It’s Monday and the start of another week, today we highlight some more new names that have been cropping up over the weekend, we start first with Davies and Howell Associates a new cold calling claims company.
The director is registered as David Alan Taylor, with the correspondence address as above, according to company records this is his first appointment. Chances are he is not the owner but just a front name.
According to their website they have a wealth of experience and knowledge spanning over 40 years in the holiday ownership and financial services markets. They claim they are able to extricate you from your timeshare contract and claim compensation. Reading between the lines with their mention of finance agreements and credit cards, this claim looks very much like a Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974.
As we have said before, if you have used your timeshare then a refund under Section 75 is unlikely, the timeshare company will rightly say that you have used it therefore you have received the goods or services paid for. If your timeshare company has gone into liquidation, then you may have a chance. Section 75 is unlikely to cover breaches of the Spanish Timeshare Laws, for this you would need to employ the services of a Spanish lawyer with extensive knowledge and experience of the timeshare laws in Spain. Also you must still be a member, once a contract has been cancelled you cannot take any case to court.
The website itself is very basic, having only one page and very little information, it looks like the classic information collection site. These are designed to collect as much information about you and your timeshare as possible, the chances are this is then used to pass on to other companies. So the moral of this story is beware.
We now move on to another new company that was found during our usual search on the internet, this company was highlighted by Mindtimeshare on 6 June. This is called Ashton Group, with the following address and telephone number:
We did a search on the name of the company Ashton Group but found nothing relating to timeshare, there are however plenty of other companies with very similar names, including one in the USA which is a financial services company.
So there we have it what looks like another resale scam on the way, remember not all is as it seems, do your homework, check, check and check again, then double check. If you are unsure on any company that contacts you, or even one that you have found while searching for a way out of your timeshare, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction.
As we mentioned yesterday, TESS and David Cox are at it again, bringing false allegations against Inside Timeshare and Canarian Legal Alliance. Using allegations made by a very dubious and discredited source called Alberto Garcia. He even uses links to the Daily Mail to corroborate his allegations, the information given to the Daily Mail was supplied by Garcia himself.
Alberto Garcia was at one time employed as head of the enforcement program for the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), he ran a blog site purporting to be a consumer association called Mindtimeshare. This was funded by the RDO and Alberto Garcia had the task of destroying any company that was not a member of the RDO, or who threatened the industry financially.
It is well documented that Garcia himself had a personal vendetta against Eugen Kaiser and any company he had dealings with. This did culminate in a raid by the Policia Nacional on Club Puerto Atlantico and other offices in 2013. This raid was in organised and instigated by Garcia, using his old contacts at the Policia Nacional, where he was once an inspector.
Eighteen lawyers were accused of being part of a criminal gang, within days of the arrests it was up before a judge at the court in Las Palmas. This judge ruled that the warrants for the raid, which incidentally did not appear until hours after the raid took place, were illegal and so the raid, arrests and seizure of property was also illegal.
It is also fact that this judge had also sat on cases brought by the lawyers of CLA against the timeshare industry. He ordered a full investigation into the facts of the raid and Garcia disappeared. Eventually, several senior police officers faced charges for collaborating with Garcia on an illegal operation.
No charges were ever brought against Eugen Kaiser, Paula Beatson the lawyers or any of the staff that were detained. In fact they all made official denuncias against Garcia, Mindtimeshare and the authorities. Alberto Garcia was forced to step down as director of Mindtimeshare and the enforcement program in early 2017, the RDO did not renew funding for Mindtimeshare in April 2017.
As for David Cox’s allegations that all the cases are false, below are links to the Jurisprudencia website, where you will see the official sentences for 5 of the 99Supreme Court rulings brought by lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of their clients: (Note: to use these links you will need to register free on the website, right click open in new window, go to Usario in top right and register, this can be done either through Google + Facebook or linkedin, you can also register with a user name and add password).
By using the link below you can check on the official register of lawyers by using their ICALPA number and selecting Las Palmas as the Collegio, the press BUSCAR. This will bring up the lawyers name, by clicking on the name, you will then find address, telephone number, date of admittance to the college or Alata Colegiación and the date of renewal.
This should leave you in no doubt that David Cox’s allegations are false.
As for myself and my website Inside Timeshare, I did state yesterday that I do have a very good working relationship with Canarian Legal Alliance, in fact one of the lawyers is dealing with a legal dispute with a bank for my partner.
I do undertake work for them on behalf of their clients, this usually involves finding the information on companies they have paid to carry out services such as relinquishments, resales, fraudulent claims companies and bogus holiday clubs. This then helps them to instigate section 75 claims for their clients, on many occasions this has been done by Inside Timeshare free of any charge, not even a success fee! Can TESS say the same?
As for David Cox, well below is a PDF of all the companies he has been involved with, this has been taken from Company House Records:
It should also be remembered that when he was running the TCA, that website even recommended CLA as one of the best law firms to engage. This all went by the board the moment he asked CLA to pay him for the recommendation. It was obvious that he needed money, as the TCA website at the time was even asking people to make donations!
It is also understood he even went to Gran Canaria to meet with CLA and was put up in the Club Puerto Atlantico Hotel, as guest with no charge to himself. This meeting was to try and do a deal for TESS to pass on clients to CLA regarding claims for Spanish Timeshares. From reports by those that saw him, he seemed to spend most of the time inebriated!
