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Mrs B

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter from America of 2018, we may be only 5 days into the New Year, but the Supreme Court has just made another ruling against Silverpoint.

Another client of Canarian Legal Alliance has had their contract with Silverpoint declared null and void, with the return of over £11,000 plus legal fees and interest. This now makes the number of rulings from the Supreme Court made by CLA to an astonishing 83!

Once again it is that time when maintenance bills start to drop onto the door mat, for many this is a difficult time, especially for the elderly who can no longer afford to pay the ever increasing bills.

For one elderly lady which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for some time it has happened again. This is the case of Mrs B, as you will remember, MacDonald Resorts refuse to acknowledge that she no longer owns her timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain.

Mrs B and her sister, who are now in their late 80’s, employed the services of a company to be rid of their timeshares around 3 years ago. This company “sold” the timeshares and transferred them to another person, this was duly notarised by a notary in Spain. The Lanzarote timeshare has caused no problem, but MacDonald’s refuse to accept the transfer.

Mrs B has now received another demand for over £3000 for maintenance, obviously this will end up being sent to a debt collection agency which will incur even more fees.

It must also be remembered that they had not used the timeshare for over 10 years, yet still paid the maintenance until the transfer. Both are virtually housebound and cannot afford to pay these extortionate amounts.

Tony Hetherington has published several articles about MacDonald Resorts and their chasing of maintenance fees, even after the death of the owners or severe illness.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

MacDonald Resorts is one of the worst offenders in the timeshare industry for this type of behaviour, it is companies like this that have given timeshare the reputation it has. Greed it seems is the order of the day.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Hope for Beleaguered Timeshare Members!

Start with the Better Business Bureau

By Irene Parker

January 5, 2018

The Nightmare on Timeshare Street article scheduled for today has been cancelled because the resort listened and responded to the member. We don’t yet know the outcome, but at least the member has not been dismissed or ignored. The customer is not the enemy. The enemy is the timeshare sales agent that “pitches heat” making outrageous claims to sell points, knowing they are protected by the oral representation clause and that there is no federal enforcement.

If you have a complaint about your timeshare, first and foremost, contact your resort. It’s surprising how many who contact us have not tried to resolve their issue with the timeshare company before contacting an attorney or an exit company. It is the opinion of Inside Timeshare, in most cases, a member can accomplish what an attorney or an exit company can accomplish by following our complaint form. We are here to answer any questions for free.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint: Revised

In the U.S. it’s best to begin with the Better Business Bureau, although the BBB is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

A BBB complaint is the easiest to file and can serve as your blueprint as you work your way down the list of appropriate agencies. File a complaint only if you feel you were a victim of deceit and bait and switch. “I can’t afford this” or “there is never any availability” or “you can always book cheaper online” are not specific enough complaints.

We compare the Better Business Bureau ratings among five major vacation point sellers. First, an explanation of the rating process from the BBB website:

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues. BBB ratings are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

Business’s complaint history with BBB.

The BBB rating takes into account the following information with respect to closed complaints that relate to a business’s marketplace activities:

  • Number of complaints filed with BBB against the business.
  • The size of the business.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business appropriately responded to them.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB’s opinion the business resolved the complaints in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business made a good faith effort to resolve complaints, even if the customer was not satisfied with the resolution.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business failed to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
  • The age of resolved complaints. Older resolved complaints have less of an impact on the rating than newer complaints.

⦁ Type of business.

⦁ Time in business.

⦁ Transparent Business Practices

⦁ Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

⦁ Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

⦁ Advertising issues known to BBB.

From Best to Worst based on Stars

BBB Accreditation: If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance.

https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/about-bbb-accreditation/

Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Worldwide, Diamond Resorts International, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

                                                                     # of stars      # of Complaints       # of reviews +      –   neutral

A+ Disney Vacation Club                            5/5                             9                          1        1                   0      0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Accredited since 1991, in business since 1990

 

A+ Marriot Vacation Worldwide          3.68/5               123                                  11        0                   11     0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994

 

A- Diamond Resorts International       3.27/5          1,115                                   89       2                  86      1

Government Action noted

Not accredited, in business since 1996

 

C+ Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited       2.47/5           781                                108         9                 95      4

Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1966

 

C+ Wyndham Vacation Ownership      2.39/5         2,085                             96             4                 92      0

Government Action noted and a Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994    

Next week: The Consumer Protection Agency – What’s left?

