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letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we decided to run with this particular article following the news from Europe on Monday that Diamond was closing its sales offices in Europe. Obviously this will have a great impact on the many employees, who are now out of work and will need to find jobs in an ever decreasing sales industry.

As usual before we go on with our article, this week has not been a very good one for Silverpoint in Tenerife, with another loss at the High Court and also at the Supreme Court.

The judge at the High Court Number 2, found serious breaches of the timeshare laws, declaring the client’s contract null and void and ordering the return of over £49,000 plus legal interest.

At the Supreme Court in Madrid, the judges upheld previous rulings and declared another Silverpoint contract null and void. This particular client will now receive over 28,000€ plus all legal fees and legal interest. Another happy ex Silverpoint owner.

As usual these were clients of the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. So this does go to show that in spite of what many timeshare companies are claiming, such as the article published on Wednesday about Anfi attacking CLA, this law firm is doing what it says.

CLA Logo

Now on with Friday’s Letter.

Inside Timeshare leapt at the chance to publish details of CLARITY, Diamond Resort’s program to promote accountability, transparency and respect for the Customer. The program was introduced after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance accusing the company of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act. The Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of Diamond complaints. One source informed us the office received 400 complaints leading up to the investigation and 500 more complaints after the press release.

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

Diamond Resorts also provided a Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department to assist members from day one if they have concerns about their timeshare.

Inside Timeshare continues to receive complaints from members almost daily, with common complaints:

Purchase more points as that will be the only way to sell points. (Diamond’s secondary market restrictions make Diamond points almost impossible to sell.)

Purchase more points because that will provide you with the ability to pay maintenance fees by tendering excess points at 30 cents per point. (No such program exists as this is an adulteration of a 30/30 program designed for other purposes.)

Agents working for the same company selling against each other from the Hawaii Collection to the US Collections telling the member they made a mistake purchasing the collection they purchased, depending on which side of the Pacific the member is on.

Inside Timeshare has forwarded members complaints to Diamond’s PR firm and to ARDA. Both have ignored the complaints, but it is unlikely ARDA will enforce their Code of Ethics against a corporate member that gives ARDA a million dollars a year from Diamond members who unwittingly are billed $7 as an “opt-out” voluntary donation on their maintenance fee invoice. It is doubtful the average timeshare members understands even what the initials ARDA ROC stand for.

After reading complaint after complaint from our Nightmare on Timeshare series, I am certain our EU Diamond agents did not stoop to such tactics. Did this contribute to sales targets not being met?  Inside Timeshare has received 187 reader complaints, of which 178 are from Diamond Resort members.

Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy never returned Marsha’s call. One of Diamond’s Advocacy “hospitality” agents left one message but never returned her calls. CEO Michael Flaskey ignored Marsha Young.

A representative from Barclay’s Bank did contact Marsha Young. Although they cannot help, as Barclays does not physically open credit card applications, Marsha appreciated the respect she was given by at least being acknowledged.

You be the judge of Marsha’s story.

How Buying a Timeshare can be Financially Devastating

Luke

Introduction by Irene Parker

Since our first Inside Timeshare US member story was published October 2016, we have received 186 member complaints, of which 171 allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch, meeting the FBI definition of White Collar Crime. Of the 186 complaints, 177 are from Diamond Resorts members. We don’t dispute there are many timeshare members who use and enjoy their timeshare points, but many have not yet been made aware of the lack of or limited secondary market. The majority of complaints allege they were told to buy more points because only at the next loyalty level could they sell points or be able to offset maintenance fees. Neither program exists. These members are stuck with a product they paid thousands of dollars for, felt were sold by deceit, incur maintenance fees and can’t sell. Their network of friends and family want nothing to do with timeshare. Sales centers should take note as Social Media no longer keeps members silenced and isolated. Diamond Resorts did not respond to our request for comment.

November 10

By Marsha Young

The vacation memories my husband and I shared together at Embassy Suites and Sunterra in Hawaii on the island of Maui are my most treasured, but our memories so precious have been destroyed. Maybe not the memories, but the timeshare we knew and loved has turned into a financial trap.

My husband passed away in 2011. I still travel some with friends and family and I enjoyed the flexibility of the point program until I succumbed to high pressure sales. In the past, when explaining the struggles of raising a family, or other reasons why we could not upgrade, agents would not push us when my husband and I said no, so I was not prepared for what happened. In an effort to warn others to seek counsel before you sign a perpetual contract after a six hour sales session, with rising maintenance fees, and no secondary market, I share my story.  

My problems began at the Diamond Resorts sales center at Williamsburg Virginia May 2017. I told the hospitality agent about how I had been deceived previously by a Hawaii sales agent. She told me she understood and explained that is why sales were stopped at the Williamsburg center for a while until a new program called CLARITY was put in place. My Williamsburg sales agents were Richard Rodgers and Mark Schilling. I told them I did not want to spend any more money as the maintenance fees were going up so much for the Hawaii Collection. They told me I should transfer my Hawaii points to the US Collection because maintenance fees would be less. The cost was never discussed. I thought there would be no charge. I saved the paper they used showing points transferring over to the US Collection. They also encouraged me to open a Barclay credit card because it accumulated points rather than miles, but neglected to tell me the card would be charged $7,100 for a down payment. I had sent an email to both Richard and Mark telling them I did not want to spend more money. The sales presentation lasted six hours. I was exhausted. When I got home and went to my DRI account. I was shocked at the new $34,000 mortgage. The maintenance fees did not go down.

I did not know where to turn so I called a friend who is an investment advisor. He called Mark Schilling. Mr. Schilling’s response was, “She signed the contract. The QA session was videoed.” Recorded QA Sessions are part of the new CLARITY program. The sales presentation is what needs to be taped because that is when sales agents make promises not kept.

Richard Rodgers told me $400 a month would be the maintenance fee but it is the mortgage payment, so I owe maintenance fees on top of the mortgage payment. I was also told I could still book Hawaii, but in July 2017 I went to a meeting in Hawaii and was told I should not have transferred to the US Collection, because I would not be able to get back into Hawaii. They also said the value of the Hawaii Collection was more valuable and had the highest availability. Jessica Ocegueda was the sales agent. She said I had traded down and if I want to go to Hawaii on US Collection points in all likelihood “it’s not going to happen.” I have learned from other members you still can book in Hawaii with US points. I was convinced to transfer all my US Collection points to Hawaii Collection.

After six hours, there is insufficient time or energy to review an inch high stack of documents. Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy never responded to my complaint, but they did send the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Barclays Bank my initials for the charge on a document.