Although I do personally undertake work for CLA, Inside Timeshare is an independent voice for timeshare owners, CLA has no influence on the articles published, they are either from my research or are personal opinions. All the articles published from Canada, The Philippines, Australia and most importantly from America are submitted by readers in those countries, bringing the timeshare community worldwide together.
So Mr Cox, your time is coming, my lawyer is preparing a case against you and no doubt so is CLA.
Our regular readers are those we have helped, again free of any charge, they know the truth. Inside Timeshare is still being asked for help from desperate owners not knowing who to trust, With your allegations you have shown that you and your company TESS are in the category of not to be trusted.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, the last one for January, hard to believe that the first month of the year is almost over.
We started the week with a report about disgruntled members being unable to book weeks they want, even 10 months in advance, despite just having paid the maintenance / management fees for 2018!
In this case the culprit is Anfi, but we have also heard from other “points and floating week” members that they also have trouble booking, Diamond owners from both side of the Great Lake are having the same problem. Well we all know what the reason is, more members than weeks available.
Sticking with Diamond for a moment, they are in the process of sending a letter out to their members, (just like Anfi has) regarding making claims against them for illegal contracts. In their letter however they point to a website to get information on companies that their members have had contact with. This is timeshare business check, an arm of Kiwkchex alon with Timeshare Taskforce and financed by the RDO and the industry in place of mindtimeshare and the enforcement program.
This company is directed by Chris Emmins, who is what can only be described as a serial failed director. (See the link below). This company purports to be a leading investigation and verification service which provides “accurate” information about online businesses. They contact businesses and ask questions, these businesses have no legal obligation to respond, as Kwikchex and timeshare business check have no legal mandate to demand any answers.
Obviously if a business fails to respond an inference is then made on the website which is negative, especially if the business in not a member of the RDO! We leave it for you to decide how accurate they are.
This then brings us on to Thursday’s article, regarding “Trade Bodies”, although it started with a little bit of a “mickey take”, it was however a very serious article with information timeshare consumers need to know. Timeshare is built on deceit, just think of what you were told when on the presentation, being bamboozled for several hours with promises which in the end never materialised. So is it any wonder the industry is still trying to pull the wool over your eyes?
No one is disputing there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. It’s true those that do are not the timeshare members that contact us. However, the number of timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received is alarming and the nature of most allegations criminal. Of the 32 complaints received as of January 25, six would be eligible to be a Nightmare on Timeshare Street article.
On a positive note, those working in law enforcement, especially those who have timeshare complaints, have been helpful. One member of the military was able to record their fraudulent sales presentation. This past Tuesday’s article described nine Timeshare Advocacy Group™ teams and those teams have been hard at work.
One of the teams is working on technological support, as I am technologically challenged, and the other is our timeshare exit scams team that has been in overdrive as they learned two out of five “let us get you out of your timeshare” entities reported this week exhibit criminal tendencies. Two others are suspect, but the team could find no concrete evidence of criminality.
32 Reader Complaints received
Complaints #1, #3, #10, #12, #15, and #20 were against the same sales center. This makes 40 complaints received against the sales center,
Five are active duty military, retired or served in the military,
Four are disabled,
Three are in, or were, in law enforcement,
#6 is the fourth member to direct a complaint against the same sales agent.
#1, #2, #3, #6, #10, and #11 meet the criteria for Nightmares on Timeshare Street.
Due to the increasing number of complaints, we request you schedule a call at either: 1, 2, 3, or 4 PM EST rather than just call between the hours of 1 to 4 EST if you have questions about our complaint form.
The Cliff Notes version of the complaint process.
Write out your complaint and send to the timeshare company.
If you are denied, write a rebuttal and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau if you feel services provided were not as described, or have a complaint about sales and marketing practices.
File complaints with the Attorneys General of the state where you live, where you signed, and the headquarter state of the timeshare company.
Although weakened, complaints can still be filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you feel you meet the definition of white-collar crime defined as “deceit concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch”, file with the FBI orally by calling your local field office through the FBI public access line, and with IC3.gov online. “They promised me a cruise but it cost $1000” is not enough of a crime to report to the FBI. Any of our Nightmares on Timeshare Street members would qualify. Scroll through those articles for examples.
File a complaint with the state real estate division against the agent, if you complaint is directed against an individual agent.
Thank you to our 46 core advocates (two more have been added since we published Tuesday) as we stick together and work together to be made whole again. Too many families contacting us are financially devastated, some taken advantage of because of their disability, as in the case of parents caring for a three year old diagnosed with cerebral palsy, on a feeding tube, a little guy that earned the privilege to be a case study at Stanford.
There is no federal enforcement, state enforcement is spotty, and so the hamster wheel of recycled inventory, as one former sales agent describes it, rolls on. Sometimes it does feel hopeless, but like #metoo, also silenced and isolated by non-disclosure agreements, we will fight around it and we will not stop. Thank you to the members of the armed forces and law enforcement who have my back.
Charles Thomas, also a veteran, over a beer with one of our readers, said Irene sounds angry. While the soon to reach 300 complaints I have heard doesn’t seem to bother customer service representatives, our advocates and I are astonished at the frequency and level of deceit. Repeat offenders continue to flourish. Pay the fine and move on. I haven’t been quite the same since I learned of a Marine who lost not only his security clearance, but his air unit command as the result of a timeshare foreclosure due to his allegations of fraud.
As always, contact Inside Timeshare or a member of a member sponsored US support group, if you have a question or concern about your timeshare.