A survey of all timeshare appropriate regulatory agencies:

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Always Remember:

U.S. Self-Help member sponsored groups we believe not to be industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions about this or any other article published, we are here to give you the best advice possible.

 

The Never Ending Ownership: Another Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

Once again Tony Hetherington has highlighted the problem of timeshare ownership and the never ending membership. His article in MailOnline published 12 November (see link at the end for the full article), is the story of an elderly couple being hounded for £3,010 maintenance fees.

This couple are 80 years of age, they purchased their timeshare in 1993, this is now controlled by Cameron House Owners Club. Apparently they have been asking to sell since 2004, all maintenance fees had been paid upto 2012, when they returned their ownership certificates.

cameron logo

They have serious medical conditions and are unable to use the timeshare, they are also on limited pensions, so are unable to afford the ongoing costs. They are now being threatened with debt collectors if they do not pay.

Sounds a very familiar story, Inside Timeshare has been highlighting these types of cases for some time, especially those involving MacDonald Resorts, remember the case of Mrs B, which has still not been resolved even after nearly 2 years.

Mrs B and her sister are both in their 80’s not in good health and believed that their timeshare at Dona Lola Club in Spain had been transferred to a third party. Inside Timeshare has the notarised document that shows this to be the case. MacDonald’s refuse to accept this and are hounding them for around 3 years maintenance which they cannot afford to pay. Again the debt collectors have been sent in.

mcdonaldsresortlogo

In Spain these “perpetuity” contracts have been illegal since 4 January 1999, when Ley 42/98 was enacted. Under this law contracts must be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. Many contracts for timeshares that have been sold since then which exceed the 50 year maximum are being declared null & void, with all the purchase price being returned. This law has been enforced by 69 Supreme Court rulings which all Spanish courts must abide by.

Timeshares such as MacDonalds and Cameron House use the perpetuity clause to lock in owners for ever, it also becomes part of their estate which is then the responsibility of whoever inherits the timeshare to continue to pay the maintenance. It doesn’t end there, it then becomes part of their estate, as so on it goes.

So as Tony Hetherington puts it “Even death does not bring an end to the bills. It could claim against your estate, blocking bequests to family, friends or charities, while it pockets annual fees for a timeshare that will stand unused”.

Some timeshare companies do have exit policies, Diamond for instance would have allowed this couple out free of charge under their exceptional circumstances programme, which this couple would clearly fall into.

MacDonald Resorts which has a very poor reputation on this matter, usually charges 4 years maintenance for release, but this is only offered every two years and is limited to participants on a first come first served basis.

These perpetuity contracts and the behaviour of these timeshare operators is totally unfair, at least Spain has addressed the problem, it is time for the Scottish and English law makers to address this and bring in the laws such as Spain to limit the duration of contracts and enforce reasonable exit programs. The industry cannot be trusted to do it themselves, until this is done we will be seeing many more cases such as this couple and Mrs B.

Follow the links below to Tony Hetheringtons’ latest article and his previous article from July 2014, the next two links are articles relating to Mrs B.

tony hetherington
Tony Hetherington

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/investing/article-5073153/TONY-HETHERINGTON-s-time-leave-Cameron-House-Hotel.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://insidetimeshare.com/illness-not-reason-surrender-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

If you have any questions or concerns about similar circumstances, or have purchased in Spain and would like to know if you are eligible to claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

If you have been contacted by any company or are thinking of dealing with a company regarding claims or relinquishment and want to know if they are genuine, Inside Timeshare will help you find the information.

homework

TATOC: Is The End Now Upon Them!

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.

image1 (1)
Howard C. Nusbaum, RRP President and Chief Executive Officer Handing the cheque to Harry Taylor

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.

This is another of the self proclaimed TIMESHARE CONSUMER CHAMPIONS falling by the way side and being totally discredited.

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.

Alberto-garcia-2
A Rare Photo of Alberto Garcia

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’s moved 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.

tatoc logo    mcdonaldsresortlogo

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’s Timeshare 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).

task force
The Timeshare Taskforce

 

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.” 

