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Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday and time for another Letter from America, this week another new contributor Elaine L, in her Open Letter to many heads of the timeshare industry explains her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. But first some news from Europe.

Yesterday we published the article on SilverpointsCompany Participations” scheme and the fact that they admitted in court that it is indeed timeshare, just after we published we had some more news regarding Silverpoint.

In a case that was won recently the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have had success in securing another “Cash Embargo” against this company, also securing the payout to a German client. This happy client has now received the grand sum of 57,239.67€, which is 15,292€ more than they originally paid to Silverpoint for their timeshare.

Once again this is a tremendous blow to a company that has for many years been making millions from unsuspecting clients, the courts are obviously taking a very dim view of these past transgressions.

Inside timeshare has also received information from another reader regarding timeshare presentations, this time Azure Resorts in Malta, incidentally this is another Silverpoint company. This time it is regarding the QA sessions or what is commonly known in Europe as “button up”. It is the stage where the contracts are gone through with the client and explained.

Apparently these sessions are now being recorded, our reader explained that the person conducting the QA or button up re-words what the sales rep has told the client, such as the timeshare will go up in value and that they can sell it on if they no longer want it. The QA staff explain that they cannot guarantee increase in value or future sale, that is down to market forces. Again this is another attempt to secure the sale and negate any future litigation and complaints.

It must also be remembered that the person conducting these sessions is usually also on a commission for the completion, so it is in their best interest to ensure that the client does sign.

So now on with this weeks Letter from America.

An Open Letter to:

Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO,

Robert Clements, ARDA lobbyist and Attorney

Gary Stein, head of Apollo Corporate Communications

Charles Zehren, Apollo Investor Relations

By Elaine L, #83 in our list of veterans, active duty service members, Department of Defense workers who feel we experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices

November 30, 2017

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. Just about anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points, and for those of us with Top Security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy because we believed a timeshare sales agent. When the timeshare sales agent suffers no consequences, the sales agent has been given the green light to sell by any means knowing all complaints are answered in favor of the sales agent.  

 The public needs to know their complaint will fall on deaf ears before buying a timeshare. No matter what the sales agents said, and with little to no enforcement, the buyer will be held responsible for the contract. Diamond should want the public to know this.

According to Social Media reports, the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) also  dismisses complaints with, “You have no proof,” so there is nothing to stop a sales agent from making up reasons existing member need to buy additional points.

Our complaint:

Ages 50 and 49 respectively

I have a Top Secret security clearance

October 13, 2018 complaint

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling the Diamond/ Sunterra timeshare we already owned. We had tried unsuccessfully to sell our timeshare.  We made it clear that our interest was to sell all our interest in Diamond/Sunterra points.

Davia told us that there was no way to sell the Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” Diamond benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” with the promise of being able to sell the timeshare easier.

She said that the points we owned from our original timeshare were worthless and that we needed to upgrade to a “Full Club Member” to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.”  We were quoted a unit price of $8 per unit. We feel that not disclosing that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.

Davia showed us Timeshareangels.com (a site selling Wyndham Resorts points and timeshares) – she told us she is also a Wyndham timeshare sales agent and said that people were selling points (units) for $4-$6 per unit. Davia showed us examples of listings for Wyndham timeshares. It has been widely reported Diamond points are worthless.    

Davia also said that she would show us how we could make money off our timeshare, if we bought into Diamond’s “Full Club Member” status. Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell because the value of the timeshare would increase. She also told us that she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Given Davia told us to wait six months before trying to sell, it was too late to rescind the purchase agreement. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Other claims Davia made:

  1. Our management fees would be locked in as “Full Club Members” so maintenance fees would no longer increase,
  2. The value of the timeshare would appreciate over time because of the affiliation Diamond now has with the Apollo Group. Due to the affiliation with Apollo, Davia said we could recoup our cash outlay and the value of the timeshare would continue to increase over time. Davia said the Apollo Group paid way too much for Diamond so were eager to recoup some of the losses.
  3. We could make our points earn money by selling them – she said we could sell our points for more than the $8/point we were paying.

We did not want to buy more points. We only bought points so we could sell them.

3500 points purchased at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas December 17, 2017

Purchase Price: $15,375

Barclays Credit Card opened and charged $14,000

I have filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I will also be writing to Maureen Farrell at the Wall Street Journal, who wrote of Diamond’s upcoming $4 billion IPO. Wall Street needs to hear our side.