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.
Thank you Irene for that report, it is actually quite staggering that we are only at the start of the year and yet there have been that many complaints received. It certainly prove a point that the industry does need a major shake up.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your timeshare or need information on any company that you may intend doing business with, Inside Timeshare is here to help.
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.
Unfortunately, Mindtimeshare has very little information and we have been unable trace any company with this name at company house. But it is important to inform readers of all companies that crop up along with telephone numbers and their email address, after all to be forewarned is to be forearmed!
As this article was being prepared Canarian Legal Alliance issued another court ruling, this was from the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas against Palm Oasis (Tasolan). In this judgement the court ordered the return of over 15,000€ plus all maintenance fees and legal interest, the contract was also declared null and void.
The court ruled that the contract infringed Law 42/98 in that it was for a period exceeding 50 years, Contract to be valid must be for a period of between 3 and 50 years, this should also be specified in the contract and explained to the client before the contract is signed. It is clear the Supreme Court rulings are having a severe impact on all contracts that do not follow the stipulated laws.
Now on with today’s article.
Part I – Questions a Timeshare Buyer Never Asks
Does this timeshare contract contain an arbitration clause?
Part II – Class Action Lawsuits – Misunderstood by Timeshare Members
Friday’s Letter from America
Tuesday October 24
Excerpts from “The Plot to Kill Consumer Protection”
By Chris Parker
“Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private,” writes Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages
“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….” “Though arbitration may sound preferable to the expense and anguish of court, it hands a major advantage to companies. The costs savings aren’t much: Arbitrators usually charge $300-$400 per hour minimum, and some bill into the thousands of dollars. But arbitration clauses typically bar the consumer from joining class-action suits. The strategy has emboldened fraud on a massive scale.” “In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ruled that arbitration clauses can’t bar consumers from joining class-action suits. The GOP Congress intends to repeal the rule.”
“Even when someone does challenge them, arbitration rulings are usually private, with no appeals and little documentation. Like a tree falling in a vast forest, Wells Fargo’s customers didn’t hear the millions of other victims, and the press remained none the wiser.”
“With consumer protection increasingly whittled away by keen lobbyists and cunning corporate lawyers, the idea was to build an agency whose sole mission was protecting consumers.”
“During its brief life, the bureau has established itself as the only Washington agency more responsive to consumers than to lobbyists. Since 2011, it’s handled 1.2 million complaints, returning over $12 billion to consumers.”
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has also been the first line of defense for timeshare buyers alleging they were sold or up-sold by deceit and bait and switch. Given the staggering number of reports of deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the timeshare sale, if the CFPB is regulated out of existence, widely predicted, many timeshare members feel the only court that will be left available to them is the court of public opinion, warning unsuspecting consumers as to the minefield of ways the evolution of right to use timeshare points has opened the doors for unscrupulous timeshare sales.
Our standard disclosure is that not all timeshare sales agents are deceptive and not all timeshare companies are predatory.
I asked ever assessable timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group which timeshare developers have an arbitration clause. “Diamond Resorts is the only major developer that I’m aware of that has the arbitration clause,” explains Mike. I spoke with other attorneys who say the same.
Banks and other lenders can pick arbitrators. As Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson expressed –
“We heard from arbitrators that were blackballed and essentially told, ‘You’re not going to be an arbitrator anymore because you’re ruling for the consumer,’” she says. “That’s one of the problems with arbitration. The court system is paid by the taxpayers. Judges are neutral and their funding comes from the public.” City Pages “The Plot to Kill Consumer Protection”
A common comment on complaint sites and from 170 Inside Timeshare readers reaching out to us for assistance is, “Let’s get a class action going!?” Timeshare members typically confuse the term and substance of a class action. We’re all used to class action ads on television say, for example, a medical device failure. The difference with timeshare is that damages are not uniform, which is necessary for a class action. Some lawyers may call a lawsuit a class action on behalf of only one or two plaintiff class representatives but they are more like individual lawsuits. Real Class Actions involve hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs. More later,
Part II – Class Action Lawsuits – Misunderstood by Timeshare Members
By Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group this Friday’s Letter from America
Why will timeshare developers not acknowledge the flawed business model?
Out of 170 complaints received, 155 of our readers allege they were sold a timeshare by deceit and bait and switch. The contract is perpetual, accompanied by rising maintenance fees. With some of the more gestapo orientated companies, the member cannot sell or give back their timeshare. The problem is magnified when the buyers succumbed to high interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards.
We believe Social Media and media outreach is the tortoise chasing the hare. Timeshare default rates are rising and original buyers (like me) are not getting any younger. Inside Timeshare continues to be there for members and advocacy Facebook pages and websites are on the rise – helping members through the 3Rs or F of Timeshare – resolution, when possibly the member just did not understand how to use the program, refund, relinquishment or foreclosure. In America, there is no debtors’ prison, except in the case of refusing to pay child support.
We ask timeshare developers – What would happen to the primary residential home market if home buyers could not sell their property?
Thank you Irene and Chris, also a big thank you to Tammy for proof reading and editing these articles.
As always if you have any comments or would like to share your experiences, Inside Timeshare welcomes them, contact us through our contact page.
If you need help or advice on any timeshare matter do get in touch and we will point you in the right direction. Remember before engaging with any company do your due diligence and your homework, it will save you a lot of bother in the end.
Welcome to the Monday post, once again over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received many more emails enquiring about companies offering timeshare services. Most of these have been regarding claims, or compensation that is waiting for them at court.
