Browse Tag

Supreme Court

Silverpoint: Company Participations is Timeshare

A few years ago Silverpoint changed their usual “investment” packs  into “The Company Participation Scheme”. This is where the clients are then sold “participations” (not shares), in “registered” companies. These are actually apartments that are registered as companies with names like “Palm Beach 112”, using the names of the resorts along with a number, (possibly the apartment).

Once again like the “investment” weeks the whole point is to dodge the strict timeshare laws, which at first Silverpoint were successful in doing so. They actually fooled the courts in the early days that the purchasers were not buying timeshare but were investing in property. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that these clients were buying timeshare and were not investors, therefore they had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

Since that first ruling Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of many court cases, almost on a daily basis, with the court’s finding for the clients. This is costing Silverpoint hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In a new and unprecedented case these “Participations” have been shown to be what they are, timeshare by another name, or what we at Inside timeshare would call a “Pig in a Dress”.

Company Participations “Pig in a Dress”

It all revolves around a case brought by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of clients at the Juzgado De Primera Instancia No2 in Arona Tenerife, (Court of First Instance), on the 20 November 2018.

In this pre-trial hearing, which is usually a precursor to a full trial, something very extraordinary took place, before the Judge, Dña Lara Etelvina López Jiménez, Silverpoint and their legal team admitted that the “Company Participations” are indeed “TIMESHARE”!

This admission is going to have a very profound effect on all pending cases, it also opens the gates for many more “victims” to come forward and place claims against Silverpoint, not just to be reimbursed with their “INVESTMENT” but also have the contract declared null and void.

Judge Lara Etelvina López Jiménez decided on this admission that there was no need for a full trial to take place and closed the proceedings issuing her judgement and sentence within days of the case.

She ordered that the contract be declared null and void with the return to the client of 81,700€ including legal interest and fees. (Click on the PDF to see the court document).

Silverpoint_Company_Participation_Sentence_1_instance

The client was represented by the CLA Team of lawyer Miguel Ángel Méllian Santana and Procurador Buenaventura Alfonso Gonzalez.

Miguel Ángel Méllian Santana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what exactly is this “Company Participation”?

Well, it is a rather sophisticated scheme designed as we said to circumvent the timeshare laws, “Participants” purchase a number of participations in the companies, which are actually the apartments registered as companies. The idea is they will receive a “rental” income with a yearly dividend of about 4% of the income rental. They are also should be able after 3 years to “sell” their participations, the only thing as we have found out from one of our readers is that they can only be sold to other participants. One slight problem here, they don’t know who they are and have no way of finding out, but according to our readers information, Silverpoint will approach them with the sale!

Attached to these “participations” are also holiday weeks which the “investor” is able to use, which does put them into the realms of timeshare.

Now as far as the “dividends” are concerned, some have received them in the first couple of years of “investing”, but as we are increasingly finding out most are now way behind on receiving them for this year.

The reason is that Silverpoint and Excel Resorts, who are the managing company of the resorts themselves have had a very severe falling out, with Silverpoint losing all marketing rights. So when these “investors” enquire and complain that they have not received their dividends for this year, they are told by Excel that they are waiting for Silverpoint to pay them.

When the “investor” makes further complaints and threatens legal action, it appears that Excel pays them the dividend, the only thing is it is with the “investors” own money which they have paid for the “participations”. I don’t know about you, but to me this looks like the classic “Ponzi scheme”!

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

Here is a simple explanation.

A Ponzi scheme (/Ponzi/ also a Ponzi game) is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors. Investors may be led to believe that the profits are coming from product sales, or other means, and remain unaware that other investors are the source of profits. A Ponzi scheme is able to maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as there continues to be new investors willing to contribute new funds and most of the investors do not demand full repayment and are willing to believe in the non-existent assets that they are purported to own. (It is also known as a Pyramid Scheme).

It is actually named after Charles Ponzi who became notorious for exploiting it in the 1920’s, it also has roots in literature, being used in two Charles Dickens novels Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) and Little Dorrit (1857).

In further developments it has also come to our attention that Diana Aitchison, Chief Operating officer for Mark Cushway at Silverpoint, has recently parted company with Silverpoint, she is apparently now in the reservations department of Excel Resorts and Hotels.

