Browse Month

January 2017

OPC´s in Europe and the USA.

Today’s article begins with a recent press release from the Arizona Attorney General, it then goes on with an article on OPC´s or Off Premises Canvassers. We begin with how they are regulated in most of Europe, then Irene´s article, where she has interviewed an Ex- Diamond OPC.

arizona-ag-seal

Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Announces $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts – Forewarned by a Diamond OPC

For Immediate Release: December 23, 2016
Contact: [email protected]

Attorney General Brnovich Announces $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts
Settlement Agreement Resolves Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations

Follow the link for the press release.

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

Diamond’s Response

The following response is from Maya Pogoda, DRI Public Relations Spokesperson

By Irene Parker

Diamond Resorts seeks to put its members first and provide the best customer experience possible and already has – and had – policies, procedures, training and a quality assurance program in place to provide a positive sales experience.  Nevertheless, anytime a member believes we fall short of that goal, we take that concern seriously and try to remedy the situation and do better going forward.

As part of our continual effort to improve, we have been working on a new national program that we will be rolling out later this month. This program, called Diamond Clarity, goes beyond the requirements of the AOD and includes policies and procedures that will create greater transparency for the consumer and accountability for sales agents and quality assurance officers nationwide.  Diamond Clarity will enhance our policies and procedures and improve the overall customer experience when purchasing vacation ownership.”

According to the Assurance of Discontinuance agreement,

“The provisions of this Assurance shall be limited to Diamond’s Business with Consumers at Sales Centers in Arizona and with Arizona-domiciled Consumers who attend Sales Presentations with Diamond outside of Arizona.” 

However, certain provisions regarding sales presentation should be applied throughout the organization and the industry like:

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

The latter has been described by timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group as “a license to lie”. Even this one change would radically improve the seedy side of timeshare. Read the document for complete terms. 

The Guys on the Street.

opc

In Europe the OPC´s or Off Premises Canvasser are in most cases subject to certain controls, the extent of this depends on the country.

On the Canary Islands the OPC must be badged and licenced, working from booths set up with the resort name for which they are working. According to the authorities they are not allowed to wander more than a few meters away from that booth and any attempt to coerce people who have made it obvious they are not interested, can be viewed as harassment. There can be some severe penalties from fines and the removal of the badge and licence.

On mainland Spain many do not adhere to the regulations and on many occasions you can see them dodging the Local Police. The Costa del Sol is particularly bad for the heavy handed approach and over the years there have been many complaints.

 

Malta has recently instituted some very strict regulations regarding OPC´s, this has resulted from the huge number of complaints made to the Malta Tourist Authority. Many of the comments made by people on holiday regarding the continual harassment from the street touts, have included that they love the island but would never return because of them.

The MTA has seen the damage that this is doing to the tourist industry and decided to act, this is not surprising as tourism accounts for a very large part of their economy.

They have instituted licences and are planning to outsource security patrols to police the timeshare touts. In a very clever move the MTA is requiring the timeshare companies to pay a 3000€ bond for each one they employ, allowing them to work in a regulated way. In the event of any breach of the regulations, rather than have the trouble of going through the courts, the companies will be fined direct from the bond. They will then have to make this up immediately. In another move, for very serious breaches, large fines will be given with licences removed and the culprits deported.

https://www.captchasolutions.com/article/89668/malta—tackling-the-timeshare-reps/

Back to Spain, many of the OPC´s are not directly employed by the resorts sales and marketing team, but work for a marketing company contracted by the resort. In this way the resort can deny any responsibility for the actions and pitch of the OPC. Diamond is one company who does not directly employ OPC´s and have done so for many years.

The tactics used to get you into the resort for a presentation are the same wherever you go, the lure of prizes and the promise that it will only last a short while. It has also been known for the OPC to pay the “UP” 50€ to attend the presentation as the pay per couple can be very good, in most cases around 150€ with a bonus if they actually purchase.

As you will see from the following, there is little difference between Europe and the U.S. in respect to the “scratch card touts”.

By Irene Parker, January 5, 2017

puzzle-pieces-and-people
Timeshare is a puzzle built by relationships between consumers, timeshare developers, timeshare sales agent and solicitors known as “scratch card” agents or OPCs. One OPC recently contacted Inside Timeshare concerned he might be leading people into – a Timeshare Trap.

The timeshare sale begins as a circle that starts with the prospects strolling down the street and a person greeting them with a bright smile and good news! We don’t often think about the important role the OPC plays at the beginning of the cycle that will end with happy vacations or a desperate attempt to get out of something the consumer did not understand due to high pressure, deception, lack of due diligence and vacation brain.

animated-questWho and what is an OPC

OPC stands for “Off Premises Contact” and here’s what they do and how they do it. It’s not an easy job, but it can be fun and exciting.

