Browse Tag

Supreme Court

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 loans 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.

So as the title says, the story now moves on.

Silverpoint have set up numerous companies and associations with others, to once again dupe the very same clients they duped before.

Inside Timeshare has had many emails from these clients, all have attended presentations either in Tenerife or the UK, all with the same purpose, to get them to sign up with another product or have their timeshare contract cancelled with the promise of a claim.

In Tenerife it is Centaurus Mediations, with another associate of Mark Cushway being linked to it called Lee Burton. Again this name has appeared on these pages in the past, as a bit of a henchman. (see link below) The pitch is to either sell them Keys Concierge, a so-called “lifestyle” product promising massive discounts, the cost, around £10,000 or a cancellation of the contract.

Lee Burton

Another company linked to Silverpoint is Aspirantco SL, with offices literally across the road from The Suites Beverly Hills. This company claims they are nothing to do with Silverpoint but on Mark Cushways Linkedin page under Silverpoint employees it clearly shows that they are linked. (see PDFs below)

silverpoint employees 1

silverpoint employees 2

We then have Claims Solutions Group, a company we have already highlighted on these pages, based in Aberfeldy, linked to this company is Bryan Wilson, who has recently advertised for “telemarketing” staff for a new call center apparently in West Kirby.

Bryan Wilson third from left

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another company linked with all this is Fullbrook Associates of Stirling, again using members data provided by Silverpoint, (see links below).

The purpose is to contact Silverpoint clients, using members data provided by Silverpoint and Mark Cushway, the deal is very simple, they are the only ones who can get you out of your Silverpoint contract. But to do so you first have to pay thousands to do this.

Not bad I hear you say, first they take your money to sell you the illegal timeshare, contract, then you have to pay them again to get out. Sounds like a win win for none other than Silverpoint and Mark Cushway!

So what is the aim of all this?

As we have reported on these pages, Silverpoint is losing hand over fist in the courts, at the rate this is happening they will soon have nothing left. By getting you the owners of these worthless timeshares to have your contracts cancelled, either by trading in for Keys Concierge or by having Claims Solutions Group have them cancelled, you will then have no recourse to take them to court and retrieve all the money you have paid in the past. In other words it is a damage limitation exercise at the same time getting as much of your money as possible.

Inside Timeshare has been reliably informed that Criminal Denuncias along with numerous civil actions have already been filed against many of the participants, we also know that there are many more cases waiting to be heard by the courts, not just for the timeshare “scam” but also for the “company participation scheme”.

If you are contacted by any of the mentioned companies or are enticed to a presentation while on holiday in Tenerife the warning is simple, “DON’T SIGN UP TO ANYTHING, AVOID THEM LIKE THE PROVERBIAL PLAGUE”.

If you have been taken by Resort Properties / Silverpoint with either timeshare or the company participation scheme and want to know how you can legally get your money back, also having the contracts declared null and void, then contact Inside Timeshare for further information. The courts and the law are on your side, don’t let these people get away with what has already been dubbed “one of the biggest timeshare frauds in history”. Time is running out, act now.

Links to previous articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-new-information-on-centaurus-mediations/

http://insidetimeshare.com/centaurus-mediations-silverpoint-connection/

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-week-joke/

 

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.

Inside Timeshare has also been receiving many emails from timeshare owners on vacation in Tenerife, most of these are Silverpoint members, they have been approach at their resorts by Centaurus Mediations and Keys Concierge, who we have written about on many occasions.

In the meetings that they have been coerced into attending it is the same old story, Centaurus tell them they can get them out of their Silverpoint contracts and get them compensation, for fee that is. Keys Concierge offer the same but with a membership to their “Lifestyle” product, which offers “massive” discounts on holidays etc.

Both these companies are closely linked to Silverpoint, so we know what this is all about, Silverpoint are losing heavily in the courts, costing them hundreds of thousands of pounds for their illegal product and contracts. By getting the members to “cancel” these contracts it then stops them taking Silverpoint to court to have the contracts declared null and void plus get all their money back.

