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November 2018

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now on with this weeks Letter from America.

An Open Letter to:

Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO,

Robert Clements, ARDA lobbyist and Attorney

Gary Stein, head of Apollo Corporate Communications

Charles Zehren, Apollo Investor Relations

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

November 30, 2017

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

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

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

Our complaint:

Ages 50 and 49 respectively

I have a Top Secret security clearance

October 13, 2018 complaint

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

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

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

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

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

Other claims Davia made:

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

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

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

Purchase Price: $15,375

Barclays Credit Card opened and charged $14,000

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

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

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

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

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

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

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

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

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

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

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

Silverpoint: Company Participations is Timeshare

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

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

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

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

Company Participations “Pig in a Dress”

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

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

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

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

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

Silverpoint_Company_Participation_Sentence_1_instance

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

Miguel Ángel Méllian Santana

So what exactly is this “Company Participation”?

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

Here is a simple explanation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Incarnation of the Fake Lawyer in Tenerife

Well it didn’t take long for another incarnation of the Litigious Abogados family to come up with another “FAKE” law firm, this one is called La Litigación Española, with the website

http://lalitigacionespanola.com

Which was registered on 2 November 2018 so is only 25 days old, it is due to expire on 2 November 2019, so only paid for one year!

As usual the registrant is hidden by a privacy protect via GoDaddy, this in itself is usually a sign of a “Scam” outfit.

According to the website the firm was founded on Friday 2 october 1992, again very precise, by Juan Folanta Hadorso, they claim to be a legally registered Spanish company with the CIF Number A25891623. No company can be found on Spanish company register and the CIF Number is also a fake.

The address is one that we have seen before on several other incarnations:

4, Calle de San. Francisco, 4P, Santa Cruz, 38001-38002, España

The telephone numbers they give are:

Freephone: 0800 862 0194

Madrid: 0034 919 030 442

Santa Cruz: 0034 822 250 524

With the email addresses:

[email protected]

[email protected]

Again these email addresses are free email providers.

The website once again shows many official logos for the many Colegios de Abogados, (Bar Associations) and various other official associations.

They also show photographs of their so-called lawyers:

Juan Folanta Hadorso

Juan Folanta Hadorso, the founder, who is actually Jean-Pierre-Mignard Lysias Partners based in France (see link)

Jean-Pierre-Mignard

https://www.lopinion.fr/edition/politique/jean-pierre-mignard-dans-jardin-bien-mal-5230

Francisco Desrabu Folanos

Alberto Nalgata Solatez

Emillio Gargantim Librenza

On the contact page there is also a photo of another young lady who is probably the admin contact contact:

Manuela Lamamel Coniu

We are still in the process of identifying the other pictured “lawyers”.

Another name that has surfaced is Alberto Nalgata Solatez who is from Departmento De Reclamaciones or claims department.

Well we all know what the “pitch” is going to be, your timeshare company is to appear in court very shortly, you have a case and can be part of this. But to do so there is going to be a procurator fee to be paid direct to a named individual and a personal bank account.

Then you will be informed that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty to all charges and you have been awarded a substantial amount of money. Fantastic, an early Christmas present, unfortunately you must first pay a “TAX” to have this money released, this will be around 20% of the awarded amount.

This will all be backed up as in the past by very convincing court documents, along with probably a photocopy of the cheque made out in your name. This will never arrive, well, an envelope will arrive but it will be open and the cheque will be missing.

Then out of the blue, another company will be in touch and tell you the cheque was stolen and cashed by a foreign gang. This company has been charged by the court to recover your money for you, but, yes you guessed it, they will want around 10% to 20% of the awarded amount to carry this out.

This is a “FRAUD”, do not be taken in by them, all the names are FAKE, all the documents are FAKE, everything about them is FAKE!

If you have been contacted by this or any other company with a similar story, use our contact page and give us the details, it is through your information that we can warn others and also pass this information to the appropriate authorities.

Remember, doing your homework first will in the end save you thousands and a lot of heartache.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, this week we have a new contributor, the Walency family with their own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this time it is Hilton Grand Vacations that are in the frame. It is just amazing that even a company with a prestigious reputation as Hilton allows their sales agents to mislead and lie to prospective clients in order to line their own pockets. As we have said before, the timeshare product is not a bad concept, it is the behaviour and underhand tactics of sales agents with the complicity of their managers that are bringing the industry into disrepute. The CEO’s of these companies must take full responsibility for this, they are after all in charge!

Our Eternal Hilton Vacation Nightmare

By the Walency Family

November 27, 2018

This article was sent to Hilton for comment November 5. There was no response and at the time of publishing no response has been received.  

We don’t understand how a huge company like Hilton Grand Vacations can allow their sales agents to say anything at a timeshare presentation and then lay claim to the contents of our wallet from now until we die. We have unchecked corporations picking on small fish while lawmakers and big government agencies sit back watching the show and timeshare sales agents and executives rake in millions at our expense.  