According to Simple Sales and Marketing Solution:

http://www.simplesalesandmarketing.com/2008/02/opcs-you-either-love-them-or-hate-them_12.html

Keep Reading

Litigious Abogados: The Plot Thickens

 

litigious-abogadoslitigar-abogados-4

Back in September 2016 Inside Timeshare published the article Litigious Abogados Who Are They? This followed a warning published by Mindtimeshare on 23 September about a so-called law firm Litigious Abogados. They also highlighted another firm in July 2016 called Litigar Abogados, it turned out that both websites apart from lawyers names were exactly the same, even sharing the same address: Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, this address was not quite correct and should have read: Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife, which when checked on Google Street View it turns out to be the Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, the equivalent to the Citizens Advice Bureau of the local council.

Since then another has been highlighted called Abogacia Española, with the website:

abogacia-logo

http://abogaciaespanola.com/

 

This website again is identical to the other two, this time showing a different address: Calle de Valentín Sanz, 16, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, España, with the telephone number: 0800 802 1758.

 

The following is the website for the founder Fernando Holaci

fernando-holaci-300

http://fernandoholaci.com/

All three websites show a photograph of the founders of the companies:

Manuel Amas Conde for Litigar Abogados;

Emilio Leyes Catillianos for Litigious Abogados;

Fernando Roleba Holaci for Abogacía Española.

 

litigar-abogados-24

The only problem is they all have the same photograph, it could be that they are identical triplets!

Since the original articles more documentation has been sent in by a reader ( we shall call him Mr X) who was almost taken in by Litigious Abogados, unfortunately he had already paid them around 1200€ for procurator fees, and was about to pay more when he found the original article.

Below is the original contact letter he received telling him about the case against his timeshare company. They state “we are officially recognised by the high Court of Santa Cruz”, their “lawyers are legally authorised to operate in any Court of Law in Spain” and they “are currently working in conjunction with the Spanish Authorities”. This is signed by Ramon Quilnar Canal of the Reclaim Department.

original-letter pdf

Ramon Quilnar Canal has a photograph in the Litigation, Civil law section of the Litigious website, problem is it the same photo on the other two websites, with the following names:

Ramon Quenan Cansal on the Litigar website;

Ramon Quilon Climol on the Abogacia Website.

 

ramon-quilnar-canal

These picture are more than likely to have been downloaded from the net from lawyers images on google etc.

Now to the court case.

Mr X then received a letter with the amount that needed to be paid to the Court Procurator Davido Harstun Jaime, this was originally 1,312€ reduced to 1,201€ and was refundable. Once he agreed to this he would be included in the case, which was to be heard on 15 November 2016. The website and address for Davido Harstun Jaime the Procurator is:

http://www.davidoharstunjaime.com/

Avenida Juan Carlos I, Edificio Valdez, Oficina 604-605 B, 38618, Arona, Tenerife.

proc-fees-letter  pdf

court_fees1  pdf

confirm-case  pdf

Then in a letter dated 17 October 2016 Mr X is informed that the hearing on 15 November was successful and he had been awarded the grand total of 32,449€ not a bad sum. It may be a clerical error but we did not think that time travel was yet possible!

confirmation-of-win  pdf

Mr X was then informed that the money had been lodged with the “Procurator” and a cheque had been made out in his name (he received a copy by email to confirm). Only snag is he must first pay the tax to the court procurator to release the funds. This amounted to around 6,800€, unfortunately he could not afford that amount and informed Litigious of this.

compensation_cheque  pdf

They then informed him of some good news, after a conversation with the lawyer liaison Richard Lehmen, a meeting was held and as a goodwill gesture they would pay 50% of these fees on his behalf. Mr X would pay this back when he received his money. A cheque was made out to the Procurator and a copy sent to Mr X. This letter was signed by Simone Maro Malivaz (Abogado).

bbva_cheque_on_behalf_of_mr-x  pdf

Inside Timeshare has made substantive checks on all the named lawyers and none have shown up on any Bar Association Register, nor have the companies shown up on company house records.

All the emails Mr X has received have been signed by the following:

Luisa Ernas Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Carita Departamento Legal

Maria Sanchez Gotera Departamento Legal

Madelena Huele Aflores Departamento Legal

All emails carry the following number: Freephone: 0800 862 0102 and carry this copyright: © 2013 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Tenerife. Todos los derechos reservados.

European Union Data Protection Directive 95/46/E

This is a very sophisticated operation and for anyone who does not know the legal or tax systems in Spain it looks very plausible. Once again Inside Timeshare urges anyone who receives any calls, email or letters stating that their timeshare company is being prosecuted or that they have won a substantial amount in compensation to be very careful. Unless you have personally instructed a law firm, signed a power of attorney with a notary for them to act on your behalf, then there is no case. Also court taxes and government tax are paid when the case is lodged with the court by your instructed law firm.

This story proves the point that doing your homework and due diligence is the most important thing to save you possibly thousands. If you require any information about any company that has contacted you with anything similar or even by any of these contact Inside Timeshare and we will look into them for you. It will also help other readers not to be taken in.