Do not pass go, do not collect 200€, go directly to Jail!
A lawyer from Gran Canaria, Juan Arencibia Rodriguez, has been sentenced to four years jail and fined 1.7 million Euros, in the Criminal Court Number 6 of Las Palmas, the presiding judge was Judge Ivana Aisa Muiños. He has also been ordered to compensate the Tax Agency 865,000€.
The case centers round tax fraud, and the non declaration of earnings which were paid into a Swiss bank account. The case came to light after his name appeared on a list of tax fraudsters which was delivered to the Spanish Treasury by Hervé Falciani who was the operator of the Swiss branch in Geneva of HSBC Private Bank Suisse.
Arencibia is a well known lawyer and tax advisor, he is a former director of the auditing firm Ernst & Young and is a current partner of the law firm Aramburu & Montero. He is also the former a board member of Anfi for the Lyng family.
Another aspect is he is also head of the law firm which handles all of Silverpoints legal matters, including the ongoing legal cases regarding timeshare.
So it does make you wonder now, how Silverpoint has got away with the sale of “investment packs” for so long, as well as all the other infringements could it be that this lawyer massaged the evidence for them?
It also leaves many other unanswered questions such as how much of the “new” rebranding and splitting up into various companies is down to his advice?
At Inside Timeshare nothing now ever surprises us in that murky world called timeshare.
Follow the links below to see 2 of the article is prominent Spanish press:
If you require any information about this or any other article published or just want to know the validity of any company regarding timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
This first piece of information from one of our readers, (although the same information has been received in the past), concerns the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife Abogados Canarias, part of the ongoing fraud known as the Litigious Abogados family.
This particular reader had been contacted by this outfit with news that their timeshare company was being taken to court (as usual), that they could be part of this action. All they needed to do was pay a fee for the procurator to file their case with the rest.
Luckily this reader decided to search the internet about this “law firm”, lo and behold found the article published here on Inside Timeshare, they then contacted us for further information, which as usual we gave free of charge.
We even warned them that this “FAKE” law firm would say that Inside Timeshare are the scammers! Not bad considering none of our readers are ever charged for any information or help given.
Well they decided to accept the return call as arranged, Yes you guessed it, they told the reader exactly what we had warned. They even told them that they had taken Inside Timeshare to court SIX TIMES last year!
Well myself and my lawyers memories must be going, as we can’t remember going to court ONCE, let alone SIX times.
Just to let you know at Abogados Canarias, all information supplied by our readers has and will be passed to the authorities to augment the denuncia made in February 2017 against your original “FAKE” law firms!
Another piece of interesting information has been supplied by our readers, this time it is concerning Diamond Resorts, it would appear that they are upsetting many of their members. (Well nothing new there!)
It now transpires that any members family using as guests, below that of Platinum is going to have to pay to use the WiFi, Swimming pool and other facilities on the European sites!
Apparently, the cost for using the pool is around £6 per day per person, not going to be a cheap holiday then, considering the extortionate maintenance fees associated with Diamond. It makes you wonder why you pay the high cost of membership in the first place along with the ongoing annual fees, when this happens?
Also is this just another ploy to “Upgrade” members to Platinum?
According to the information provided, it has nothing to do with Apollo, as they are only an “Investment Company” and has nothing to do with the day to day running of Diamond!
Hang on they Own Diamond, surly anything that Diamond management do which upsets the members, bringing bad publicity to the public eye, will have a detrimental effect on the share prices and thus on the “Investment”?
Well, all we can say is, timeshare is not the great thing is used to be, it has become nothing more than a money making machine that does not care about you the member. After all they got your money to join, they now get your money each year and if they can find another way to get more of it, they will!
We published recently the article on Centaurus Mediation SL, contacting Silverpoint members offering a relinquishment service, it also seemed that they were using the members data supplied by Silverpoint. We also stated that there was another company which had also been set up but no name had yet come forth.
The latest information provided by yet another reader is that Excel have taken the marketing contract from Silverpoint due to their bad practices. (Something we have known for years).
Apparently this was told to our reader by a representative from another company called Aspirantco, which we believe is part owned by Excel.
Excel is the management company behind all the resorts.
From other information supplied Mr Jenkins is also Project Director for a Tenerife Real Estate Company called Homes Under the Sun, which does not appear to have any known ties with the timeshare industry.
Further information has been uncovered on 12 companies in the UK where Mark Cushway is the registered director. 10 of the companies were registered on 24 June 2016 and 2 registered on 29 July 2016. All have the same registered address for the director as1 Bedford Row, London, England, WC1R 4BZ.
As the old saying goes, “What a tangled web we weave”!!!
