Browse Category

Consumer advice

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Inside Timeshares Irene Parker reports on a Lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 former Wyndham employees. This suit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblowers Act in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division. This follows on from a previous article first published in 1 December 2016, where Whistleblowers exposed timeshare sales tactics, it was also where we reported on Trish Williams being awarded $20 million by a San Francisco jury for unfair dismissal after she exposed Wyndhams tactics. But first the latest news from the Spanish Courts.

For one British family they are nearing the end of a long road in their fight against Anfi Resorts, the Court of First Instance Number 4, in Maspalomas Gran Canaria has declared their contract null and void. The basis of this decision is the contract did not follow that stated under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

The Hope family are now timeshare free and will soon be able to enjoy the money awarded, as the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance has already begun proceedings to enforce the sentence and have the money paid out as quickly as possible.

Mr & Mrs Hope

On the subject of enforcing sentence, one Norwegian family have now been awarded 49,226€ with their contract with Anfi Resorts being declared null and void, on the grounds that it did not include any tangibility and was detrimental to the consumer.

After enforcement of sentence proceeding by their lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, this money is now safely in the clients own bank account.

So contrary to many posts on various forums and claims by timeshare companies, clients are receiving payment, so congratulations to both families.

Now for today’s article.

A Lawsuit Filed on behalf of 10 Former Wyndham Employees

Filing #82214691 filed 12/17/18

Timeshare Exit Team Responds to Manifesto

Arizona Timeshare Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers Opposed by Timeshare Lobbyists and Developers

By Irene Parker

February 22, 2019

A lawsuit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (Florida Statute 448102(3)) on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division against Wyndham Vacation Club. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal timeshare sales practices. This lawsuit parallels the former Wyndham California sales agent Trish William’s lawsuit in which a jury awarded Ms. Williams $20 million November 2016.

According to the Florida statute, “An employer may not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee has….Objected to, or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation.”

Florida House Bill 435, introduced by Freshman Representative Wyman Duggan seeks to protect timeshare members from unfair and deceptive sales practices perpetrated by timeshare exit companies.

The timeshare industry lobbyists and developers lump legitimate law firms and lawyers in with lawyers employing questionable business practices, with a goal to prevent members from seeking any legal counsel if they feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Timeshare Accountability Group™ maintains a member need not retain a law firm or an exit company. Our Supporters answer questions about regulatory filings as the process can be daunting. However, some members do not have the time or temperament to withstand our process, which we admit is arduous.

In Manifesto Part I the author compared third party exit companies to Ponzi Schemes. This prompted a response from Timeshare Exit Team:  

“For the past seven years, as Timeshare Exit Team has grown from a local, Seattle-based company to a national brand, we have remained focused on honesty, integrity, and transparency. We exit burdened timeshare owners legitimately by facilitating transfers, voluntary deed-backs to resorts, or using attorneys to litigate against timeshare developers when necessary, and offer a 100% money-back guarantee. To date, we have successfully exited 16,000 timeshare owners. Our goal is not just to provide a valid exit for owners who find themselves with no realistic solution to get out of their timeshare, but also to transform the industry. For that reason, we are proud to be a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare. In solidarity with our Coalition partners, we are pushing for a Consumer’s Bill of Rights for timeshare owners–and would-be owners–that seeks to create a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract, to  lengthen rescission periods to 14 days, to force full disclosure in timeshare presentations, and to give timeshare owners booking rights over the general public. Our passion is to be able to serve every single one of our clients AND to support those who wish to keep their timeshare, but just want a level playing field with the developers.”

Given Timeshare Accountability Group™ recommends not paying anyone to get out of a timeshare, we find ourselves an unlikely ally with Timeshare Exit Team as we are also a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare.

There are many timeshare exit scams, but there are also many scam timeshare sales agents. Inside Timeshare has heard from 705 families reporting allegations our ten Wyndham former employees say they were forced to employ or be “starved out” of their jobs.

In the Wyndham lawsuit, plaintiffs were employed by Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort which opened in 2017. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents, a business operations coordinator and a community marketing agent. Plaintiffs say they were enticed by a supposed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the opening sales team where they were promised yearly profits in excess of $500,000.

The allegations described in this December 2018 class action read like a broken record to Charles Thomas and me. We hear on a daily basis, identical complaints from timeshare buyers from a variety of timeshare companies. Many were existing members who trusted the company, buying more points in order to be eligible for programs that did not exist, like the ability to sell back points to the company. Timeshares have virtually no secondary market.