As usual the same old names crop up, but there have been a couple of new ones, Regal Finance Company being one of them. As we had not heard of these before, a quick check on the internet and lo and behold Mindtimeshare has placed a post about them (10 Oct).
It is the same old story, owners are called by this company, from the Security and Fraud Prevention Department, they are told that a case has been through the courts against companies that have “ripped” him off in the past. Guess what? The money has been awarded to him and is waiting at the court.
Unfortunately there are fees to be paid around 10% of the awarded amount before this money can be released.
There is a company registered at Company House called Regal Finance Company Limited, according to the records this company has been registered since 1955. The address given on company records is:
It is highly likely that this registered company is unaware that a fake company is using their name, so when you do a search of company house, you will believe that you are talking to a legitimate firm.
Also the searches of the named directors and secretaries, have not shown any link to any previous timeshare related company.
This number has already had several mentions on the various who is calling websites, all saying the same thing, “This number is ringing asking to send money for release of payment for timeshare refunds”.
Which is a common scam email address, which has been commonly used in the past Nigerian scams, just like gmail and yahoo it is a free service. So one point to consider is if the company does not have a website with an email linked to the domain name, or is using consultant.com or any other email, then you should be very cautious.
Here We Go Again!!!!!!!!
Another one of our regular readers have informed us that it looks like the family of “fake” lawyers Litigious Abogados have another new name Abogados AG and website:
This website was registered on 28 August 2017, so is only just 2 months old. Again registration details are through GoDaddy and hidden by a privacy registration. It is also exactly the same as all those that have come before, stating the firm was established in 1990, that they have had over 15 years presence on the internet.
When this address is checked, it does exist, with two plaques on the doorway for Abogados, but the names do not look like the one here. So once again, do the genuine Abogados at this address know that it is being used by a “fake” law firm.
The telephone number given are a UK Freephone number:
But when we checked the prefix 910, it did not show as Madrid, but did show up as one which will cost you a small fortune to call.
So now all we wait for is news on what name the “Procurador” is going to take and which bank account they will be using.
Once again these two posts clearly show how careful you need to be, do not take what you are told at face value, check and double check, if you are unsure as to their validity, don’t do anything. Especially send them any money.
If you need help in checking any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction, after all that’s what we do day in day out.
In yesterday’s article “Start the Week”, we had a look at the resale market in Europe, or the lack of it. We highlighted one resale company Fab Timeshare Resales, who specialise in Marriott resale. The prices advertised on their website started at a paltry 1000€ or $1,180 for a timeshare which starts at 17,000€ or $21,000 according to the Marriott website.
Today Irene Parker looks at the growing problem in the US of foreclosure and defaults, which may just be partly due to the lack of the resale or secondary market, but first a little more news from Europe.
Last week in Friday’s Letter from America, we published the news released by Canarian Legal Alliance on their 60th Supreme Court ruling. Yesterday they announced another, which is now 61!
In this ruling it is yet again the Tenerife company Silverpoint, which bring rulings from Spain’s Highest Court against them to 22. The judges in this instance ruled the contract null and void with the return of over £43,000 plus legal fees and legal interest. We are still waiting for the actual infractions of the law to be released, but going by past judgements it will more than likely be the duration of the contract being more than 50 years.
On the “scam” front, mindtimeshare have again highlighted another rather clever little ploy coming out of the Costa del Sol. This company is called Joint Returns Legal Consultants, who have apparently been appointed by the High Court to inform consumers that a case has gone through and the court is now holding money to be returned.
Obviously as with all these “scams”, there is a “TAX” to be paid and the “gentleman” on the phone going by the name Peter Sanchez, send emails confirming the story with letter headings from “Agencia Tributaria”. All this along with confirmation from the BBVA (Bank) and a Notary it all seems very plausible.
This really does go to show some of the lengths these people will go just to get your money, we have said this before and we will continue to issue the same warning.
THE COURTS DO NOT APPOINT PRIVATE COMPANIES TO INFORM CONSUMERS THAT MONEY IS BEING HELD. THERE ARE NO CASES AT COURT UNLESS YOU HAVE INSTIGATED THEM YOURSELF. DO NOT PAY ANY MONEY ESPECIALLY BY BANK TRANSFER TO AN INDIVIDUAL.
Now for today’s main article from Irene.
Is it survivable?
By Irene Parker
September 26 2017
Inside Timeshare received five more complaints over the weekend. This makes over 150 timeshare complaints received. The rise in timeshare default rates reported by bond rating agencies and the lawsuits that have ensued as timeshare developers try to stop the flow of “Cease and desist” letters prove we are not imagining a crisis.
Would you buy a house you could not sell?
Would you buy a boat or car you could not sell?
Would you pay $25,000 to over $500,000 to join a country club you can’t quit?
According to Bankrate
Avoid developer financing
Lenders won’t mortgage a time share because they haven’t been successful in resales or in their valuation, says Patricia Hayhurst, mortgage consultant for Capital Bank in Coral Gables, Florida. “They are considered high-risk lending.”
“Most (consumers) I hear from are using the developer’s financing as they are unaware of any other alternatives,” says Lisa Ann Schreier, founder of the consumer consulting company Timeshare Insights in Clermont, Florida. “If a consumer can obtain a personal loan (elsewhere) for the time share, the interest rate can be significantly lower as typical developer financing runs 15% to 19%.”