Our original complaint sent March 1, 2018 was ignored. Davia used information asymmetry to make money off people in my position. My job and career are at stake due to her charade due to my top security clearance.   

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance against us. The “Hospitality” agent said my husband had asked two questions. The questions were about an assessment fee and how long is escrow. How could we ask questions about the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?

The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. Several members have reported the QA recording has been used against them. I would like to know if the QA person is penalized financially if a sale doesn’t go through. Diamond does not allow the recording of the sales presentation. For us, there was no Diamond CLARITY promise of RESPECT for the customer, clear, concise, accountable and transparent information.

I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page:

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

If a sales agent can say anything to sell points, and the company response is that you signed a contract, then the public must be warned that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. There are over 2100 members on our member sponsored Facebook page.     

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

Thank you to Elaine for your contribution this week, we are sure it will be recognised by many of our readers, we can only hope that all those it is addressed to actually take notice, somehow I very much doubt it.

If you have had any experience such as those we publish, or have been contacted by any company telling you they can “exit” you from your timeshare or even get you “compensation”, use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will point you in the best direction and save you a lot of your hard earned cash.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” and all the other scams that are out there.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today’s article is all about heirs inheriting your timeshare, with the introduction by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker, with contributions from Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty and Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. This article will not only be of interest to our American readers but also to our European contingent.

But first Europe, news came in late yesterday of another High Court ruling from Tenerife against Silverpoint. Following a ruling against them at The Court of First Instance, Silverpoint appealed to the High Court. This court reaffirmed the previous courts verdict, consequently the original verdict has been upheld. The clients contract has been declared null and void due to lack of tangibility (a previous judge described it as “a bag full of smoke”), the client has been awarded over 24,000€ plus legal interest.

Again this is a case brought on behalf the client by Canarian Legal Alliance, these lawyers are just going from strength to strength.

After the article published yesterday about the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife using the name of Mindtimeshare, another reader has sent in the following information on Abogados Litigación España  and JDD Juan Drimals Deolaro, which we highlighted on 22 October.

It is another “FAKE” compensation claim against Diamond, Grand Vacation Club and Sunterra, the Procurator fee was to be paid to one Ramon Juanca Comez in Tenerife who is also a “fake”. They also confirmed that a successful claim had been awarded amounting to 18,348€ plus 703€, obviously a “tax” of 20% would need to be paid before the court would release the money. Below are the bank details for the client to pay the procurator:

The Beneficiary  Ramon Juanca Comez

Address  C/Tortieras , Edif . Juntas , 323 Santa Cruz  38004 Tenerife 

A/C  IBAN … ES16 2038 9043 6060 0046 1027

BIC …..CAHMESMMXXX

Bank Address Avda.Santa Cruz 188 38600 Granadilla de Abona Tenerife

Now the address above is incorrect as this IBAN Number is the following bank in Valencia:

IBAN: ES1620389043606000461027  

BIC: CAHMESMM

Bank: BANKIA, S.A.

PINTOR SOROLLA 8
46002 VALENCIA

Branch number: 9043

SEPA Credit Transfer is supported.

SEPA Direct Debit is supported.

B2B is supported.

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is supported.

 

Now on with today’s Letter from America.

Are Timeshare Developers the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

The Heir Scare – The Same Scare Provided by a Timeshare Sales Agent and a Timeshare Exit Company Sales Agent!

A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give

By Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty

Following Phyllis and Marcy’s report

Introduction by Irene Parker

October 26, 2018

If Tom Tubbs Island Consulting Realty’s second warning wasn’t so sad it would be amusing. The most common complaint Timeshare Advocacy Group™ receives is:

“The sales agent said we had to give up our deeded week and buy points.”

The member, especially if a senior, is browbeat, told they have to give up their timeshare deed or they will be the last man standing, left holding the maintenance fee bag. Often the mostly bogus reason provided is that your heirs will be responsible for a deeded timeshare but not for non-deeded timeshare points.