TATOC “The Butcher of Consumer Rights”-is in Administration

 

The 3 R’s of Timeshare: Part 1

Today we start with the first of a three part article on what Irene calls the 3 R’s of Timeshare, although this first part begins with “F”.

In the US this is Foreclosure, which to those of us in Europe would just be Relinquishment or Surrender. What we have to remember in Europe is that for our American cousins, timeshare tends to be governed by Real Estate Law and financial agreements are usually associated with a mortgage rather than a personal loan or finance agreement. So foreclosure will be similar to repossession of your house for not keeping up with mortgage payments. Failure to keep up payment on a loan does not result in the timeshare being “repossessed”, as the finance is separate from the timeshare.

As for relinquishing or surrendering your timeshare in Europe, this very much depends on who you purchased with, some companies are better than others.

As a very good example of the bad, we only have to look at MacDonald Resorts, this particular company has been the subject of many press articles, including some published here on Inside Timeshare. This company is renowned for not allowing people out of their contracts even after death, so this means the children inherit the timeshare and the subsequent maintenance bills.

A very good case which Inside Timeshare has been working on is that of Mrs B, an 87 year old lady in ill health, who used a company to relinquish her contract. This was done by selling to a third party, MacDonalds refuse to accept this, stating they do not recognise the transfer, even though we have notary documents proving the transfer. Consequently they are pursuing Mrs B for arrears in maintenance, passing the debt onto a debt collecting agency who are threatening court action if it is not paid. Inside Timeshare is now lodging a formal complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority as the debt is “under dispute” and should not be chased by the agency.

This company also “offers” a limited number of members to hand in their timeshares every couple of years, but only on the payment of 4 years maintenance fees.

Another company that is renowned for being very difficult to get out of is Petchey Leisure, now owned by MGM Muthu. As far as they are concerned your contract is in perpetuity and that means never ending, so even your grandchildren will end up with the maintenance bills.

Diamond Resorts in Europe on the other hand seem to be getting their act together, for several years now they have allowed any member over 75 to hand back their membership. They also allow others to hand back in what they term as “exceptional circumstances”. These are the death of a partner, illness and financial difficulties. For those who do not fall into these categories they will allow surrender on payment of upto 3 years maintenance fees.

So now on with Irene’s Article.

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare:

Part I Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund or Foreclosure

What will happen when you decide your timeshare decision was a mistake?

Part II: The 3Rs of Timeshare

Part III: 2 More Rs  – Timeshare Rentals and Resales

By Irene Parker March 28 

Contract picture

Except for failure to pay child support, there is no debtor’s prison. Anyone feeling desperate, angry, worried, ashamed or scared about their timeshare situation can rest assured they can put their timeshare troubles behind them through the 3 Rs or F of Timeshare.

The words I used above are how I describe timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare or to me through our Advocacy Facebook Page, burdened by high interest loan payments and rising maintenance fees. Our goal is to convert this owner into an informed and empowered owner.

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

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

Often, life without timeshare can be achieved without legal assistance, but we have a crew of able bodied lawyers there if you need them as a last resort. Advocacy works but has its limitations. All of our Advocates are unpaid, helping individual timeshare owners and members while working towards timeshare reform.

Last week we quoted Mr. Nusbaum’s feelings about the secondary market. Mr. Nusbaum is President and CEO of ARDA, the timeshare developer lobby.

“This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  June 2014 RedWeek

On the other hand, here is another Nusbaum quote from the same article sounding somewhat contradictory:

“The developer community is not without some dirt under their nails in this. We’ve created a business model that needs recycling. We want to help the secondary market. For self-perpetuity, it’s insane not to have a healthy secondary market.”

But most of all, according to Nusbaum, the long-term outlook is improving because the largest timeshare companies are developing programs that offer exit strategies for their owners. The complete RedWeek article:

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshare-resales-arda-predictions

“Exit strategies” are voluntary surrender programs. Requests are evaluated case by case. It is difficult to determine how many requests are granted compared to the number of requests overall. Are these programs just media window dressing to make it look like the industry is responding?

