”, offering stays at the former Silverpoint resorts, it also boasts that they will carry out personal concierge services so you don’t have to bother.
Another factor is as a member you will receive savings and discounts from the likes of Marks & Spencer, Top Shop, Sainsbury’s to name but a few, the thing is how genuine are these? We know that Robert “Bob” Trotta has a significant stake in this enterprise, with the director one Franz Markus Deutsch, a former Resort Properties / Silverpoint sales manager who worked with Mark Cushway, who is now the CEO of Signallia, so old comrades come together. (See links to the original articles below)
Now Timeshare Compensation in their blog is warning about this company, about their “dodgy” past and that they may have changed their name and the product, but may not have changed their ways. But who is Timeshare Compensation?
Well you will never believe this, but they are the trading name of ABC Lawyers, which is a company that belongs to one Mark Rowe!
Following on from Monday’s article which highlighted Keys Concierge and the relationship with Silverpoint, Inside Timeshare has received further information from one of our readers.
This reader attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Club in Tenerife, one of the Silverpoint resorts, he was then sold a one year trial membership of Keys Concierge, the new “lifestyle product” which we found out is the new product Silverpoint are marketing.
According to the information received, the new company selling this membership is called:
So there we have it, new company name, same CIF and address, but I would not be surprised if they deny that they are still Silverpoint, a little like Silverpoint tried to deny they were Resort Properties.
As for the new product, it is a credits based lifestyle membership, offering stays at Beverly Hills Club (no longer timeshare), Beverly Hills Heights(part of which is being sold off) and Hollywood Mirage. They also offer a “concierge service” where their “lifestyle managers” do all the work for you, make your bookings and travel arrangements even helping you with switching your utility company.
Some of the “benefits” are the discounts you can get from utilising your Keys membership, from 5% discount at Marks & Spencer, 4% discount at Sainsbury’s or even 8% at B&Q! You can also get upto 15% discount at Disneyland Paris among others. (see the link for offers).
They also had a “concierge service” which would “enhance” your lifestyle, your very own personal assistant to do all the mundane things like booking travel or theater tickets. Massive discounts which never materialised, either on the holidays or the other products they listed.
It is also sold that you “earn” more credits when you book anything with them, which “saves” you even more. I’m sure we’ve heard this before with “Leisure Credits”?
So the next question is, now that Silverpoint is no longer “selling” timeshare, or no longer members of the RDO, will Kwikchex business service be contacting them for a transparency report? Will they “comply” and if not what will Kwickchex say?
Will Mindtimeshare even post anything about them and this “New Product”? After all Mindtimeshare does publish about companies that are not “Timeshare” and in their eyes are “bogus or scams”. We shall watch those blogs and all the other forums for any comments about this new venture. Somehow I don’t think we will have to wait to long for answers.
On another note, Silverpoint again lost another case, the news was announced on 18 April. The High Court No 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife found in accordance with the Supreme Court rulings and declared the CLA client’s contract null & void. They ordered Silverpoint / Resort Properties to return over 27,000€ plus first instance legal fees and legal interest.
So just to finish, Silverpoint Vacations Marketing SA are now Signallia Marketing Distribution SA, a new name and a new product to peddle, will this product turn out to be a good one or will it go the same way as others before it? As usual it is all left to questions needing answers.
The amounts awarded for these three cases is well over 100,000 euro, a severe blow to this resort, again the courts ruled as per the Supreme Court judgements. Contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, (including by a third party), have all been deemed illegal.
All three clients in these cases are from Norway, they had employed Canarian Legal Alliance to fight their cases and release them from those illegal contracts. The courts declared them null & void and ordered that Anfi repay them their purchase price, plus double the deposits, legal interest and legal fees.
Along with the ongoing problems of the Tauro Beach Project, which again we have seen the authorities removing people from the beach, as it is still fenced off and closed to the public, these awards are a severe blow.
Back in January, we published the article about another new credits based lifestyle company, Keys Concierge.
The company became active on 6 August 2015, with the director being one Franz Markus Deutsch, who we know is associated with Mark Cushway of Silverpoint fame. In this article it was mentioned that due to the association between the two directors and their past relationship, could this new product be the new one being sold by Silverpoint?