The deed is usually paid in full, so by buy buying points via a loan, or charged to a credit card, the sales agent has created a liability when none existed. I’m not an estate planning lawyer, but I found this RedWeek post from a practicing estates lawyer:

To all those inquiring about your heirs being saddled with this albatross: I have been a practicing estates lawyer in NY for nearly 50 years. The information given to you by Laura (I believe her name was) was basically correct: your beneficiary cannot be “forced” to inherit (and therefore have to pay for maintenance etc.) for the timeshare. The legal route is to execute a disclaimer within 9 months after death, and make sure that you do NOT accept the timeshare by using it or otherwise indicating acceptance (e.g., trying to sell it as if you own it). However, each state has its own laws as to how one disclaims. ……Note though: the (resort) can then also disclaim it, so there are some further fine points legal steps that must be implemented in your Will or trust to deal with that possibility. But most definitely your heirs are NOT bound to accept the timeshare and make the payments if a proper disclaimer strategy is included in your estate planning documents.

stevenw on May 02, 2017 06:01 PM.

This is a complaint I read perpetrated by a timeshare sales agent falsely telling a deeded owner that she had to give up her deed or her heirs would suffer. Inside Timeshare previously published this account by Phyllis, age 67. She ended up representing herself in court and negotiated a lesser amount with the credit card company arbitrator. Following this scare offered by a timeshare sales agent, is the identical scare offered by a timeshare exit company sales agent.

What a timeshare sales agent told Phyllis (Unedited)

I feel I am a victim of fraud. I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I own. I was told it would last only 55 minutes. 4 highly pressured sales people took turns on me and held me for 7 hours, bouncing me into 3 different rooms. I told them I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare over and over again. They said I have to buy into the new and I own my timeshare for ever, and that I could never get out of it. They said my Monarch timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with them or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. I was tired and hungry.  I was tired. In order to get out of there I signed under dearest. I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018 to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. I received a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.

A pitch from U.S. Consumer Attorneys that Marcy submitted to Inside Timeshare which we previously published. Marcy called me the same day Phyllis did; both said they were having a panic attack over the result of their timeshare debacle. The timeshare exit company US Consumer Attorneys threatened Marcy as follows:

Louis S called me and said he was with US Consumer Attorneys Group and that he was calling about my timeshare. He was aware that I was a Diamond owner and that I owned at Ka’anapali Resort. He sent me a copy of their contract and said I needed to pay him $2900 to get out of the contract.  He said he is an attorney with US Consumer Attorneys Group. He said Diamond was going to take my house and my children would be responsible for paying all Diamond debts and that they would even attach my wages.  He said Diamond would also take my Social Security payments and my retirement.

I have not paid my Diamond maintenance fees for about three years. I wanted to deed it back to Diamond but they would not take it back when I was not behind on maintenance fees. I tried to sell it but no one wanted it.

Given the fact that many exit scam artists are former timeshare sales agents, it’s no surprise they will take the deception with them when they leave their timeshare sales job and make the move to an exit scam. Not all exit companies are scams, but this Federal Trade Commission link listing scams cannot be posted to often:

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

Thank you once again Tom Tubbs for this important year end warning.

From Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty:

A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give

Hi Folks. So last week we warned you about “Exit” companies and this week we’re giving you a little bit of a different take on them. Why? We don’t want to beat a dead horse but it’s important that you do not fall victim to this. This time of year is when these companies get more aggressive in that they know your maintenance fee will be due soon and it’s a prime opportunity for them to pick your pocket. But first….Just what is an “Exit” company?

Well, these are the folks who “create” a problem that does not exist. This is a very common sales tactic with just about anything out there for sale or service. With timeshares, these companies create the VERY false impression that your timeshare is actually a burden instead of an asset. They give you the VERY false impression that you can’t sell it (although that’s what we’ve been doing for folks for the past 33 years….) and that when you die your kids will then be strapped with it (also false). Then they have a solution! (Of course!). Give them $3500 plus the deed to your timeshare and they’ll get you out of it. What great guys!

So in a nutshell what you have here is a company creating a problem for you that minutes earlier you did not know you had, and then solving that problem for you by you giving away your timeshare and your money! Problem is, for many of these companies it’s all one big fat lie; as the following story will tell….

Orlando woman says timeshare exit plan was all a lie

American Consumer LLC charged thousands then filed

Chapter 11 bankruptcy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lisa Eller, a timeshare resort customer for 18 years, is convinced American Consumer LLC never intended to negotiate an exit from her resort contract despite promises from then Chief Operations Officer Cory “Hubb” Hubbell, that he could get it done.

    “He’s a smooth salesman; he seemed like he knew what he was doing,” Eller said. “He said, ‘It takes us about 12 months to work the program.'”

