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RDO

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, this article is based on a report released by the St Louis Better Business Bureau, it is based on their full report published on the BBB website which we have included as a link. The full report carries some very sound advice along with recommendations for Government and the industry. Whether they take note is another matter.

August is the month for Spain to basically close down, so there is no news from the courts, but this little snippet from the RDO website news section and published on 24 July caught our attention.

“We never sleep”

During this particular break-out session the RDO legal panel will provide attendees with an update on a range of issues, including the latest developments in the Spanish Supreme Court rulings and the on-going lobbying programme.

Other issues that will be covered within the session will be ongoing collaboration with UK authorities to take fraudulent individuals/companies to court and new legislation that is being developed to curb the activities of claims companies. Attendees will also learn how ARDA is dealing with similar issues in the US and whether there are lessons for RDO and its members.

Well one thing is for sure, the RDO obviously believe that the Spanish timeshare laws are not good for the industry, with the judges getting it wrong, along with their belief that they will be able to change things in their favour through the lobbying programme. Well somehow I don’t think the Spanish authorities will be looking to changing their laws to return back to the bad old days!

In the end these court cases that are being brought are of the industries own making, if they had abided by the laws in the first place they would not be paying for it now. A very good case to remember is Silverpoint, whose CEO Mark Cushway was at one time also a director of the RDO, this company is being pilloried by the lower courts in Tenerife and the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Why?

Quite simple, they sold a product that flouted virtually every article of Law 42/98, especially with their promise of the “investment” weeks, where unsuspecting purchasers, many of them on the verge of retirement, were sold under high pressure and very misleading sales pitches a promise that these weeks would be sold or rented out. These never materialised and are the subject of many of these court cases. All this while Mark Cushway was one of the directors of the industry trade body, there to ensure that members operated in a legal and ethical manner.

On the legal front, Canarian Legal Alliance has just published their mid year report, it is certainly impressive and really does put the above statement from the RDO in a different light. Follow the link for the full report direct from the lawyers themselves.

https://canarianlegalalliance.com/canarian-legal-alliance-mid-term-successes/

Now on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

A St. Louis Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report

Released July 24, 2018

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

August 3, 2018

Inside Timeshare has received complaints against Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Hawaii, California, and Virginia sales centers. Missouri is no worse than the other states. We appreciate the St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau taking timeshare complaints seriously.

From: American Resort Development Association’s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”

From the St. Louis Better Business Bureau report:

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

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

(BBB) RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred  to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

Inside Timeshare has received 515 timeshare complaints from our readers, 271 since January 1. All but a handful report their complaint was dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our advocacy efforts have had an effect. After publishing this last statement a few times, the defense has been changed to, “It sounds like a he said, she said” still relying on the oral representation clause. About 200 complaints were copied to ARDA / ARDA ROCbut were ignored.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official policy, and the regulator’s position in some states, the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Florida and Nevada, all our readers’ complaints filed with those state Attorney General’s timeshare divisions have been dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” An upcoming article examines proof and why FBI agents and several attorneys don’t buy this response.

Inside Timeshare contributor Sheila Brust reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market. By steering complaining members to licensed real estate agents, when turned down, members often end up the contacting a scam that will charge the member upfront money promising to sell or cancel their timeshare. Often that promise falls short.”

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints against Branson, Missouri sales centers. Our researchers discovered one Branson timeshare sales manager was selling points at the same time he was working for a timeshare exit company named Mutual Release a suspicious name for a company, as mutual release is the form signed when a timeshare issue has been resolved.

Our Advice

DON’T FINANCE A VACATION or any Luxury Item AT 12% TO 19% and don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. As the St. Louis BBB recommends, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare. There you will receive straight answers.

 http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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/

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the positives when it feels like the battle is all uphill. All we can do is reach out to those who feel lost to let them know Inside Timeshare and real advocacy groups are there for them. Consumer and advocacy are two words members should take with a grain of salt, used and abused by scam artists. We are real advocates.   