  • Of the $138,000 approximate purchase price, $66,915 was taken back as credit for the US points and the balance financed was approximately $70,000
  • The down payment charged to my personal credit card was $8,529
  • A Barclaycard was charged $7,100
  • The monthly payment is $917.58
  • Estimated maintenance fee is $7,418

sad

At age 71, I watched my credit score plummet from the 800s to the 700s. I am a widow living on a teacher’s pension. I learned from reading Inside Timeshare articles and joining an Advocacy Facebook page, many have been told if they purchased more timeshare points, maintenance fees would go down. While the maintenance fee per point may decline a cent or two, the maintenance fee invoice does not decline. It’s easy for the resort defending their position to say, “You were confused,” but the volume of complaints found on the internet speak of sleight of hand, in my opinion.   

Not knowing where to turn I had contacted Irene Parker. Irene told me about the new CLARITY program Diamond Resorts implemented after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, accusing DRI of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. She also said Diamond Resorts now provides an advocacy department for those who have concerns about their purchase. CLARITY is supposed to be about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer. I received none and was ignored by DRI Advocacy. It feels like the customer is always wrong.       

The actions of these agents have taken away my financial security. I feel trapped. It is not as easy or as enjoyable to travel without my husband. I can still travel with friends and would have been able to remain a Diamond customer had I not succumbed to an upgrade for reasons that were not necessary or true.  

I should have learned from the first bad experience I had in Hawaii. In Hawaii, I had been charged $2,995 for a program called the Sampler. I was refunded for that purchase because I did not know a credit card had been charged then until I returned home. Diamond said the agent, Mr. Frank Rippe, had been fired. They also said he had been the top selling agent of that particular product.

It is my hope timeshare members will continue to reach out to other members. It is a sad day when vacation timeshare plan buyers need a support group and a media outreach plan to warn other potential buyers.

act now

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

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

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

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

As we read many stories such as this it no longer comes as any surprise, what does seem to be a recurring theme is the age group of the people that contact us. They also all have the same story, credit scores being destroyed, after years of no defaults.

One thing that did make me chuckle in Marsha’s story is Diamonds comment on the the sacking of the sales agent, “he had been the top selling agent of that product”, well that is not surprising if he was being that devious!

Once again Inside Timeshare thanks all those who provide us with the information and contribute their stories, if you would like to contribute contact Inside Timeshare. If you just require any information about your membership or about any company that contacts you or even thinking of doing business with, but don’t know where to start, contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good weekend and join us next week.

weekend

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

It’s that time again, another Friday Letter From America, this particular article has been submitted by Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, it really does shed some light on the Diamond Clarity Programme.

An Almost Nightmare on Timeshare Street

A Diamond CLARITY™ Experience

Shaking hands

By Dr. Jeffrey Taylor

Introduction Irene Parker

June 2, 2017

First the good news: CLARITY™ worked! Diamond’s CLARITY™ program was launched after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” having received hundreds of complaints filed by Diamond members who either lived in Arizona or purchased in Arizona.

Inside Timeshare previously reported on an instance in Sedona Arizona when a few sales agents must not have gotten the memo about CLARITY™. Diamond did reach out to those members and resolved the dispute.

Today we are grateful to report an example of how CLARITY™ is supposed to work and did work. Unfortunately, the Taylors previously purchased two 50,000 vacation point packages they allege were sold by similar deceptive tactics spending approximately $150,000 per package. The Taylors hope Diamond will help them resolve the prior purchases applying the same principles of accountability, transparency and RESPECT for the customer.

Inside Timeshare is grateful to Jeffrey and Debra Taylor for coming forward to explain why timeshare is an industry in need of reform. Diamond Resorts is certainly not the only timeshare company under scrutiny. The Taylor’s story is long, but tangled webs often are.

Today’s timeshare story comes from Diamond’s Virginia sales center. Inside Timeshare has received several additional complaints from the same Virginia sales center, including the most recent report written by Marjorie Menacker.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Timeshare Buyers Beware – A Lesson

By Jeffrey Taylor, PhD

My wife Debra and I were original Sunterra owners. Convinced we had to become Diamond points owners after Diamond acquired Sunterra, we gave up our deeded weeks and purchased enough points to become Platinum loyalty level members. We had been having problems with availability and were assured becoming a part of the official Diamond program would resolve the issue. However, after upgrading to Platinum in 2013, we still had problems with availability.

Twice we were convinced we had to purchase additional points and did purchase two 50,000 point packages. We would have purchased a third based on tall tales, but thanks to CLARITY™, the deception was stopped. CLARITY™ kept us from making a third mistake. We are sharing our story hoping others will come forward as Diamond needs to know about the harm being done to families like ours.

How CLARITY™ worked

Our meeting took place at a Diamond Sales Center in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2017. We were having serious issues with Diamond’s program and wanted to meet with a vacation counselor. After signing a contract to buy more points, we met with a Diamond Quality Assurance person named Rick who went over the new CLARITY™ forms with us. In doing so, we realized we almost succumbed to what we feel is deception a third time. Rick asked us to write a letter.

Rick:

Thank you again for the professional way in which you handled the horrible misrepresentation that happened during our owners update yesterday. My wife and I were so upset that it was difficult to put our thoughts together in your office. We have never had a business transaction where things were not only misrepresented, but outright lies were told.

My family has been a member of Diamond for almost 27 years. We have 150,000 points. Our sole purpose in coming to Williamsburg was to have an owners update. We were specifically interested in the ways that we might sell Diamond points and see if there were ways to offset the cost of maintenance costs. We made it clear we had no interest in purchasing new points.

We met with Geoffrey Cash for over six hours. After going over a number of routine items, Geoff got to the point of explaining some “New” programs that were instituted at Diamond on Apollo’s recommendation. He made it clear that Apollo was advising Diamond,  making sweeping changes to improve Diamond’s customer satisfaction. He then started a three hour conversation on a “new” program of maintenance fee offsets. The story we got was that Apollo thought that the value of Diamond points was undervalued, but that now Platinum members could use a 30 cent per point value to pay maintenance fees. Geoff did indicate that the going rate for fees was at 4 cents a point, but that platinum members had this new program. We were told that we could use ANY amount of unused points in November and a check would be cut to pay the maintenance fees. I took Geoff’s calculator and multiplied 100,000 by 0.3 and said, “So if we had 100,000 points left over in November, we could get a $30,000 check to pay fees with”. He said this was correct.