Since that article, a reader has sent in the following information:
They attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Heights, where they signed up for the £995 1 year trial membership. They would receive 995 credits, which would give them access to multi discounts across major high street and grocery retailers. One which this reader was interested in was the 6% discount at Asda, being a major shopper there it would certainly save him a great deal.
The thing is this reader was not totally taken in, he checked with Asda and other retailers, not one of them had heard of Keys Concierge as a business, let alone had any “deals” with them. In his words “I am now a little dubious about their offer”. Inside Timeshare has contacted Asda and is waiting for a reply.
It does go to show that doing your due diligence and research is very important. There are many of these “Lifestyle Products” making an appearance these days, many are replacing the sales of “Timeshare”, as they do not come under timeshare law. (Is this why Silverpoint split from the RDO?)
These “lifestyle Products” “Credits” etc, make promises of big discounts and saving money, where have we heard all that before? Why would you pay for “credits” or “vouchers” to get a discount anyway?
If you have any questions or comments on any article published on Inside Timeshare we would love to hear from you. If you have had any dealings with any company mentioned and would like to share your experience with others use the contact us section.
It is through your information that others can find out who to deal with.
The method of enticing timeshare owners to pay is also very sophisticated, with fake court documents, copies of compensation cheques and official looking documents from the so-called Procurator, Davido Harstun Jaime.
They begin by sending or calling prospective clients about the court case they are about to conduct against their timeshare company, that they are eligible to participate. In order to be registered on the coming court case, a sum of around 1,500€ is required. This has to be paid quickly as the case is due to be heard within the month.
Once this sum is paid, the client receives another email with the fantastic news that their case has been won, with the court awarding many thousands back to them. All this is done within weeks, a feat not seen in a Spanish court or any other court for that matter. Now comes the main part of the “sting”, in order to get this sum paid out court taxes etc need to be paid first, the amount varies from client to client depending on the court award. But they are in the region of £4000 to £8000. For further information see the link below or search Litigious Abogados in the search area for all the posts.
The company became active in August 2015 and has a credits based system to purchase goods and services. Credits are also “earned” with each purchase and shows substantial discounts on holidays and products. So far there has been no other information come to light.
Inside Timeshare with Irene, also broke the news of a settlement between the Arizona Attorney GeneralMark Brnovich and Diamond for $800,000 which revolved around “Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations”. This is a story that we have been following all month. (see following articles).
After the “Breaking News” of the settlement, a joint article by Charles and Irene on the role and use of OPC´s in the timeshare sales cycle. It began with an outline on what regulations various countries in Europe have on controlling how these “scratchcard touts” operate. Going on to explain how they work in the US, with Irene laying out the information they are after. She also spoke about an OPC that she knows personally. It was an insight into how you ended up on the presentation.
This was followed by more Litigious Abogados updates and the article “Thinking of Buying a Timeshare”. It was closely related to the previous article on OPC´s as it explained how the scratchcards work, then going on to ask “Is it worth buying one”?
It came to the conclusion that it depends on what you are after, it also weighed up whether to buy from the developer or a resale. There was also a link to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group, who also gave some very sound advice.
Again we went across The Great Lake for more news from the US,
In this article Irene gave her analysis of the importance of the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond. Irene told the story of the nightmare suffered by Irina Allen and her purchases, along with the fact she had her membership suspended on false allegations of being a “mega renter” with an AirBnB account. She had even been advised by a sales rep to buy more points as renting will help pay the maintenance.
Another article we published was on the subject of plagiarism, this was prompted by posts appearing on the TCA website which more than resembled articles written by myself and Irene. Any author will recognise their own writing style and use of words. Especially as the grammar used by the TCA writers is to say the least very poor.
But, the main point was the use of information not just from Inside Timeshare but also from Canarian Legal Alliance. In all the posts on the TCA site, no mention or accreditation to where this information had come from. It all appeared the TCA was taking credit for the information and the Supreme Court victories achieved by CLA. Whenever Inside Timeshare publishes any article that uses information or news from another source, that source is always credited for it. That is the basic rule of any journalist or writer.
The next article on US timeshare had a very happy ending, back in November Irene explained that Wyndham had launched “The Ovation” surrender programme. After receiving this news Inside Timeshare contacted one of our readers, Steve, who owned at Wyndham. Due to his personal circumstances he wanted to surrender his ownership, he did not have a claim, so relinquishment was the only option.