Do not fall for this, if you have a Silverpoint membership and would like to know if you do have a valid case, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will check this for you free of charge and then point you to the best solution.

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.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker looks at Whistleblowers of America and their report to the Veterans Affairs Committee. As we have reported in previous articles, we have received many complaints from veterans who have had very bad experiences with timeshare sales agents. These practices are unexceptable and need to be stopped, but that can only come from the top of the timeshare companies, if they have the will to do it!

Now for some news from the Spanish courts, more legal history has been made at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Silverpoint has had another 2 judgements made against them, bringing the total of rulings from Spain’s Highest Court to to 126!

The tally this week is:

2 Supreme Court against Silverpoint;

3 more Court of First Instance against Anfi del Mar;

3 Provisional executions of sentence against Anfi del Mar, (this has secured over 93,000€ for clients with Anfi depositing the funds at the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana);

2 High Court victories against Diamond Resorts International.

In the Diamond sentences, the clients have been awarded their full purchase price plus double deposit for a total of 19,504€ and 30,000€ respectively. These and the contracts for the clients above have all been declared null and void.

In total the 7 sentences amount to over 370,000€ another expensive week for the timeshare industry in Spain. All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients from all over Europe by none other than those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance.

As we near the end of July, we only have one more week where the courts are working, August is the annual close down, so we will see no new cases being heard until September.

Now on with our Letter from America.

Whistleblower Retaliation against Government Workers, Employees, Timeshare Members and Timeshare Sales Agents

62 out of 500 timeshare complaints we have received are from veteran and active duty members of the military and law enforcement

A Whistleblower Summit in Washington D.C. July 30 – 31

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

July 20, 2018

There are several federal and state laws in place to protect government and corporate employee whistleblowers from retaliation, but whistleblowing is never easy and can take a personal toll. A whistleblower friend of mine suggested I attend the Whistleblower Summit linked above, because of threats and accusations our advocates, Charles and I have received over the past two years. I have heard the following false statements made about Inside Timeshare and our advocates through the timeshare grapevine:

  • That our articles are based on false information. Many articles are submitted by our readers, which I edit, or the content provided by our readers.
  • Our advocates are compensated financially for assisting members,
  • Our advocates are practicing law,
  • Our advocates are compensated for soliciting business for lawyers,
  • We’re targeting certain timeshare sales agents (we call repeat offenders)

Articles written by timeshare members describing their timeshare experiences are revealing and important. One of the Whistleblower Summit presentations I am looking forward to attending is titled,

Unleashing the Power of – YOUR – Story

Moderated by Gloria Minott, Public Affairs Director WPFW

“Story is what defines us and set us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each other. Story is powerful. Story is grossly misunderstood. A good story has conflict, but ultimately resolved. A story is messy and full of confusion, but there is meaning and completeness to it. Stories have natural momentum to them, fueling our passion to find out more from the teller. Stories are laden with bait and intrigue, with suspense and tension. Stories are provocative.” Jeff Goins

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Founder Jackie Garrick will moderate a panel discussion at the upcoming Whistleblower Summit that will address resilience after retaliation

“My numbers are going up with new reports every day,” says Jackie Garrick, founder of Whistleblowers of America (WoA). Garrick created WoA earlier this year after discovering firsthand how difficult the process of reporting wrongdoing can be, and the personal toll it can take on the people blowing the whistle. By offering up the help and insight of former government insiders and whistleblowers like herself, Garrick is hoping to not only encourage more people to come forward, but also to simply support them once they do so.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/10/va-whistleblowers-under-threat-seek-help-from-outside.html

So far the only information available on timeshare whistleblowers concerns a lawsuit in which a jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams $20 million.  

She is also a rarity: a whistle-blower who has succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

Despite several relatively recent Attorneys General investigations and settlements, lawsuits galore, and a flood of internet complaints, the timeshare industry continues to place blame on their customers and on advocacy groups. In other words, the industry believes Inside Timeshare either invented 500 timeshare complaints or that the 500 members would be happy timeshare members had they not read Inside Timeshare articles or joined one of several members sponsored advocacy Facebooks and websites. Almost all of the 500 members are highly educated, professional, high credit score citizens. At least they had a high credit score until they were sold or upsold into timeshare insolvency.