This does indeed acknowledges a huge split between the two companies, one problem which Excel will have with the move of Diana Aitchison, is the fact that she signed off many of these “participations” for Silverpoint. This along with the fact that Excel is listed as “Sole Administrator” for these “registered” companies indeed shows a legal link which will only help those future cases.

We will bring you further information as we get it, but for now this recent development is going to please many of those who “INVESTED” in this scheme.

Have you been a victim of this or a similar “timeshare” scheme?

Have you been a victim of Resort Properties / Silverpoint and want to know the way forward?

If so use our contact page and let us know, Inside Timeshare will explain what your options are and point you in the right direction. You have rights under Spanish law for redress, don’t lose out on your chance to regain your hard earned money and have the contracts declared null and void.

Silverpoint: The Story Moves On

Silverpoint formerly Resort Properties and now also known as Signallia Marketing Distribution SL is no stranger to these pages, or to many of those readers who have in the past purchased timeshares from them.

Many of these purchasers have also been taken in with the promise of “investment packs”, these are packs of weeks and apartments which were sold with the promise of a substantial return after two years. This return was supposed to have happened with the resale of those weeks, but these never happened, leaving many with huge maintenance fees and even bigger Barclays Partner Finance loans.

The story was always the same, the weeks and apartments that the clients purchased could not be sold as they were not sought after, in order to secure the initial “investment” the clients needed to “upgrade” to better quality apartments which were being sought. This “upgrade” would also be financed with a BPF loan arranged by firstly Resort Properties and then Silverpoint.

At the helm of this enterprise was the Chief Executive Officer Mark Cushway, who is still at the helm, although they insist they no longer sell “timeshare”.

Mark Cushway

A few years ago these “investment” packs were changed to “The Company Participation Scheme”. This is where the clients are then sold “participations” (not shares), in “registered” companies. These are actually apartments that are registered as companies with names like Palm Beach 112, using the names of the resorts along with a number, (possibly the apartment).

Once again like the “investment” weeks the whole point is to dodge the strict timeshare laws, which at first Silverpoint were successful in doing so. They actually fooled the courts in the early days that the purchasers were not buying timeshare but were investing in property. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that these clients were buying timeshare and were not investors, therefore they had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

Since that first ruling Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of many court cases, almost on a daily basis, with the court’s finding for the clients. This is costing Silverpoint hundreds of thousands of pounds, in the past few weeks alone the courts have ordered they repay around half a million pounds.

One of the continuing themes from our readers emails is how has Cushway got away with this timeshare “scam” for so long?

The simple answer is, he has others in the front line doing his bidding, according to his profiles on the internet, he paints a picture of total respectability.

In Tenerife another associate of Mark Cushway being linked to Silverpoint & Signallia Marketing is called Lee Burton.

Lee Burton

Apparently he is well known in timeshare circles, mainly as a bit of a henchman. He is closely associated with Mark Cushway, as well as others in the industry.

Inside Timeshare has also been informed that this individual is also under investigation for lying to the court under oath, which is known as perjury. A Criminal Denuncia (official police complaint) has also been filed against him on this very matter. He is a person of significant interest to the Guardia Civil, this is a police force that you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

It is believed from our sources that his role is ensure the smooth running of the operation and dealing with any “problems”. Judging by his reputation, a role he is well suited for.

As we were getting this article ready for publication, Inside Timeshare received an email from a very concerned daughter whose 91 year old Mother has these “Company Paticipations”.

It tuns out that she wanted to hand back her membership with Palm Beach Club several years ago, she did not expect any payment, just to hand it back and be free of the burden of the maintenance fees. Well it didn’t quite work out like that. She was told that the only way was to “invest” nearly £30,000 (at the age of 85) in the “Company Participation Scheme”.

It now turns out that she is unable to get back her “investment” as promised, the only way is to sell her “participations” to another holder, this was the advice given by Diana Aitchison one of the senior managers at Silverpoint.   All well and good, the only problem is she is unable to find out who the other “participants” are.

The other question is did an 85 year old lady actually understand what she was getting into, according to Diana she does not think so, somehow we think not as well. So if Diana Aitchison was aware of this why did she not do something about it?

