Browse Month

September 2020

One-Sided Press Reports?

As our title suggests there is a very important question being posed, are reports printed in the press one-sided? This question comes after a recent article in the Daily Mirror by Andrew Penman on a court case between Club la Costa and the timeshare exit firm Carl James Associates, a firm that recently came to the attention of Inside Timeshare, research into this company was underway as the Daily Mirror story was published.

In the article, Andrew Penman, who has published many articles on some of the biggest scams in the timeshare world, told the story of a couple (Mr & Mrs Davies) who purchased a membership with Club La Costa. In a story we have heard so many times, they had retired and they no longer had a need for the timeshare, which costs them £1,400 in annual maintenance fees. The couple also did not want their children to “inherit” the liability for the maintenance.

They received a call from Carl James Associates and after some time decided to take on the services of Carl James to relinquish their membership with Club la Costa. The price of this service was £4,200.

It was not until after Mr Davies paid and then speaking with the representative Gerry Tiernan that he began to have second thoughts. Teirnan told Mr Davies to just stop paying his maintenance fees and that would be that, Mr Davies did not think this was right and decided to cancel his agreement with Carl James Associates and get his money refunded.

Well, obviously this did not happen, Carl James refused to pay back the £4,200 as although no contract was signed and not having passed on any of his paperwork, Mr Davies was told that “they had a verbal contract in kind” and that the work had already been passed to Fulbrook Associates of Sterling for the relinquishment work to start.

It was now at this point that Mr Davies found out that he could have contacted Club La Costa and relinquished his membership free of charge.

So far so good, the article is highlighting the bad practices of a company involved in “timeshare exit”, the problem is the references that Andrew Penman is using to highlight this scam. He refers to Club La Costa and also quotes from the Operations Director Guy Mantel and uses the company Kwikchex.

Well, we couldn’t get more biased towards the timeshare industry than these two, Club La Costa is one of the biggest contributors to the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) and the beneficiary of these funds is Kwikchex.

It is well known that Kwikchex runs the Timeshare Task Force and Timeshare Business Check, all funded by the timeshare industry with one clear aim, to protect the industry.

In a full email sent to Andrew Penman by Adriana Stoyanova, one of the lawyers at M1 Legal, Adriana pointed out the misinformation that readers would be subject to from this article.

Adriana explains the same tactics used by Carl James Associates to pressure consumers into signing up for their services and the subsequent refusal to terminate the service are the very same tactics used by the timeshare industry to sell the product.

Yet Kwikchex will attack any company that threatens the industry and that includes legitimate law firms such as M1 Legal, who along with associates ECC have suffered many attacks by this company and the RDO.

The reason?

They are winning against the major timeshare companies and RDO members in the courts, having contracts declared null and void plus the return of millions of euros to clients.

Adriana in her email points out one of the main points of the Club La Costa policy of terminations:

“First, it is important to be aware that in the event that a member decides to exit their membership according to “this policy”, Club La Costa (CLC) requires them to sign a disclaimer waiving their rights to claim against CLC or any associated companies including lenders.”

“This means that if this member later wishes to pursue a claim against CLC they are unable to do so, having signed away their rights.”

“I have studied a number of cases where CLC clients had a valid claim due to irregularities in their contracts (which did not comply with law), however having signed such disclaimers they were unable to proceed to process a claim. As you can imagine many of these clients were distraught to learn of this, having no idea that by signing the disclaimer as part of CLC’s exit “policy” they had lost the opportunity to claim back tens of thousands of pounds.”

Well, it can’t be any clearer than that, the email then goes to point out the situation with regards to finance agreements to pay for the purchase:

“Furthermore, the majority of the CLC purchases are financed by different banks (one of which, namely First Holiday Finance Limited is a CLC associated company). This means that in case the clients have signed a disclaimer, they would be left with the burden of repaying the loan without having the possibility to have their contract nullified which would have entitled them to claim money back and cancel any outstanding liability from the loan. You have to also bear in mind that the loans that finance such purchases usually carry with them exorbitant rates of interest, which double and almost triple the original purchase amount being lent.”

