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Consumer advice

CUC Abogados: Getting Desperate for Payment

Over the past couple of months Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the “FAKE” law firm CUC Abogados operating out of Tenerife. As we know this is just one of the latest incarnations of “FAKE” law firms which we have named as the Litigious Abogados Family. They are also operating using a company by the name of Solutions SL. Well, it seems that from further information supplied by our readers they are finding it difficult to get clients to pay “TAX” which they require to release the payment from the court.

Our reader has on several occasions told them that they think this is all a scam and in one reply, Julia from Solutions, rang our reader within minutes of receiving an email from our reader and explained that it was “organisations” such as Inside Timeshare are working in “cahoots” with the timeshare industry to besmirch the name of Solutions and CUC Abogados to stop people making claims. Well, Inside Timeshare is in “cahoots” with the industry, not bad considering we highlight many of the malpractices of the many timeshare companies that sold it to you in the first place.

Now if CUC Abogados and Solutions SL were in fact legitimate companies and what Inside Timeshare publishes is not true, why have they not instituted any legal proceedings against us?

Due to our reader being adamant that they will not pay any “tax” or “fees” upfront to receive the cheque they received a phone call, the caller said that as there was a “trust issue”, they would ask the lawyers to pay the tax and that it would be reimbursed by the client when they receive the cheque.

This was not able to be done, but they did reduce the fee and issued new tax forms for the payment of non-resident tax. As we have said before there is no tax to pay.

Our reader has also received the bank details for the account of the procurator, named as José Kinog with the address:

Calle Labarino 8 Edificio Elmar 233 S Cruz, 38002 Tenerife

This is yet another fake address.

The bank details are:

IBAN: ES77 2100 6938 8302 0011 4535                 BIC: CAIXESBBXXX

Banco: CaixaBank 

Dirección de Banco: Avda. Juan Carlos 1, Número 31, 38650,  Los Cristianos Arona Santa Cruz, Tenerife 

Beneficiario: José Mendoza Rico Kinog

When checking the IBAN it came up as false. So we have to ask will they give another bank account when people are unable to make a transfer?

The question is now will the cheque arrive or as we have seen before it will be missing from the envelope and another company, once again “appointed” by the court has been charged with tracing the missing cheque. If past experience is anything to go by they will then say it was cashed by a criminal gang (usually East European). Now for a fee which will be up to 20% of the cheque value this new company will get the money paid back by the bank.

This is a very elaborate and sophisticated fraud, not only are they taking money from unsuspecting victims they are also falsifying official court documents and bank cheques. This does make us wonder why the authorities are not taking this fraud with the seriousness that they should.

If you have been contacted by these “firms” or anything similar and you are not sure, please use our contact page and get in touch. Inside Timeshare will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Remember before you believe what you are told or pay any money, please do your homework, once it has been paid especially by bank transfer, you will never see that money again.

Do I Have a Claim in the Spanish Courts?

Inside Timeshare receives many emails asking the question  “is my contract illegal and do I have a claim?” Usually, this has come about because they have been cold called by one of the many claims companies and so-called law firms which have proliferated over the past couple of years. Many have been told that they do have a claim when in fact they don’t, they either purchased before the change in the timeshare laws or they do have a legal contract. Today Inside Timeshare explains simply what constitutes a claim and what does not.

We start with when the timeshare laws came into force, the law was passed in December 1998 and came into effect on 5 January 1999. Before this date the contract duration was not an issue, perpetuity contracts were legal, after this date contracts for timeshare had to be of a duration of between 3 years minimum and 50 years maximum.

Many timeshare operators thought they could get around this using a “Deed of Adaptation” which they had to file with the Land Registry. Filing this deed of adaptation ensured that any sales made prior to 5 January 1999 were not impacted by the new laws. It only applies to sales made after that date. What the operators believed was that as the resorts were in existence before that date then they could carry on as before. They believed it only applied to new resorts or rather that is what their lawyers probably told them. Anfi tried to use this argument before the Supreme Court ruled that any contract signed after this date was subject to the law.

Another factor to be considered is the taking of deposits within the 14 days cooling-off period, which was forbidden by the new law 42/98, this also included the taking of any payment by a third party such as a trust. Some sales decks tried to get around this yet again by not showing a deposit on the paperwork but issuing an invoice for “accommodation”, usually when the purchaser was persuaded to move straight into the resort to secure the sale. The courts regard this as a payment to a third party.

In the beginning, timeshares were sold as fixed weeks and fixed apartments, you were guaranteed your week in the apartment assigned to your purchase. The resort could not “rent” it out, (unless banked) it was yours. They could also only sell 51 weeks in each apartment and each sale had to be registered with the land registry. The law recognised that these fixed weeks were a tangible and contained substance, you actually owned something.

We then saw the emergence of the points and floating weeks systems where you did not purchase a specific week in a specific apartment but became a member of a club. You owned nothing but membership with a right to use subject to availability. This is rather like joining a gym or a golf club, you pay your annual fees but you are not guaranteed the time when you want to use the facilities, it is subject to availability.

The Supreme Court ruled that the timeshare law 42/98 covered this system as it lacks anything tangible or anything of any substance, it was just a promise. They, therefore, ruled that these contracts infringed the law and the contracts are illegal. (This has also included Fractional and Company Participations)

With the points and floating week systems, the problem is a simple one, there are more members than weeks available, hence the most common complaint of all “nothing available for the dates you want”.