Michael Kosor has worked with Nevada Senator Becky Harris in an effort to propose legislation that would allow better disclosure as to the limited, or sometimes non-existent, secondary market.  

“Actions by the timeshare industry, regulators, and legislators, are analogies to firefighters rescuing the elderly trapped in a burning building. Until the cause of the fire is identified, consumers will continue to be lured into these burning (defective) timeshare products that are not supported by a secondary market. While I applaud the rescue, we should not allow the industry and those responsible for consumer protection to hide behind said rescue efforts while they inexplicably fan the flames. Ambulance chasing fraudulent transfer agents is a back-ended solution – a Band-Aid reaction.”

Treating symptoms without studying the cause can be problematic for medicine or timeshare. The cause in the case of timeshare is the active destruction of the resale market for the benefit of immediate developer profits.

“Where are the association Boards we elected to represent our timeshare interests”?

“Owners clearly would like to see more done to advance and advocate for an improved resale market,” continues Michael. “Why is it our advocacy group is the only voice in this discussion? With the exception of a few legacy associations, virtually none of the industry affiliated associations have an active resale program available to owners to assist in exit and preclude foreclosure, if a voluntary surrender is denied”.

I approached my association a few years ago, the Wyndham Grand Desert, and was told “this was not their responsibility.” Instead, my (and most all) associations’ leaders throw owners wishing to exit (which we all do eventually) to the wolves of the current resale environment or transfer agents. They then enter into very lucrative repurchase contracts with and for the developers. These repurchase contracts provide the association pennies on the dollar of outstanding assessments, then give the developer very low cost inventory to sell as new to the next owner.

The real issue is not merely failing to fix the resale market. Worse, the industry is actively working to build the recycle model which requires the intentional undermining of the resale market. Advocate owners and members understand the cause and the fact the industry has no desire to fix the problem. It’s sad that we as advocates have to educate and walk the elderly, the ill and those burdened financially, through the foreclosure process when all else fails.

The developers consider themselves benevolent when they allow the surrender of a $25,000 to over $100,000 vacation plan in exchange for a surrender of zero value. As long as the vacation points or weeks stay in the hands of the developer, there is no free market system. Lenin would be proud.

Back to the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

We want to avoid the F for foreclosure, but for some owners there is no choice.

Let’s get this last and most unpleasant option out of the way so we can focus on more positive outcomes.

Where do we start? Pull out all those documents and start digging!

Magnify

I hear a lot of “I think” or “I’m not sure” when I ask the following questions:

  • When did you first buy your timeshare?
  • Where did you buy your timeshare?
  • How many points do you own?
  • What was the sales agent’s name?
  • What interest rate are you paying if you have a loan?
  • What do you want to happen?

We begin at the end – Foreclosure

If a member has an otherwise unblemished credit score, he or she can work to have the reason for foreclosure added to a credit report.  I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process.  We use one unnamed resort as an example, but the procedure is similar to all timeshare companies. A common question is:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

According to Charles Thomas, here is how it works in Europe

This resort employs a debt collection agency, one they use is called Daniels Silverman, the debt is passed on to them (usually sold), they now own the debt and will threaten court action – whether they will is another matter. If this does occur, then yes credit rating will be affected as it will then be a County Court Judgement and failure to pay will result with the court bailiffs being sent in to recover either cash or goods to the value. Only they have the right of entry into the home.

As for a loan, if it is with a third party i.e. Barclays Partner Finance, any failure to keep up payments will result in County Court action as above and credit blacklisting.

It is advisable to seek advice from an attorney before just stopping any payments, as by doing this the debt cannot be passed on to an agency as under the Financial Conduct Authority regulations. The debt can be classified as “under dispute”.

According to the Canarian Legal Alliance CLA, when the firm takes on a relinquishment with a loan attached, they also try to have the loan agreement cancelled.

It is advisable to completely check any company that offers relinquishment services, as this is an area which is fraught with con artists.

Below is our Inside Timeshare article on debt collection with links to various authorities, it also includes a list of those resorts who employ debt collectors and a list of those who have taken people to court.