Diana Aitchison is a former Director of Resort Services at RCI (Resorts Condominiums International) and was appointed as Chief Operating Officer at Silverpoint by Mark Cushway in May 2013.

Diana Aitchison

She is now trapped in this scheme and is obviously getting very worried that she has now lost all her money. It would appear from this and other emails Inside Timeshare has received on this subject, that it is the elderly that are being targeted. All are retired, all are being coerced into this scheme and to finance it by going for equity release. Is this they way to conduct business? Inside Timeshare thinks not!

If you have been “sold an Investment” in this scheme, or have had any dealings with Silverpoint and want to know where you stand legally, then get in touch with Inside Timeshare. We will be able to point you in the right direction to get the best advice possible.

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we start this week with a press release from Canarian Legal Alliance and their ongoing court cases against the timeshare industry on behalf of their clients, along with news released late on Friday.

The Spanish Courts around the country are going to be very busy this week, in total CLA have 31 cases appearing before the courts, these are a mixture of pre-trial and full trial cases, that is an average of 6 trials per day. It now remains to be seen how many of these pre-trial judges will follow other courts and decide to issue judgements rather than send them for the full trial. If so this will certainly speed up the legal process.

On Friday, the news came in from the courts that Anfi had lost another 4 cases, 3 at the Courts of First Instance and 1 at the High Court. All contracts have been declared null and void. In total Anfi have been ordered to pay out over 100,000€.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint have also been on the receiving end of a High Court judgement, in this case, High Court Number 3 has reaffirmed the sentence of the Court of First Instance, after Silverpoint appealed. The judgement is that Silverpoint must pay out over 24,000€ plus legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.

It was also announced that in the long running and ground breaking case at the Supreme Court, of Mrs Shirley Wilson versus Silverpoint, she finally has received her award into her bank account. You will remember from previous articles, her case was the first at Spain’s Highest Court against Silverpoint, it took many years of appeals and counter appeals to get this case heard. 

Making up the News?

Eventually the Supreme Court declared her contract with Silverpoint null and void on the basis she was a consumer and her contract did not meet the requirement of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98. This long running case was due to Silverpoint insisting that she had not purchased timeshare, but had “invested” in apartments and weeks for resale. This is the basis for many of the cases against Silverpoint, many hundreds of clients were duped into purchasing several weeks and apartments, which would then be placed on the “resale program”.

As we know these “resales” never happened, the clients were told that what they had purchased was not selling, but to secure and save their “investment” they would need to upgrade to better quality apartments and weeks. This scheme went on for years, with many losing tens of thousands of pounds each. The vast majority of these clients were also given Barclay Partner Finance loans to pay for the purchases, all arranged by Silverpoint in conjunction with BPF, no doubt receiving huge commissions for the loan agreements.

Today we are seeing a similar scheme which is trying to circumvent the law, they call it Company Participations, in essence the purchaser buys “participations in a “company” which is actually an apartment registered as such. Again there is the promise of profits to be made. But having seen the contracts, they are stacked against the purchaser and in favour of Silverpoint.

Silverpoint: The Story Moves On

If you require any information on this ar any other timeshare matter, or just need to know if any company is genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Tomorrow in the Tuesday Slot, we will be publishing the article entitled “The Federal Trade Commission’s How to File a Complaint Form”, by our very own Irene Parker.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker reviews a new book EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES by Wayne C. Robinson, incidentally Irene has written the forward, but first a very brief look at Europe.

It has been reported from one court in Tenerife that one Judge in Court No 5 has decided during a pretrial hearing that a case against Silverpoint does not need to go to a full trial. His reason is that he clearly sees the breaches of the timeshare laws in accordance with the 129 Supreme Court rulings which all lower courts must follow. He will be delivering his sentence in due course, this follows some Judges in Gran Canaria who were the first to do this. This will obviously speed up the process to the benefit of the clients.

Timeshare Crusader, Lisa Ann Schreier has asked Inside Timeshare to publish the following:

Lisa Ann Schreier has a media opportunity and is looking for timeshare owners who can assist. The first is for an owner who has not been able to get into their home resort despite trying to book months in advance, yet found rental opportunities available on non-owner websites. The second is for anyone who has purchased a DRI or other ‘sampler’ or trial package.