We leave you the reader to decide where this may just be going, we obviously have our suspicions. We also thank all readers who have contributed information.
If you are contacted by any of these companies Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, or if you need any information, help or advice on any company that you may be thinking of doing business with get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week is part 2 of her Timeshare Tips, with some more legal comments from Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. But a few updates from the timeshare world in Europe.
Yesterday’s article focused on the new company Centaurus Mediation SL and the possible links with Silverpoint, well, not long after publishing, news arrived from Madrid and the Supreme Court. Yet two more rulings against Silverpoint.
In the 87th ruling by Spain’s Highest Court, the clients contract with Silverpoint was declared null and void, the court also awarded over £56,000 plus double the deposit amounting to over £69,000. The court also awarded all legal fees and legal interest.
Within minutes of this announcement, the Supreme Court released the 88th sentence, once again it was against Silverpoint.
In this case the contract was once again declared null and void with the client being awarded over £18,000 plus £2,000as double the deposit with legal interest.
As stated in yesterday’s article, a contract being declared null and void by the court means that it should never have existed, does not exist and all has to revert to the state it was in before the contract was signed. So if you do get a call from Centaurus Mediation, with the caller saying the only way to get out is for them to do it, remember it is just another ruse by Silverpoint to fleece you of even more money.
In Gran Canaria, Anfi was on the receiving end of two Court of First Instance sentences, both of these were heard in the court situated in maspalomas.
The first case in court number 2, Anfi was ordered to return over 16,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract declared null and void.
In the second case in court number 1, over £10,000 plus legal interest was returned to the client along with the contract being declared null and void.
With news like this coming out of the courts on an almost daily basis, how can these companies continue to deny any wrongdoing and that they are not losing in the courts?
It just goes to show the arrogance of timeshare companies who for too long have got away with malpractices on a grand scale.
the State of Florida – the collection of advanced listing fees from Florida residents, regardless of the location of the property, and owners of Florida timeshares is prohibited. Section 721.20(6), Florida Statutes, prohibits the collection of any advance fee for the listing of any timeshare estate or timeshare license, and requires that any seller of a timeshare plan be a licensed real estate broker, broker associate or sales associate as defined in Section 475.01, Florida Statutes.”
So what are “Upfront Fees” and how are they getting around it?
Like timeshare rescission periods, upfront fees can be dodged. Exit companies accomplish this by charging a listing or ad fee, market analysis, a subscription fee, an advertising cost, you name it. Attorneys charge retainers, but not all attorneys are created equal, as mentioned in our opening statement.
I asked Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group about this as, like all lawyers, Finn Law Group charges a retainer. Given the difficulty, few lawyers will accept a timeshare case on contingency. Timeshare developers know this of course, and know the time and money it takes to litigate is cost and time prohibitive.
According to Mike,
There really isn’t a legitimate way around the no upfront fee issue in a legitimate licensed real estate broker scenario. The one exception is when a seller wants to have more advertising in place than is generally offered by a particular broker and the seller authorizes upfront funds to be specifically applied to a third party marketing provider. This is rare and usually occurs in the commercial market.
The licensing statute (Florida) is F.S. 475.01 Definitions. The salient details include “(a) broker…for another…and for a compensation…sells…offers….negotiate the sale…purchase or rental…any real property or any interest in or concerning the same… holds out to the public…engaged in the business of…buying,selling…real property of others…or who directs or assists in the procuring of sellers, purchasers, … which does, or is calculated to… result in a sale”
In case you’re hung up on the real property aspect of the definition, “The term broker also includes any person or entity who undertakes to list or sell one or more timeshare periods…”
So, to my way of thinking this company (the one we asked about) is not a licensed broker and if the state actually cared about the enforcement of their laws, they would have shut this, and other similarly situated organizations down long ago.
One of my favorite sources of information is NOLO as you can actually chat with a real lawyer! They have useful information and you won’t be bothered by those pesky “Get You out of Your Timeshare!” ads.
In a strong arm attempt to make sure we vacation, powerful lobbyists and the industry have worked hard to make it difficult to get out of a timeshare contract. The exception is if there is no loan, in which case the timeshare company will “take back” your points and resell as “recycled inventory” on a “case by case” basis. Most timeshare members contacting Inside Timeshare allege they were duped into high interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards, sometimes popping out on site like toast from a toaster. In our opinion, the industry refuses to admit they are causing the exit scams by allowing deceit on the front end of the sale and by not allowing a secondary market.
Deceit on the front of the timeshare sale does not discriminate, but often the elderly are victimized, as they tend to have more time and money. Timeshare members over 55 need to reach out to AARP.