But in being totally honest with us, Geoff indicated there was a “catch”. Apollo could only do this for Platinum members who had a minimum of 100,000 points, but 100,000 of our 150,000 points were “deeded” and another 50,000 were in the Diamond trust. To qualify for this program we would need a total of 100,000 “trust” points. Geoff flatly stated that to be a “full platinum benefits member” we need to purchase 50,000 additional “trust” points in order to benefit from the maintenance fee program. We were shown two pieces of paper with 10 and 20 year projections of the maintenance fee cost now as opposed to the reduced costs over the same time periods if we purchased the additional points. The reduction amounted to about half the fee costs, from $380,000 for 10 years to about $180,000 in the new program.

We rejected a quote for 50,000 points. They came back with a 25,000 point quote. Finally we were presented a quote for 10,000 points and told our “equity” would cover the missing 40,000 points. Geoff went into a detailed written analysis of how the total cost of the 10,000 points over 10 years would be paid for by the maintenance points offset savings. The only reason we purchased the 10,000 new points was to gain access to the maintenance fee offset. We have zero need to purchase additional vacation points. Geoff acknowledged that he understood.

The paperwork that Geoff used to explain and justify getting these new points we found out later were shredded. Why were the sales related handwritten documents destroyed rather than presented to the buyer? We have no proof of what we were told. Geoff told us twice that we should not be concerned if the “finance guy” did not know about the deals we were offered. He said finance people were several months “behind” the sales promotions.

Thankfully Rick, you caught this and prevented us from making a big mistake based on serious misrepresentations.

It appears most of the information we received is seriously incorrect. Debra called the Platinum number this afternoon and tried to verify several key points. Almost everything was not in agreement with what Geoff told us, and the written guides Geoff gave us contradict what he verbally told us. At best this is unprofessional, at worst it’s fraud.

Thank you again for the professional treatment that you demonstrated with us.

Sincerely

Dr. Jeffrey L. Taylor and Debra C, Taylor

Why we purchased two 50,000 point packages for $150,000 each

truth

Thanks to CLARITY™ the 2017 upsell was cancelled, but the 50,000 points we purchased in Williamsburg in 2016 and 50,000 points purchased in Hawaii in 2014 at Ka’anapali were sold employing the same level of outlandish claims.  

The Hawaii Up-Sell

In 2013 we were Platinum members. Availability had not improved. We went to Hawaii in 2014. Here we were told that booking priority came from the DRI collection. We were told the Hawaii collection was the DRI flagship “Premier” collection and being in this collection would solve all our availability problems. We had to purchase another 50,000 points in order to transfer our 50,000 US collection points into the Hawaii collection.

This was the first time we heard about the 30 cent per point maintenance fee reimbursement program (we know now does not exist), said to be part of the new Diamond level above Platinum.

We were also told that “renting” the weeks around Christmas in Hawaii would generate more than enough money to cover the yearly maintenance fees and was routinely done by members. When we expressed concern over how complicated this seemed, the salesman said he could help advertise the rental.

 

The CLARITY™ forms were not available at this time but the policies are the same: I may not engage in any commercial rental activities to rent our Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public and understand that my membership may be suspended or terminated if I do.

Now we owned a total of 100,000 points but availability did not improve.

The Williamsburg Virginia Up-Sell

We went to Williamsburg for our anniversary in March of 2016 to get some answers. When we arrived we were immediately singled out as “premier double platinum members” and were assigned to their best representative, Brandi.

They explained that Brandi was based at the Polo Club in Las Vegas and was visiting the Williamsburg center to train everyone on the latest DRI offerings. She claimed to have helped develop many of Diamond’s policies.

Brandi said she would get to the root of our problems. We had Brandi go on her computer and log into our account to try and make reservations. Sure enough, there was no availability. She seemed perplexed. In checking our account Brandi was “horrified” to find that there was key information missing from our account that would help in booking resorts. After about an hour she said she knew what the problems were and, unfortunately, there was not an easy fix.

Brandi said the Hawaii Collection points only gave us booking priority in Hawaii. She said our current status in the Hawaii collections was essentially useless in booking US collection resorts. No one in Hawaii told us this fact. In addition, there was still an issue with the original grandfathered points that were not “real” DRI points. Our understanding was that the Williamsburg and Hawaii collection purchases resolved these problems and gave us priority in booking at all DRI resorts. She stated absolutely not. This was devastating news. We had points that were worthless unless we went to Hawaii every year or “rented” points.

Irina Allen has had her 139,000 Diamond points suspended, accused of renting her points. She owns Hawaii points and disputes Brandi’s verdict. “The Taylors could have used Hawaii points to book on the US Mainland as they would only lose the 13 month reservation priority. They could make reservations in any of the US Collection resorts up to 10 months in advance.”

“But gosh,” said Brandi, “You seem like such nice people.” Brandi said she was going to see if she could help because we were so upset. The answer from management was to buy another 50,000 points in the US collection so we could convert the other 100,000 points to the US collection. DRI was going to allow us to do this with only a 50,000 point purchase as opposed to 100,000 points if we did the deal that day. Our choice was leaving with 100,000 useless points or taking the 50,000 point purchase for 150,000 US points total.

We made several points clear to Brandi. We could not afford the maintenance fees over time on 150,000 points and we could not use that many points in a year.

I asked if DRI bought back points or if we could sell them. Brandi indicated that DRI did indeed buy points back. She said the market value of DRI points was $10 a point at that time and going to $12 or more in the future. Since they were selling us the 50,000 points at a huge discount of $3 a point, we could easily sell them on the open market for $3. However, if we were going to sell that low, DRI would most likely buy the points back at the price we paid for them. To prevent people from buying and dumping points, we would need to wait two years before DRI would buy them back or we could sell them.

Note from CLARITY™: Diamond does not offer a buyback program and makes no representation regarding tax deductions, refinancing, or that there will be a secondary market for the sale of Points. Points do not typically appreciate in value.

As far as too many points, Brandi told us about points being just like money and we could get rental cars, cruises, hotels, and travel tours for 30 cents a point in 2017. The same amount per point would be true for maintenance fees. When we pointed out that we could not find this on DRI’s web page, Brandi said the 30 cent deal would be in the 2017 handbook. She knew all of this because she was part of the Polo Club management team who were developing the policies.

Note from CLARITY™ form: Redeeming Points for reimbursement of travel services does not provide the best monetary value for my Points and is typically no lower in cost than spending cash for the same arrangements.