Now for this week’s Letter from America.

EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES

  

A Book by Wayne C. Robinson

Wayne was raised an army dependent on military bases in the United States and Europe. He graduated from the Munich American High School in Germany, and then continued his higher education at the Berklee College of Music and the University of North Texas.

Finally, in 1994, Wayne decided to follow his dreams of travel and people. He attended the International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) in San Francisco, California.

Wayne was also a United States Navy journalist. He is the author of The African American Travel Guide; How To Work in Vacation Hot Spots, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Destiny and Job Hunting Secrets They Don’t Tell Us About

His books are sold on more than 100 online bookstores.

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/wayne-c-robinson-author/

By Irene Parker

September 14, 2018

In America, Democrats and Republicans may be a member of the same political party, but that does not mean all Democrats or all Republicans agree within their own party. Similarly, I may not agree with all points Wayne presents in his book, but we agree on the following points:

  1. Timeshares are sold by some agents deceptively,
  2. The oral representation clause has been overused and over abused,
  3. The buyer often makes a timeshare decision without adequate information,
  4. The consequences of making the wrong timeshare decision can be financially devastating,
  5. The buyer is almost always unaware of the limited to sometimes non-existent secondary market. Most timeshare contracts are perpetual.

There is little enforcement of timeshare regulations in some states without undeniable proof. Consequently, complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said,” are dismissed. In those states there is little to stop deceit and misrepresentations, short of public awareness. In other states volumes of complaints, illustrating a pattern of unfair and deceptive trade practices will warrant an investigation. As of September 10, Inside Timeshare has heard from 578 U.S. timeshare members.   

Charles Thomas and I are honored to be a part of Wayne’s book and we hope collectively to unveil the deception we believe has been allowed to flourish at some, but not all, timeshare companies. The press release for Everything About Timeshare, followed by Wayne’s timeshare tips.

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT INFO:

Wayne C. Robinson                                               

[email protected]

+016 17 411 9684 (Malaysia)

Book Promises Relief For Dissatisfied Timeshare Owners

Former Timeshare Exec Discloses “inside secrets” of the Timeshare Industry

Las Vegas, NV—Date — EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES: Before, During and After the Sale, authored by a former timeshare executive, might be the relief that thousands of timeshare owners have been seeking. The book shares “industry secrets” that consumers might want to know about and includes much needed exit strategies.   

Author Wayne C. Robinson believes that the book provides a level playing field for consumers before they attend a sales presentation. He claims that he doesn’t discourage consumers from buying a timeshare, but suggests that they research the company and the product before signing a long term contract that may have little to no secondary market.

Timeshare companies have always been very savvy when it comes to marketing – baiting consumers with free vacations, discounts on excursions and even cash to get them to attend a sales presentation. Unless consumers know exactly what they’re doing, the sales teams are professionally trained to execute powerful strategies to make the sale the same day, regardless.”  

Robinson has worked for some of the most popular resorts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, including The Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Wyndham, The Manhattan Club, Royal Resorts, and more. He states that there are industry secrets consumers are not supposed to know about, but will be included in his book.  

If consumers knew what really goes on behind the closed doors of the timeshare industry, most would definitely not buy. I am concerned about the plethora of timeshare owners who are frustrated and not sure where to turn. Either the company did not deliver what was promised, or the member can no longer afford the debt.”

Robinson has recently partnered with timeshare advocate, Irene Parker and EU based Charles Thomas, who authors a blog, Inside Timeshare, to educate consumers and timeshare owners to make informed decisions before they buy, sell or otherwise dispose of their unwanted timeshares. Robinson says that Inside Timeshare attracts timeshare members, attorneys, journalists, other timeshare advocates, and especially timeshare owners who feel that they have nowhere to turn.    

The book highlights a variety of relevant topics such as how to get rid of an unwanted timeshare, why he feels that the points system is the worst investment for consumers, and how to get the best usage out of any timeshare. Additionally, it discloses the entire sales and marketing strategies that timeshare resorts use that consumers need to be cautious of.