We also have received many complaints from timeshare buyers who said they did not realize a credit card had been opened or charged. They report being told to “fill this out so we can determine if you are eligible” when in actuality a credit card was opened and charged. Electronic signing doesn’t help as initials are stored and then, tap, tap, tapped to completion.

According to the Wyndham December 2018 complaint, allegations (edited for brevity) in violation of Florida statutes, include:  

18. Plaintiffs allege supervisors regularly instructed them to intentionally confuse and mislead buyers or “wear them down” so they would buy property.

19. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to misrepresent the price of the timeshare through the use of point charts, specifically Wyndham’s “Clearwater Beach Resort Points Chart” fraudulently showing buyers the “RCI Points Chart” which depicts substantially cheaper points – in many cases less than half the actual cost.

20. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the timeshare was an investment.

21. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the property was not a timeshare.

22. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently misrepresent to buyers the effect of completing a credit application. Plaintiffs were instructed to advise buyers that the credit application would only be a “soft hit” or that it was not a credit application at all.

23. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently alter the buyers’ income level on their credit application, if needed, for them to be approved for credit financing.

24. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that Wyndham would buy back their property if they were not satisfied with it.

25. Supervisors intentionally preyed upon the elderly in the use of unethical and illegal sales tactics.

26. Out-of-state residents not eligible to purchase Clearwater Beach Resort properties directed plaintiffs to fraudulently advise such buyers to purchase “Club Wyndham Access” that would give them access to other Wyndham properties, and that they could transfer their interest to Clearwater Beach Resort, even providing a form letter explaining this, knowing it was not true.                                                   

27. Potential buyers were told the property was not a timeshare, but a “vacation ownership.”

28. Supervisors routinely overstated availability due to Wyndham renting out rooms, reducing availability.

29. Supervisors directed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise timeshare owners on their refinancing options advising existing owners that they could keep making the same monthly payments and pay off their loan by the same time, when in actuality repayment terms were simply extended.

30. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to do “whatever they have to do” to close deals, even if it was unlawful or unethical.

The suit also alleges unlicensed real estate agents engaged in the unlicensed practice of real estate by selling properties to buyers.  

Plaintiffs say they complained numerous times to supervisors, Human Resources, and eventually to corporate attorneys and investigators. Plaintiffs stated at least one supervisor stated he would “starve out” Plaintiffs that objected and/or complained if they did not do what he told them to do, or would fire them. Plaintiffs were constructively terminated. According to the complaint, one supervisor advised Plaintiffs to “forget everything (they) just learned” as they would never make a sale that way.

According to attorney Tom Roebig of Florin Roebig trial attorneys, representing the Plaintiffs,

“All too often corporations think that an employee who reports wrongdoing is trying to start trouble, when they’re really just trying to protect the company and other innocent victims. Unfortunately, as we can see here, all too often the employee is punished for doing the right thing.”    

Allegations from the Trish Williams lawsuit:

In the Trish Williams lawsuit, the elderly were also targeted. Allegations in the Trish Williams lawsuit include:   

1.     The effect or even existence of a credit card application;

2.     That current owners could increase their points at no cost;

3.     That Wyndham would buy back points or property in certain circumstances;

4.     That monthly payments would be reduced when they were simply being extended;

5.     That current owners were making smaller payments than they were, in an effort to persuade them to purchase more points;

Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations made this statement about unscrupulous timeshare exit companies’ sales practices:

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of.”

Having heard from 705 timeshare families, 98 active duty service members or veterans, alleging unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, we contend both sides of the timeshare sales and exits are problematic.

Arizona has proposed a bill (linked above) to safeguard timeshare buyers against practices alleged in the Wyndham lawsuit, numerous Attorneys General investigations, Better Business Bureau complaints, and other lawsuits. We will be reporting on this bill in an upcoming article.  

Thank you to the bravery and courage it takes for employees and former employees to “Hold the Powerful Accountable” and as I can personally attest – it’s not easy!  I look to Whistleblowers of America (WoA) for support because you can’t do it alone. WoA is a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, active duty service personnel and government workers. A veteran introduced me to WoA.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/h

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share. We know there are honest agents who refuse to buy into the “pitching of heat” which means telling consumers anything they can think of to get a potential buyer to sign on the electronic line. They too are harmed by the actions of sales agents with questionable business practices.