 Eller and her husband agreed to pay $2,350 for the program but just this week discovered no one from the company, aka A Consumer LLC, ever contacted her resort.

“They present themselves as people who have contacts at these resorts,” Eller said. “Our contract was paid in full; we were just paying maintenance.”

The last time Hubbell spoke to Eller was in March, according to Hubbell’s Facebook account, he left the company in May. Eller’s attorney, Jennifer Beaman Clark, told News 6 that when she advised the resort representative that her clients had been trying to resolve this for a year she was told, “It was the first time they had been contacted about the account.”

 According to records obtained by News 6, American filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 9. The registered agent, Brevard County Attorney Michael Sarocco, said he would try to help consumers who wanted to get their money back but that he had no official ties to the company. In an email to News 6, Sarocco wrote, “I no longer represent the company and do not have authorization to make any statements on their behalf.”

A review of state records shows Saracco was the registered agent for American Consumer Credit LLC along with another 12 companies all linked to the same manager: Dana Micallef. Micallef started the company in 2011 and, according to state records, lives in Daytona Beach. Still, it appears he has been calling customers from a New York area code.

Rebekah Nelson hired the company last September and agreed to pay $2,800 to get a release from a timeshare in Vista, California. Nelson told News 6 a man she believes to be Micallef, asked her to wire $700 to continue the contract. “They block the consumer from talking to the timeshare so you don’t know (American) is not doing their job,” she said.

Nelson is convinced there are dozens of victims who fell for the same scheme.

News 6 found a website that explained how the company claimed to complete the exit:

“When you enter into the contract termination process with Aconsumercredit™, we start to permanently remove your timeshare contract burden. No more fees. No more payments.” Nelson said she was told to stop paying her timeshare fees and that is when her credit was ruined.

If you believe you are a victim of this company, contact Mike Holfeld at [email protected]

For more information, contact attorney Saracco: [email protected]

See you next week!

Tom Tubbs, Broker, R.N.G.

Island Consulting Realty

800-809-6020 or 941-922-3808  www.TimeSharesToGo.com

Senior Licensed Real Estate Specialist

Co-Founder: Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

Board Member: Florida Timeshare Owners Group

Doctor of Funology

Related articles:

By Mike Finn of Finn Law Group:

How Can I Eliminate my Timeshare Liability for my Heirs?

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/eliminate-timeshare-liability-for-heirs/

Timeshare self-help groups:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you to Irene, Tom and Mike for your contribution this weeks, we are sure this will be of great interest to all timeshare owners on both side of the “Great Lake”.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, please use our contact page and get in touch, we welcome your input. If you need to find out about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet then get in touch and we will help you find out if they are genuine and trustworthy.

Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, we hope that you all have a great one and just relax, join us again next week for more on the murky world that is timeshare.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot with Irene we welcome a new contributor and member to the Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group, Jenny Baldner, edited and introduction by Irene Parker. In this article Jenny gives her way of avoiding those persistent “update meetings”.

In response to Marcy’s comment about US Consumer Attorneys in Friday’s Letter from America, another Veteran has come forward worried about the $6,000 he paid US Consumer Attorneys after he was not allowed out of his timeshare. George Yamada served his country in Vietnam. He is 70% disabled, exposed to Agent Orange.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 44 veterans and Active Duty members of the military and law enforcement alleging timeshare fraud. Those who have put their life and health on the line for us should not have to suffer timeshare abuse that can ruin their retirement.

Last week after publishing Friday’s Letter from America, news came in of yet another Supreme Court ruling from Spain’s Highest Court in Madrid, Once again the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance secured the ruling against Silverpoint in Tenerife, making the number rulings from this court a massive 112!

The judges in this case ordered that the client be awarded over 80,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. So another happy ex-timeshare owner.

Considering the above and what has been published in the past, it seems strange that David Cox of TESS is still very quiet, still nothing published since his diatribe against Inside Timeshare, Canarian Legal Alliance and Praetorian Legal back in March.

Could it be he has run out of thoughts (not difficult for someone without a brain), or just forgotten how to write, not that he could write anyway, or is it he knows that he has landed himself in the proverbial legal dung heap!

We actually suspect that this enterprise is going the same way as all the others he has been involved with, LIQUIDATION!

https://tesstimesharefacts.com/news/david-cox-bernadette-cox-disolve-companies-faster-alker-seltza-glass-water/

Now for this Tuesdays article.