That’s it for this week, Friday is here and the weekend is about to start, for those in Europe beware the heat wave, especially if you are travelling to Spain, Seville is reported to be facing temperatures of 48º C or 118º F.

Join us next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, don’t forget if you have any comments, questions or just need to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and don’t get sunburnt!

Start the Week: Diamond Lose in Tenerife; Latest news on Tauro Beach and Anfi.

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we report on two cases Diamond Resorts have lost in Tenerife, but first we look at the disturbing scenes at Tauro Beach over the weekend.

Over the past year Inside Timeshare has been reporting on the debacle that is the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, this has been an ongoing saga, with charges being brought against the former head of the coastal authority along with others and a full blown investigation by Seprona, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service.

It has been well reported that Anfi had plans to transform the old shingle beach into a man made one with sand, build a marina and also several hotels with a shopping complex on the land behind. It turns out that part of the investigation into the beach found the sand had been illegally imported from the Western Sahara. (see link to The Guardian Article).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand

Now a company called Desokupa went in over the weekend and began demolishing the homes of those who live there. The reason is the land “belongs” to Anfi, who claim that these dwellings are illegal. Whether they are or not is not the point, considering that there are no planning permissions in place and the fact that the Anfi concession to run the beach is on hold while the Gran Canarian government apply to the courts to revoke the licenses. Should these demolitions have waited until the outcome?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIHbrdIC_To&feature=share

Was there a court order which allowed Anfi to bring in the bulldozers?

All valid questions which will eventually be answered, but what we have lost is a little bit of old Gran Canaria and a very popular paradise spot, for locals and tourists alike. The bar Pio Pio is one of the most popular venues in the area at the weekend, with a wonderful atmosphere and great music. Is that now in danger!

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

Since publishing this following has appeared on facebook for Nueva Canarias

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10155352630021755&id=185892306754

It will take you to the link below, this is very disturbing news.

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

Now for the court cases against Diamond Resorts and a look at timeshare law compared to other places.

Both these cases were heard at the High Court No 3, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, both were appeals on behalf of the British clients. These cases were originally held at the Courts of First Instance and unfortunately the clients lost those cases. These were heard before the Supreme Court in Madrid issued the numerous rulings (now 126) on how the timeshare laws should be interpreted and applied.

Before these rulings, different courts and judges interpreted the laws differently, no one actually knew how the laws should be applied. This is nothing unusual in legal work, laws are put into place, but it is not until they are tested and challenged are they effective, this is what the Supreme Court has done, issued a definitive interpretation.

In the first case, the client has been awarded over 19,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

In the second case held at the same court, over 30,000€ has been awarded plus legal interest, again the contract being declared null and void.

The court found several infringements of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, (along with other relevant Consumer Laws), with contracts being over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of payments within the cooling off period. The court also found as per the rulings from Spain’s Highest Court that the contracts lacked any substance or tangible product as they were points based. These have been declared illegal in Spain. (See PDF’s below for the court sentences).

HC n 3 Diamond 1

HC N3 Diamond 2

So how does Spain’s timeshare laws compare with elsewhere?

During the early days in Europe, timeshare was virtually unregulated, know one actually knew what it was, was it real estate, as that is how it was “sold” to the public, a share in your own holiday home, or was it purely a holiday product which was not an investment?

The free for all lasted some years, then the European Union issued the first of many Timeshare Directives, these were to try and regulate the industry, with the directives supposedly being put into the domestic laws of each member state. Basically all singing off the same hymn sheet!

In some countries, the directives were very much watered down, the industry trade body The RDO and the “representing” owners body TATOC, (now defunct), successfully lobbied the UK parliament and those laws are probably the weakest in Europe, they tend to be in favour of the industry not the consumer.

Spain on the other hand had a very different approach, which in some respects is not that surprising. Spain was one of the major places for timeshare development, they had just recently found freedom and democracy, with the country in dire need of development. The building of resorts and the tourist industry was one of the most important factors in this development.