It doesn’t matter how many millions love their timeshare. What matters is that the majority of the 500 families have alleged they were fraudulently sold a timeshare product. All but a handful received an automatic “You signed a contract” dismissal from the timeshare company.

Whistleblower advice for corporations and agencies from Findlaw.com:

How (Corporations) can Avoid Whistleblower Claims

Here are a few steps that you (a corporation) can take to reduce the risk that your company will be subject to such a lawsuit. In parenthesis are my observations as they apply to timeshare:

  • Don’t retaliate — Try to remember not to treat employees (timeshare members) that have complained about your company any differently than those who have not.
  • Have a complaint policy in place and be sure to use it — It is a good idea to have a complaint policy in place, even if it is not required by law. Train and educate your employees in using the system. Once you have your complaint policy in place be sure to abide by it. (According to member reports, the timeshare complaint policy has been to provide the complaining member with their initials on fine print and dismiss them with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”)
  • Investigate all credible complaints — If you receive an internal complaint about alleged wrongdoing, be sure to investigate it, so long as it is credible. If you find that the complaint was truthful, take the steps needed to remedy the situation.(The timeshare member has often reported that they were told they were wrong and the timeshare sales agent judged truthful)
  • Be careful in disciplining whistleblowers for other misconduct — If you have a whistleblower in your company that needs to be disciplined for other conduct you must be very careful. Get evidence to support your claim that you are disciplining for reasons other than the whistleblowing and make sure the employee knows the reason he or she is being disciplined.

 

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/whistleblower-retaliation-could-land-you-in-trouble.html

Following the above advice would eliminate the need for timeshare advocacy groups and whistleblowers.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004

Jackie presented testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. She included Timeshare Advocacy Group’s veteran timeshare fraud report in her statement. Several of the 62 veteran timeshare members we have assisted struggle with disabilities and PTSD as described in the report. Jackie believes that retaliation can cause PTSD.     

  • The veteran population has very complex needs due to unique exposures/injury during military complicated by having two plus significant medical problems in one patient.
  • Veterans experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD). According to the CDC, about 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year making it the 10th   leading cause of death. (Several of the veterans we have helped struggle with PTSD and TBI, one is a decorated Marine, and another a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts.)
  • Agent Orange exposure – For example, eye cancers are a continuous issue. (Two of our disabled veteran timeshare members are disabled from Agent Orange exposure)
  • Gulf War Illness – Illness haunts Gulf War veterans. (One of the timeshare members served in the Gulf War and is on 25 meds)
  • Camp LeJeune: Due to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base, Camp LeJeune, increased reports of cancer in veterans and their families have been documented over the last several decades related to the solvents in water.
  • Burn Pit Exposure: Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 were exposed to a concoction of burning substances on military installations that has caused them to raise health concerns from cancers to respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. (One of the members we assisted was diagnosed with blood cancer having lived next to a burn pit in Basra)

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Jacqueline Garrick is a former Army social work officer who has worked in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as well as for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She is a subject matter expert in mental health and program evaluation. She is an advocate for disabled veterans and the use of peer support to improve resilience in traumatized populations.  She founded Whistleblowers of America in 2017 based on her experience reporting attempted fraud with DoD Suicide prevention funds.

We thank Jackie and Whistleblowers for their support. It is our hope that through public awareness and knowledge, the consumer will be better able to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare, especially one financed at 17%, is a good idea for the family.

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

That’s it for this week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, on Monday we will be publishing the court cases against Diamond and how Spanish law is protecting consumers, we will be comparing this with what is happening across the Great Lake with our US cousins.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all contributors to these articles and also to those who supply the evidence and information on the “fake” companies that are trying to rip you off. It is your valuable information which goes to help and save others from these unscrupulous charlatans.

Remember to check, check and check again, doing your homework will save you your hard earned cash. If you are unsure how to check, then use our contact page, we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week at Inside Timeshare.