A Fair and Balanced Timeshare Review

By Jenny Baldner

May 15, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Two common timeshare complaints are:

There is never any availability!

You can always book cheaper online!

I don’t agree with either comment, but it is also true there are many times it is cheaper to book online than use vacation points. My mission is to slow the growth of deceit and bait and switch tactics used to sell points, inspired by the evolution of the points based timeshare product.

Today Jenny Baldner shares her fair and balanced opinion along with her words of wisdom on how to dodge efforts to get her to attend sales presentations. Jenny is a Diamond Resorts member, but Inside Timeshare has heard complaints from members who own points of several timeshare companies. More than a few members have told us the only reason they want out is because of the herculean efforts of greeters to get you to sit down for that 90 minute presentation that can end up taking as long as nine hours. Nine hours has been the record so far.    

The only comment of Jenny’s that I don’t agree with is “since we are stuck with it for life.” The old adage holds true. The only two things we are stuck with are dying and paying taxes. Developers are finally starting to wake up to the fact that ironclad one sided perpetual contracts, accompanied by rising maintenance fees, with little or no secondary market, are a one way ticket to disaster. As always, don’t pay anyone any money to get you out of your timeshare without checking with one of the self-help groups listed below or Inside Timeshare.

Three important considerations need to be input into Jenny’s model:

  1. The age of the buyer
  2. The initial investment
  3. The interest rate – never finance a vacation at 12% to 18% for 10 years   

We appreciate Jenny’s article submission. Due to the escalation in the number of comments and complaints Inside Timeshare receives, contributor articles allow Charles Thomas and I more time to answer questions and point members in the right direction in order to resolve their complaint. And I love to edit!

Jenny’s Timeshare Tips

I’m really glad I was accepted into this group.

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

I see that a lot of people have experienced what we have. So, I wanted to share a few ways to evade the badgering of sales agents and other ways I get my money’s worth since we’re stuck with it for life.

  1. We always check in late to avoid the rush. Sometimes we travel separately so I can say my spouse isn’t accompanying me on this trip. They leave you alone if your spouse isn’t with you.
  2. Skip the concierge desk after checking in.
  3. Don’t answer the room phone during your stay. Most of us have cell phones so you can go one step further and unplug the room phones which I have done if they’re persistent.
  4. When they call your cell phone, make sure that you let them know that every day is booked with set activities. This is not a lie.
  5. Program that number into your phone so you know not to answer it.
  6. Kill them with kindness. “Thank you so much, I appreciate it but, No!”
  7. We have way more points than we need every year, so I usually book extra rooms so families can join in on the fun. I supply the room and they either pay me money to go towards my maintenance fees, or they buy all the food while we’re there. They don’t have the money to buy or rent hotels or resorts. I always try to upgrade to get my money’s worth.
  8. I got tired of feeling like I was being duped, so now I use a budget planner to track my maintenance fees and points. When I find a location using my points, I compare the market value of the resort as if I were to book the same room through booking.com, Trip Advisor, hotels.com, and so on. I make sure that when I book a room, I couldn’t get it cheaper through the market.
  9. Lastly, I hate the way they sell you these timeshares! But, I have to admit I like the rooms and it forces me to take a couple vacations every year. If you have it, use it! Don’t lose your points. I have booked rooms for my friends and their families after they return from deployment. One year I even used it as my white elephant gift at work.

On another note…a few days after 1 January, I save my max points for the year. If I need them back because I went over the remainder to use, they just pull that amount back for your booking. You already paid your maintenance fees so you don’t have to pay anything extra. And then you don’t have to worry about forgetting to save your points by a certain deadline.

Below is a picture of this year’s budget. As you can see if I were to book these vacations without my timeshare it would have cost me an additional $2,552.79. The market tracker does include taxes and the additional resort fees we don’t pay.

I hope this helps you or someone. We started with Sunterra in 2006 and are now with Diamond Resorts.

Thank you again Jenny! Jenny worked as a Resource Advisor for a few years while in the Air Force and decided to take those skills and apply them to this. “Nothing worse than feeling like you were made a fool of,” Jenny added.

The consumer is not off the hook, but clearly more timeshare public awareness is needed to slow the volume of complaints as well as rising default rates. Consumer knowledge can address both negatives.    

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Jenny and Irene, I’m sure that by using this advice, you will have a much more peaceful vacation.

If you have any comments or questions about any article published, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

 

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

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

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/

 

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”. 

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: 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.

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.

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