As Charles Thomas reported, Europe maintains a thriving timeshare foreclosure and collection industry as well.

http://insidetimeshare.com/maintenance-arrears-debt-collectors/

Our Advocates, relying on their experience and expertise, are here to evaluate and work together, each bringing a piece of the puzzle to help you find your answer.

Conference table

Next week we continue with Part II – The 3Rs of Timeshare:

Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund

Part III – The 2Rs of Timeshare – Rentals and Resales

Contact us today if you would like to share your story or work with us by becoming a Timeshare Advocate.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

Thanks to Irene, Mike Finn and Michael Kosor for their contribution.

As you already know as owners of timeshare, whether in Europe or across the “Great Lake” in the US, once you purchase timeshare, getting out of it is fraught with obstacles. It does depend on who you own with, some are better than others. In Europe, Spain is leading the way with timeshare law, it is giving “consumers” more protection, making it easier to get out.

Inside Timeshare hopes these articles are of benefit to you the owners, that only through coming together and sharing information can we hope for any change in the industry.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience contact Inside Timeshare or join the Advocacy FB page.

 

2016 End of Year Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLA Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark of excellence

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

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

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

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

What Timeshare Owners Can Look forward to:

Timeshare Lawsuits 2017

By Irene Parker,  December 26, 2016

2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

round-table

Westgate

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

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

Colorado Attorney General

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

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Wyndham $20 Million

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

Hyatt

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

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

The Manhattan Club

Attorney Douglass Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.

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

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

Marriott Racketeering

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

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

Diamond Resorts

A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:

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

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

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

People are listening!

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

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

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

inside final small

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

happy-new-year

Friday: The Week in Review.

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

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

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

colerado-seal-ag

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

jl

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

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

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

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

So an early Christmas present for some.

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

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

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

 

Have a good weekend. weekend01

My Thoughts Today: End of November

Yes, it is that time again, the end of another month and what a month it has been. Canarian Legal Alliance has now had 36 Supreme Court rulings in favour of their clients, the latest was on 28 November.

In the latest ruling, again against Anfi, the British clients will receive £22,940 plus legal interest and legal fees, with their contract being declared null and void. Once again the Supreme Court reiterated their previous judgements that floating weeks are illegal.

This latest ruling comes just 4 days after the Supreme Court ruled against Palm Oasis /Tasolan, again the ruling was about floating weeks. In this case the Norwegian clients have been awarded 8,810€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract was also declared null and void.

It does make you wonder why these companies are taking these cases, which have already been ruled over at the lower courts, all the way to the Supreme Court?

We know that Anfi, the RDO and others, still believe that the courts have got it wrong, but after 36 rulings in favour of clients, one has think are they just trying to delay?

It has to be pointed out that these rulings cannot be changed, the Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the consumer on each case, with lower courts now using them in their deliberations.

Tribunal-Supremo

We have even seen this month the High Court Number 4 in Malaga using these judgements in the case against Leisure Group Ltd. In this case the CLA client has been awarded 12,390€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract has also been declared null and void.

Canarian Legal Alliance has now spread its wings from the Canary Islands and over to the mainland. They have had success in the past at the courts in Fuengirola and also in Barcelona, this latest case in Malaga just goes to prove that any contract sold that is illegal will be ruled against no matter where. CLA are certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We have again this month published articles on the changing face of the TCA, it must also be pointed out that several readers have also noticed that articles published here, are several days later appearing on the TCA website. The content has been juggled around a little, but it can be clearly seen from the style of writing where they did originate.

Inside Timeshare is to be honest, quite flattered that they are using our articles, the only problem is one of acknowledgement. When using articles written or published by someone else, it is normal practise to state where this came from citing the source and usually providing a link.

In another piece regarding the TCA, we published the article on incorrect information, this concerned their post on cold calling. In this they stated that “Cold calling in the UK is illegal as it is considered a breach of privacy”. As we showed in the article, cold calling is not illegal, but there are some very important a rules regarding how it is done. These were published along with a link to the Information Commissioner’s website for the full regulations. (see link below)

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/telephone-marketing/

data-protect

We also highlighted a problem regarding owners data, in this article and the follow up, we looked at the battle going on between the resorts / developers and owners, as to who controls / owns this data.