As a former timeshare executive, I believe that most sales people may be unaware of the damage that they have caused many families long after the sale.  Most seem more concerned about the money they make from each sale rather than the service after the sale.”

Robinson has worked for several resorts that expected him to lie during sales presentations, and this was something that he was blackballed and fired for.

He admits that the book is not for revenge against any of the resorts, but wants to provide consumers with the facts they need to make the right decisions whether they want to buy, sell or get rid of their timeshare.

Contents of the book would be of interest to many timeshare owners who are frustrated between what they were told during sales presentations and their actual experiences.

I recommend that consumers, particularly minorities and seniors, a major target for the U.S. industry, make sure that everything that is stated in the sales presentation is in writing, or don’t buy.”

Robinson says that he has noticed a significant change in the timeshare industry that he feels is not in the best interest of the consumer. One change that he has noticed is the increased pressure to convert deeded weeks to a point system. He believes that this is the worst-case scenario for the consumer and was only designed for the best interest of the developer. He says that the flexibility is merely a perception at a high cost and can be a financial sink hole for the consumer.

Another change he has noticed are the plethora of travel club memberships where owners purchase nothing but air.  Many of these travel clubs, according to Robinson, are using hiding behind brand name resort chains.

“Owners must understand how the business works.  Many of the companies don’t even own resorts. They simply rent out rooms from brand name resorts and list them into the exchange directories. This is misleading as the member perceives that brand name resorts are dedicated to timeshare when they are not.”

EVERYTHING ABOUT TIMESHARES: Before, During and After The Sale is available on Amazon.com, or at the author’s website: www.everythingabouttimeshares

Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After The Sale

Here are some questions and quick tips consumers want to consider.

  • What is my purpose for purchasing?
  • Do I want to be responsible for yearly dues and related fees?
  • Do I understand there may be little to no secondary market?
  • Am I better off renting someone else’s timeshare?
  • What are the closing costs involved in the sale and who pays them?
  • Are there complaints about the resort by current or past owners?
  • Can I get the timeshare for a lesser price than advertised?  
  • Why is the owner really selling the timeshare?

COMING SOON

For now, get a FREE copy of my report, 13 Shocking Secrets The Timeshare Industry Does Not Want Yo To Know.

Read Our Posts

Thank you Irene and Wayne, we also look forward to contributions in the future from Wayne.

If you have been contacted by any company or fund one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine or will actually do what they say, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Do you have story to tell about any “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which you would like to share with others, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

So that’s it for this week, have a good weekend and if you attend any presentation or update, remember stay strong and focused, do not give in to the slick sales patter and keep your hard earned money safe.

Relinquishment and Claims: A Quick Guide

Over the past few weeks, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries from readers regarding cancellation of their timeshare contracts, known as relinquishment and making a claim. Today we give you some very basic information on these subjects.

Many owners are now getting on in years, their circumstances have changed, for instance they have retired and no longer want the expense of the maintenance fees. For some it is how they holiday that has changed, no longer using the timeshare or the exchange programs available.

Getting out of the contract is a minefield, there are many companies out there who promise to do this for you, some are genuine some are not. But all have one thing in common, the cost!

Before you even think about engaging a company to do this for you, it is always advisable to contact your timeshare company or resort first, just to check if they have a system in place which allows you to surrender your timeshare. This may just save you a lot of money and also gives you the piece of mind it has been done correctly.

Beware the companies that use the “bait and switch” methods, either promising a sale or cancelation, only to attempt to sell you another product when you attend the meeting, these will either be a holiday club or lifestyle package, promising huge discounts. All you will be doing is swapping one product for another, at a very considerable cost.

Then we have the proliferation of “claims” companies, many of these will offer a “no win no fee” claim. This is to get you interested in attending a meeting, then you will be subjected to a lengthy pitch as to how the claim will be processed. Then comes the crunch, the only way you can do the “no win no fee” claim is to pay them considerable sums to “cancel” your timeshare first.

The claim itself may never materialise and in many cases the owner finds out that nothing has been done and they are still liable for maintenance fees. Their particular timeshare company or resort does not recognise the company and will not deal with them. They are only interested in getting your money!