Something is very wrong when a product, so often sold as an asset, forces buyers no choice but to foreclose if they don’t want it. If you buy a house, and you have an outstanding loan, you can still sell it. Timeshare buyers like me have no choice but to foreclose, due to the lack of a secondary market, ruining our credit, and I’m sure the credit of thousands.  Change will only happen through the cumulative voices of everyday people who have had their financial lives wrecked by this timeshare industry. We need to keep shouting until we can’t be ignored. If Hilton won’t listen, we hope others timeshare companies will.

Consumers need to think twice about buying any timeshare, as you can find yourself held financial hostage buying something that cannot be sold and is accompanied by rising maintenance fees.  The timeshare industry is leaving buyers with ruined credit scores and the anguish that goes along with foreclosure.

We received our closing documents well after the rescission date which prevented us from cancelling the contract.  We feel we experienced deceptive sales, but the difference in what we bought and what Hilton sales agent Bruce K sold us did not become apparent until long after the rescission period. We feel we experienced a bait and switch.

We purchased the Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare in New York City, New York, 2016 for $13,390. We no longer intend to pay for this contract. Bruce K misled us about the total cost of the timeshare. He did not mention property taxes, increased maintenance fees, or yearly assessments. We have had to pay $150 in yearly club dues, $335 for club inventory activation fee and $690.52 for annual assessment fees that he did not mention at the presentation.

We have been trying to communicate with Hilton since June 2018. To date, we have received only one letter with a copy of our contract and little else. In other words, they got us because we signed a contract, despite what the sales agent told us to get us to sign.

Bruce K told us he wasn’t a salesman, just there to help timeshare owners find buyers. Two lies in one. He was a salesman. Hilton does not have a resale department. We have tried to find his real estate license number, unsuccessfully, and wonder whether he was licensed to sell us the timeshare in the first place.

Bruce K told us it would be a good investment because it was real estate that this would be great to pass on to my daughters. He said it already had equity. This was the third lie as timeshares are a liability to be passed on to your kids.

He said we could book wherever we wanted, easily. We wanted to book Florida on the east coast. We were told it was not available, but could be booked through the next year or so.

In this day and age of easy online booking, we have to wait a year?

We asked for Cape Canaveral and Panama City Beach Resorts and Galveston, but ended up in Vegas as a last resort. We were never able to book with the ease that Bruce K told us we would be able to book.

What we were told:

  1. Bruce K said the Hilton timeshare was just like any other property where you can claim the interest paid on your taxes each year and it would pay for itself by renting it out and that he would help us do that. When I called to see if I could rent out my week, I was told Hilton does not allow renting the timeshare.
  2. Bruce K said there was a market to sell the timeshare if we needed to sell. We entered that market and were scammed the same way Hilton scammed us. Hilton Grand Vacations doesn’t have a buyback program.
  3. Bruce K stated several times how this would change the way we took vacations for the rest of our lives and how we could get reduced prices on airfare and ground travel in Europe and be able to book exotic vacations anywhere in the world. Booking vacations during our week is impossible because it was never available during week 31 of our agreement.

The New York and Texas Attorney Generals were useless and provided no help whatsoever, but I understand the New York Attorney General was able to help The Manhattan Club timeshare members get back $6.5 million. I found this on the internet:

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-65-million-settlement-midtown-manhattan-timeshare-scammed

So is their hope for the rest of us?

Self-help groups:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you to the Walency family for their contribution, if you have had a similar experience with any timeshare company and would like to share this on our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, use our contact page and we will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Wayne Robinson explains why it is often very difficult to cancel after purchasing a timeshare, but first a quick look at Europe.

Earlier this week it came to our attention that one of the largest tour operators TUI had been advertising weeks at Anfi Emerald for 1000€ p.p.p week, this was for a 1 bed deluxe apartment and included flights, transfers and breakfast. Now when we consider that members have paid thousands for their floating weeks along with the annual maintenance fees, yet we constantly hear from them that there is no availability, it makes you wonder what is going on?

This is not just a problem with Anfi, we have heard from many timeshare members that they are constantly having trouble booking, yet they see their own resorts being advertised on the various booking websites. Is it fair that these people pay thousands for what they are told is exclusive to members and find they can in many cases book cheaper than their maintenance fees, without having to pay the initial purchase extortionate price.

In another twist, mindtimeshare which formerly under the now discredited Alberto Garcia, was funded by the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), has just published what can only be described as a rebuke of their former paymasters.

It revolves around the liquidation of Enduria Travel, also known as the Travel Shop and was based in Gran Canaria, they were also affiliate members of the RDO. In their article, mindtimeshare explained that they actually expressed concerns to the RDO about this company, but the RDO still accepted their membership. All we can say is how things have changed.

Today is what everyone is calling Black Friday, but at the start of the week it was for Anfi BLACK MONDAY!