One of our readers, Edward, wrote part of the first article, here he showed how his resorts community of owners have been trying to use the members database to contact and inform owners of changes at the club. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency believe that it belongs to the owners and the resorts / developers are only users and custodians of this information.

We all know that lists of members are sold on to others, as we stated in both articles, even Diamond have acknowledged employees and ex-employees have taken data and sold it on. We even explained that for many on the sales staff, keeping records of clients is like an insurance policy, to be used when they no longer have a job. Remember data is a commodity, it can and will be sold, it has yet to be proven if any of this data has been misused by owners committees, that I very much doubt.

Irene also published many articles this month, one was just after the presidential election, this was titled “Dialogue: The Way Forward”.

In this piece she explained how the divisiveness of the election equates to that in the world of timeshare, owners Vs resorts / developers. In the article we address the problem and the only solution, “Dialogue”. The need to work together to ensure that owners and the industry benefit, it is a long shot but somewhere along the line there must be a coming together, if not there will no longer be an industry.

In the article “Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender your Timeshare” myself and Irene highlighted a very huge problem, that of the elderly and sick. This is a problem for owners on both sides of the great lake, we have seen this with the ongoing story of Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts. Owners unable to use or travel due to illness yet still paying maintenance and being unable to surrender their membership. In some cases they can, but the financial penalty is quite often a huge one, for instance, MacDonald Resorts want 4 years worth of maintenance, but this is not guaranteed, it is if they “allow” you out. (see link below regarding MacDonalds)

http://insidetimeshare.com/macdonald-resorts-reasonable-recompense-relinquishing/

Tauro Beach also came into the news again this week, with the announcement that the Canarian Government was revoking the concession awarded to Anfi Group for the Tauro Beach Project. This follows the prosecution of the former head of the Coastal Authority, the investigation into the Mayor of Mogan over the permissions and licenses given for the project. This will obviously cost Anfi a fortune, not just what they have already spent on it, but the cost of repairing the damage caused. The question is now who will foot the bill, the company or the members with increased maintenance?

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

So, that is November, it now remains to be seen what happens in December. Although with the Christmas and new year period, it will be a rather quiet month. Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene and all the other contributors to the articles published this month. These contributions help to make Inside Timeshare more balanced, they also provide a great source of information which might just get missed.

If you require any information on any article published, or you have something we have missed, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. If you have a story you would like to share, contact us and we will work with you to publish it.

MacDonald Resorts and Reasonable Recompense for Relinquishing.

Inside Timeshare has run several article on the difficulty many people have in “getting out” of their timeshares, not just in Europe but also in the USA.

Recently one of our regular readers Alan Stewart sent in some information which to say the least was staggering, this involved one company that we have written about in the past, MacDonald Resorts.

As we know they have put into place a relinquishment programme, which they believe is fair, most would not agree. Under their system a limited number of people can apply to hand back their membership, this is on a first come first served basis. It is also only offered every other year with limited numbers. Another aspect is the amount of maintenance they require in order to hand back, four years worth. For many that could be a huge amount.

The information Alan has supplied, apparently from the AGM documents is as follows:

From the Villacana Club;

36 apartments have been removed from the club and transferred to MRL. (MacDonald Resorts Ltd)

939 Holiday Certificates have been given back to MRL.

Also that £417,163 went into the Clubs Sinking Funds because of the money paid by owners to get out, but what it doesn’t say is that £1,251,489 went into MRL’s own pocket because of this.

I have just found out that they have also got from Elmers Court £1,091,985 that’s £2,343,474 so far from just two clubs.

I wonder just how much they received altogether from all the Clubs for their so called “REASONABLE RECOMPENSE”

In his message Alan uses the term from MacDonalds themselves “REASONABLE RECOMPENSE”. What is reasonable about taking these amounts from members who have paid their maintenance bills for years?

Why do they still pursue old ladies such as Mrs B for non payment, even though they paid for 10 years without using due to illness? (see link below)

http://insidetimeshare.com/illness-not-reason-surrender-timeshare/

It is well known that for these companies to continue to operate they need the maintenance / management fee from you their members. With an ageing membership and the lack of “new blood” buying into these clubs, they have dwindling finances, as they tell you themselves, the cost will be passed to remaining members. That is the excuse they use for “Reasonable Recompense” from those wanting to leave.