The $70 billion a year flowing into Florida in tourist dollars may contribute to why this deceit has not been exposed. I have interviewed a dozen former sales agents, managers, and even a few executives, who call it “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat.” Nice people.
Social Media is here to stay. Timeshare members like never before can share experiences. They are no longer silenced and isolated. One of our advocates sent this published report to us, posted on TUGTimeshare Users Group. (Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association member Judi Kozlowski has provided commentary for our Inside Timeshare articles)
In the timeshare resale market today, it is pretty much a guarantee that you will encounter an upfront resale scammer if you are attempting to sell or rent your timeshare. Sadly these scams have become so popular, they are regularly listed in the top 10 scams by Attorney Generals offices and the BBB year after year!
Hopefully you have read the TUG Scams and Fairy Tales advice article, but if not and you are the victim of an upfront fee scam, your options are limited but they at least exist!
STEP 1: SEND A LETTER DEMANDING A REFUND
In many cases, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, so if you are persistent in calling and emailing and sending actual letters, you stand a chance of getting a refund!
This sample letter was provided by Judi Kozlowski, a licensed timeshare resale broker who has been in the industry for many years and fights to shut down these scammers with her organization the . Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association
We urge anyone who is the victim of an upfront fee scam to follow all the steps detailed below after sending this sample letter if you do not receive your refund or a reply in a timely fashion!
SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO A TIMESHARE UPFRONT FEE SCAMMER:
Dear (Insert Business Name Here),
We will be reporting you to the following people if you do not return our money. What you have done is fraud.
The Attorneys General Office in (the State you live in), (the State the timeshare is in) and the( State the Scammer is in).
We are also calling the police in (same as above, both locations).
We are going to report you to our (VISA/MC/AMEX/Discover) and have them report your fraud to your merchant account.
We are going to the following sites to report your scam:
Every social media page we can find with your name on it (facebook/twitter/linkedin)
We do not want any phone calls from you. All we want is our money returned. You have lied, misled and committed fraud. We demand a refund to our credit card immediately and will be disputing this charge with them immediately.
Note: While TUG certainly cannot guarantee the success or failure of the above letter, it certainly gives you an option in which to attempt to obtain a refund from the company that scammed you out of the upfront fee. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Remember, these companies mislead and lied to you in the first place, if your initial request for a refund goes unanswered or is denied, this letter may be a last resort for you to get your hard earned money back!
This posted by jayjay on RedWeek
2009 – that’s how long this has been going on!
Someone that’s been taken by any upfront fee scam company in the state of Florida needs to copy and paste that statute and then report the scammers to the law ASAP ….. my mission is to put every upfront fee resale/rental timeshare company completely out of business …. this is certainly a good way to start.
Bottom line, never, ever pay a timeshare resale company an upfront fee in the hundreds/thousands of dollars to list your timeshare in a database that no one will ever see …. you’re throwing your money away AND you’ll never hear from them again.
Centaurus Mediation SL is a new company based in Tenerife, it is engaged in cold calling timeshare owners, cold calling is not in itself illegal, but it is the nature of the calls and the owners being targeted.
The company was registered in Spain on 31 October 2017, with the website registered on 2 November 2017, yet according to them they have already achieved the following successes
97 Successful Claims
64 Agreed Terminations.
Not bad going for a company that is only 3 months old! (PDF Company records) below
As for the owners being targeted, they are all Resort Properties / Silverpoint owners, not really a problem until you realise that Centaurus Mediation has all the details of these owners including the facts they have either started legal action or have already done so against Silverpoint.
This leaves us with some very important questions, where has the data come from, who has supplied it, and what data protection laws have been compromised?
In our mind, there are only these explanations, either the data has been stolen from Silverpoint, by a member of staff, or Silverpoint have set up these companies and provided their membership database.
The latter seems the more probable, especially when you find out the nature of the calls.
In the call, one name that has come up is the agent known as James, he explains that his company can get them out of their membership from Silverpoint, that Excel have now taken over and that no one will ever get any compensation. The only way out is to let Centaurus to do it for you. Obviously this is going to be for a fee.
In another call, the agent knew that the client had already won their case at the Supreme Court, that they would get nothing and the only way to cancel the contract was for Centaurus Mediation to do it for them, as the court have no authority to cancel the contract.
This is untrue, the courts have declared the contracts null and void, there is nothing to cancel, having confirmed with Canarian Legal Alliance that the enquiry received was a genuine client of theirs, they confirmed that the contract had been declared null and void. They were asked to explain what this means.
Very simply, null and void means that it never existed, that everything reverts to the state before the contract was signed, the timeshare reverts back to the company, all money paid by the consumer is then returned. The contract and agreement never existed.