The unfortunate thing is the free run timeshare developers had, timeshare was being sold even before the resorts were actually started, known as off plan. Many consumers got stung in these enterprises, with the resort they paid for never even getting built.

People on holiday were being picked up off the street left right and center, taken to sales presentations and coerced into parting with huge sums of money. Spain’s reputation as a great holiday destination was being sullied by these practices.

That all changed in December 1998, when the government introduced Law 42/98, based on the EU Timeshare Directives, but stronger. Spain was going to have the strongest laws in Europe and this was going to hurt the industry if they didn’t comply.

The law became effective on 5 January 1999, although they did allow a period where the timeshare companies could get their house in order and comply. One aspect of the law was regarding the duration of the contract, before, these were sold in perpetuity, there was no end date. The law now demanded that contracts be for a duration of a minimum 3 years and maximum of 50 years. Timeshare companies were allowed to place a deed of adaptation to all contracts sold before the law came into place, this allowed the pre 99 perpetuity contracts to remain, but all new sales must conform.

Many ignored this, on advice from their lawyers many continued to sell perpetuity, citing the deed of adaptation as the basis for carrying on. This obviously was one point that needed to be tested in the Supreme Court, but that would be many years ahead.

As a point of interest, there were two countries where timeshare laws only allowed for a maximum of 30 years on contracts, they are Madeira and Malta. Those had been put into place right at the start of timeshare development.

Another aspect of the law which Spain has put into place is the illegality of the Floating Weeks and Points systems. According the the Supreme Court they have ruled the timeshare law clearly states that any contract must have substance and tangibility, in other words the guarantee of the apartment and the week being sold. Floating weeks and points do not do this, you only have a right to use subject to availability.

So how does this compare with our friends experience across the Great Lake in the US?

Well from the many articles we have published on Inside Timeshare, they are sadly lacking any control or real consumer protection, it is pot luck which State you have purchased as to what protection you have. There appear to be no Federal Laws governing the sale of timeshare.

In Europe we have the 14 day cooling off period, where no payments should be taken and the consumer has the right to cancel, in some States we have been informed this can be as little as 3 days!

From what we have published, there are so many different agencies and authorities for the consumer to turn to, from Attorneys General (that depends on which State you are in) to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI. (See link below on filing a complaint).

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-teusday-slot-with-irene/

We are seeing many complaints coming into Inside Timeshare on the practises of sales agents, which the timeshare companies seem to condone. There needs to be regulations to govern what is acceptable and what is not, these should be right across the board so that no matter which State you purchase in, the rules are the same for all.

Canada is preparing new legislation on the regulation of timeshare, we hope to bring you news of this from our Canadian readers in the near future.

South Africa is also pushing for changes, there have been several high profile cases against the timeshare industry, resulting in jail time and massive fines. It will not be long before they also have some of the strongest laws regulating timeshare in the world.

In Australia, there is also a move to regulate the timeshare industry, we have published in the past a couple of articles on timeshare down under. Again we wait for our Antipedian friends to submit their articles.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, it may not suit everybody, after all we are all different, but it is how it is sold and administered that is the problem. For too long the industry has and in many cases, the US in particular, still carries on as though they are untouchable.

Diamond believed this in Spain, these cases highlighted today and those in the past along with the many more waiting to be heard, are letting them know that they are not above the law and will be curbed and brought to justice. Consumer protection is paramount in any industry, after all it is the consumer’s money that keeps any company afloat!

If you have any comments on this or any other article, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes them.

Are you being contacted by different companies offering claims or relinquishments? If so and you are not sure if they are genuine and will do what they say, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you look for the information and point you in the right direction.

Tomorrow we publish an article by a new contributor, Diane Creager and titled Elder Advocates, so join us tomorrow and welcome Diane.

TESS Allegations: Here are the Facts

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 99 Supreme 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).