Club la Costa has issued numerous warnings about this subject, they have categorically stated they will not deal with these third party claims companies, only with the member direct. In fact CLC has a program in place whereby they will let out members for free. Maybe this is a move to stem the tide of claims that are now going through the Spanish legal system. But at least they are offering a way out which will not cost their members a fortune.

If you are unable to do this yourself then using a reputable law firm may be the only answer, but first you should always do your due diligence.

As for making a claim, in Spain the law is very clear, if the timeshare was purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and it falls foul of the timeshare laws, then you have the right to take it to litigation. The main points for a claim are:

  • Contracts which are longer than 50 years, commonly known as perpetuity;
  • Points or floating week systems, in may cases this also includes fractional.
  • Deposits or any payments taken within the 14 day cooling off period, in many cases the courts have now extended this to any payments within 90 days of signing.

These are just the basics, there are many more points which a good lawyer will also use to bring the case to court, not just the timeshare laws, but also Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.

The process for making a claim is the Spanish Courts is not a quick procedure, it can take upto 18 months for a case to reach conclusion. Then this may be delayed due to the timeshare company lodging an appeal, this is all done to add frustration into the equation.

By taking a case to litigation through the Spanish legal system also requires the use of a competent registered lawyer, who also has the experience in this field. Not all lawyers will understand the complexities of timeshare contracts. A good example is one German client who decided to use a German lawyer registered to practice in Spain, just because he was German. This lawyer did not know timeshare laws, but because of the rulings by the Supreme Court he thought it would be easy.

This particular lawyer informed his client to stop paying the maintenance as soon as he took on the case. When the case eventually came up at the court in Maspalomas, he lost. The timeshare company argued before the court that the member was now in breach of contract as they had not paid the maintenance. The court agreed.

This particular client has now paid the original law firm which they rejected , to take proceeding against the lawyer for wrongful advice, plus to make an appeal using the relevant laws. A very costly experience for this client.

Over the past few years we have also highlighted several “fake” law firms, these tend to inform the owners that their timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be part of this. First they need an amount to file the case at court, using the “fake” procurador who has to be paid.

Then a few weeks later you get the good news that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Firstly, ask yourself this question, when is a director of a timeshare company going to plead guilty?

Now there is the matter of paying “tax” to get your money, this will usually be around 20% of the awarded amount, this is alway inflated to bait you in. Many of the documents we have received from readers who started to believe it, have been nearly three times what they originally paid.

If you believe that you have a claim and want to know more, then use our contact page, we will go through it with you and check if you do actually have a possible case. We will also let you know what the procedure is, the breakdown of the legal fees and what they are for. These do need to be paid to take a case to court, you will not find any Spanish law firm that will take these cases on without these costs.

Just want to cancel your timeshare, then again use our contact page, let us know what timeshare you own then we will be able to explain how you can do it yourself.

Remember, not all companies that contact you or you find on the internet are genuine, many have been set up with just one goal, to take your money and run. Do you homework, check, check and check again, not sure, then ask us. We will point you in the right direction.

In the Tuesday Slot tomorrow, we tell the story of US Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his experience with Bluegreen. It is another of those “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories involving either Veterans, serving military or law enforcement personnel.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

“We never sleep”

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

Now on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

A St. Louis Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report

Released July 24, 2018

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

August 3, 2018

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

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

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

From the St. Louis Better Business Bureau report:

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

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

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

(BBB) RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

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

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

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

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

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

Our Advice

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

 http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend and don’t get sunburnt!

Another New Timeshare Claims Company

Once again one of our readers has pointed out another company that is offering timeshare reclaims, they are called Timeshare Redress with the website:

https://timeshareredress.com

With the following address Telephone number and email:

Ground Floor, 22 Vantage Park,

High View Close, Hamilton,

Leicester LE4 9LJ, United Kingdom.

0800 051 1738

[email protected]

The website is very new only being registered on 8 June 2018, with the registrar hidden by redaction for privacy, yet according to the Home page they are “helping clients claim back £thousands”, that they are “One of the leading claim handlers in the UK”, also stating they work on a “no win no fee” basis.

Well, for a website only registered less than 2 months ago these are rather grand claims to be making. So who are they?