Canarian Legal Alliance received on that day alone 12, yes 12 sentences against Anfi in favour of their clients, with over 900,000€ awarded, plus all contracts were declared null and void. They also received another sentence from the High Court in Tenerife against Silverpoint. In all this year CLA have secured over 11 million euros in awarded claims.

Now for this weeks article.

5 Strategies Timeshare Resorts Use To Prevent Cancellations

By Wayne Robinson

Black Friday November 23, 2018

Today is Black Friday in America, celebrated by standing in long lines at shopping malls to be followed by Cyber Monday, when stay at home shoppers shop the internet. I hope you will add my book Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After the Sale onto your Cyber Monday shopping list.

Available through Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Many timeshare buyers do not even think about the contract they signed until after the rescission period has passed. Given that buyers are often not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period, the product the consumer bought is for the most part bought sight unseen and untried. Anything we can do shed light on these important rescission days could save the timeshare buyer untold grief and money, should they come to regret their purchase.

The Rescission Period     

The rescission period is the time allotted by local governments for consumers to review their purchase and legally cancel their timeshare. The length of time varies by state, but is typically three to ten days. In Aruba, and in some American states, there is no rescission period.

If the timeshare buyer cancels their purchase during the rescission period, the government requires timeshare companies to give purchasers a full refund of any monies they have received. There is nothing more frustrating for a sales team than to spend 6-8 hours making a sale that later cancels. Sales agents and their managers will do everything they can to prevent new owners from cancelling their timeshare purchase during the rescission period.

Here are 5 strategies that many timeshare resorts use to prevent new timeshare owners from cancelling during the rescission period.

  1.      Sales agents will avoid the rescission clause that is included in the documents.

Although the rescission clause is clearly written in the documents, many timeshare agents or Legal Verification Officers (VLO) will avoid mentioning this very important item. Many reps will discuss other matters to avoid the clause that outlines the rescission.

The resort’s management will not allow sales reps to mention the rescission period during the sale presentation.  Mentioning it could lead to disciplinary action or being fired.

This is how many timeshare sales reps avoid having their sales cancelled.

Most timeshare buyers will not review the paperwork during the rescission period. After a 6-8 hour grueling sales presentation, the last thing the new owner wants to do is review all the legal jargon included in the documents.  If the rescission period is not mentioned by the staff, too often the buyer is not even aware of it. In some states trial products have no rescission period.

Each state rescission period is listed in this chart provided by ARDA, the American Resort Development Association.  There have been more than a few complaints from timeshare members who were denied release, despite being only a half day late. Instructions on how to rescind are buried deep within the contract, and sometimes instructions are vague.

http://arda.org/uploadedFiles/ARDA/Government_Affairs/Government_Affairs_Call_Out_Boxes/RescissionPeriodsDec2012.pdf

  1.      They will follow-up to overcome Buyer’s Remorse
Photo by Samantha Hurley by Burst

It is important for the timeshare sales staff to keep in touch with their new clients shortly after the sale to prevent them from cancelling.  Most clients will have buyer’s remorse and reconsider their purchase after the buyer has taken the time to think about their purchase, research the company that they just spent $21,000 on (on average), to ensure that they did the right thing. For this reason, sales reps need to be available just in case the client wants to cancel. After all, it might have been a very expensive and unexpected purchase that was sold on emotion

According to a Redweek article, Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at the University of Florida has been studying the impact of buyer regret and remorse and rescission decisions. She says that most timeshare buyers regret their decisions.

A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).”

Dr. Gregory’s findings are as follows:

  • The average rescission rate is 15% – essentially identical to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
  • 85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.
  • 41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision.
  • 95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days, seeking more information about maintenance fees, resale options, and pricing alternatives.

Some sales reps will treat their new owners out for a nice dinner to help “bond the relationship.”  This tactic works well as the new owners are getting to know the sales agent on a personal basis rather than as a sales person.  After all, the salesperson used their own money and time to take the new owners out for dinner. Why would they consider canceling with “their new friend?”

  1.      They will follow-up by phone.

If the new timeshare owners are on vacation some resorts will require the sale staff that made the sale to meet with the new clients the next day, or call them within 24 hours. This is to overcome buyer’s remorse, and to answer any questions or provide clarifications.  Often, the new owners forget the verbiage made during the presentation.

  1.      The resort may reduce the sales price.

If the new timeshare owners decide that they want to cancel, the resort can offer to reduce the price. Often this “second round” rendezvous could require another 2-3 hours of negotiations. Many take the bait and purchase at the lower price, or some keep the original agreement.  Unfortunately, the timeshare company may not change the original rescission period, and the new owners now have less time to reconsider their purchase.

Consumers need to be aware that the “today only” price will always be available the next day, week, month or maybe even years later.

  1.      The resort may offer more gifts.

If the resort offered gifts, there are hundreds or thousands of additional monies that was left on the table because the sale did not exceed their “bottom line” price.

If the new owners want to cancel, the management can offer more gifts to “sweeten the deal.”  These free gifts might include free accommodations, free meals, free activities, free or discounted RCI weeks or other options.