That brings us up to February 2017 in Williamsburg seeking answers because very little that Brandi told us came to pass. Geoff spun six hours of dialog, again telling us our points were not “real” platinum points and we need to buy more. That triggered the investigation and the complaint we sent Rick.

new beginnings

All Diamond members hope CLARITY™ does indeed mark a new beginning. If what the Taylors said they were told is true, it meets the FBI definition of White Collar Crime which is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.”

Inside Timeshare has been receiving a number of complaints from Diamond members with very similar, and in some cases, identical complaints from highly educated professional people. It’s getting harder and harder to accept that the Taylors and all those featured in our articles are making up allegations.

Dr. Jeffrey Taylor worked 30 years for Perkin Elmer in sales and sales training.   Debra worked as a Special Education teacher until their special needs grandchildren required their support.

The Taylors found Inside Timeshare by finding our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group launched February 2017, now up to 300 Facebook members.

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

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

Here are other Inside Timeshare “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles

By Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

By David Franks

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Barclaycard and Member stories

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

By Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

By Eron Grant

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

By Nancy Callahan

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

A Filipino Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

By Laurie Sabbagh

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

A Military Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Irina Allen

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

Kathie Old

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

Sylvia Saldana

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

Thanks to Dr Jeffrey Taylor for his excellent views also to Irene who is coordinating the articles from the other side of the great lake.  So all that remains is to wish you all a very good weekend.

friday dog

flags

Friday Review: News from Across the Ocean

Inside Timeshare once again publishes the Friday article from across the Great Lake (The Pond to our American Cousins). Today a new contributor, Laurie Sabbagh, with additional notes from our senior writer Irene Parker, who is doing a great job in rousing timeshare owners in the US to work together and improve the industry.

Firstly, we are getting more and more information on that outfit operating out of Tenerife, the Litigious Abogados family. The latest addition which we reported on 14 March Abel Garcia, was very interesting. As we said in the article, the website was registered on 5 January 2017, the name of the “law firm” was never heard of, yet the court document showing “Keith Baker” being sentenced, is dated 17 January 2017. Well we have never heard of a case going to court and being adjudicated with sentence being passed within 12 days. Wow, these lawyers are good!

We have also heard from another reader who had dealings with Stephen Fairclough and Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultancy Limited, another figure of just under £6000 has been paid, given the details of Jose Dorta of D&M Lawyers, yet no case or anything. This reader also suspects that the elusive Stephen Fairclough is back in Portugal.

So now on to our new contributor.

A Diamond Resort Member Does Her Timeshare Homework

Timeshare Members Instructing Other Members

Board

By Laurie Sabbagh  

Notes from Irene

March 17, 2017

Diamond Resorts member Laurie Sabbagh is also a member of our Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Page. Our mission statement:

We seek to provide Diamond Resorts 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Today Laurie educates prospective and current owners. Not many timeshare buyers comparison shop. Timeshare sales presentations are almost always same day sales. A timeshare sales agent named in the Colorado Attorney General’s investigation of Highlands Resorts explains why:

“According to Highlands Resorts” sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

From Laurie:

I recently started reading the invaluable Inside Timeshare articles and web postings of timeshare advocate Irene Parker after joining the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group. In February I posted that I would soon stay at Diamond’s Los Abrigados resort in Sedona. Irene asked me to attend the “members update” to find out if sales agents were adhering to the Arizona “Assurance of Discontinuance” rules.

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

After more than ten years of dodging the member updates, (i.e., sales pitches), I reluctantly accepted the invitation from the concierge to attend a 55 minute presentation.First, a little background on my Diamond “The CLUB” membership:

My membership started in 2006, when I purchased 8500 points in the Hawaii Collection when it was part of Sunterra. This vacation ownership interest (VOI) gave me a right of use equal to one week at either the Point at Poipu in http://Kauaior the Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Maui that I could reserve 13 months out, plus have access to resorts in the US and California Collections. In 2011 I received notice of a special assessment (SA) for a water intrusion problem at the Point. I scoured the internet to find out what was happening and learned that Sunterra knew about this massive liability when I purchased my vacation ownership, but its salespeople most likely weren’t informing prospective buyers about the problem prior to DRI’s impending purchase.

http://www.tstoday.com/members/magazine/issue123/7-poipu%20point.pdf

I was able to absorb the cost of the SA and considered myself lucky compared to owners who were on the hook for around $6,000 per deeded week for the water intrusion project – as many as 500 owners defaulted on their units because they either couldn’t or refused to pay the assessment. By reading Redweek and TUG I learned that management companies can change the terms of the Vacation Ownership Interest VOI membership agreement at any time, for practically any reason. I also read posts about high-pressure and questionable sales tactics being used to get consumers to buy into the various Collections  – some Hawaii Collection members were being told to get out of that collection by buying more points to transfer into the US Collection to avoid future SA’s, and vice versa. Reading about other people’s’ experiences was a wake-up call that it was not in my best interest to buy any more points.

Note from Irene:

I have received several complaints from people who attended sales presentations (one at Daytona Regency) told they should not have bought Hawaii Collection Points because Hawaii maintenance fees were going to increase dramatically or were encouraged to transfer Hawaii Points into the US Collection because Hawaii real estate is valuable, Hawaii Collection owners only can rent Points and only Hawaii members’ heirs can refuse inherited Points. Each transfer requires the purchase of more Points.   

Now to Laurie’s member update:

Two people

The promised 55-minute update turned out to be about three hours. The first salesperson, with whom I spent most of the time, was courteous and not high-pressure, although she did advise me to buy more Points to bring me into the Silver loyalty level which is 15000 Points. But to upgrade to Silver they were going to charge me over $8.00 a point, which would have cost more than $50,000! She also said the Hawaii Collection maintenance fees were more expensive and that I should join the US Collection. However, the second sales person I spoke with said with my small number of points, it costs only about $100 more per year.

Note from Irene:

According to SIRF Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Diamond points historically have sold for an average of $3 to $4 a point through 2014, according to data obtained from lawsuits. In a prior article, we reported Apollo plans to raise the price per point to $10 and then $12 per point.

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

Back to Laurie’s sales presentation:

The sale’s agent also said that Apollo Global Management, the owners of DRI, would freeze that price for me for 18 months, and that the price was likely to rise soon.

Note from Irene:

Apollo Global Management founder, banker Leon Black, also founded Drexel Burnham Lambert of junk bond fame. Junk bonds did have some value, but a Diamond contract becomes worthless the moment it is signed should an owner need to sell, unless a friend or family member is willing to buy the Points.

Laurie:

I was also told that DRI members can use Points like cash for items such as airline travel, hotels, luxury items, and guided tours and adventures.  For example, Diamond Luxury Shopping enables Platinum and Gold members to apply Points towards products that are 30% off the best market price. But at a redemption point of $.30 per Point, this seems exorbitant to me.