So what do we make of all this, here we have a company contacting specific timeshare owners, using a database that could only have come from Silverpoint, a company that has sold packs of weeks as investments that never materialised. Now this company is demanding payment to get the owners out of their contract, using very dubious methods and tactics.
So now we have a report that Silverpoint have set up two companies in Tenerife , Centaurus in Los Cristianos and another in Playa de Las Americas, the name of which has yet to be revealed. We also know they have closed their sales decks, that two names have come up in conjunction with running the new office for Centaurus, Carl Jenkens and Ruben Miller.
We must admit, they have been very clever in keeping any documentary link separate and difficult to find, but anyone with any sense would see through the client database. After all if a company was illegally using your client data, would you not take legal action?
So we now ask the question what is the reasoning behind all this?
Over the years Resort Properties / Silverpoint have been raking in the profits from their “investment” program, many people have been taken in by it, many have lost everything, others are still paying the price. Since January 2017, the Supreme Court has ruled on about 30 cases against them, declaring all contracts null and void and returning in many cases double the amounts originally paid by consumers. The lower courts are also ruling on an almost daily basis.
Silverpoint have obviously decided the only way to avoid any further litigation and huge losses is to allow people to get out, but why not make some money out of them first! We have had them once, lets have them again!
If you have been contacted by Centaurus Mediations SL or any other company using the same technique, let us know the details and we will publish the information here.
Need any help or advice on checking a company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
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.
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.
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):
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.tvABC 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.
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.
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:
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.
Inside Timeshare is receiving many enquiries from readers who are so confused they don’t know what to believe anymore. The subject is regarding court cases against the timeshare companies.
They are receiving letters from their timeshare resorts and companies stating that the claims about court victories against them is false, that it is all a ploy to get their money. So what is the truth?
Inside Timeshare agrees there are bogus law firms and claims companies out there, after all we have published many articles about them, but the fact is these court cases and the rulings from the Spanish Supreme Court are genuine.
For too long the timeshare companies have been selling their products in breach of Spanish Timeshare Law, now they are having to pay the price with all the legal action being taken against them. Obviously they don’t like it, they will do and say anything to stop their members from getting justice.
It is costing them not just in the amounts being awarded by the courts, but it is also costing them in the reduced amount they receive in maintenance fees. They are losing income, not only from maintenance fees but also from selling the product to new members, sales are reducing at an alarming rate.
Sales Decks are closing, the sales teams are being laid off, the OPC’s on the streets are disappearing, new members are becoming a rarity. The existing membership base is now retired or getting very close to retiring. Their children don’t want the timeshares, to them is it a waste of money, they use the internet and get their holidays far cheaper.
In the light of this it is not surprising they are going on the offensive and denying everything. Unfortunately for them the truth is out there, the Spanish press along with other countries are publishing the stories. The court documents are there and can be verified quite easily, there are several ways this can be done, obviously directly with the court that issued the judgement, but there is also an official website which can be used, although it can be a little confusing to use.
In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor Karen Krokosh, but first a quick look at what has been happening in Europe especially in the courts.
The year has certainly not started well for the timeshare industry, the first week of January has seen the Supreme Court in Madrid rule on 6 occasions against Silverpoint from Tenerife.
This court has declared these six contract null and void as they were over the 50 year period allowed by law, what is known as perpetuity, they also contained the points or floating weeks systems.
The court also reaffirmed the position of the taking of any payment within the given cooling off period, even if taken by a third party as prohibited. This cooling off period was introduced to protect consumers and allow them to decide whether they wished to continue with the purchase, as these are usually made as decisions on the day.
The total amount the court has awarded in these cases is a staggering 321,274€ with legal fees and legal interest.
In another case against Silverpoint, the High Court in Tenerife has ordered the return of over £31,000 plus legal fees and legal interest to a British client. Again the contract was declared null and void as it contained the points or floating weeks system.
In the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, another British client has been awarded over £19,000 plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. In this case the contract was sold by Anfi and was for a duration of over 50 years, which is not allowed under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.
All these cases have been brought on behalf of client by the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, so contrary to what the timeshare industry is is saying, this law firm is doing what it says and winning on behalf of their clients.
As they say the proof is in the pudding!
On with this weeks Tuesday Slot.
Sell My Timeshare Now,
A Timeshare Listing Service for Buyers or Sellers
Diamond Member Karen Krokosh Issues a Warning
By Inside Timeshare Contributor Karen Krokosh
Comments about SMTN follow Karen’s article
January 9, 2017
I responded to a Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) solicitation. Not only did the company over promise the ability to sell Diamond’s non-deeded U.S. Collection points, they told me they could help me recoup expenses by renting my points. DRI does not allow renting through a third party site. As a resource for timeshare members, SMTN should abide by Diamond’s official rental policy by not accepting rental listings. Here is the current DRI rule:
2.5.1 A Member is not prohibited from periodically renting the Accommodation reserved for the Use Period or the reserved Other Redemption Opportunity pursuant to these Club Rules.