New owners must be aware of the new terms that might have entered the contract.  These terms could include paying rack rates for the free accommodations or paying the highest advertised prices for any gifts just in case they decide to cancel the deal. This action could add into the thousands of dollars if they decide to cancel.

Timeshare resorts will use every strategy that they can, including embarrassment and condescendence to keep the sale, but it’s the consumer’s final decision to end the relationship or move forward. Therefore, it is imperative to read all the documents thoroughly before signing, or present it to an attorney during the rescission period.

Wayne C. Robinson is the author of Everything About Timeshares:  Before, During and After The Sale. He is a former timeshare executive who is advocating with consumers to assist them their timeshares problems, and to help consumers better understand the timeshare business from an “insider’s” perspective.

For more information, visit his website at www.everythingabouttimeshares.com

Related article: About Wayne Robinson

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-21/

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Wayne for your contribution this week, it is certainly an eye opener.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, then Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. We hope that you have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Hug Your Haters Part II: A Customer Service Message

Today’s article by Irene Parker is part II of her Hug Your Haters, which we published on 15 August,

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=customer+service+message

But first some of the latest in Europe.Court Masp

At the end of last week, even though the courts are closed for business, another sentence against Anfi Sales SL and Anfi Resorts SL was published. This was issued by the Court of First Instance Number 1, based in Maspalomas, the court ruled according to the precedents set by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In this case, the court ruled that the contract be declared null & void with the return of over 13,279€ plus legal interest. In this case the infraction was the length of the contract was greater than the 50 years allowed by Spanish Timeshare law 42/98, which came into effect in January 1999.

Again this flies in the face of Anfi’s assertion that their contracts are legal and that they have not lost any cases, see the article “Truth, What is Truth?”  Published on 10 August.

It is not just Anfi who deny these facts, Silverpoint have been doing so for years, they have even left the RDO and claim they no longer sell “timeshare”. So what are they now selling?

Well the ploy by Silverpoint is the move to transfer the blocks of timeshare weeks they sold to clients (with the promise to sell in 2 years for a profit), into what is euphemistically called a “Company Participation Scheme”. Not much is known at present, a lot more research is yet to be done, but it appears that clients sign a document at the notary which makes them shareholders of the company Club Paradiso. If this is the case, then all liabilities of the company will fall squarely on those clients shoulders. More on this when the research is complete.

Now on with Irene’s article.

Hug Your Haters Part II

My Marriott Customer Service Experience

By Irene Parker

August 29, 2017

Customer Service is a Spectator Sport, according to Hug Your Haters author Jay Bear. Although Hug Your Haters was written primarily for the providers of customer service, users of Customer Service can benefit from the book as well. Social Media has dramatically changed Customer Service in a way many timeshare companies have yet to acknowledge. The Marriott hotel chain seems to have gotten the message and has adapted to the new world order.

How does a timeshare company respond to the following complaint?  

An 85/83 year old couple was sold nine timeshare contracts over a 2 ½ year period, with the last contract sold four months ago. They were sold approximately $550,000 worth of timeshare vacation points. They were encouraged to open a Barclaycard to make a down payment on the last contract but the application was denied. They cannot travel alone and soon will not be able to travel at all. The wife has been diagnosed Alzheimer’s. The husband has dementia. He is a Vietnam Vet having served 21 years in the military. They cannot remember signing any contracts. Their maintenance fees and loan payments are $64k a year which is 100% of their after tax income.  

Mr. Baer discusses in his book the difference between onstage and off stage Haters. The couple above would be described as an offstage Hater, unfamiliar with Social Media. I describe myself as a seeker of timeshare accountability and transparency, but I acquiesce to the title of an onstage Hater to keep with the Hug Your Haters theme. Sometimes offstage Haters need an onstage Hater to plead their case. It has often been reported some timeshare sales agents target the elderly.  

 Disney Vacation Club seems to have bucked the timeshare trend, refusing to fall back on the oral representation clause that states, “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase” which translates to the customer is always wrong. Disney has few timeshare complaints so it’s not surprising to find former Walt Disney theme park executive Lee Cockerell, author of The Customer Rules, mentioned in Hug Your Haters. Mr. Cockerell explains in his book how he would encounter employees blaming the customer:  

“From time to time over the years, a customer would complain to me that a frontline employee had been belligerent. When I asked the employee what happened, I’d usually be told the customer was wrong about the facts, or had been abusive, or trying to cheat the company. Most of the time, the employee believed it was better to lose a bad customer than appease one.” p. 115

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

Another Hug Your Hater example is Pella Windows and Doors, VP of marketing Elaine Sagers. “Monthly, our executives call a random selection of unhappy customers to talk about their experiences with us…..We’ve also played recordings from the call center so you can hear the emotion in our customers’ voices around what’s been happening with jobs and their homes.” p. 120

Having listened to 133 timeshare complaints, mainly about maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist, or the ability to sell points when no secondary market exists, it’s hard to understand how companies can so often ignore or dismiss allegations, especially when a volume of complaints (119 out of 133) meet the definition of white collar crime – “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” – painting a compelling and compounding picture of trouble within a company or within the timeshare industry as a whole. I challenge any timeshare executive to listen to the tone of the voices of families devastated financially by their vacation plan. “Well you signed a contract,” is not the appropriate answer. I’m sure Mr. Baer would agree.