Thank you Irene and to all other contributors this week, with your help we are able to give others a glimpse of what is happening in the world of timeshare.

Please use our contact page if you have any comment or questions on any of the subjects covered on Inside Timeshare.

Have a great weekend.


Has Another Genuine Law Firm Had Their Identity Stolen?

We have received enquiries regarding another Law Firm that claims the client has a substantial amount of money due to be paid to them, unfortunately from our research the CIF numbers, do not match the law firms name or the companies name, neither does the address match that of a genuine law firm.

The name of the “law firm” is Cárdenas Abogados, the CIF Number given is B93597839 which is one we have come across before, it actually belongs to Victoria Services Legal SL, with the address:

C/ Centro Comercial Los Jarales Local 1, Suite  29651 (Mijas) Málaga

These are the details given on the letterhead sent to one of our readers:

Cárdenas Abogados
Calle Nuestra Señora de Gracia, 7 1C,
29602, Marbella, Malaga

Tel – 952774858

Company Reg (CIF) – B93597839

We have also found two websites

https://www.abogados-cardenas.com

With registration details hidden when checking whois,

The other website is cardenasabogados.es but unfortunately it will not link to this page.

No registration details can be found for this website either.

Both websites show no company details or registration numbers, no lawyers details or bar association numbers. Although on Google Street View there is an office which can be seen with the name of the firm and the website being visible on the window. The office is located on the first floor on the corner of Calle Alonso de Bazán and Calle Virgen del Pilar Marbella.

This may very well be a genuine law firm but the lack of details on the website does make it look suspicious.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Calle+Ntra.+Sra.+de+Gracia,+7,+1C,+29602+Marbella,+M%C3%A1laga/@36.5095837,-4.8905459,3a,75y,265.25h,85.36t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sgKsE4E6-BewzWAWTowkihA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0xd7327ff7fd848d5:0x415071f69d2a8859!8m2!3d36.5094418!4d-4.8907654

There is another company name and address at the foot of the letter:

Tenco Marketing SL, CIF B93374304, C/ Centro Comercial Los Jarales Local 1, Suite  122 Mijas Costa Málaga Spain.

Again both CIF Number and address do not match the company registered with that number:

Autobahn 2015 SL, C/ Veronica 9 Mijas Costa Malaga. According to company records this company is in the business of Construction and Development and has been registered for around 5 years.

We have located a law firm called Bufete Internacional Cardeñas Abogados SLP, based in Sevilla, with the CIF Number B90397662. No website for this company has yet been found.

The letter names a “lawyer” Marijo Dujmovic (not very Spanish is it?) and is also signed by him, according to this letter our reader is set to receive over £26,000 on or before 20 March. The lawyer is to charge the client over £6,000 with an advance fee of over £2,000, with the balance due 5 working days after the services have ceased.

This letter was sent via email from the following email address:

[email protected]

As you can see it is a standard free gmail service which anyone can sign up for and not linked to any website.

The following section also does not seem to make sense considering that there is a fee already quoted:

6. Lawyer will charge for all activities undertaken in providing legal services to Client under thisAgreement, including but not limited to, the following: conferences, court sessions, and depositions. Preparation and participation; correspondence and legal documents review and preparation; legal Research; and telephone conversations. When two or more of Lawyers personnel are engaged in Working on the matter at the same time, such as in conferences between them, the time of each will Be charged at his or her hourly rate.

Now the letter itself is not on any official looking headed paper, it is a word document with a picture of a gavel and scales, the picture is linked to Bing, so the image is just a standard one downloaded from the internet, so the whole thing has just been cobbled together.

Just on these finding alone we can safely assume that this is another scam, there is no money, they are not a law firm, the addresses are very familiar and the Modus Operandi is also very, very familiar, see links below for the original articles.

Once again this shows that you must be absolutely vigilant when it comes to any “firm” contacting you with news that you have been awarded substantial amount of money in “compensation”.

If you have been contacted by any of the companies named here, or are suspicious of any others that have contacted you with a similar story, then use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will help you find out if they are indeed genuine, but the chances are they are going to be an absolute scam!