However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited. Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.
Members who are primary developers of Club Resorts (that is, members of the Diamond Resorts International group of companies) and providers of Other Redemption Opportunities are specifically exempted from this restriction, and are entitled to use their reserved Accommodations and reserved Other Redemption Opportunities for promotional, rental, or other commercial purposes.
Diamond is not the only timeshare with little or no resale value. While some timeshares like Disney, Hilton and Marriott can be sold, it has been widely reported Diamond’s non-deeded points are especially difficult to sell. I contacted a few members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one would accept a DRI listing, feeling the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are too severe.
SMTN agent Sandra Van Lanen suggested a list price of $12,000 for 3,000 points. We paid about $12,000, so in no way was that price realistic as I dropped my price from $12,000 to $7,500, $5,000 and $1,000 with no offers. What was SMTN’s response? They said, “It takes time.” There are about 15,000 Diamond Resorts members on a variety of Facebooks and websites and I’ve learned many of them would be willing to give away their Diamond points. I would have been laughed off these sites posting these ludicrous amounts. I am committed to exposing this company and others that are taking advantage of those already burdened by loan payments and maintenance fees.
Here’s what I paid SMTN:
The original “Advertising and Marketing” product was priced at $1,798. I was given a discounted referral of $1,498 USD, but paid initially a deposit of $699, agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $799 when the timeshare sells. Since that is never in almost all Diamond cases, I decided to cancel the lifetime listing. When you cancel, SMTN has the right to bill you for the remaining balance.
I have also learned many of the listing and resale companies are staffed by former timeshare executives and sales agents. Some are legitimately trying to help those desperate to get out of their timeshare, but others prey on the desperate. This is a Department of Justice report about timeshare resale and release scams:
Many timeshare buyers report they were sold a timeshare by deceit. I looked up the definition of racketeering. While timeshare exit plans are not violent crime against property, I see a similarity. The sales agents who sold us the problem are now the ones coming around to “help” us. “A common example of a racket would be if a group of people cut the tires of cars on a specific street, and then that same group, or one in concert with the one cutting tires offered ‘protection’ to the owners of the cars for a price. This fits the definition of a racket because without the organization’s slashing of tires in the first place, the demand for ‘protection’ would be low or non-existent.”
I have been trying to get rid of this timeshare for years. I was so relieved to find the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Owners Facebook where I learned that Diamond has launched a new program called Transitions and from what Inside Timeshare told me, I am eligible! I am hopeful, waiting to hear back.
After Friday’s article about the importance of Better Business Bureau ratings, I checked the SMTN BBB rating. My red flag was raised when I learned Karen paid up front money to list her Diamond points. Accepting upfront money to sell your timeshare is illegal in Florida, but it seems companies can work around the law by calling it an ad or subscription fee, or a market analysis.
The BBB has assigned SMTN a D rating. I called SMTN and talked to Mike. The first question I asked Mike is, “Can I rent my DRI points through SMTN?”Mike said renting DRI points is no problem. When I informed him DRI does not allow the renting of points through a third party site like SMTN, Mike said he would have someone from legal call me. We did not hear back. Irina Allen is one DRI member who had her Diamond account suspended, accused of renting points on RedWeek.
This is what BBB notes on SMTN, providing a good example of how the Better Business Bureau can assist consumers by providing important information.
According to BBB files this company has a pattern of complaints that centers around the company’s advertising claims. Complainants allege they are guaranteed a time frame in which their timeshare will sell. Many consumers allege the company makes a promise that their timeshare will sell quickly. The company responds to the complaints and reiterates the company policy which reads the company does not guarantee when a timeshare will sell.
On March 23, 2016 BBB reviewed the complaints on file and determined the pattern described above has not been eliminated. BBB sent a letter to the company requesting cooperation in responding to and eliminating the pattern of complaints.
BBB received a response from Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) who addressed concerns raised. SMTN has introduced a video that consumers are encouraged to view that clearly outlines their services. In their business model explanation SMTN says that: “…SMTN never promises buyers are waiting; does not request wire transfers, greendot moneypak payment or purchase of prepaid credit cards; does stand behind the services it promises and always strives to deliver excellent service to all of its clients”…Additionally, SMTN hired a law firm to review the complaints and details surrounding each one. This review of these recordings has shown that the communications between SMTN and individual consumers (when they are available) has been shown to differ. SMTN has also instituted training for salespeople. They are to only make promises that are consistent with the guarantees and promises made by the company in writing. SMTN is recording calls made by their sales people to confirm the training is being followed. SMTN now has a policy for their salespeople who consistently fail to comply with the training which results in their dismissal from the company. Finally, they informed BBB that they will be further training their customer care employees to offer to help earlier in the process and be sure to make certain the consumer is satisfied with the resolution.