Mr. Baer makes another important point I have often stated when it comes to offering a customer wronged an apology. “In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’” Mr. Baer quotes Michael Lasky, an attorney and litigator with the Davis & Gilbert law firm in New York City. Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125

Page 138 of Hug Your Haters discusses the importance of rapid complaint response time. My husband and I have been Platinum Marriott Rewards members for several years. About a decade ago I complained about something I can’t remember at a Marriott Hotel front desk. I was just complaining, not asking for compensation, yet the company responded with an automatic adjustment in reward points. Every 20 or so stays, something might happen that I would complain about had it not been for the times the company responded rapidly and appropriately.

Right out of the Hug Your Haters playbook, I posted a comment on the Marriott Facebook about how a trainee and a manager patiently and pleasantly changed our room three times to address our concern about highway noise. I posted this experience on Marriott’s Facebook and they almost immediately responded, “Irene, we would like to share this on our comment site if that’s alright with you.” As Mr. Baer explains, onstage Haters (or Lovers) don’t expect to be answered. When they are, they are taken aback, astonished that a company as large as Marriott would care.

I can’t speak for Marriott Vacation Club, the timeshare company, because I am not a member, but one of our Advocates, a senior manager with a Fortune 500 company, also a Marriott Vacation Club member, made this comment about Marriott in Part I of our Inside Timeshare article Hug Your Haters, “I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also, while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience.”

Onstage Haters compared to Offstage Haters – Chapter 7

Some companies respond to negative comments by expanding their advertising budget. “Advertising is a tax paid for being unremarkable,” is a quote Mr. Baer said is usually attributed to Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad,  but he rephrases the comment appropriately, “Advertising is a tax paid when you’re poor at retaining your current customers.” p. 18

“Listening is the ability to pay attention to what the sounds means and understanding it. We hear noise, but we listen to music. That is because noise falls on our ears without any effort at our end,” said an anonymous writer explaining the difference between hearing and listening. Too often customer complaints are dismissed as noise in the form or automatic denials to a complaint filed against a timeshare sales agent (s).

These are but a few timeshare Advocacy Facebooks and websites of members helping members because company complaints so often fall on deaf ears. They are closed groups, but all would welcome corporate representatives bold enough to listen and learn. We hope timeshare industry executives, ARDA and lawmakers will take the time to not just hear, but listen.

Bluegreen and Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebooks

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

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

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

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

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently sent a message in the form of a $6.5 million settlement against The Manhattan Club timeshare accused of restricting availability for members who paid thousands of dollars for a timeshare while allowing access to those booking online. The settlement response was a reaction to a chorus of timeshare members mobilized and action orientated. All timeshare owners are grateful because a victory for one is a victory for all. Lack of availability is a universal complaint.

Thank you Irene, once again you have given us a look into the world of “Customer Service” or in some cases lack of. It is one of the main complaints that Inside Timeshare does receive, in many cases the sales staff are only intent on getting more money from you, rather than helping to get the best from your membership.

If timeshare is to flourish, developers and resorts really do need to look at this aspect and change their practises. Disney is a very good example of this as we showed in a previous article by Irene, Disney Vacation Club Vs The Timeshare Industry, published in July’s A Lesson for Other Timeshare Companies.

If you have any questions or comments Inside Timeshare invites you to contact us, your views are important, it will help to change the industry for the better.

Have you been contacted by a company you have never heard of, or want to know more about but don’t know how to start, again contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

 

The Tuesday Slot on Wednesday

Welcome to our Tuesday Slot which we had to postpone yesterday due to an important consumer alert that need to be published immediately. We apologise if yesterday you were looking for our usual Tuesday article.

This week we publish another Secret Shopper Report , edited once again by our Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes. In this report you will see the price per point that members are being quoted which is $9.24, this price is scandalous as we all know that there is little or no resale market value.

RETAIL PRICE DOES NOT EQUATE TO RESALE PRICE

TIMESHARES ARE VIRTUALLY WORTHLESS

We have also been informed that Diamond has terminated sales agents and managers caught employing unfair and deceptive sales practices, unfortunately Inside Timeshare just sees this as playing to the crowd. These are just the scapegoats who have been the subject of too many complaints, THEY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT, we all know the rule, do and say what you like, just don’t get caught!

Another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” is in the offing, we have been contacted by another senior who is being forced into foreclosure, more on this when we are able to publish, now for our Secret Shopper Report.