Note from Irene:

I tried to use Points for an airline ticket. The Points we bought for $4 were worth $.07 for travel awards (Platinum $.10) so for $2,300 in equivalent maintenance fees dollars I could buy one domestic US flight. Customer Service told me this benefit is for convenience, not value.

Back to Laurie

Another example is that members can use 1500 points to purchase America the Beautiful – the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass.  My 8500 Points cost $1,973 this year, which includes maintenance fees, The CLUB fee, taxes, and mandatory membership in Interval International. That comes to about 23 cents a point.  For me, 1500 Points for the pass equates to $348, not including the $10 processing fee for my “Valued” level of The CLUB membership. I paid $80 for the same pass at a National Monument we just visited. Seniors over 62 pay $10.

At the end of the presentation a third person asked me some questions, including if I was treated courteously. I said yes, but also said I was not interested in buying any more Points with DRI. I declined the $100 Visa gift card, since that was not my reason for attending the update.

All said my elderly parents and I had a wonderful week at Los Abrigados. I was able to secure the historic Stone House, an 1800 square foot property with four separate entrances for only 6500 points. I almost always book weeks for 50 to 75 percent off, within the 59 day discount period, and have experienced good value for my points.  Every year I’ve been forced to vacation or lose my points, and I’ve taken about 18 weeks of vacation at DRI resorts since I bought my membership. If I had not purchased this VOI, I never would have gone to all the places that The CLUB membership has enabled me to visit. However, I advise other members to only use points for timeshare use, not the auxiliary products or non-resort vacation experiences DRI offers.

Thank you to Laurie for sharing her knowledge and experience. Email us at Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare story you would like to share.

share

Thank you Laurie and Irene, once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who contribute, either through writing articles or supplying information on possibly rogue companies. It is through your efforts that we can inform the timeshare world on what is going on.

On another note Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated for the Canary Awards which recognises individuals and businesses that make a difference on the Canary Islands.

Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated in the Real Gran Canaria category for their outstanding services to timeshare consumers and their efforts in the changing of consumer law.

In the Business Person of the Year category is Csilla Nazali, the operational manager of CLA for her outstanding work with all the clients.

Follow the link and vote for them, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

http://thecanaryawards.com/vote/voting-categories-page-1-of-2/

 

Word Cloud with Data Protection related tags

Owners Data: A Battle for Control.

Inside Timeshare is publishing the following article from one of our readers. Edward has been following Inside Timeshare for some time and regularly contributes information he has found while researching his own timeshare problems. This piece was prompted by previous articles on Wyndham and also the article submitted by Greg Crist of the NTOA, in the latter article Greg spoke of the Senator who stopped a bill which would have prevented HOA members from having access to the members database, this was for contact purposes about the issues which would affect the owners. The industry was against this, after all they do not want owners to band together and becoming stronger through knowledge. (see pdf at the end).

guest-contributor

Here is Edward´s post:

My resorts Committee, has been trying to get the members database from Wimpen for nearly 2 years to no avail. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency’s own 2009 consultation into the Data relationship between Administrator, Community of Owners and third parties concluded that the administrator was merely a user and custodian of the members database on behalf of the Community of Owners who it says are the true owner and data controller.

Wyndham

However, our efforts pale in comparison to Worldmark Resorts owners in the USA. As you probably know, Worldmark are part of Wyndham as are RCI.

Some years ago, Worldmark owners began a lengthy battle to gain access to the members database (register). Worldmark Resorts repeatedly refused to comply with successive California court orders to hand over the database to the members community. It went right up to the California Supreme Court who also ordered them to handover the database. Apparently, Wyndham are now sponsoring a bill in the California State Government that would in essence overturn the Court’s ruling.

Many years ago, Worldmark owners set up a very informative website and forum which is very scathing of Worldmark and Wyndham and details their battles which are still on-going

http://www.wmowners.com/forum/index.php?sid=f157827b2e092f5f1970da40bc056582.

Wyndham, I have read, consolidate all their groups’ members details into one database.

In 2008 and 2009, Wyndham’s database was hacked resulting in thousands of personal details being stolen, (which probably explains why, in 2010, I started to receive numerous suspicious telephone calls about my timeshare, which is information only Wimpen and RCI were party to and which both denied being the source of, but said it was a scam). The USA Federal Trade Commission investigated and found that Wyndham had very little in the way of security to their systems, their database wasn’t even encrypted.

http://scarincihollenbeck.com/law-firm-insights/litigation/cyber-security/wyndhams-data-breach-settlement-shakes-up-privacy-law/

I have also read that Wyndham have consolidated their timeshare owners points system with the RCI points system which some owners have claimed has diluted the value of their timeshare ownership.

Wyndham may have launched Ovation, their surrender programme, but as many Worldmark owners say ‘ Wyndham only do anything that benefits Wyndham’.

Personally, I would certainly be very wary of anything Wyndham do, in fact I am wary of anything timeshare related nowadays.

Diamond Resorts International

Another resort that has battled to get their members register is Poipu Point in Hawaii,

http://www.poipuowners.org/Home_Page.php.

The court papers makes very interesting reading

http://www.poipuowners.org/uploads/Lawsuit.pdf

as it sets out on pages 11 & 12, through CBS television’sUndercover Boss”, how DRI came about and their plans involving the acquisition/merger with Sunterra.

Thank you Edward, this will certainly get the debate going again.

discus

Data protection is a very serious matter, but when access to these members lists is required for a legitimate purpose, such as contacting fellow members about changes which will affect their ownership, surely bodies such as HOA and owners committees have a right to use them.

We know that there are some very unscrupulous people out there, from bogus resale, transfer and claims companies, but it must be remembered that the biggest source of data for these companies tends to be from disgruntled or ex-employees. It is not difficult to see the ease with which a disgruntled employee can obtain the data, it is then a valuable commodity and can earn them a small fortune.

This has been going on for many years, how many companies have been set up by ex-timeshare people, where did they obtain their data?

A recent manifestation of this problem has occurred concerning DRI members, they have been receiving text messages and calls from a new “claims” company. It is believed that they are ex-Diamond employees, even Diamond believe this to be true, they issued a warning letter recently to their members, Inside Timeshare checked on this and published the following article back in September.

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-owners-receive-text-messages/

Below is an extract from the Diamond letter:

“A number of ex-Diamond employees are claiming to have left the employment of Diamond when “it came to their attention that Diamond had mis-sold fractional points”, asserting that they can’t work for an unethical company. They are now offering a reclaim service, suggesting that they will secure a refund of the purchase price paid for points in Diamond Resorts European Collection Limited (DRECL) and the Diamond Resorts Fractional Owners Club”.