The problem is this is how sales are made. “When you get home, get a home equity loan,” is a common suggestion as it gets the developer off the hook once the buyer realizes they cannot afford the timeshare. Rather than sign off on a high interest rate loan on the spot, demand that you have time to check with your bank or credit union to find out if such statements are true and if you qualify.
Financial journalist Robert Shaw in his 2016 Seeking Alpha article, “Does timeshare need a millennial act to attract new buyers?” questions the industry’s over reliance on upgrading or up-selling existing buyers.
Since an existing owner is familiar and already pleased with the product, sales to existing owners are typically much easier to close. It is hard to visualize an existing owner who is totally dissatisfied with their current ownership sitting through a 90-minute sales tour.
Based on the accounts heard by those reaching out to Inside Timeshare, the reason the upgrade is easy to close, is because of deception on the front end of the timeshare sales, offering buy-back and resale programs that do not exist, or ways to offset maintenance fees to those already financially burdened that do not exist.
Mr. Shaw also feels timeshare is no longer sold as an investment. Yes it is. Buy now because the price is going to double refers to the retail price, not the resale price, yet over and over we hear this repeated as the reason the member purchased additional points. Not one member who has contacted Inside Timeshare realized their contract was perpetual and there was no secondary market.
Timeshare is definitely not a real estate investment and apart from the occasional overzealous sales associate, timeshare companies long ago stopped pitching it as such an investment. Yet, its lack of being a real estate investment may make it less attractive to newer, younger buyers who are wanting value and the ability to sell it when they no longer want or need it.
At least Mr. Shaw questions the concerns expressed by timeshare insiders. Most financial news services merely want to justify the buy on the stock price.
The Foreclosure process is gruesome. There will be threatening calls and the hit on your credit score. We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, but the Nolo article about timeshare foreclosure is one of the best articles I’ve read on the subject. Many have tried to resolve issues with their resort, but the oral representation clause reigns.
A good number of those reporting back to us that their resort will not cancel their loan, despite alleged deception on the front end of the sale, has led to many indicating they will not be paying their 2018 maintenance fees. They have no choice because they cannot afford the timeshare. Do not respond to the ads appearing when we publish our articles asking for upfront money to get you out of your timeshare.
I question how the industry can survive. Almost all of the members contacting us have children and grandchildren. Although there is a bit of a role reversal with several parents telling us, “We haven’t told our kids about this”, many have, and those children and grandchildren want nothing to do with the timeshare product once they learn their parents were deceived into buying it.
Please continue to report your grievances. In the book The Burglary by former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger, describing the break-in at the FBI office in late 1970 that led to the exposure of J Edgar Hoover’s illegal surveillance tactics, led by a Haverford College physics professor at the Media, PA FBI office. Gloria Steinem wrote as a testimonial:
“Ordinary people have the courage and community to defeat the most powerful and punitive of institutions.”
Timeshare today is broken. When sales agents can lie and laugh about it, at the expense of the young and the old, financially devastated by their vacation plan, something is very wrong. Lawmakers, heavily influenced by the industry, don’t seem to care because timeshare buyers don’t typically buy a timeshare in the state they live in. Attorneys General try to protect the public, but the settlements achieved are mere speed bumps in extraordinary revenue streams.
Add your voice to the growing number of timeshare members who have had enough. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you have had enough of the hamster wheel called timeshare sales if deceit has been used to sell the product, foreclosure to retrieve it, and resale at full price to continue the never ending process.
So there we have it, no resale or secondary market equals foreclosure, what a state of affairs.
In Europe we are seeing the proliferation of the bogus claims companies, these are playing on the desperation of those who want out but are unable to do so. It may be the resorts or developers will not allow them out, it may be they are unable to sell due to no market, it used to be bogus resale companies that took owners for thousands, how times have changed or have they?
They also have some new names, which are variations of those that have been used before, and what looks like a few new faces in the photographs of the “lawyers”.
Once again it is going to be the same old story, we are taking your timeshare company to court, it is scheduled for trial within the next few weeks, pay ex-amount and be part of it. Then suddenly you are told you won, as the director, (we’ll bet it is Keith Baker or Keith Balker again) has pleaded guilty.
We will be publishing a fuller post on this when we have done a little more research.
This one from reports is against Silverpoint, with the court declaring the contract null and void with the return of over £63,000 plus legal interest and legal fees. They also had another win against Silverpoint at the Court of First Instance in Tenerife. Again the contract was declared null and void and the return of over £59,000.
So now on with the article which was supposed to have been published in last Friday’s Letter from America.
Timeshare and Asset-Backed Security Products
By Michael Kosor
September 20, 2017
There has been an increase in defaults for some timeshare companies concerning timeshare loans packaged in their Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) products. The average consumer will recall the devastation its sister security, the Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS), created that triggered financial collapse. Consumers and regulators should pay attention to the timeshare product today so similar to the products of 2007 that led to financial devastation.
I believe this is clearly and directly related to the increase in litigation by these particular developers, targeting consumer advocates and the legal community. While there definitely are attorneys practicing questionable business practices, “Kill all the lawyers” is not the answer. Every citizen has a right to legal representation if they feel they have purchased a product sold by deceit.
Developers are rightly hypersensitive to any bad press that points to increases in loan defaults as they are sure to negatively impact ABS rating/pricing. The ABS product and the associated market are by nature complicated, not part of our public market system, so limited to sophisticated players. As such, it is not a part of mainstream news. To that end, watch a very short video published by Allison Bisbey, Editorial Director, Capital Markets Newsletter.