Diamond Resorts 30 Cent Solution

A Secret Shopper Reports

Secret Shopper Report edited by Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

November 20, 2018

By: Secret Shopper ages, 54 and 62

Works for Department of Corrections

Works for Department of Defense

We attended a timeshare member update in Williamsburg in November, 2018

We are struggling to keep up with loan payments and maintenance fees for the points previously purchased.  

The Virginia sales agent we met with would have driven us into insolvency if we purchased points based on our understanding of what the sales agent described. We both clearly understood the sales agent when he told us if we purchased additional points, we could pay maintenance fees at $.32 per point.

Had we purchased points based on what we both heard and believed, then filed a complaint, and based on reports from a significant portion of the 524 Diamond members who have reached out to our advocacy group, the answer we would have received to our complaint would have been a description of the legitimate 30/30 program that has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees with points. We would probably be told we misunderstood, and we signed a contract.

FACT CHECK

Only Platinum members can pay maintenance fees with points at $.04 per point.

We have learned there are many complaints from members who say they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point. We’re not sure why this Virginia sales agent tacked on an additional $.02.

The sales agent wanted to attach our Barclays credit card, issued after our first purchase, to pay for maintenance fees. The agent said that for every dollar spent charging with the Barclaycard, you get two Barclays points if it is travel related -non-travel one point for every dollar.

The informed timeshare member should ask, “How much value does a charged point have?” Members think in terms of a point being like 2000 points to stay a week in Virginia. Already this is a little confusing. So we asked our sales agent how, for example, $100 charged would translate into actual value or money to pay maintenance fees? He said he didn’t know!

FACT CHECK

The answer is if non-travel related, 1%, so $20,000 charged in a year is 20,000 reward points.

We own 3000 points, so our maintenance fees should be around $600 a year. We only have a $2000 limit on the Barclaycard so the $2,000 charged would produce 2,000 reward points but would contribute only $20 toward the $600?! That’s a far cry from the oft repeated complaint we hear, “And you can pay your maintenance fees by charging purchases to your Barclaycard!”

We asked about the 1500 bonus points that we had been promised at our first purchase of 3000 points. He said he wasn’t sure. He continued to talk about buying more points. After we said no to his offer of points, he said he would go look into what happened to the 1500 bonus points. When he came back he did not even mention the bonus points, but once again he presented an offer to purchase more points.

He offered first 17,000 additional points. We said no. Next he offered 8,500 points. He said if 8,500 points were purchased we would become Silver members, and would then have access to cheap vacation weeks and the maintenance fee program where we could turn in points at $.32 per point to pay maintenance fees. I wrote this down and my husband was with me.

FACT CHECK

If we purchased 8,500 points we would only have 11,500 points so:

  1. We would not even be Silver, as Silver loyalty requires 15,000 points,
  2. Only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point. If a Platinum member turned in 50,000 points, they would only get $2,000 to be paid towards an $8,631 maintenance fee bill in 2018.

We said no to $8,500 points. We asked again about the 1500 points. He went to the back. The manager returned.  

The manager told us if we make loan payments to Diamond, those payments would go toward the down payment of 8500 points which would have cost:

Purchase price: $78,548 at $9.24 per point (Points sell for about $4 per point)

Down payment: $23,677

Timeshares have little to no secondary market

The manager, who did not provide his name, said if we paid a monthly loan payment of $400 per month, (hypothetical because we did not get far enough along to find out what our monthly payments would be), for each $400 a month payment, the $400 would directly reduce our down payment because they wanted us to lock in this great price per point at $9.24 per point.  We would not have to make loan payments on the principle balance until the down payment was eliminated.

Once our down payment was eliminated by loan payments, he said, as each payment would reduce the down payment, so once the down payment was eliminated, then we could finance the remaining amount and be credited our 8500 points purchased. In other words, we would make loan payments that would equal the down payment of $23,677, eliminating the down payment, and then the principle balance would begin ($55,613 after the down payment of $23,677 was eliminated).  

The manager wrote down “3000 points” and said we could not stay anywhere with 3000 points. He said we would have to pay half out of pocket because we had so few points.  We might be able to get a weekend somewhere. I was aware that there are many places to stay booking a one bedroom and that we can save points from one year to the next. I remembered that from the first meeting.

Fact Check

There are many weeks available for 3,000 points

What was really amusing is that we were given a paper stating that our price of $9.24 would be locked in until May 10, 2020. However, at the bottom, and I am not making this up, it said that the price of $9.24 was only available if we purchased that day, November 10, 2018!

From a May 16, 2017 Inside Timeshare article:

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from members who say they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point. It is an adulteration or, according to Diamond Hospitality Agents, a misunderstanding of a 30/30 program whereby 30% of vacation points can be credited toward travel discounts.

Here is one actual complaint from 2016:

Kathie O on December 6, 2016 reported being told she could redeem points for 50 cents a point to pay maintenance fees. The sales agent promised her she could open a Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees without explaining the reimbursement was on only 1.5% (at that time).