It was explained to Steve about the Ovation news and he duly contacted them to surrender his ownership. Within two months he got the news that they had indeed accepted his surrender request. Since then Diamond have also accepted the surrender of his European membership, although due to his statement of events at the point of sale, Diamond are investigating and we hope to report on that in the near future.
On the day President Trump was inaugurated Inside Timeshare along with Irene published the question “Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump”. The article explained how the business and politics are linked, including the role of the “lobbyist”.
This was a subject being asked by many owners of timeshare in the US and only time will tell what effect his presidency will have on them.
In the article “And So it Begins”, it followed Irene being banned from the Diamond Resorts International Members facebook page. The reason, a few thought her posts and links to our articles were political, Inside Timeshare posed the question “what is not political nowadays”?
The real reason of her ban is simple, she asks questions about Diamond, she writes about Diamond, she questions Diamond, she questions the practices of the sales reps, but she also has dialogue with Diamond. She brings to their attention the concerns of thousands of members, she has also had statements from senior Diamond employees which she has used in her articles.
In another twist to this tale, two more people have been banned from this group, the reason? They have been highlighted in articles by Irene and published on Inside Timeshare, They are Irina Allen and the Saldana family. Do those calling for a ban who are the administrators believe in two sides to a story or are they only interested in promoting their own ego´s, one openly boasts how he owns so many points yet has never actually paid for them, one wonders how he got them? You know who you are and Inside Timeshare awaits your response.
Back to Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been hitting the news again, published on the 26 January, was the news of two Supreme Court rulings against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. In the first judgement the court announced that the Club Paradiso product was indeed timeshare and fell under the relevant laws, they also concluded that the client in this case was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint claimed. This has significant implications for other “Club” schemes operated by other companies.
Within days there were another two verdicts delivered by the highest court in Spain, again against Silverpoint. In the fourth ruling, the court reiterated the earlier verdict that the “Club” scheme was timeshare, this was in relation to Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation package. Now if memory serves me correctly the second ruling on “Club” schemes now puts that into jurisprudence.
This will be followed next month by Part II: How Owners Feel About Clarity.
We have also been informed of a major news item that is just breaking, we hope to have an article on this tomorrow, Irene is busy on it now. But we must remember she is several hours behind us, so watch this space.
Inside Timeshare publishes these articles to keep you informed of the latest news, developments and views in the world of timeshare. Much of it you would never hear about, especially as many forums will remove posts the administrators don’t like. We will continue to publish even if it is controversial, that is what we believe in, the freedom to question, criticise and comment.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to articles this month, either through information or comments, without you the stories would not be there.
It appears that this is another credits based enterprise, where you receive so many Keys Credits when joining and then receive 0.5 credits on every pound that you then spend on their products and services.
There are several tiers to their membership, starting with Discovery, this is free and you receive 300 Keys Credits to be used on their selected products. Then there is the Explorer, which is a 1 year trial membership where you will receive 995 Keys Credits towards as they put it “your experiences with us”.
Another three tiers of membership are also available: Prime; Prestige and Elite. All offer different levels of services and benefits. The Elite level gives you: invitations to Keys Corporate events, a “little black book” of advisors for wealth management and financial planning. You will also be welcomed with 2,600 Keys Credits when you join.
Towards the bottom of the Membership section they show how you can “save” on holidays by using these Keys Credits. They show three holidays with a normal price, a member’s price and how much you pay by using so many credits towards the cost.
Each holiday also shows how many Keys Credits you will earn when you purchase them, including how much in actual money they claim you will have saved.
This all sounds very good, until you start looking at Company House records and the associated directors of Mr Franz Markus Deutsch. Low and behold, there is Mr Mark Cushway of Resort Properties and Silverpoint fame. His registered address on his director profile is the same as the registered address for Keys Concierge: 1 Bedford Row, London. WC1R 4BZ.
So the question must now be asked, is this the new product that Silverpoint will be peddling?
Only time will tell.
It must also be said that we have seen these type of credits before from different enterprises, they all look good on paper and sound fantastic when being sold, but as we have seen in the past they have amounted to nothing.
Inside Timeshare will be keeping a lookout for comments on the internet and various forums, and as more information comes in it will be published here.
If you have any information about this scheme or any other similar one, or even if you have had any dealings with them Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. It is through your information that others can find out the truth.