So is denying owners access a legitimate data protection concern from the industry, Greg Crist of NTOA said the following in the Redweek article. (Link follows the quote).

“When people need answers to questions about what’s happening at their resort, they deserve to get them,” said Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, based in Florida. “I am sensitive to the fact that there are bad operators out there seeking to take advantage of consumers by obtaining board data records, but there are legitimate reasons why members should be able to circumvent their boards and communicate independently.”

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

Inside Timeshare also published the following from Greg Crist on this subject in October:

http://insidetimeshare.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/More-from-Greg-Crist-at-the-NTOA.pdf

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.co.uk/2016_10_01_archive.html

This is obviously an ongoing debate, which will see a polarising of views, that of the industry versus that of the owners. Owners want a say in how their clubs are run and work, the industry it seems want to control, there must be a way for them to work together and turn what has become a tarnished product into something better. Once again only time will tell.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Edward, Greg and Irene for their contributions, Irene has been a great source for many links in this and previous articles, look out for more from across “The Great Lake”. 

europe-usa

Irene Parker: Barclay Card and Timeshare in the USA.

Back in July Inside Timeshare published the article about Shawbrook Bank setting aside around £9 million, to cover defaults in loans issued by timeshare sales staff. It announced that the bank had not carried out its due diligence in accepting these finance agreements.

The article also highlighted the ongoing high court action brought against Barclay Partner Finance for loans issued for timeshare. These were for the so called “investment” packs being sold by Resort Properties / Silverpoint. Many of the agreements were given without the normal checks being carried out in respect of the clients income or the ability to repay the loans, with many of the applications being falsified in order to get it passed.

Another aspect of the article showed the same thing happening in the USA, with people who did not qualify for normal finance, being passed to a Credit Union. In this case the company was Quorum Federal Credit Union, which would then sign them up as members. These loans accounted for around $40 million for Diamond sales.

It has now been highlighted that sales staff in the US are issuing credit cards, again it is Barclays who are in the picture. Irene Parker, sent the following article.

Barclay card by Irene Parker 10/24/16

barclay-card

There is nothing wrong with travel reward credit cards, but when consumers on vacation get locked into timeshare presentations that can last for hours; credit card lending can turn predatory.

Several banks have come under fire for overzealous sales practices. Wells Fargo and Barclays Bank through Barclays Partner Finance, along with other U.K. banks, have come under regulatory scrutiny and been the subject of lawsuits for a host of reasons, including predatory lending through the use of timeshare developer-sponsored credit cards.

Shawbrook Bank in the U.K. has admitted that it didn’t do its due diligence when approving the finance for vacation ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts International, a timeshare company that has come under fire for its aggressive sales practices.

Diamond offers a Diamond Resorts Barclaycard Master Card with a 0% promotional six month APR if used for a Diamond Vacation Ownership Interest down payment, along with Diamond Resorts International reward points for other purchases. After that, it is a variable APR of 15.24%, 19.24% or 22.24% depending on creditworthiness.

Diamond Resorts International’s primary business segments are hospitality and management services and vacation ownership interest, or vacation points sales, and financing.

It is the financing component that often makes people with vacation brain sign a contract on impulse for perpetuity, not even having used the vacation service at the time of purchase. The decision is often based on how well the buyer likes the resort if they aren’t an existing owner. In other words, they may not use the booking program until the next vacation.

As an example, Arthur Saldana, 55, and his wife Sylvia, 49, have been Diamond Resort International owners for several years. They owned a deeded week at the Sunterra London Bridge Resort in Havasu, Ariz., for about 10 years prior to Diamond Resorts International acquiring Sunterra in 2007.

The couple was persuaded to give up a deeded week, one that came with a deed that has a limited secondary market, in exchange for timeshare points that are non-deeded with no secondary market. During a series of five sales presentations over a five-year period, the Saldanas accumulated 30,000 Diamond Resorts International points that elevated them to gold status in 2013.

Sylvia Saldana said that she and her husband signed many contracts, and they thought they were actually helping their children. “We thought that after we paid off the Diamond mortgage our four children would only have to pay maintenance fees,” she said.

But maintenance fees increased to the point where they could no longer afford to own their points. The family soon found that they had to charge maintenance fees to their credit card in order to pay them.

The Saldanas had already taken out a $33,000 home equity loan from their credit union to reduce the high Diamond Resorts International loan interest rate, typically 14% to 18%.

Worse, the children, now almost grown, say that they have no interest in timeshares.

At their last stay at a Diamond Resorts International resort in August 2015, Sylvia Saldana said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve platinum level, which is 50,000 points (Remember they owned 30,000 points).

The sales agent explained that by being platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees, Sylvia Saldana said.

At the time of the 2015 presentation, Diamond Resorts International’s FAQ indicated that as of that year, only platinum members could exchange points for a monetary credit toward the cost of their annual maintenance fees for their collection membership and points and/or dues for the club.

A Diamond Resorts International representative who gave her name as Pamela — these reps aren’t allowed by the company to provide their last names — confirmed that “only platinum members can use their points to pay maintenance fees. Any member can open a Barclaycard to pay fees.”

When we purchased our Diamond Resorts International contract, we were told that the practice of using points to pay maintenance fees isn’t encouraged due to the point value being reduced to pennies on the dollar if used to pay maintenance fees.

The sales agent aggressively tried to persuade the family to open a Diamond Resorts International credit card to pay for the additional points, despite the fact that they couldn’t afford the fees, Sylvia Saldana said.

Arthur Saldana became so angry, he left the presentation.

Fortunately, the couple realized that the credit card wasn’t a prudent solution to their problem.

Keep Reading

no availability

No Availability: Why?

One of the main complaints we hear about at Inside Timeshare and on various forums, is the lack of availability that floating weeks and points members encounter. So why is this?

 

Originally, timeshare was sold on a fixed week basis, with the owner being given a week number and apartment. This entitled the owner to return to their resort the same week each year and use the same apartment. It was this method of use which attracted many people to buy, it guaranteed the standard of accommodation and the holiday. For many this system was great, they returned the same time each year, getting to know other owners. For many who had young children this was an added bonus, they got to know other kids and over the years some very good friendships developed.