Some developers are experiencing an elevated level of defaults. In the case of Diamond Resorts, it has reached a point the rating agency for DRI, KBRA (Kroll Bond Rating Agency) recently saw fit to issue a note on the issue, albeit not surprisingly, a reaffirmation of KBRA’s original rating.
A timeshare ABS is a security whose income payments, and hence value, is derived from and collateralized or “backed” by a pool of underlying assets. Contrary to popular opinion, “hard” assets do not serve as the primary collateral – only the contractual obligation to pay. However, hard assets do provide secondary security and impact overall price/return.
Today, the vast majority of timeshare loans are not backed by any real property interest. Timeshare ABSs sold today are little more than securitized consumer loans. Yet when I talked to the Moody analysts just a couple weeks ago about their most recent WyndhamABS rating, they stated they use criteria established in 2003 – when a timeshare loan was typically still attached to a real estate interest.
In rating an ABS, comparisons with historical loan default rates are critical. Timeshare ABSs, notably a different underlying product than the one packaged today, report very limited/zero defaults. This is not because the consumer default rate is or was low – to the contrary. Rather, DRI (not unlike Wyndham) uses ABS structure options allowing them to repurchase or substitute all of its defaulted loans. As a result, the ABS reports defaults as 0% while actual consumer defaults are much higher. (Note a 6% – 8% default rate for “aged” loans is informally used, if any pre-option rate is reported or available at all). Aged loans have a proven repayment history of 6 months or more. The “aged” number does not include what is certainly a much higher total consumer default percentage of timeshare loans when early defaults are included.
The repurchase and substitution option in an ABS is typically capped at around 15% of the total. More importantly, the rating agency should not (but appear to nonetheless) give credit to the option to repurchase or substitute defaulted loans. Gross loss expectations are increasing also. It is reported in the investor literature as 11 – 12% in prior years to 13-14% today; dangerously close to underwriting limits.
Wyndham and DRI would like its debt investors to believe the increase in defaults is due to an uncharacteristically high number of borrowers being solicited by lawyers and “scammers” offering to get consumers out of their timeshare. Thus, we see the rise in Cease and Desist letters and litigation targeting consumer “friendly” legal providers.
What is more, ABS investors, thus the developers selling timeshare ABSs, are hypersensitive to cash flow. Admittedly a bit desensitized since 2007, they will nonetheless respond when issues or news challenge a specific ABS or a class of ABS, such as timeshares.
Timeshare regulators (assuming any exist and/or pay attention) also need to be reminded that in 2007 investors experienced losses because they made decisions on bogus ratings, guarantees from mono-line insurers, and a blind faith in historically real-estate prices. Simplistically, people ignored the quality of the contractual cash flow, relying instead on history (home price appreciation in the case of the MBS). This sounds analogous to timeshares today.
With the rise in Social Media, timeshare members are more and more expressing increased owner unrest, disturbed by a rise in consumer complaints, as evidenced by Mark Brnovich’s issuance of Diamond’s Assurance of DiscontinuanceAOD fueled by over 900 consumer complaints. Is anyone paying attention?
I spoke to a Wyndham executive last month at my VOAs annual meeting. He saw this issue as a problem caused by lawyers seeking timeshare members and a major problem. With an aging population of original buyers who no longer want or need their timeshare, many don’t know where to turn when there is no secondary market and the contract is perpetual.
On a similar line, most all ABS, to include timeshares, are supported by significant “credit enhancements” to protect the investors from higher than anticipated (historical) default rates. Overcollateralization (issuing less debt than total assets held) is a particularly valued credit enhancement technique used. However, overcollateralization becomes tricky, even suspect, when the assets held by the seller have no explicit face amount/market established price as with the non-viable timeshares resale market. My impression is most agency raters, while sophisticated financial types, are not educated on the underlying change of the timeshare product pool being securitized, as most are reliant on the developers for their information and understanding.
Finally, as I noted earlier, reported default rates are zero. As a result, most rating agencies, I argue to retain clients, and many investors, dependent on industry reporting, do not dig any deeper. Both sides see no news as good news – once again analogous to the 2007 mortgage back securities fiasco. This needs to change.
Thank you Michael, not being of a financial mind, the article has been a bit of an education, I just didn’t know these things went on.
There we have it, look out for the article on Amador Galeca, more important beware of any calls or emails promising that you have money waiting for you. The truth is you haven’t, all they want is your money, so stay safe, keep your money in the bank and do your homework before parting with it.
We start September with another Friday’s Letter from Australia, just to give our American cousins a rest. Today Justin Morgan, looks at the the role private equity plays in timeshare, with the introduction and comments by our very own Irene Parker. But first a little from Europe.
Earlier in August we said that it tends to be a quiet month, well this was not the case this year, as our roundup of the month article yesterday showed. We also mentioned that September usually sees the start of new companies, changes of name or even resurrected ones. Well they have started to surface already.
Doing our usual daily rounds of the internet, one site, mindtimeshare, since the beginning of August has published the names of 6 that have come to their attention. 3 of these were published yesterday. We begin with:
Appointing Consultants, with the following website, which was only registered on the 14 August, as usual, the registrant is hiding under a privacy service.
According to the website, they are a company that offers the following services:
Appointment Setting; We can provide your business with qualified appointments for your sales team.