On December 5, 2017 representatives of SMTN met with the BBB to update us on improvements they are making to their organization. They have taken steps toward improving customer service by hiring a new Customer Service Manager. They have put in place an “audit group” that will contact consumers on the day they sign the contract with SMTN and then again 90 days out as a way to ensure customer satisfaction. It is anticipated that by proactively working with their customers, the number of complaints will be reduced substantially. BBB will work closely with SMTN to follow their progress and to continue to address any complaints that may come in.
Consumers are, once again, requested to contact SMTN prior to filing a complaint with BBB at 1-877-815-4227.
This Business Is Not BBB Accredited
Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC
Customer Review Rating:
 Positive Reviews
 Neutral Reviews
 Negative Reviews
 Total Customer Reviews
 Total Customer Complaints
Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC has received 1.93 out of 5 stars based on 34 Customer Reviews and a BBB Rating of D.
This content is provided by the business and may contain advertising. BBB does not review or endorse this content.
According to a post found on RedWeek, published on the internet, SMTN does seem to charge a considerable upfront fee. A member had asked whether they should buy timeshare points through SMTN.
Good question. Here is the straight scoop:
1 month ago
Sometimes you will find a timeshare of interest on the SMTN site which may be available at a price acceptable to you. HOWEVER, you will have NO say or ANY choice regarding the “closing” entity. Closing costs through SMTN are quite excessive — multiple times the cost of customary and usual closing costs. You have no option to conduct a SMTN transaction “in person”, but that is the case in most any resale timeshare transaction, so SMTN is not unique in that regard. It would frankly be both highly unusual and entirely unnecessary to conduct a resale timeshare transaction “in person”. Objective, third party “closers” who have no association with either buyer or seller (not an available option via SMTN, unfortunately) look out for the interests of BOTH buyer and seller, holding all funds in escrow until closing if necessary. This obviously eliminates any need for any travel or physical presence by either the buyer or the seller just to “close” on a resale transaction.
With SMTN, you essentially have to determine ALL of the collective costs as a buyer and then ask yourself if that bottom line figure is acceptable to YOU to acquire that particular timeshare listing, despite the exorbitant closing costs. Far more often than not, the answer will be NO, but there are (relatively rare) exceptions. In all fairness, in the performance of your due diligence you really have to look at the big picture and ask yourself if the TOTAL expenditure involved justifies acquisition of that particular timeshare for YOU. You obviously first need to accurately determine the bottom line total figure before you can possibly make that fully informed evaluation and personal decision.
SMTN of course has nothing whatsoever to do with maintenance fees, regardless of the resort involved. Maintenance fees are determined only by individual resorts — and they are engraved in stone. That said, I would certainly want to verify the accuracy of any figures SMTN indicates as maintenance fees. This is very easily done by contacting the resort directly for confirmation of any figures claimed by SMTN in their listings.
Thank you to Karen for her advice! We look forward to hearing more from Karen as our first new Inside Timeshare contributor of 2018. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these member sponsored U.S. timeshare groups if you need help with a timeshare. It can save you money.
If you require any information regarding this article or any other published on Inside Timeshare, please use the comments or contact form and we will get back to you. If you are considering using the services of any company and are unsure of how to check them we will also be pleased to help.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, the last one for 2017, this week Irene looks at the past year from across “The Great Lake”, while we look at the past year in Europe.
Our first article of 2017 was about the family of fake lawyers from Tenerife, Litigious Abogados, it highlighted a new firm called Abogacia Española, which happens to be the name of the official website to check the validity of lawyers registrations. This was a very good move on the part of this well planned out fraud, as it did give an air of legitimacy when you did a web search.
Since then, we have seen many incarnations of this fake law firm, although the names have changed, one thing hasn’t, that is the nature of the fraud. They are still duping consumers into believing that they have a case at court, then to be part of it you need to pay the Procurator fees. That is only the start, it get even more sophisticated. Search Litigious Abogados for the full story.
While we are on the subject of Silverpoint, It was announced in April that Silverpoint were withdrawing their membership to the RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) and would no longer be selling timeshare. Hence the product Keys Concierge, which does not appear to fall into the realms of timeshare laws.