“Let us assume one of your readers had bought a modest £20,000 membership with CLC which was financed by Shawbrook, BPF or First Holiday Finance Limited with a total amount to be repaid over a 10 years term being £48,000. Now imagine that this member is having problems with availability and wants out of their membership with CLC.”

“The member has now read your article and instead of researching their options (As according to your article claims management companies misrepresent and are “not required”) they decide to contact direct CLC and exit their membership without any cost. They then sign the disclaimer as per CLCs “policy” and later realise that they will have to repay the full outstanding loan amount without having any asset or any possibility to claim any amount back from CLC.”

So, there we have a senior lawyer dealing with timeshare litigation explaining very clearly why this CLC policy exists.

The email also goes on to explain the loan agreements and how they are brokered, not by independent employees of the bank/finance company, but by the timeshare sales reps themselves. They receive a commission for selling the timeshare, now to ensure the sale goes through, broker a loan agreement and earn more commission.

It is also a fact which Inside Timeshare has found over the years, the correct credit checks are never made, such as income v expenditure reports, these are normally required for any substantial loan to ensure the client can actually afford the repayments. Shawbrook Bank admitted this several years ago and the then CEO had to resign.

Shawbrook Bank Article July 2016

The email which does go into a lot of detail also explains the sales process and includes these extracts from the Island Residence Club sales training manual:

“Imagine a second home luxuriously furnished, completely equipped, immaculately maintained and serviced by internationally-renowned hospitality professionals. Here at Island Residence Club, YOU are happily ensconced in a residence of ultimate luxury and comfort.”

“You must take control of your UP immediately! You need to build up a subtle psychological and physical dominance (e.g. you control where they sit, what they touch, where they go, what they look at and when they eat and drink).”

  • Once you have this control you can calm their fears and guide them towards buying.
  • Some people will try to take control of you. Do not allow them to do this.
  • Some may say they only want to see the apartments and price.
  • Some may say they have an appointment.
  • Some may say they don’t want to look around.
  • Just ignore this and carry on your tour.

This coupled with the long tour which on average last at least 5 hours is enough to make even the strongest give in and sign.

Yet, the RDO their lackeys Kwikchex say nothing and do nothing about the underhand tactics carried out by their own members. It is not just the hard sell tactics, it is the verbal misrepresentations which are made such as the investment pitch, it is the fact they have continued to sell a product with contracts that do not comply with the law. But, do we see any sign of the RDO or Kwikchex mentioning these bad practices or even sanctioning their members? Of course not, you can’t sanction those that fund you, can you?

All this is nothing new before Kwikchex it was Alberto Garcia of Mindtimeshare and the “enforcement program”. The main target of this campaign was Canarian Legal Alliance who at the time were actively taking Silverpoint to the criminal and civil courts, this also included many managers and the CEO Mark Cushway being indicted.

At that time it was obvious what was going on, Cushway was also a director of the RDO, Silverpoint were the biggest contributors and Garcia’s job was to protect him, Silverpoint and the RDO.

So really nothing has changed, just some of the players.

This article is in no way intended as a rebuke of the Andrew Penman story, Inside Timeshare, the TCA, CLA, ECC and M1 Legal applaud the story and highlight the problems faced by timeshare owners at the hands of companies such as Carl James Associates. But it should also show that the industry is also at fault, in fact, it is down to the industries reluctance to actually have a proper exit strategy or resale program that has brought about the many scams we have published here.

Let us hope that Andrew Penman who has also been contacted by Inside Timeshare on numerous occasions regarding our Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts. Yet that is not a story he seems to have taken any interest in, he might actually get around to showing the whole industry for what it is and then consumers may have the full story.

Please use our contact page if you have any questions on this article or any others published and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Daily Mirror Article 24 September 2020

Previous articles on Kwikchex

Latest Court News & Fake Lawyers Update

At the end of last week Inside Timeshare published the name of the latest incarnation and member to the Litigious Abogados Family, Abogados El Paloma, today we bring you the latest information received. We now have the name and bank account details of their “fake” Procurator and a copy of the “fake” court document, again following the same old Modus Operandi. There is also news from the Court of First Instance at Los Cristianos against Club la Costa and also news of yet another Anfi payout.