Midweek Roundup and Another Dodgy Looking Setup

Important Update: Another reader has identified Lance Steer as one Lance Oakley, an ex-Diamond Sales Rep and also of ex-EZE Group.

Another name has come to the attention of Inside Time share from a worried reader:

Positive Outcome – Contractual Specialists

With the address:

Rural Innovation Center, 10 Street Avenue, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, CV8 2RG

Which is a serviced office rental center where meeting and conference rooms can be hired by the hour.

They use the telephone number:  02476 960 735 which is a coventry code, when this number was called Inside Timeshare was told we had the wrong number. We have susquently found that the telephone number belongs to Coventry Creative, Advertising and Graphic Design , Rover Road, Coventry, CV1 3HT which is Coventry market, a completely different area.

The contacts are: LANCE STEER & JOANNE JOHNSON with the email address:

[email protected]

So far no company with this name has come up on any internet search, using the email address does not link to any website and no information about Lance Steer or Joanne Johnson appear on any search.

So what has concerned our reader?

Very simple, they have paid by bank transfer for a relinquishment of their Diamond membership, yet are still getting demands for maintenance arrears. So it looks like yet again money is paid and the relinquishment is not done.

According to the emails our reader has received, Lance says he has been helping timeshare owners for over 5 years, funny how we have not heard of him before. The other strange fact is that in his emails he goes on to say why he has not been in touch with his clients, listing his illnesses, bereavements and severely disabled Father. Even getting an assistant Joanne, to email clients and explain all his personal problems. (see PDF at the end). Not the sort of information one would normally give. (Looking for sympathy comes to mind).

His emails also go on at length about Spanish Supreme Court rulings, how he has studied many case files and come to the conclusion that all these contracts are illegal. (Which is not surprising considering he sold many of them).

In order to give credibility he mentions Canarian Legal Alliance and places links to their website, even including screenshots attached to his emails. All the details he puts in these emails look as though they have come directly from the CLA website, even using the same phrases.

Another part of his emails go on to tell the clients that Diamond and other timeshare companies have no right to chase for maintenance arrears, or that Daniels Silverman the debt recovery company has no right to chase the debt.

Unfortunately, all this information has convinced our reader to pay for a service which Lance cannot provide, after all we have stated on many occasions in these pages that Diamond, Club la Costa and many other timeshare companies and resorts will not deal with third parties for cancellation of contracts. They will only work with the members directly.

So just from the lack of information on the internet and the lengthy explanations on his illness and private life, plus the fact that Canarian Legal Alliance have never heard of Lance, does get the alarms bells ringing.

Sticking with Canarian Legal Alliance, this week they have announced the following:

Their lawyers have secured another 242,391.46€ on behalf of 6 clients, on the receiving end of this is Anfi Del Mar. These funds have been paid directly to the court of San Bartelomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas. The clients are: 2 from the United Kingdom, 2 from Norway and 2 from Germany.

This comes from the procedure put into place by CLA with a team of their senior lawyers Eva Guitierrez and Judith Diaz Pascual and Cristina Batista, enforcing provisional execution of sentence within 40 days of the judgement being issued. This means that once the judgement is issued the timeshare company must lodge the awarded amount with the court voluntarily or it will be enforced.

There is also another form of securing the funds which has just been enforced by the Court of First Instance No 4 in Maspalomas, which has placed an “Embargo” on Anfi accounts in respect of funds which are due to a German client. These embargoes allow the court to directly take the funds from those accounts and place them in the courts account ready to be paid out to the client.

These moves by CLA have been placed to ensure that funds due to clients are secured, even if the offending timeshare company is appealing. It also stops the timeshare companies from delaying the payouts, which has been the case in the past, now the clients know that their money is secure.

That’s it for today, if you have had any dealings with any company or individual such as Lance Steer, use our contact page and get in touch, we would love to hear from you. You can also contact Inside Timeshare if you require any information relating to your timeshare or any company that has contacted you.

Click below to read the two emails.

Lance Emails