 

Over the years and speaking to these owners, they even arranged holidays at other resorts as a group. Using the RCI or Interval International exchange system, they would bank their weeks and book at other locations. They became in effect an extended family.

how-timeshare-points-systems-work-presentation-and-script-5-638

When the floating weeks and points systems were introduced, they were marketed as being more flexible. At first this was the case, although many remained as fixed week owners. The points system does not actually entitle you to anything other than right to use, you are no longer an owner at a resort but a member of the club which sells the points.

 

For example, Sunterra took over the management of a small resort in Mallorca called Cala de Mar. It is not a large resort, around 45 apartments, it had a large membership of fixed week owners who returned year after year. They got to know the staff and the staff remembered them when they returned. Sunterra tried to convert these owners into points members, but most resisted. For them, they purchased at this resort for one simple reason, they loved the size and friendliness of the place. They actually felt that they owned something.

cala de mar
Cala de Mar Mallorca

After Sunterra collapsed and Diamond took over, the resort was ditched. It was taken over by the ONA Group, many of the old fixed week owners are still there and return year after year.

 

Another aspect to the complaints of availability is the rental weeks that are also on offer. These are available over the internet through booking companies such as booking.com, tripadvisor, medresorts,net, Trivago and many more. Resorts also have their own websites and offer rentals, many for considerably less than the maintenance fees that members are charged, some even advertising 25 to 60% discounts.

bookingcom

These resorts are also booking out to the major tour operators such as TUI and Thomas Cook, again many at less than maintenance charges. Why is this happening?

 

Remember that most resorts are not owned by the companies that manage them, they own your membership of points, they collect your maintenance fees but you are their members not the resorts. They may only have so much inventory at this or that resort, the resorts themselves only get a fraction of the maintenance fees. In order to keep the resort afloat, they rent out the inventory not being used by the points club. So when you the points member tries to book, there is no availability at the resort, hence the booking window in many cases is a minimum of 12 months in advance. Anything after that, you may just be lucky. It is also the case that the points club has more members than it has inventory, so you can see where the the problems is, more people than accommodation available.

 

So why are you the member paying thousands for a membership which guarantees you nothing, costs you the earth every year in management fees, then you are unable to get rid of it. Locked into a contract which is no good to you?

 

Only you can answer this question.

 

Yes, these resorts are of a high standard, but would you not be better booking as a non member, paying for your holiday without the ever increasing maintenance. Then as we have seen recently at Garden Lago, the management company who you own the points with, sells their interest and you end up losing any of the member benefits when returning to the resort on the exchange system.

interval

Try searching the internet for the resorts by name which are in the RCI & II catalogue, you will be amazed at what is available. You will also be surprised at the cost, yes at certain times of year the prices may be high, but is this not also the case when using the high street travel agent? One thing to remember, even if the price for a week is more than your maintenance fees, the person booking as a non member has not paid around £10,000 for membership. I leave you to decide what is better value.

 

It must also be mentioned, this is the reason the Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that floating weeks and points have been declared illegal.

 

If you have any questions about this or any other timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare will try to answer. If we do not know, we will find out. Also if you want any information as to how you can get out of your membership, contact Inside Timeshare, there is a solution for you.

garden lago

Diamond Resorts Sell Garden Lago Interest.

Just recently it was announced that Diamond had sold its interest in the Garden Lago Resort, Alcudia Mallorca. The new management company that has taken over is the ONA Group, who also run the former Sunterra / Diamond resort Cala de Mar in Cala Egos and also the Cala Pi resort in Llucmajor.

logo_Onagrup

Diamond did not own the resort, they were purely the management company charged with operating it. This is the same for all the resorts that come under the Diamond Brand. Many of the original owners at Garden Lago purchased fixed weeks, then were converted to the points system under Sunterra and then Diamond. Under this system they are members of Diamond Resorts International and have no rights at Garden Lago.

 

So what does this mean for members?

 

While Diamond ran the resort, members had the right to use with full member benefits that Diamond offered. Now the only way to stay at this resort as a Diamond points member is to use the exchange programme, either through Interval International or RCI. Unfortunately this will not include the full Diamond member benefits.

 

For one family this has come as a rather big blow, their story was posted on Tripadvisor just recently. They state that they had been on holiday in Mallorca and attended a presentation at Garden Lago, and liked what they saw, they then purchased the Discover Diamond Package.

 

After visiting the resort on several occasions, they decided to purchase the full Diamond Points system, as they told the sales staff, it was on the basis that they only wanted to use Garden lago. They were not interested in other resorts that Diamond had to offer, Mallorca held some special holiday memories for them, and as stated before they loved the resort itself.

dri logo

Now that Diamond no longer has a presence on Mallorca and especially at Garden Lago, they believe that their contract with Diamond has been altered significantly. Unfortunately, this is the problem with the points system, members do not have any rights at the resort in which they made the purchase. So, the only way their points membership will get them the full benefits, is to use another resort managed by Diamond.

 

This is one example of why the Spanish Supreme Court declared the points system illegal, the other is that it is subject to availability, your holiday at a particular resort is not guaranteed.

 

For this family it will also now incur considerable expense, when it was managed by Diamond they would use the Diamond booking system. Now they will need to pay Interval International or RCI membership, including the exchange fees.

 

As reported elsewhere, Diamond have had a fall in their net income of around 28%, normally Diamond are buyers, it may be this fall that has prompted the sale. Could this be just the first, are there more planned? Are Diamond offloading some of their European Collection and is it linked with the acquisition by Apollo?

 

These questions may not be answered yet, but time will tell. As the news comes in Inside Timeshare will bring it to you.

 

If you have any questions about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare for free and impartial advice.

gavel

Tenerife Court Rules Silverpoint Responsible for Resort Properties

On 1 August 2016, Canarian Legal Alliance announced a significant victory in Tenerife, this was against Silverpoint. The Court of First Instance in Arona ruled in favour of the CLA client, declaring their contract null & void, again the court used the recent Supreme Court rulings as precedent. (These now number 17)

contract

They upheld the fact that the contract was illegal as it was for more than 50 years, they also found other irregularities in the contract. Consequently the client was awarded over 25,000€ including maintenance fees and legal costs.

 

The court also ruled that Silverpoint was responsible for contracts issued by Resort Properties, this ruling puts into no doubt the courts see Silverpoint and Resort Properties as one and the same entity.

 

This has been a point of contention for some time, Silverpoint have always denied they are Resort Properties, that they had bought them out and were not responsible for what Resort Properties did.