We begin with the latest on Abogados El Paloma, as we reported last week the latest website to emerge in the Litigious Abogados Family has been identified, only a few months after being registered. We now have the name and bank details of the “fake” procurator.

The name of the procurator is Nicola Nonche Cirom, giving the address:

Calle Pildora 6, Edificio Lama 323A, 38006 Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The bank details are:

IBAN: ES69 0049 4166 2722 1400 2596

With the beneficiary being the name procurator Nicloa Nonche Cirom.

The account is a genuine Santander account.

According to the letter received by our reader, the case is set to be lodged on their (our readers) behalf on the 8 September 2020 and they will inform them when the court issues a judgement. No doubt that will be within a week or so of that date if their past procedures are being followed. Then there will be a further demand for “tax” to be paid to release the money from the court.

This is a very well laid out fraud, they don’t ask for big sums just small amounts, but these small amounts end up being very large indeed with the constant demand for more “taxes” etc to be paid.

On Friday the Court of First Instance at Los Cristianos, Tenerife issued a surprise sentence against Club la Costa. The reason it was a surprise was the trial was only held on 9 September, with the court issuing their judgement within just 16 days!

The court has declared the contract null and void with the client being awarded over 21,000€ with the judge awarding double the amount paid as a deposit within the statutory 14 days cooling-off period.

Another important point, in this case, was that Club la Costa prior to the trial applied to have the case dismissed by the court on grounds of jurisdiction. This is nothing new for Club la Costa, they have continually opposed the jurisdiction of the Spanish Courts and Spanish law over their contracts.

According to their contracts, there is a clause which states that the contract is subject to “UK law” and the jurisdiction of “UK courts”, thereby denying the right of the purchaser to redress and the protection as a consumer under Spanish law.

There have been numerous rulings on this matter especially from the High Court of Malaga, which the court of Los Cristianos applied when dismissing Club la Costas claim. The high court has dictated that the clients purchased in Spain, the deposit was paid in Spain and the client is therefore entitled to the full protection of Spanish law.

Yesterday, news of yet another payout by Anfi was received, the English clients, in this case, will now be receiving over 47,000€ almost double what they originally paid. This also included double the amount taken as a deposit within the statutory cooling-off period.

This was an epic battle which saw the case being first heard at the Court of First Instance, then being taken on appeal to the High Court and eventually the appeal was heard by the Supreme Court. Both the client’s contracts, one with Monte Anfi and the other with Puerto Anfi have been declared null and void.

Both these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by Canarian Legal Alliance with Miguel Angel Melian Santana appearing against Club la Costa and Eva Gutierrez representing the clients against Anfi. The clients were assisted by the Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser.

If you have any questions about any article published on Inside Timeshare, you want to check if the company contacting you is genuine or even if you have a valid and viable case, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

End the Week

It’s Friday again and the weekend beckons, so to end this week Inside Timeshare has a quick look back at the articles published with a rather interesting update on one of them. There has also been a report in the Daily Mirror on another “claims & exit” company being taken to court by a disgruntled client. Although this particular company has not yet featured on the pages of Inside Timeshare, several of the companies they are associated with have been.

We begin with the first two articles published this week, Club La Costa: Timeshare versus Independent Booking and Marriott: What Is Your Timeshare Worth.

The first article this week follows on from the previous articles where Inside Timeshare looked at the availability of timeshare resorts on independent booking websites. In all the articles it can be seen that many of these timeshare resorts are open to bookings from non-members and that in most cases the cost is far lower than the annual maintenance fees being paid by members.

The average maintenance fee paid by CLC members is around 1,300€ for points worth the equivalent of a one week stay in a 1-bed apartment or studio, a figure that goes up each year and increases with the number of points owned. This article showed a 1 bedroom apartment sleeping 4 adults for 7 nights at the CLC Monterey Resort in Tenerife.