Silverpoint Supreme Court link

https://www.iberley.es/jurisprudencia/sentencia-civil-n-431-2017-ts-sala-civil-sec-1-rec-2634-2015-10-07-2017-47716369?term=431%2F2017&year=&tipo_sentencia=&query=431%2F2017+AND+%28club+la+costa%29&filtrar%5B0%5D=club+la+costa&noIndex

https://www.iberley.es/jurisprudencia/sentencia-civil-n-133-2018-ts-sala-civil-sec-1-rec-2670-2016-07-03-2018-47813194?term=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+133%2F2018&query=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+133%2F2018&noIndex

https://www.iberley.es/jurisprudencia/sentencia-civil-n-121-2018-ts-sala-civil-sec-1-rec-1192-2016-07-03-2018-47813261?term=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+121%2F2018&query=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+121%2F2018&noIndex

Puerto Calma Supreme Court link

https://www.iberley.es/jurisprudencia/sentencia-civil-n-131-2018-ts-sala-civil-sec-1-rec-382-2016-07-03-2018-47813179?term=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+131%2F2018&query=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+131%2F2018&noIndex

Anfi

https://www.iberley.es/jurisprudencia/sentencia-civil-n-633-2016-ts-sala-civil-sec-1-rec-2627-2014-25-10-2016-47624792?term=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+633%2F2016&query=tribunal+supremo+sala+la+civil+633%2F2016&noIndex

Below are three PDF’s of sentence reports sent to the lawyers and clients from the Supreme Court.

98.2 data protected Silverpoint (sea)

99.2 data protected Silverpoint (pau)

100.2 data protected Puerto Calma (rus)

You will see the names of three lawyers on these documents:

MIGUEL ÁNGEL MELIÁN SANTANA [Nº3552 ICALPA ]

ÓSCAR SALVADOR SANTANA GONZÁLEZ [Nº 3563 ICALPA]

MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ CEBALLOS [Nº 2814 ICALPA]

All three can be found on the CLA website under lawyers.

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/lawyers/

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.

http://www.abogacia.es/servicios-abogacia/censo-de-letrados/

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:

David Andrew COX – Personal Appointments

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!

DavidCox

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.

Hope to see you in court soon.

 

Silverpoint Announcement to Club Paradiso Members

As usual nothing really surprises us when it comes to Silverpoint, so it was only time before they announced they would not be offering a resale service for their Club Paradiso members. Many of these people have bought into this club via the ever upgrading of the “investment weeks” peddled by Resort Properties and then Silverpoint. Inside Timeshare explained this in the 12 March article “Silverpoint a Costly Experience for Some”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-costly-experience/

This practise has been going on for years, with many losing out on thousands of pounds, in these so-called investments, many funded through finance agreements arranged by Silverpoint sales staff with Barclays Partner Finance. There have been and still are ongoing class actions by clients of Silverpoint against Barclays in the UK, these have been brought by two law firms, Stewarts Law and Edwin Coe.

Considering Silverpoint announced in April last year it had withdrawn its membership from the industry trade body the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), along with the announcement that it was no longer going to be selling “timeshare”, it comes as no surprise that they have stopped the resale program, if it even existed in the first place!

So the questions that many are now asking including the enquiries received from our readers are very simple ones:

What is now going to happen to all that money we paid for these so-called investments?

Now that we know there is no resale market, what other “investments” are they going to offer us to save what we have already paid?

Are they going to ask for even more money?

saleman

Well we do know that many have been coerced into paying and transferring to what is being termed the “Company Participation Scheme”, sounds good doesn’t it?

But what is this scheme?

Well, all we can say is that it is just another way for them to get your money, according to some of the evidence we have seen, and we are still going through it as it is all wrapped up in jargon, the basics of it appear to be that you now buy shares in a company, with the contract being signed at the notary.

The thing is if you are now a shareholder in a company, what are the implications if anything should happen, are you then going to be liable for any costs if the company goes into liquidation or fails to pay taxes?

So there we have it, Silverpoint have finally admitted that all those with their weeks listed on the resale programme for Club Paradiso, are not going to get them sold. These were originally sold to them with the promise of a return on their outlay when they are sold, a promise that we have seen is full of hot air.