Fast forward to May 12, 2017 Kathie reported:

Yesterday in St. Martin sales agent Riza Young and her manager said that through travel services we could cash in 20,000 points for $.30 per point to pay for $6,000 in maintenance fees. We were also told at Grand Beach Resort in Orlando that if we bought 10,000 more points for $38,000 we could cash in 20,000 points for $10,000 to totally cover our maintenance fees of $8500 +. She told us she “hates it when agents lie to us.”

There is an abundance of confusion. Does Diamond think we are really that daft? That WE are making this up?

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

Once again the secret shoppers shed a great deal of light on the practices of sales agent at presentations, for those who have any doubts, the careers our secret shoppers have are ones of trust and integrity. Inside Timeshare knows who to believe.

Important Consumer Warning: Kimmo Honkaluoto

It has come to the attention of Inside Timeshare through extremely reliable sources information that may have serious financial repercussions to Finnish timeshare consumers.

It involves an ex-Silverpoint sales agent by the name of Kimmo Honkaluoto, who is believed to reside in the South of Spain close to Gibralter. According to reports he is well known by Finnish clients for his “scams” and “fraudulent” sales tactics while an employee of Silverpoint.

The latest is contacting Finnish clients of several resorts using illegally obtained client data, which it is believed he himself has stolen from a whole host of resorts.

Among the resorts are the Flamingo Club and the Chayofa Country Club, both located in Tenerife, there are also clients of a resort located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Clients are called and meetings are arranged in Finland with a view to relinquish their timeshares or even claim compensation against their timeshare resorts.

From our secure source we have been informed that Criminal complaints (denuncias) have been instituted against Kimmo Honkaluoto, in Dubai UAE, Mainland Spain and in Tenerife. The allegations are of a very serious nature and depending on where he is apprehended the sentences could involve very long jail terms, especially in the UAE.

The use of this data is not just the fact it has been illegally obtained, but it is also in breach of the current Data Protection Laws currently inforce.

It would appear that Kimmo Honkaluoto has a very full history of “scamming” people, he also has several aliases 2 of which are Joo Kimmohan and Antti Ikonen, these scams have ranged from working for ISS Designs Marketing SL, Realistics Solutions, and “ripping” people off for accommodation which he does not have. This is one we found on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g562820-i9676-k11042725-o10-Very_Cheap_accommodation_required-Playa_de_las_Americas_Tenerife_Canary_Islands.html

http://www.expansion.com/ejecutivo-administrador/kimmo-mikael-honkaluoto_5198344_N47.html

https://keskustelu.suomi24.fi/t/11269489/realistix-solutions-hotelli-la-pintassa

These are just a few of the posts we have found while searching for him on the internet, it is obvious he has been at this for a very long time with some posts going back to at least 2012.

So this is very strong warning to all Finnish timeshare consumers (as well as other nationalities), if you have been contacted by this person or indeed are contacted in the near future, use the Inside Timeshare Contact Page and give us all the details of yourself the resort and the nature of the contact. We will ensure that this information is passed to the appropriate authorities for addition to the criminal complaints and als to your resorts for them to add to their own criminal complaints.

If you have lost any money to any of Kimmo Honkaluoto scams, Canarian Legal Alliance will take on your case free of charge and add them to the criminal complaints.

Contact Canarian Legal Alliance:

Phone: +34 928 18 50 28
Email: [email protected]

As further news and names of resorts affected comes in, we will publish them here.

 

Start the Week: Exiting Timeshare and the False Promises from Exit Companies

At the end of last week we started our Letter from America with information provided by many of our readers on their attempts to exit or relinquish their timeshare, for many this has proved to be very costly. Many of these readers have given the same account, they paid a company many thousands of pounds to “exit or relinquish” the timeshare, only to find out that 3 years down the line they are not out and now owe thousands in maintenance arrears. Many are also facing court action by debt collection agencies.

In many cases it all starts with a cold call, in others the timeshare owner is seeking help and has either found the company on the internet or has been recommended by one of the so-called independent timeshare consumer advice sites. Many of these companies pose as law firms, paralegals and experts in timeshare exit, all to fool you the timeshare owner.

The initial offer is to get you “compensation” for being mis-sold, all on a no win no fee basis, but this is just the bait, before this can go ahead you first need to have the contract cancelled. Unfortunately this is what they are actually after and it does entail a payment upfront, in some cases upto £10,000!

So how is the “exit or relinquishment” processed?

Very simply it isn’t, the company will send a “unilateral letter of cancelation” or “exit notification letter”, all this means is that you have stated your intention to withdraw your membership. Along with this letter the owner is then told not to pay anymore maintenance, if the timeshare company sends an invoice for maintenance, just ignore it, you are out!

Eventually, as has happened to many of our readers who have sent in emails, they are now being bombarded with notices of huge sums in arrears, with the threat of being taken to county court for a debt. The timeshare company itself does not take the “debtor” to court, it is passed to a debt collection agency who do the legal stuff on behalf of their client, the timeshare company. One of the main companies that deal with this field is Daniels Silverman, who have a reputation for always getting paid.