The question is why are people not wanting to buy in?

The simple answer is the internet now offers a bigger choice, without the problem of maintenance, another reason is probably down to the industry itself. Many may have seen the problems associated with timeshare from their own parents and family, this would obviously put them off. So again the industry has only itself to blame. Unfortunately it will be the remaining owners who will have to stump up the money to keep these clubs going, after all someone has to pay and it will not be the company.

Thank you to Alan for the information, it is through people like yourself that we can share with and inform others of what is going on.

Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender Your Timeshare!

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

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

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

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

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

image03       By Irene Parker        November 14, 2016

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

image00

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

Is what happened to Ralph Marble alright with you?

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

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

According to the interview,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the media our only hope?

Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:

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

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

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

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

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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

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

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

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

I think we all know the answer to that question.

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

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

More From Across The Pond.

As we all know trying to sell your timeshare or as they like to call it today “holiday ownership”, is a bit of a minefield. Who can you trust?

 

Our friends from across the Atlantic have the same problems, you think you have got rid of your timeshare, then suddenly you receive the annual maintenance bill. The resort does not recognise the transfer. This happened to many people who ended up buying into Designer Way Vacation Club several years ago.

 

With this particular scheme, you “sold” your timeshare to DWVC but had to pay many thousands of pounds to become a member of their club. The perks, well, you could stay in the same resorts for a fraction of the cost, discounts on flights, and off course no more maintenance bills. Oh yes, I almost forgot, you also were given a “cashback” certificate, this was for the value of your timeshare plus a bit extra for the cost of your membership. Then after registering it (which was a nightmare task), you had to wait around 5 years for it to mature. If you were lucky you may have got a few quid back, that’s if you claimed correctly.

 

Then after finding that the so called “discounts” were not what you were told at the presentation, (actually costing more), you suddenly received a maintenance bill for several years arrears. All this with the threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency. DWVC did not transfer your timeshare, or the resort did not recognise it.

 

This has also happened to one old lady who owned a MacDonalds timeshare, Yes, I am referring to Mrs B. Her timeshare has been sold for 1euro, (she actually paid the company around £7,500 to relinquish, not sell it). MacDonalds is now chasing for maintenance arrears because they do not recognise the transfer.

for_sale

Following is an article written by Tom Tubbs, an advisory member of The National Timeshare Owners Association, the American equivalent of TATOC. In this article he clearly shows how some companies in the US operate and how it affects the resorts and owners. This was sent to me by my American colleague Irene Parker.

 

By Tom Tubbs

Island Consulting Realty – NTOA Advisory Board Member

 

We’ve all heard the radio commercials, received the postcards in the mail, seen the TV ads, seen the web sites:

 

“Get out of your timeshare now! Call us today. Guaranteed or your money back!”

 

“You own a timeshare you can’t sell? We guarantee to get you out”.

 

“Dear friends. This is ‘Mr/Ms. Celebrity’. I trust these people”.

 

Now, think back. Remember the similar ads we heard from different companies years ago? Where are those companies now? What happened to them? Are these just new companies who rose up to fill in the gap? Hmmm…..

 

So, how is it that you could sell your timeshare but continue to be on the hook for the maintenance fees? What I’m going to share with you is a real story that is taking place right this minute. The names are changed, obviously. The way it’s being handled is not brand new, but relatively so and it’s happening more and more and more. Read the story and make sure you don’t fall victim to this.

 

So we’ve told you in the past about “transfer companies”. You pay them $3500 or so and they take your time share from you and they promise that your days of owning a timeshare and paying the maintenance fees are done. Many of these are perfectly good timeshares that could be sold and money put into the pockets of the owner, but if you’re a reader of this newsletter you know the stories the transfer companies tell you to convince you to give up your money. These companies for the most part have no real estate license so that they don’t have to worry about a state agency looking over their shoulder. Many of them come and go quickly…..with your money.

 

But there’s a new sheriff in town. A company called Timeshare Transfer Registry (real name) monitors timeshare transfers. They are especially suspicious about transfers going into the name of an LLC or Trust. Suspicions go up when they see 10, 20, 50, 100 or more timeshares being transferred into the same name. Resorts can register with TTR to try to protect themselves from being deceived by the transfer company.