The final part of Silverpoints email reminds these members that they “can still use your membership, even if listed for resale, to enjoy great holidays around the world”. Signed Silverpoint Vacations SL.

Hang on, they have stated in the same email they “will no longer be able to offer this service”, so how can it still be listed for resale?

As usual Silverpoint can’t seem to get their own story straight, do they actually know what they are doing, somehow we think not!

If you are a member of Club Paradiso with these investments and had them listed for sale and are worried by this latest development, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

help1

End of January Review

So that is the end of the first month of this year and what a month it has been, if this one is anything to go by then we are going to be in for a busy year. So let’s have a quick look at some of the main events.

We start with two stories published this week, the first is a quick update on the website of Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited.

Yesterday RCI thanked Inside Timeshare for reporting the use of their logo, they confirmed that it is being used illegally and their legal department had been informed. Today when checking the website the RDO and Expectations Holidays logo’s had been removed, unfortunately the Canarian Legal Alliance logo and copied news section are still showing. CLA have been informed.

It has also come to our attention that Antoni “Toni” Muldoon also has another website:

http://www.scam-busters.co.uk/

Supposedly to help people being scammed by the likes of him, one does have ask the question, is he the reformed character he makes out to be or is this just another way of getting your money?

spots

Regarding the Anfi letter to UK members and the use of the BBC program Rip Off Britain, we had the opportunity to see the program for ourselves, the “lawyer” named on the program was one Emilio Leyes Catillianos at the address Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, is the very same one that Inside Timeshare first reported back in July and September 2016.

That address is actually for the Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, similar to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

CAB Arona

This particular “lawyer” was part of the Litigious Abogados setup, which is one of those Inside Timeshare provided evidence to CLA for their denuncia to the Guardia Civil in February 2017, (see link to CLA website to view a copy of the denuncia):

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/fraud-alert/

The sad thing is the program is too late to highlight this as the website has already gone and been replaced with many new names, the latest was published here on 8 January, Abogados Canarias, with the main “lawyer” named as one Manuel Cilavoz Varintos. I would say that their research team has a lot to learn or is the program just there for entertainment purposes?

Since the start of this year the US articles many written by Irene parker, has resulted in 38 complaints received by Inside Timeshare and dealt with by our US team (all volunteers). Since we began actually counting the number of complaints received at the end of 2016, the US team led by Irene has dealt with 291 complaints. Again what does the rest of the year hold in store?

Also at the beginning of the month we reported that Trading Standards had raided several offices of the Mark Rowe owned companies which include Sellmytimeshare.tv ABC Lawyers and his Monster Credits enterprise. We have now been informed that South West Police are contacting clients of his various companies, so it certainly looks like a major criminal investigation is taking place.

We are also still waiting to hear about the sentencing of Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, this was supposed to take place this month at Birmingham Crown Court.

Another article published this month was Spanish Timeshare Laws Simply Explained. This was in response to many enquiries from timeshare owners who had been contacted by various firms stating they had a claim, or their timeshare company was being taken to court and they could join in the case. The main point of the article was unless your timeshare was purchased in Spain you will not have any claim, it also pointed out that even if you did purchase in Spain your particular contract may be legal and therefore there is no claim.

Inside Timeshare also welcomed Lisa Ann Schreier with her first article. Lisa is a well known figure in the US, she is also the author of the book Timeshare for Dummies, we look forward to more contributions in the future.

lisa ann

These are just some of the stories published this month, we end with news just in from Canarian Legal Alliance.

It looks like they have had a tremendous start to the year as they announced that they have received favourable judgements in 14 cases against these resorts:

Anfi, Silverpoint, Puerto Calma, Palm Oasis and Diamond International.

These cases have been heard in various courts around Spain, ranging from First Instance, High Courts and Supreme Court. The latest being a Supreme Court ruling against Palm Oasis making the total figure for rulings from Spain’s highest court to 86!