This was a great blow to the RDO, as Mark Cushway was not only a director, but Silverpoint was also a major contributor. Funds this organisation could ill afford to lose. It has since come to our attention that the RDO is to form a partnership with ARDA (American Resorts Development Association). This particular organisation is well endowed with contributions and is very strong in the world of lobbying for its members. So it begs the question is the RDO going to be taking on board the tactics of ARDA?
Staying on the subject of Silverpoint, January was a momentous time on the legal front, with the Supreme Court making their first ruling against this company. This was the case of Mrs Shirley Wilson and her long battle against the selling tactics of Silverpoint.
Within a week the highest court in Spain ruled three times against Silverpoint, opening the doors for many more cases against them. Since then the rulings have been coming in thick and fast, leaving no doubt that what they had been selling was illegal.
February brought the news that Alberto Garcia had “stepped down” from Mindtimeshare and that the RDO would not be renewing the contract with that “Consumer Association”. Alberto Garcia for many years had been running the RDO’s“Enforcement Programme”, attacking any company which threatened the timeshare industry. This has now been given to Kwikchex and the “Timeshare Taskforce”, run by Chris Emmins.
Throughout the year, Inside Timeshare has been following the Anfi “Tauro Beach Project”, this has been a story that has now seen the former head of the Coastal Authority being charged with falsifying official documents and wrong doing in public office. No doubt we will see his trial sometime in the new year.
This project was to build a man made beach at Tauro, with the building of hotels and a shopping center. This was given to Anfi to run for 50 years, the Government of Gran Canaria is now seeking in the courts to remove these concessions in the light of the evidence of malpractice. This story is not over yet.
Anfi have been on the receiving end of many Supreme Court rulings since March 2015, they however have continued to deny any wrongdoing and inform their members that they have not lost any cases. In fact they have embarked on a campaign to attack Canarian Legal Alliance, trying to sow seeds of doubt among their clients. Below is a link to a video showing the National Spanish TV news on TVE 1, in this clip, one of the CLA lawyers explains the Supreme Court rulings. For the National Television to broadcast this item shows that CLA is doing what they say and that Anfi is trying to divert attention from this.
Another story we have been following is that of Los Clavelesin Tenerife and the battle for control of the resort. Again this is an ongoing story which at present seems to be dragging on. It revolves around the selling of Wimpen to ONA Grup, who were the managing company of this resort. Their contract has been ended but they still seem to be trying to run the resort against the wishes of the Owners Committee.
There has been a lot of argument on this issue, with some very nasty consequences, it is clear that this issue is not going to be resolved in the near future. It may also end up being a rather costly one with only the lawyers benefiting.
In July we published a rather different article on the timeshare world, this was a positive one, featuring a company that we have not been able to find any adverse comments or complaints. It is off course Disney.
This is a shining example of how the timeshare industry should operate, fair, truthful and with the consumer in mind. There again, it is what we expect from an organisation which prides itself on putting people first.
After a long reign TATOC finally went into liquidation, with Harry Taylor and TATOC being totally discredited. For years this organisation has duped not only timeshare owners but also organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Any owner that went to CAB with a problem would be recommended TATOC as the place to go. Little did CAB know that this organisation was funded and basically run by the industry. All we can say is good riddance to a very bad and foul smelling egg!
There have been so many articles it is difficult to review them all, but Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of the most dodgy companies that have emerged over the course of the year. These articles have saved many readers considerable sums of money, we intend to continue with this.
But before we go on with Irene’s roundup of the year from the US, we finish with the news of yet three more sentences issued by the courts. On 27 December the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared yet another Anfi contract null and void with the client being awarded over 29,000€ plus legal interest.
On the same day the High Court in Tenerife announced another ruling against Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and the client in this case being awarded over £9,000 plus legal interest.
There then followed on the 28 December another Supreme Court ruling from Madrid, this was number 82! Again the company was Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and an award of over £23,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.
These cases were brought on behalf of clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, so this does show this law firm is doing what they say.
Now for the year from a US perspective.
What Timeshare Members Can Look Forward to in 2018 and what
I wrote looking forward to 2017 on December 26, 2016
Our Advocacy Group did not have a name one year ago, or a Facebook page. Our advocacy Facebook page was launched February 2017 and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ April 2017. As I write this, our advocacy Facebook page has 706 members. We encourage industry observers, as long as they are respectful.
Back in February, I remember scrolling down my Facebook feed, a pianist, waiting with nervous flute, oboe, trumpet, and bassoon middle school students for our competitions to begin, when I suddenly saw a post called “Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy” launched by an economics professor. This Facebook page was launched in response to a draft article I had written and distributed, requested by a few former timeshare sales agents who felt the practice of “pitching heat” to sell vacation points needed to be addressed and brought to the attention of the general public. Based on reader responses, only Disney Vacation Club seems to disavow this sordid selling technique.