Lead Generation; We can offer bespoke leads from both websites and telemarketing operations.
Customer Service; Create the best customer services team for your business.
Online Marketing; Run an online marketing campaign. We can help you with SEO or e-mail campaigns.
Data Sourcing; Source the best possible data to make your business thrive.
Sales Training; Teach your team with one of our professionals to be the best. (Their spelling mistake)
The thing is they are informing timeshare owners that they have grounds to make a claim, which for a telemarketing company making appointments for another company is a little worrying.
They also do not appear on any company house records.
The next one is Barlow & Scott, with the telephone number 01904 501 389 which is a York number. When checking on who is calling, one name comes up First 4 Legal, there was a company of this name registered in London, but it was dissolved in February 2012.
There is no mention of a website and they seem to be contacting Club Class members, stating that they are a solicitors office and that there is money being held for the client by the courts in Spain!
They claim that the purchase of membership was never completed as the client never had an NIE Number, no problem for £500 we can get this for you then you can get your money back.
This is however untrue, you do not need an NIE number unless you are going to live in Spain or for any of the following:
Open a bank account
Buying, selling or insuring a property
Arranging a mortgage or credit
Registering with employment agencies
Registering to study
Applying to start a business
Registering with social services, receiving social security benefits
Applying for a driving licence
The NIE is a Spanish Tax Number for foreigners. So beware these types of claims.
The next is called Stapleton Consultancy. Once again they claim that the Spanish courts are holding money owed to the consumer from a previous fraud. Now to get this money paid out Stapleton Consultancy will need to be paid in order to do the work. There are no contact details available, so very little is known.
There is a company called Stapleton Consulting Limited, but they are chartered building surveyors, so absolutely nothing to do with timeshare. As and when new information comes to light, we will publish it here.
This really does show that you must do your homework before dealing with any company that calls you out of the blue, especially when they inform you that you have a payment waiting to be released by a court!
In this particular instance the court declared the contract null & void, the infraction was again a contract over the stipulated period of 50 years. The court awarded this consumer over 23,000€, they also awarded over 4,000€ as double the amount that was taken as a deposit within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period.
If August was a quiet month, what will the next few months bring? Keep an eye on these pages and you will see.
So here we go to the land down under and this weeks article from Justin.
What Role Does Private Equity Play in Timeshare?
By Justin Morgan
Introduction and comments by Irene Parker
September 1, 2017
Private equity firms, traditionally providing capital to fund high growth start-ups, may be shortchanging timeshare consumers in their quest for returns typically targeted to reach higher returns than those of the public market.
Timeshare in general has been facing increased pressure due to overly aggressive sales tactics. This warning about escalating default rates was published February of this year by American Banker – Diamond Resorts and Wyndham under pressure due to aggressive sales tactics. Wyndham is a publicly traded company. Diamond is owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.
Diamond Resorts ABS under Pressure from Company’s Sales Tactics
The question is – how are higher returns for private equity investors won?
Is timeshare even an appropriate venue for private equity investment? Can higher returns be earned without strangling the timeshare consumer with excessive maintenance fee increases, reduced availability and other unsavory tactics driven by such demands?
Former Diamond CEO David Palmer explained this concept to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript, “Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee, That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”
Meanwhile, timeshare members received this notification:
“Timeshare owners of the Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.”
I asked Advocate Justin Morgan, our Australian Contributor, his thoughts:
This is the ‘Super Profits’ issue that I questioned years ago… I pointed out that retail prices for vacation points were sometimes four to six times retail value across Asia and Australia. But the real focus involves turning vacation ‘currency’ into more fiat currencies at super profit level. In my opinion, they are not interested in member value at all. It’s an early version of cryptocurrency! My sentiments are no different today…even worse.
In my case, I found my Diamond Resorts account terminated for renting, although my contracts clearly gave me in writing the right to rent. If they changed the rules, that’s unfair, but virtually all timeshare contracts state the rules can be changed at any time for any reason. It is now apparent we were ‘all-in’ against the Vegas House that takes all it can get.
Irina Allen agrees. Irina is a professional who ended up with 139,000 Diamond points alleging she was up-sold to that level by deceit. Inside Timeshare previously reported on how Irina’s account was suspended for posting one ad on RedWeek. Rental ads for Diamond points on RedWeek abound.
The timeshare point’s product is a cryptocurrency that offers no backing other than your promise to keep paying ‘whatever it is this year’ maintenance fee increases. Some timeshare companies force maintenance fee increases for any reason…They can then pick up default points.
Timeshare developers pocket millions and millions this way. Most members are not allowed to leave. It’s like ‘Hotel California’s’…you can check in anytime you want, but you can never check out.
“Last thing I remember, I was
running for the door
I had to find the passage back
to the place I was before
“Relax, “said the nightman,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!” The Eagles
It doesn’t matter much whether they are public or private, though I feel private equity firms have far less scrutiny. The problems lie in the legal structuring of these entities, and how they can basically bill members for whatever tab that they find is allowable. If they control the HOA, and therefore budget approvals, the rest of the structure is usually just a financing and ‘dividend’ pay out model. Wages can be like a hidden dividend, if they are simply looking to pull money from members over to those they seek to pay out: i.e. usually management, vs the actually financiers, who are often at the back of house in the financing structure.
In my opinion these private equity firms are targeting the timeshare industry now because they understand that they can raid them by simply jacking up maintenance fees by 20%, or even their required rate of 30% return, by simply hiding cost allocations within their structure, or simply paying their executives directly from the Club. There’s no stopping what they can do under some structures. It is a license for them to take what they want.