The total amount awarded by the courts in these cases is staggering 267,224.25€ so there are some very happy ex-timeshare owners.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to all the articles this month and all the readers who have supplied some of the information which has helped in the research.

Again if you have any questions about any of the articles published or need any help in determining if the company you may be thinking of doing business with is legit, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this weeks article is the first of a series which will cover some useful tips on how and who to file a complaint with, but as usual a quick look at Europe.

beware

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published an article about Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited based in Lowestoft Suffolk, with the website

https://www.timeshares-unlimited.com/

Registered to the “infamous” Antoni “Toni” Muldoon.

On the website they show 4 logo’s, RDO, RCI, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance, according to the website they claim to work closely with CLA, even having “cut & paste” copies directly from the CLA news section.

Inside Timeshare has had confirmation from the RDO, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance that they have no knowledge or ties with the said company or website. RCI have also been informed, but as yet no reply has been received, but it is safe to assume that they have not given any permission for their logo to be used.

This just goes to show that you cannot believe what you see or read on the internet, just because a website shows a logo or states they work closely with a company or organisation that it is true. Always do your homework, check any company fully before engaging in business, check that their claims to work with or are affiliated with others is genuine.

It would also appear that Anfi is once again on the offensive, this time they have been sending out emails to UK members regarding a recent BBC TV program Rip Off Britain. In this program they travelled to Tenerife to investigate a “fake” law firm, one that Inside Timeshare has been investigating and reporting about for the past 2 years.

Although this is laudable, it is the tone of the email that is the problem, rather than actually naming the “fake” law firm, it has been left open and vague, giving the impression that all law firms dealing with timeshare claims are not genuine.

It is obvious from past emails from the CEO José Luis Trujillo, that the aim is to discredit the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. These lawyers have been instrumental in securing 84 Supreme Court rulings against various timeshare companies, with 39 against Anfi alone.

On the point of the “fake” law firm in Tenerife, Inside Timeshare was asked to provide CLA with any evidence it possessed, to augment their own, as some of their clients had been contacted by this Tenerife outfit. Our evidence along with that from CLA was then handed to the Guardia Civil along with a denuncia, this is now under investigation.

It has also been a little quiet at the courts so far with only one sentence being reported, once again Anfi are the culprits.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared another Anfi members contract null and void, ordering that over 55,000€ which also includes a double deposit be returned to the client, the court also awarded legal interest.

It does make you wonder who is telling the truth, Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to decide based on the evidence presented.

truth meter

Now on with this weeks article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Tips

Due to an Escalation in Volume and Criminal Nature of Complaints

White collar

By Irene Parker

January 28, 2018

IT Timeshare Tips #1

Inside Timeshare has received an astonishing number of reader complaints. Since January 1, 38 timeshare members have contacted us. Since we began counting late 2016, 291 complaints. The majority voice allegations that clearly meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, Financial Institution Fraud.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/mortgage-fraud

Timeshare members should only contact the FBI if the allegations are of a serious nature. For example, “They promised me a cruise, but when I went to book it, it cost $1,000” is not a serious enough allegation. A free cruise that turns out not to be free is a frequent complaint, but would be best reported to the Better Business Bureau in the form or a complaint or a review.

Here is an example of a complaint that has been reported to the FBI and to BBB:

We were sold vacation points fraudulently by XXX sales agent SXXX MXXX Jan 2017 at GBO Resort. We went to a sales presentation. We met with sales agent S M, and told him our biggest complaint was the maintenance fees. Mr. M told us if we bought 3000 more points, to get to 5000 points, we would become Highest Loyalty Level members and we would be able to sell back points to pay maintenance fees at $.50 per point.

Criminal Complaint #1: The Highest Loyalty Level requires 50,000 points

Criminal Complaint #2: There is no program to sell back points to pay maintenance fees

He said, “You do this at the end of the year”

Criminal Complaint #3: By telling the victim to wait until the end of the year, and by not allowing access to the booking site until after the contract rescission period, the agent and/or company can dodge the rescission period.

He said this would be enough to pay all our maintenance fees.