As far as the timeshare company is concerned, you are still a member / owner and are liable for the maintenance, they have never accepted the letter of exit from the company that was paid to “exit” you from your timeshare. As we have stated in many previous articles, the timeshare companies do not accept or deal with theses “exit or relinquishment” companies, they will only deal with the member direct. They have their own systems in place for dealing with a cancellation, subject to certain conditions.

Have you paid a company for the cancellation of your timeshare and are now receiving demands for maintenance arrears with threats of legal action, if so use our contact page and we will get back to you.

If you answer yes to this question and want to know where you stand legally and what you can do about it, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

Remember, do your homework!

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America by our very own Irene Parker, this week we revisit our series on the 3 Rs and 1F of Timeshare, but first a word of caution brought about by some very disturbing emails received by Inside Timeshare.

These emails are all concerning companies our readers have paid to “relinquish” their timeshares, all being told that the “exit notification letter” being sent on their behalf is all that needs to be done and they are now timeshare and maintenance free. They are told they should not engage with the timeshare company or need to pay any further maintenance fee.

Unfortunately this is not the case, several of our readers have paid a certain company who shall remain nameless at present, but they know who they are, to exit their membership with Diamond, around three years ago. These readers are still getting demands for maintenance fees along with a surcharge for interest. They are also being threatened with court action and a debt collection agency.

The company concerned with these exits tells the clients that they are free of their timeshare  and to “DO NOTHING, PAY THEM NOTHING”. “That Diamond would not take court action because they knew they could lose given the dubious selling practices and the fact that no court would allow a company to insist on payments for a product the owner cannot use”.

We know that Diamond does chase unpaid maintenance, the debt is usually passed to Daniels Silverman a Market Leading Debt Recovery Agency, based in Liverpool. So it is not Diamond who take the “debtors” to court, but Daniels Silverman on behalf of their client Diamond.

If you are told to stop paying your maintenance fees until you have official notification from your timeshare company that your contract and membership has been cancelled, then failure to pay puts you in breach of contract.

It is also known that Diamond will not deal with these “exit” companies, they have their own system in place and will deal direct with the member. Remember no matter what these companies tell you, they are not “lawyers”, they do not know timeshare, all they know is how to take your money.

Now for this weeks Letter.

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (prior revision February 16, 2018)

Resolution
Relinquishment
Refund
Foreclosure

By Irene Parker

November 16, 2018

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates brace for when timeshare companies hit the “send” button as millions of maintenance fee invoices hit inboxes.

February 16, 2018, when this article was previously published, we had heard from 300 readers since we began counting January 2017. As of November 14, 2018, we have heard from exactly 600 readers.  Not one of our readers was aware of the limited to no secondary market for a timeshare. This often triggers a complaint.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, or if a member requests an attorney, we refer to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help. Seeking legal counsel is the right of every citizen if they feel they have been harmed, as is filing regulatory complaints.    

If you have a complaint, our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because no one wins them all.

Timeshare companies cry, “Don’t call an exit company! We have your best interest at heart!” What the timeshare company means is:
Don’t call an exit company because it interferes with our recycled inventory process! Let us foreclose! We make collection calls to you no more than twelve times a day. (Six to each spouse, as has been reported)
When exist companies boast, “We can guarantee you release!” beware that that guarantee may include foreclosure. You don’t need to pay anyone to foreclose.  
Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-11/

Our goal:  Convert an angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused member into an empowered member. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ has 44 core advocates, including a team of reporting advocates to answer questions about regulatory and, if needed, law enforcement filings. All of our Advocates are unpaid.  

The First R: Relinquishment

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:
A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund may be achieved. The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort, followed by the filing of regulatory and law enforcement complaints.

The timeshare lobby ARDA has a Code of Ethics. Not one of the 600 members who have contacted us could tell us what the letters ARDA ROC stand for, yet collectively give about $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opt-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member. Despite our advocates and members forwarding approximately 200 complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response.

ARDA’s Code of Ethics:

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including Minnesota AG Lori Swanson:  
“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”
Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages writes: “Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—and details of misconduct are kept private,”

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.
http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

According to the FBI agents and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points. With little enforcement in some states, deception prevails. Families after family have no option but foreclosure, if they have a loan outstanding. Most members contacting us do.        

The Third R

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

I ALWAYS tell members when they say, “After we signed we read all these negative complaints!” that there are just as many and more who use and enjoy their timeshare.  

    Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed with the Better Business Bureau, Attorneys General, and lawsuits.

If you foreclose, there will be a hit to your credit score, but if you feel you are a victim of unfair and deceptive sales practices provide the credit rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.     

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some common questions we are often asked about the foreclosure process:
Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees, loans or both?


Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees or loans?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?  

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never. A foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about five years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene, useful as always, in the Tuesday Slot next week, we will have another “Secret Shopper” report, edited by Pete Gibbes the Secret Shopper Coordinator, so join us for another insight into the murky world of a timeshare presentation.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

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