As reported by Business Wire, “A class action lawsuit has been filed against timeshare developer Diamond Resorts International, timeshare owners associations Bali Condominium Association and Parkway International Owners Association, and auditor RSM U.S. L.P. alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and professional negligence over billing practices for maintenance.”
The plaintiffs allege that the language addressing maintenance and management fees in the condominium association’s governing documents were outdated and ambiguous. The outdated language allowed the defendants to include subsequent amendments to:
Charge inappropriate maintenance fees.
Inflate management fees.
Hide inappropriate fees.
Charge costs unrelated to the maintenance and management of the timeshare development including an “indirect corporate fee.”
“BBX Capitol is not a private equity firm. Alan Levan has had a significant ownership interest in Bluegreen since at least 2008. Something like 85% of BBX revenue and 75% of their income comes from Bluegreen.”
What falls from the mouths of timeshare company public relations departments in their message to the investment community often sounds like a foreign language to beleaguered timeshare members. New York, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona Attorneys General settlements against timeshare companies are but the tip of the iceberg.
Thank you Justin, we look forward to more from our Australian cousins and your insights into this worldwide product called timeshare. No matter where you are, the story seems to be the same, you are the UP’s, you have the money and we will take it from you, but give you nothing but hassle in return!
It now just leaves us to say thank you to all who contribute to Inside Timeshare, a very big thank you to all the volunteer advocates of our advocacy group, who do a splendid job of helping others with their problems. Have a great weekend and we’ll be back again next week with more from the murky world of timeshare.
Well, well, well, the news for consumers just keeps getting better, TESS announced on their website yesterday, Wed 3 May, that Harry Taylor’s crusading enterprise TATOC is finished.
They are now being placed into administration, as TESS put it “TATOC is bankrupt, insolvent and unable or unwilling to pay its debts if and when due”.
Inside Timeshare published the photograph of Harry Taylor receiving a cheque of $30,000 from ARDA, this was ostensibly for their helpline, as it was said they were helping owners of American Timeshare. This information was supplied by our US readers before it was announced publicly by TATOC.
We also know that recently TATOC has been losing support from its long standing industry allies, namely the RDO and Silverpoint. These are the ones we know about, how many more have been fleeing the nest or reducing their membership contributions, without us knowing about it.
Along with TATOC, there was Alberto Garcia, another “Timeshare Consumer Champion”, again funded by the industry, primarily by the RDO. He was made head of the “Enforcement Programme”, (very Hollywood), along with his website mindtimeshare, he waged a war against any company or individual that threatened the industry.
He may have highlighted the most dubious of enterprises, but he made it his mission to destroy by any means possible, not only the downright dirty, but also those companies that were genuine, including respected and practicing lawyers and law firms.
This culminated in his fabrication of evidence to destroy the Arguineguin law firm CLA, even to presenting statements to the National Police that these lawyers were part of a “Criminal Gang”. He alleged that they were extracting money from people for court cases they could never win, yet still took them on.
All this has been proven to be false, the law firm is thriving and beating the industry on behalf of consumers from the lower courts right up to the Supreme Court.
TATOC have duped organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau into believing they were on the side of timeshare consumers, so they advised people with timeshare problems to go to TATOC. What did TATOC do? Send them back to the timeshare company they had the problem with.
A very good example of the way Harry Taylor and TATOC have behaved is their unwavering support of MacDonald Resorts, (even the RDO has had nothing to do with them since 2005). Harry Taylor extolled and fully supported MacDonald’smoved to take away from all fixed week owners their weeks and moving them into a points system. He even went on to say it was in the best interests of owners, regardless of the fact that fixed week owners had more rights than points club members. This effectively transferred ownership of the resort from the members to MacDonald’s. There is an ongoing legal battle by these owners against MacDonald Resorts.
Another example which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting and fighting for almost a year, is the case of our Mrs B. She went to TATOC because MacDonald Resorts did not accept that she had legally transferred her Doña Lola week to another person using the services of another firm. She has been and still is being chased by MacDonald’s through a debt collecting agency for maintenance arrears, (aged 87). TATOC told her to speak to MacDonald’s and even directed her to Alberto Garcia to report the firm she had dealt with as “bogus”, all because they were not RDO or TATOC affiliated. The case is still going.
Harry Taylor has lost credibility, reputation and now his little empire, this can only be good for the owners, unfortunately, unconfirmed news from our contacts across the pond is not very promising. It is reported that the one and only, serial failed director Chris Emmins of Kwikchex, Timeshare Business Check and the RDO’sTimeshare Taskforce, (replacing the enforcement programme, still trying to sound hollywood or pseudo legal), is set to take over the resurrected and saved TATOC, (if that does happen).
We have said it before and we will say it again, the only way timeshare owners can be represented properly is to have their own association which is not funded or controlled by the industry. The only problem is the industry is very good at sending in the infiltrators.
So there we have it, great news for some but devastating news for others, as the news comes in we shall be reporting it here. So watch this space!
Since we went to press the NTOA are very surprised at this news, here is their response: “The NTOA has worked with TATOC in identifying a number of rogue resale and secondary market companies over the past several years. To that end, our staff has shared intelligence and best practices for consumers or foreign purchasers of timeshare intervals. We have always considered TATOC a partner in the war on resale fraud.”