This was what really sold us on the program.

Mr. M also said beginning in January of 2018 there would be a “cash out” option where XXX Timeshare Company would offer to buy our timeshare if we were not happy, we would probably take a loss, but we would be free and clear.

Criminal Complaint #4: There is no buy-back program

Thank you for using the Better Business Bureau’s Online Complaint System.

busted

As this is an active complaint, we will not publish the name of the timeshare member, the timeshare company, or the sales agent, to give the company a chance to make this victim whole again.

Most importantly, do not respond to anyone who private messages you, calls or emails offering to help you get out of your timeshare. Contact Inside Timeshare or your Facebook admin if you are contacted. Teams have been established to gather information to make a determination as to whether the company is legit. Most are not.

There is no federal enforcement other than timeshare advocacy groups. State enforcement is spotty at best. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U S advocacy groups we know 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/

Thank you to Irene and all those who proofread and edit the drafts, this article should prove to be very helpful to many of our US readers.

If you require any information about this or any article published, or just need help to decide who to trust and how to check them out, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember to do your homework and stay safe.

calm homework

Start the Week: Important Consumer Warning

In May 2016, Inside Timeshare published a story about one of the most “Infamous” operators in the timeshare “Resale Scam” industry, Toni Muldoon.

Muldoon operated on the Costa del Sol for years with a number of companies mainly in the timeshare resales sector. One of these was Platinum Properties, which I have personal experience of, as this was the company which introduced myself to the murky world of timeshare.

toni muldoon

He was eventually jailed for 2 years by the Spanish authorities, this was eventually suspended, he was also ordered to repay the paltry sum of around £438,000. Whether this was paid no one knows.

Muldoon then ended up in the UK, operating in Suffolk, he set up an “Escort agency” fleecing girls to join. They apparently never got any work, around 14,000 fell for this scam.

At the same time he was operating a “debt” elimination scam, which for an upfront fee of around £2,000, with upwards of 3,000 people falling for it. According to Trading Standards around 92% of these never received any service whatsoever.

He was again investigated and charged and in 2013 he received a 7 and a half year prison term, with the order to return over £750,000 being given 6 months to pay or face a further 4 years.

Muldoon was due for release with parole at the end of 2016, so that now brings us to a very disturbing fact, it looks like he is back to his old ways.

 

Another company has just come to our attention, Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited, with the  website:

https://www.timeshares-unlimited.com

This website was registered on 19 February 2016 to Antoni Muldoon with an address in Croydon. So it would seem that this scheme was being hatched even before his release from jail.

There are no entries at Company House for either of the two names and the director check for Antoni Muldoon only brings up a defunct entry for a previous company.

The address for Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited is

11 Cornerways

12 Kensington Road

Lowerstoft

Suffolk

NR33 0HY 

 cbk

(The Spelling of Lowestoft in the address is not our spelling, that is taken directly from the website).

Telephone numbers are:

Buyers:       UK: 01502534622

Mon – Fri 9.30 – 20:00

Sellers :       UK: 07716737960

Mon – Fri 09:30 – 18:00

All other Enquiries :  UK: 07495309393

The websites home page starts with “Welcome to Worldwide Timeshares  Unlimited®- Europe’s leading timeshare resale company.”

So the main focus of the business is sales and resale, the worrying aspect is they show the Logos for the RDO, Canarian Legal Alliance, RCI and Expectations Holidays, which is a new RCI points club from Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket.

According to the About Us section they state: “We work closely with Canarian Legal Alliance, Canarian Legal Alliance is a new innovative law firm which provides a comprehensive range of services to international clients wishing to pursue legal disputes in Spain.”

CLA Logo

The website also has a section dedicated to Canarian Legal Alliance, this is made up of  exact copies (cut and paste) of the entries that CLA have on their News section on their own website.

This only leads us to believe the sales and resale side is just a ruse to try and “cash in” on the growing claims market.

Inside Timeshare has spoken with Canarian Legal Alliance and they have stated they have no knowledge of this company and are most definitely not working with them. They have not given permission for their logo, news items or name to be used.