Our professor also prepared this mission statement for our DRI advocacy group, but as our Inside Timeshare readers started to reach out to us asking for help with timeshare issues concerning other timeshare companies, I borrowed our DRI mission statement and generalized it to apply to all timeshare companies.
We seek to provide timeshare members and owners a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
April 2017, a former Diamond sales agent contacted me, urging me to write a press release as she was worried Diamond members were not aware of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800,000 DRI settlement and the Assurance of Discontinuance announced December 23, 2016. There was a May deadline to file a complaint.
This former timeshare sales agent said we needed a Facebook page so that readers had somewhere to respond. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I got mad at timeshare July 2015, but I struggled through the establishment of a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ page, delighted to find a butterfly with a “Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens” quote by Jimi Hendrix. My first concert I attended in high school was Jimi Hendrix, second row, in front of the mic.
I expected my new creation to last for a month or two, until the press release ran its course, but it continues to receive views. We consider this Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebook a clearinghouse of articles written about all timeshare companies and are grateful to all our volunteer admins for both Facebook pages.
Now a look back to what I wrote December 26, 2016 with updates
Timeshare Lawsuits 2017
By Irene Parker, December 26, 2016
Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:
The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys General:
Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.
Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?
WestgateUpdate 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegelwas seen campaigning next to the candidate in 2016. That’s Mr. Siegel to the left of Trump. Charles Thomas reported on the timeshare the Trump family is launching in Scotland, reported as a golf course in the US during the campaign.
“Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016
Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.
The Manhattan Club Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneidermanmanaged to ban the owners of The Manhattan Club from working in the timeshare industry and achieved a $6.5 million settlement. Rarely is wrongdoing admitted. However, attorney Douglas Wasser, representing TMC owners, said “Hundreds of members will be helped, but there are over 14,000 members.” Even a settlement this size will do little to curtail predatory marketing and sales practices. The investigation took years.
Back in 2016
Attorney Douglas Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.
“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point. The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed. But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016
Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Update: Most disturbing of all, political and legislative maneuvering in Florida resulted in a change in the definition of timeshare, seemingly in an attempt to circumvent the merit of the case, according to attorneys involved with the case. That was not the end of it. We will hear more about this case in 2018.
“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.”Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.
Diamond Resorts Update:A judge ruled in favor of arbitration in the billion dollar lawsuit filed against the company, and Congress reversed the CFPB ruling that would allow class actions. Diamond Resorts is one of the only timeshare companies to have a class action ban in their contract, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is binding and private. Lawsuits filed are public record.
A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:
Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
I don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,
People are listening!
Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:
⦁ A legitimate secondary market
⦁ Less aggressive and deceptive selling
⦁ Less predatory lending
Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Since last year we have found a few more self-help groups we are confident are on the side of the timeshare member and are not industry influenced.
So that is 2017 in a nutshell, if this coming year is anything like the last we will be seeing many more stories like these.
Inside Timeshare thanks all those who have contributed to the articles and also to all the readers and those who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help and advice. If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of using but need to know about them, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
We wish you a prosperous New Year, enjoy your celebrations and we will be with you in 2018.
This past week has seen more rulings from the Supreme Court in Madrid, with Canarian Legal Alliance racking up ruling Number 80.
Again this was against Silverpoint, with the British client set to receive over £33,000 plus legal fees and legal interest. Their contract has also been declared null and void, making them timeshare and maintenance free. A lovely Christmas present for these clients.
Anfi have also been subject to another judgement against them at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, with this client being awarded over 20,000€ plus legal interest. With yet another Anfi contract being declared null and void.
With all these cases being announced it is no wonder the industry is stepping up their attacks on this very successful law firm. But as they say the proof is out there, the courts are ruling in the favour of their clients. No matter what the industry says, CLA does deliver what they promise.
I wish to thank all our readers and supporters as we journey down the path towards resolution of conflict, be it with our timeshare, or with our world. Today I meet with Australian Contributor Justin Morgan in Orlando. The relationships that have blossomed out of our advocacy and grown are precious to me. The few I have had the opportunity to meet face to face solidifies and takes the relationship to an new level. I look forward to more of those experiences in the New Year.
There are no words to express the love and support I’ve felt from my band of brothers and sisters seeking to reform timeshare for the better, and we know there are honest timeshare sales agents and even some executives who feel the same.
Some say Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is a disrupter. Here’s hoping 2018 will bring communication, resolution and relief to those who have laughed and cried with me over life’s ups and down. I also want to wish the best to those who may not like us very much, but know in their heart we only wish for better accountability, transparency and respect.
So there is it, Christmas is now upon us, Inside Timeshare wishes all our readers a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy your Christmas Dinner, I know we will!