So to recap the basic criteria for a claim is:

  • The purchase must have been made in Spain after 5 January 1999;
  • The contract is over the permitted 50-year duration, i.e no end date is known as perpetuity;
  • Contains floating weeks or points systems which also includes fractional and “investments” (this includes the participation scheme);
  • Any payments made within the 14 days cooling-off period, this is extended to 90 if other infractions such as any of the above are present.

So if your contract does not contain any of the above then the chances are you will not have a claim.

It is also a fact that the contract must still be active and that all maintenance fees are paid to date. If the contract is cancelled then no claim can be made through the courts, they will not accept the case, this is a ploy that is being used by many of the dubious companies that have emerged. It is also a fact that any arrears in maintenance fees will have a very negative effect on any claim, the timeshare company will appeal to the court that there is no case as the owner/member is now in breach of contract.

It is also important to know that until the case is actually and formally accepted by the court then maintenance fees should be kept up to date. Again Inside Timeshare has received many emails where clients have been told to stop paying as soon as they sign up for a claim, this has then resulted in the timeshare company winning the case on the ground of breach of contract by the member.

What would be the claim?

  • Double the deposits paid within the 14 days cooling-off period, the balance only if paid after, this is the minimum claim amount. If paid within the cooling-off period then double that as well. (All double if 90 days invoked), this is the maximum claim amount.
  • Added to the claim will also be the return of legal fees (this is at the judge’s discretion), but also legal interest is paid from the time the case is presented to the court.
  • Maintenance fees may be added to the claim, but again it is the judge’s discretion if the judge awards there return.
  • Declare the contracts null and void.

So that is a simplified version of the law and what you would be claiming, each case is done on an individual basis and has to be presented to the court as such. There are no “class or group actions”.

It should also be pointed out that this only applies to timeshare purchased in Spain or its territories, other countries have their own laws and at present, we do not know of any cases in other timeshare hotspots such as Portugal or Greece. We do know however that there is a case being brought by Canarian Legal Alliance against a timeshare operator in Malta using a local law firm. More news on this as we get it.

If you think you have a contract which infringes the law and may be illegal, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you. Know your real position and options before you sign with any firm that calls and makes the offer of a claim, doing your homework will save you money in the end. 

Start the Week

December is now upon us and the courts will be having a last flurry of cases before the Christmas break. It is also the time of year when maintenance bills are being received and with this, there will be an increase in calls offering termination of your contracts. It is also the time when those who paid for these services will find that their timeshare has not been terminated and they are still liable for the maintenance fees. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many more enquiries regarding this and one of the main complaints is about ABC Legal.

As we published last week the story of two of our readers who are now being chased by a debt collection agency hired by ABC Legal and Mark Rowe, CCI Credit Management Ltd. We have since heard from another reader who is also being chased by them for payment of the fees to terminate their timeshare.

The timeshares have not been terminated by the timeshare company despite the protestations of ABC Legal that they have been. Our reader has demanded written official proof from ABC Legal to show that they did engage with the timeshare company and terminate the contract legally and formerly. Nothing has been forthcoming.

In each case, the letters demanding the clients pay ABC Legal Ltd, Abc Lawyers Ltd (both of these are in liquidation) or Advanced Business Consultants SL for the termination services has the following paragraph:

b) receipt by you of a letter from us stating that we consider that, in all of the circumstances, including the legal context and any legal notices served, that the Resort Owner is likely to treat the Timeshare Contract in effect as if it had been terminated (though in fact it has not been formally terminated) and that in our opinion the Resort Owner is unlikely to take any legal action against you. 

This paragraph is very contradictory, on the one hand they say the client will receive a letter from ABC that they consider the contract terminated, then they actually state in brackets that “though in fact it has not been formally terminated”. So the question is if it is not formally terminated how can it be terminated?

Surely the timeshare company would write to the member on official company letters that the timeshare is terminated and that the member should return all membership certificates?

The next telling part to show that ABC (Mark Rowe) does not, in fact, terminate contracts but rather tells the client to just stop paying the maintenance, that the timeshare company is “Unlikely in their opinion (ABC) to take legal action for any arrears”.

Well, we do know for the most part that this is untrue, many timeshare companies will chase for arrears in maintenance, most will not deal with companies such as these for termination. They will, however, deal direct with the member.

To us, at Inside Timeshare, this is blatant bullying by a company and owner who is well known for fleecing unsuspecting timeshare owners of their hard-earned cash. If you have dealt with any company such as this then please contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

News also came in late on Friday that a German client of Canarian Legal Alliance has now received a payout from Anfi into their account. They have now received 27,753.96€ plus legal fees and legal interest, their contract was also declared null and void, so another happy ex-Anfi owner.

Did you purchase your timeshare after 5 January 1999, did you pay any deposit within the 14 days cooling-off period, is the contract for a duration in excess of 50 years, does it contain floating weeks or points or is a fractional or company participation scheme?

If you can say yes to one or more of these, then you may have an illegal contract and have the right to make a claim, then please use our contact page for more information on this or any other timeshare matter.