So if this is the case with CLA, what about the use of the logos for RDO, RCI and Expectaions Holidays, we can only assume at this point they also have not given any permission to use them. As for the RDO, they have been contacted and we are waiting a response. One thing is certain, unless you are a member of the RDO then no permission will have been given to use it.

Inside Timeshare warns all our readers to always check the validity of any company they intend to deal with, if they claim they are working with another firm especially a law firm check that fact as well.

If you have had any contact with or from this new “Muldoon” enterprise contact Inside Timeshare with your story. It will help to warn others.

Below are links to the original article and news items surrounding Toni Muldoon and his exploits:

http://insidetimeshare.com/toni-muldoon-duping-innocent/#more-545

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1387056/Timeshare-crookToni-Muldoon-pleads-guilty.html

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bogus-dating-agency-gang-finally-2060931

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-suffolk-30554942

homework

Since publishing the RDO have confirmed that the use of their logo is illegal as no permission has been given.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

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.

http://insidetimeshare.com/kwikchex-chris-emmins/

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?

So now on with our Letter from America by Irene Parker.

January Report

32 Reader Timeshare Complaints Received in 2018

jan rep cover

By Irene Parker

Friday January 26, 2018

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.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-7/

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.

progress

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.

  1. Write out your complaint and send to the timeshare company.
  2. 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. 
  3. File complaints with the Attorneys General of the state where you live, where you signed, and the headquarter state of the timeshare company.
  4. Although weakened, complaints can still be filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

US mil seals

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.

mission

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

 

Thank you 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.

Friday is here so have a good weekend.

friday dog

 

 

A New Member to EGTBW (Rewritten)

Back in June 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article, it started with a “Spoof” Trade Body which Inside Timeshare had just become a member of. Due to some of the articles we have published recently it was decided to republish this article as a warning that even “Trade Bodies” cannot be relied upon to give consumers the best advice or even tell the truth. (The article has also been amended from the original).

Although the article starts with some humour the message is very real, we hope that you enjoy reading it.

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kite mark of excellence.

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo

This organisations own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.

They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:

“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”

“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”

So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out that MacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).

tony hetherington

thisismoney

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2346500/TONY-HETHERINGTON-I-escape-nightmare-sun.html

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

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2527546/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Timeshare-boss-relents-spite-fighting-talk.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1323162/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Death-doesnt-bring-end-timeshare-fee.html

So these are poorly research are they?

On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believe the court has got it wrong, the RDO it seems agrees with them!

For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is aging, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.

What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?

It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases, or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:

  • In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
  • A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
  • If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
  • In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.

(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)

As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.

What of TATOC in all this?

tatoc logo

No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!

Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.

We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything has finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership, or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America: End of Year Review

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.

Another firm that was the subject of our attentions was Keys Concierge, another credits based lifestyle company. It turned out that the director was one Franz Marcus Deutsch, an old associate of Mark Cushway of Silverpoint. In fact this new company was the latest product which would be peddled by Silverpoint, soon to change their name to Signallia Marketing Distribution SA.

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?

tribunal supremo

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 AnfiTauro 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 Claveles in 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.

This same month also saw a very big shake up in timeshare, TATOC, (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees). This was run by one Harry Taylor, who was very much a mouthpiece for the industry rather than those who his organisation purported to represent.

image1 (1)
Howard C. Nusbaum, ARDA President and Chief Executive Officer Handing the cheque to Harry Taylor for $30,000 Published May 2017

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.

CLA Logo

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

2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

By Irene Parker

December 29, 2017

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.  

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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?

conference

 Westgate Update 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegel was 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.  

trump

Here is King David’s house

https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2017/03/09/the-queen-of-versailles-jackie-siegel-i-may-want-a.html

But back in 2016

“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 investigating Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

http://insidetimeshare.com/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 Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneiderman managed 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

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

 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.  

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

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:

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.

holI 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.

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/

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.