This was available for the period 6 November to 13 November 2020 on Apartments4u, the cost was a very low 553.79€ or just 19.77€ per person per night. This is half the amount a member will be paying in annual fees, is this right?

Our second article then looked at Marriott and what the value is on the resale market for those wanting to be timeshare free.

Unfortunately, the true value is a lot less than what was paid to purchase it in the first place, contrary to what the salespeople may have said it does not go up in value, it actually falls drastically. We found quite a variance in prices from 1000€ for a 1 or 2 bed Silver all the way to 18,000€ for a 3-bed platinum week.

It must be said that the majority on sale were all around the 1000€ price tag, the higher prices are what the owner who is trying to sell still believes it is worth. Remember, when you purchase the timeshare in the first place, the majority of the price you paid (around 80%) was to pay for the sales and marketing team, the OPC’s, scratch cards, all costs involved at the presentation and all the admin staff in the contracts department.

So how much do you think your timeshare is worth?

Yesterday, Inside Timeshare published the latest incarnation of another member of the Litigious Abogados Family, Abogados El Paloma. As has always been the case, the website is an exact copy of all the previous ones, the only difference is the names of the so-called lawyers.

This time they have used the same pictures as were used by Torcaz Abogados and Paloma Abogados including the same picture of the founder Amador Dularta Colatamo. This same picture appeared as the founder of the two other “law” firms and was named as Fernando Olawza Garcia of Torcaz Abogados and Fernando Nialgan Torkas of Paloma Abogados, he is in fact Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw, for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

In the same article, we brought an update on an old “claims” company Verity Claims Ltd, although the company was actually dissolved in 2017, we revealed that the website was re-registered on 25 October 2018, almost 1 year after the company was officially dissolved.

But that is not all, the two directors Mr David Paul Sperring, Director I.D: 917228853 & Mr George Burbidge, Director I.D: 908798815, were actually jailed in 2017 for 3 years after admitting a scam that was worth over £300K in a claims compensation scam.

It turns out while Inside Timeshare was looking at this company in relation to claims against ILG and DWVC, they were also doing claims for mis-sold solar panels. It was this part of their enterprise that finally got them. So the question is who is now behind the website?

Yesterday the Daily Mirror published the story of a UK couple who own Club La Costa taking to court a “claims & exit” company. Although as yet this company has not appeared on these pages, their associates have done.

The company is Carl James Associates Ltd, Company Registration 09886619, with the registered address:

71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom, WC2H 9JQ

This address has been used by so many companies involved in various timeshare schemes it always gets alarm bells ringing.

The director is Thomas Whelehan who has been the sole director since the company was incorporated in November 2015.

It seems that the “client” wanted an exit from his CLC membership, he paid Carl James Associates £4,200 for them to do this work. The client had not yet signed a contract or even given them any of his documents. He decided to cancel and wanted his money back. This was refused.

According to Carl James, the work to do the cancellation had been passed to Fullbrook Associates of Sterling, a name we are familiar with as they also work hand in hand with Claims Solutions Group of Aberfeldy and Meridian Associates based in Tenerife.

The other link which does not look good is the “consultant” who spoke with the client, Gerald Tiernan who it turns out was once the Sales and Marketing Manager at Eze Group. A link that is not lost on us.

When the Mirror spoke with Club La Costa the Operations Director Guy Mantel explained that CLC will allow members to exit free of charge, provided that maintenance was paid to date, he also stated:

“Members can simply contact our CLC World Member Services department to enquire on this policy and be guided through the process if required.”

“Claims management companies we believe are fully aware of our policy in this matter yet continue to misrepresent the situation and persuade our members to payout fees, in some cases sizable amounts in the thousands, for a service that is not required.”

So there you have it, All these “exit” companies are very aware that Club La Costa will allow their members out free of charge yet still continue to use every falsehood going to get you the member to part with your money.

See the link for the full story.

Well, that is all for this week, have a great weekend and join us again next week for more about the murky world of timeshare.