 

So here’s what happened. “ABC Resort” (names are changed now) gets a copy of a recorded deed showing one of their owners sold their timeshare to “Whoopie Doo, LLC”. The resort contacted Timeshare Transfer Registry and learned that Whoopie Doo owns a LOT of timeshares. It’s looking pretty obvious that the LLC will never pay the resort a maintenance fee and the resort at some point will have to foreclose (that’s what happened to your timeshare). You don’t care, right? You’ve sold your timeshare and the deed is out of your name, right? Wrong……to an extent. You’re definitely going to care. Here’s why.

 

The resort notified the LLC that they noticed the LLC has purchased a LOT of timeshares and it looks like an obvious case of a transfer company about to dump the timeshares on the resort; costing the resort a ton of money. The resort refused to acknowledge the transfer.

 

In an interesting twist, the LLC contacted the resort and swore up and down they were not the same “Whoopie Doo, LLC” that owns so many time shares. Seriously? Really? The resort contacted National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA, http://www.NationalTimeshareOwnersAssoc.com/) asking for advice. (Now in the interest of full disclosure I want to mention I am on the advisory board of NTOA. Before I became a member of the board, however, I was singing the praises about this organization for a long time. Becoming a member [talking about you, dear reader] is not a bad thing. You know I would never steer you wrong). I was asked my opinion about this. I advised that the resort tell Whoopie Doo to go pound sand. Whoopie will probably threaten legal action but the resort should stand firm. The last thing con artists like Whoopie Doo want to do (hey! That rhymes!) is walk into a court of law.

 

So now here is an interesting situation. You’ve paid a company $3500 to take your time share. You have signed the deed over to this LLC. You actually no longer own the timeshare, this is technically true. But the resort is refusing to acknowledge the transfer which means you are still on their books as the owner and you’re going to get a maintenance fee bill each year! Congratulations! Now, you won’t find this out until you get your bill next year. By that time, good luck on finding those nice folks who took your $3500. You now no longer own a timeshare and you’re on the hook for the yearly maintenance fees.

 

“Wait”, you say, “How can the resort refuse to acknowledge a lawfully recorded transfer of a deed”. (we heard you thinking this). Well, there’s this little thing called fraud. It was a fraudulent transfer designed to make money by bringing harm to the resort. (As a side note: Some resort who have been burned by this are now suing not only the folks behind the LLC but also the original owner [that would be……you] claiming fraud).

 

So how do you protect yourself? First, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to sell your timeshare, call us. It’s what we’ve done for folks for the past 30 years and we offer different programs depending on what you have and your particular situation. There’s not many folks we can’t help. And for the few we can’t help, we can refer you to the right person who can or offer free advice on what to do. Secondly, if you’re bound and determined that you trust that famous celebrity or the nice person across the table from you who wants you to pay them a lot of money, ask them for a copy of their real estate license. They should offer no excuses, no “this doesn’t apply to us” stories; they either have one or they don’t. If they don’t, well……..I’d hate to be writing a story about your situation in an up-coming newsletter.

 

At least in the US there is a company which tries to ensure this does not happen, The Timeshare Transfer Registry, but even with this in place the scam still goes on, not only losing thousands for the owners but also for the resorts.

 

So what can you do about not getting caught, unfortunately there is no straight answer. All you can really do is check the company and check again, ask your resort do they recognise the company you are dealing with. If you are undertaking a private sale, again check with your resort on how the transfer is done legally. Once the transfer is complete, again check with your timeshare company or resort that you are no longer registered as the owner and liable for maintenance.

 

The biggest problem is actually finding someone who wants to buy it in the first place, just look on ebay! There are alternatives to trying to sell, some resorts will take them back, for those that do not, then there is a legal process of relinquishment. Yes this will cost, the amount again depends on the company, but beware, as Mrs B found out she paid for a relinquishment but ended up with a transfer of ownership to another person and this is not recognised by the resort.

 

If you have any questions about this article or any other timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact through the comments section and will find the answer or point you in the right direction.

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