 

The former sales manager David Taylor had consistently denied any link, even being caught on video, (see youtube link). In this video Mr Taylor states to a client that he can not do anything about the purchase made under Resort Properties. He blatantly uses the Data Protection Act as a cover, saying that under this act all records from Resort Properties are unavailable to Silverpoint.

silverpointlogo

The problem with this is the client already knows the people involved from Resort Properties, he had dealt with them before, including Mr Taylor. Also bearing in mind the CEO of Resort Properties Mark Cushway is also CEO of Silverpoint.

 

So how true is Mr Taylor’s claim under the data protection act? Not very.

 

When Diamond took over from Sunterra, all records of transactions and members became their property, how else could they run the club / resorts. Surely if Silverpoint was a completely new entity, not just a revamped Resort Properties, they would have had access to all members and purchases made under Resort Properties. Obviously they would need to know what has been sold and who the members are.

 

As the video shows, it was a ploy to make the client pay more money, the investment pitch! This company has been doing this for years, making investment promises and continually reneging on them. These investment packs have been peddled for many years and have been highlighted on many occasions, in total contravention of the rules regarding selling timeshare as an investment. Yet these companies blatantly made a fortune from this, despite being members of the RDO, including Mark Cushway being one of the directors of this organisation, yet failing to follow the codes of conduct and ethics.

 

What did the RDO do about this?

Nothing.

rdo-logo

Why did they not do anything as the body set up as a trade association to ensure compliance with regulations?

 

Simple, Resort Properties / Silverpoint are main contributors of the organisation, it is not there to protect the consumer, it is there to protect its own members. They even state on their website, they do not investigate any complaint about any member of the RDO, you must go directly to the member concerned. What type of trade body is this?

 

Inside Timeshare has also recently publish news that the said Mr Taylor is now working out of the York office for Monster Rewards, his new title is Senior Client Advisor, supposedly helping people to get out of their timeshare, yet ending up purchasing Monster Credits. After watching the video over and over, my feeling is how could I trust this man?

 

We have stated before, timeshare itself is a great concept, it is the people involved and how it is sold that is the problem. The RDO and TATOC need to be replaced, preferably by independent bodies, not beholden or financially dependent on the industry.

 

In the following links are the David Taylor video:

Silverpoints new website;

Summary of Monster companies;

Trade bodies and Associations.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oNdi4NT4O8

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/look-now-giving-timeshare-advice/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

 

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

 

If you have any information about any company you have dealt with and would like to share this with others, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. If you have any questions about this article or any timeshare matter Inside Timeshare will find the answers for you.

SILVERPOINT COURT VICTORY

 

 

nightmare

Diamond Resorts or A Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

sunterradri logo

Diamond Resorts were unknown in Europe until the takeover of Sunterra in 2007, for many members, they believed it was going to be a new start. Sunterra formerly Grand Vacation Club had a reputation that was to say the least heavy handed, the sales side was aggressive and showed no quarter to those pulled in from the streets. Long standing members with fixed weeks refused to change as they had originally been sold their timeshares as “investments” in property. They also had the right to vote on maintenance fees and other matters which affected the resort they owned.

 

When Sunterra filed in the US for Chapter 11, which is the equivalent to filing for bankruptcy, many owners wondered what would happen to their “investment”. For those on holiday the talk around the pools and bars was what would happen next, rumours abounded. Information was non existent, the sales decks had been closed with all the reps being laid off. There were still a few of the in-house reps but they had no idea what was going on.

 

It was then announce that a new company from the States was looking at taking over from Sunterra. The takeover was announced in the Las Vegas Review Journal 28 April 2007. Steven Cloobeck´s privately owned Diamond Resorts paid around $700 million, and also took on responsibility of Sunterra´s debt of $375 million. Was this the new beginning the owners had been waiting for?

 

Unfortunately, as time has moved on, it has turned into a nightmare for many.

 

The points system was marketed very aggressively, more so than under Sunterra, owners were basically forced into converting. Around 2008 the first additional levy was introduced, Diamond claimed it was due to the state of the Euro to the Pound. This was only the start, in the first three years management fees increased by around 20-25% annually, for many owners this was a huge burden and they wanted out.


Keep Reading

breaking news

Diamond Resorts Bought by Apollo Global Management

News came in to Inside Timeshare yesterday afternoon 29 June 2016 that a Private Equity Firm, Apollo Global Management had bought Diamond Resorts International.

 

The deal is reported to be worth $2.2 Billion, the stock for Diamond had risen from $25 to $29 a share within hours of the announcement. One analyst in the States, Chris Demuth has already suggested that the Wyndham Group may even purchase the company. He believes that Wyndham may even pay around $36 to $39 a share.

dri logo

Apollo Global Management was founded in 1990 by Leon Black, he was a former banker with Drexel Burnham Lambert. Drexel had closed earlier that year after a securities scandal which resulted in the bank having to pay $650 million in fines. Being unable to repay a $100 million debt it collapsed.

 

According to the online financial journal The Street, Bloomberg had called Drexel Burnham Lambert “Renegades of Junk”, due to its involvement in the junk bond market. Irene Parker a writer for The Street and a Diamond timeshare owner herself, believes that this title is more fitting for Apollo Global Management after its acquisition of Diamond Resorts. (follow link below).

 

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

 

In her article for The Street, she explains her anger at the way Diamond has treated owners of its timeshares. She is in the process of writing a series of articles highlighting this, Inside Timeshare will be keeping you informed as they appear.

nyt logo

On the subject of the share prices, Inside Timeshare published an article in April, based on a report by Gretchen Morgansen of The New York Times. It highlighted the plunge in share prices following a series of reports about Diamonds treatment of owners, especially the elderly. It followed the story of a 77 year old lady called Mary Ann Gutierrez, she was subjected to an intense presentation by Diamond reps and basically held captive for around 5 hours, It was an attempt to upgrade her for a steep upfront fee, even though she had firmly told them no she was not interested.

 

The article also highlighted how Diamond hike up the maintenance fees after it buys a bankrupt resort. European owners are well aware of this themselves, after all they did see huge rises when Diamond took over from Sunterra around ten years ago. We are also well aware of how they make it virtually impossible to get out of the contracts. For those who purchased in Spain there is at least hope that these contracts can be declared “Null & Void”, also resulting in all the original payments being given back. All this has been made possible due to the strengthening of the laws in Spain, and the rulings of the Supreme Court, these can be found on the Canarian Legal Alliance website. (see following links).

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-resorts-international-share-price-falling/

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/diamond-resorts-court-case-victory-2/

 

If you have any questions as to how this may affect you, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answers for you. If you would like to know where you stand as far as making a claim or how to get out of your contract Inside Timeshare will be happy to give you the best advice and information possible.