The actual company is called Money Redress Limited with the company registration number 10483863 and registered at the above address. The company was incorporated on 17 November 2016 so only just under 2 years old.

The first director was Ian Richard Francis, who resigned on 25 April 2017, being replace by Robert James Jeffrey Ridge on 2 March 2017.

Mr Ridge who is aged around 41, has had a total of 18 appointments, 5 which are still active, 1 in liquidation and the rest are dissolved companies. One company is also registered at the same address which is called Pension Calculator Limited, Company number 08957148.

According to their website, (About us) they are working in partnership with one of the leading law firms in Spain, yet they do not name them anywhere on their website, surely that would be one of the most important points to give credibility?

They do go on to state the following about their Spanish partner:

  • Listed as recommended lawyers with the British Embassy/Consulate, US Embassy and Irish Embassy, as well as being members of regulated legal bodies such as the IBA (International Bar Association).
  • Qualified Legal Representatives: Their legal team are made up of fully qualified and experienced lawyers who can provide you with comprehensive information, detailed estimations of all fees, costs and taxes involved, and clear and concise explanations of the legal process.
  • No language barriers: Their office staff include native speakers from the UK and US, as well as Spain, and staff who can converse with you in English, French, German, Russian and Swedish – so you can be confident of fully understanding the legal process throughout the course of your case.

Inside Timeshare did contact the leading law firm in this field to check if they had any knowledge of this company, but they had never heard of either Timeshare Redress or Money Redress.

The website does emphasise the Spanish Supreme Court rulings and cases brought in Spanish courts against 5 of the major players in the timeshare industry, but again no mention of which law firm is responsible.

The Latest News section shows three reports, all three taken from other sources, one from New Business and the other two from the Telegraph. One of the articles from the Telegraph is extremely dated as it has quotes from the TCA by the late Sandy Grey, who as we know passed away in 2013.

When you check the Services section, you will get a drop box with the list of timeshare companies, each one takes you to a contact form asking for very basic details Name, telephone, email and was the timeshare purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and then a submit button.

So what can we assume from this website?

At first glance is does appear to be a “lead generator”, submit the details and they are then free to contact you and pass you on to another company, thus getting round the new data protection laws.

So what about the no win no fee aspect?

As we know any legal action through the courts in Spain requires a Spanish registered lawyer, it also requires that legal fees are paid upfront, so this rules out the no win no fee aspect. Although the no win no fee could be the success fee payable on completion of the case and a successful payout from the timeshare company through the court. Only one snag here, these cases can take a long time to actually get through to the payout stage, according to cases at court now, they have taken around 12 to 14 months to reach the trial date, this is without the timeshare companies making an appeal when they lose. One just wonders if these people will still be about by then?

Once again we have a new player on the block, with no actual evidence of who is behind it, after all directors are only the front men, not necessarily the owners of the business. We have a website that is very new yet makes some very big claims, a section which is typical of a lead generator and no mention of which law firms they are in partnership with. All this leads us to view them with great suspicion, as we keep saying the timeshare claims business is a very lucrative area and since the first Supreme Court rulings many have jumped on the bandwagon, even though they have no actual knowledge of the timeshare industry or timeshare law.

This is a classic example of why you should be doing your homework, finding out about any company that contacts you or you have found on an internet search, popup advert or even adverts in newspapers and magazines. After all, we even have the story of one reader who answered and advert in the Royal British Legion Magazine, a trusted organisation, then got scammed. As we explained to her, the marketing companies sell advertising space, they don’t do checks on the credibility of advertisers!

If you have any questions are need help in checking any company, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Join us tomorrow for our Friday’s Letter from America, with a Timeshare Report by the St Louis Better Business Bureau, edited by our very own Irene Parker.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.

Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts

On 7 July, Market Exclusive published an article reporting on the financial statements issued by Marriott. (See link at the end). After the preamble they began by announcing they had identified Fraudulently Induced Electronic Payment Disbursements”, which resulted in $9.9 million resulting from unauthorized third-party access to their email system. They duly notified law enforcement and relevant financial institutions, commencing an investigation.

They have managed to recover $3,2 million, but are hopeful they will recover the rest. Now this is just a start in their report.

They have also acknowledged they are recording pre-tax litigation expenses of $16.3 million, these are to settle in principle, two actions in their North American business with the Petrick action and an owners action brought by those with fractional interests at the The Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe. It will also include actions by owners of Marriott timeshare interests in Spain.

The litigation on their Spanish business is a result of the laws Spain has brought in to protect consumers, this law known as Ley 42/98, was enacted in January 1999 and invalidated many timeshare contracts sold after that date.

Marriott, as many other timeshare operators believed, that by filing a deed of adaptation they would be able to continue as before, but they were sadly wrong. It took many years and court battles to get to the stage Spain is at now, the strongest timeshare laws in Europe.

Marriott Marbella

So what makes these contracts illegal?

Many timeshare operators continued to sell perpetuity contracts, when the law stipulates they should be of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. They also continued to sell the floating weeks and points systems, which gives the purchaser no actual rights apart from the right to use subject to availability. With the fractional ownership, the Supreme Court clearly regarded this as timeshare, as usage was dependent on a points system being allocated. Fractional was designed to “replace” timeshare with the promise of “purchasing shares and investing” in a real estate property, but again in Europe timeshare should never be sold as an investment.

We have seen over the past few years many other companies falling foul of this legislation, Anfi, Palm Oasis, Holiday Club / Puerto Calma and the Diamond run resort Cala Blanca in Gran Canaria, Silverpoint in Tenerife and a host of others all over Spain. Marriott is just the latest to be hit by timeshare owners becoming aware of the laws and finding they now have a way out of the never ending cycle of upgrades and maintenance payments.

Marriott, have also conceded that this litigation is going to cause them to incur considerable and “material and litigation” costs, along with the settlements and judgement costs. They have also admitted that it will have a severe effect on their results in the European sector and will have repercussions on their business and financial condition.

The one thing Marriott along with others in the industry are still saying, is they all disagree with these rulings, that the law as interpreted by the 126 rulings of the Supreme Court are wrong, they are seeking to introduce legislation “that will implement a more balanced approach”. More balance, or do they mean going back to when they believed they could not be touched and did exactly as they wanted.

Although they do go on to say the following “The timeshare laws, regulations and policies in Spain may continue to change or be subject to different interpretations in the future, including in ways that could negatively impact our business”. Negatively impact their business, well they only have themselves to blame, had they sold within the regulations, they wouldn’t have to worry about negative impact!

On this point of Marriott and others in the industry lobbying for a change in the law, this has now been set by the Supreme Court, the only way that the law can be changed now is for the Spanish parliament to pass new ones. This is very unlikely to happen, even if it were to happen, then we would end up with many years of court cases and appeals to the Supreme Court to clarify any new laws.

At present the law firm which is responsible for the clarification of the law with now 127 rulings from the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance, has many cases upcoming against Marriott. These cases are only now just starting to take place, CLA have at least 2 cases already presented at court with around 30 in the final stages of presenting to court. They are also looking into new clients cases, all these contracts are in perpetuity and use the point system, so this figure is surely set to rise.

On the point of the Supreme Court rulings, Canarian Legal Alliance began seeking clarification from the Supreme Court well over 7 years ago, they eventually received their first victory against Anfi in March 2015. This case involved the Norwegian client Mrs Tove Grimsbo, it was a long drawn out case, but the precedent had been set. Within weeks of this first ruling, many more followed, setting in stone the laws that for many years had been interpreted differently depending on the court and the judge presiding.

It will be interesting to see whether Marriott go the same way as Anfi, Silverpoint and others in constantly appealing against any rulings made against them, or will they just payout and cut their losses?

Only time will tell, we will certainly be keeping an eye on these cases.

Link to the original article:

https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/amp/

Links to previous Inside Timeshare articles on Marriott:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker-marriott-racketeering-lawsuit/

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

If you need any further information on this subject, whether it be a Marriott, Anfi, Silverpoint or any other timeshare, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Have you been contacted by a company that tells you that you have a claim, and want to know if it is genuine and they are a legitimate company? Then contact Inside Timeshare for the facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since publishing this following has appeared on facebook for Nueva Canarias

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HC n 3 Diamond 1

HC N3 Diamond 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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