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, this week we publish Part 2 of Manifesto, by another Industry Insider, with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

At the end of last week we received some news from the courts in Gran Canaria, first was the news that the Enforcement / Embargo Team of Canarian Legal Alliance had once again secured a payout for one of their clients. Anfi Del Mar were ordered to deposit with the courts the sum of 49,226.57€ which is a few thousand more than they originally paid. They also received back their legal fees and legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.

Then it was announced that the Courts of San Bartelomé de Tirajana had declared another 8 Anfi contracts null and void, with a total claim amount of over 400,000€. So some very happy clients indeed.

Now on with our Tuesday Slot.

Another Industry Insider Responds to Manifesto

Manifesto Part I:

Manifesto Part II upcoming: Our author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Introduction by Irene Parker

February 19, 2019

As we learned in Manifesto Part I, considerable effort went into restricting the secondary market. One developer will not allow participation in the company’s voluntary deed-back program if the timeshare points were purchased on the secondary market. The goal is to get and keep the timeshare points in house employing any means possible.

As documented in Manifesto Part I, publicly traded timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to (their) investors. As baby boomers especially are learning about this timeshare hostage scenario, some families are financially devastated. They are left with no choice but to foreclose. Of the 702 families that have reached out to us, 98 are active duty service members or veterans, several disabled. The vast majority have high credit scores. Having to withstand the intimidation and humiliation of foreclosure can be overwhelming, especially for seniors having spent a lifetime paying bills on time.  

A Second Insider responds to Manifesto in today’s article. Insider analysis allows timeshare members and owners a glimpse into what goes on behind Wall Street’s timeshare scenes. Wall Street has made light of the well-orchestrated restricted secondary market. It’s just a loan loss provision number. I wish they could spend a day on the front lines listening to family after family explain how they were driven into timeshare insolvency, alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices, a few even to the point of bankruptcy. Most complain they bought additional points promised maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points that was not forthcoming.

Following are comments from Industry Insider #2 to Manifesto, with responses from Industry Insider #1 (our Manifesto author) interspersed:

Commenter: I appreciate the well-formed Manifesto published last Tuesday, but would like to add some key points. A very important group of companies and individuals played a significant role in helping the timeshare ownership industry evolve/shift into the (points based) industry. The distinction being; now there are very few owners with “real property rights” as the majority of people own a beneficial interest in a club in the form of “crypto-currency” or points.

Anonymous responds; In Wall Street parlance; the Timeshare industry monetized utilizing a derivative – a very smart move. The term “luft” comes to mind. Luft is the German word for “air”. We’ve termed this derivative an RTU or “Termed Length” – Right to Use contract. Right to use timeshare contracts are the most popular forms of vacation ownership sold today. However, right to use (RTU) timeshare, and their agreements, operate differently from traditional deed ownership. Right to use timeshare is exactly as it sounds—you purchase the right to use the timeshare during the period on which you agreed. Unlike deeded timeshare contracts, you do not actually own any part of the property. Instead of a deed or title, you are bound to the timeshare by the terms of your contract. Right to Use contracts often takes the form of a club membership.

The right to use may be lost with the demise of the controlling company, because a right to use purchaser’s contract is usually only good with the current owner, and if that owner sells the property, the contract holder could be out of luck depending on the structure of the contract, and/or current laws in foreign venues. A more important question is; how many points can a (resort) issue to new buyers as 100% of the points are “derived” from the (resorts) land trust ownership of the original deeds? Secondary purchasers of RTU/Points have reported that many (resorts) strip owners’ privileges, access, exchanges and other perks of ownership to discourage and deter secondary market purchases.

This question begins to examine why Club /RTU owners often find that they cannot successfully book accommodations or exchanges unless they plan far in advance (24 months + prior). Because the points/RTU contracts are basically selling ‘air’, the resorts sell many multiples of Points /RTU’s than could ever be accommodated at any given time.  As we can see, this Club /Points/ RTU method allows the (Resorts) to sell an infinite number of points when compared to the prior physical simple-deeds.

Commenter: The industry, which upgrades up to 70% of its existing owner base, misleads owners into trading in their deeded intervals for some expansion use of a multi-site developer under the guise of convenience. This opportunity was something that was already afforded to them by the exchange companies.

Anonymous responds; Indeed, the industry quickly saw the future in selling air and swapped out owner’s valuable real estate property deeds for RTU contracts.

Commenter: The industry, already renting some 11M nights and adding 2+Billion in rental revenues (mostly to non-owners), could only be achieved by taking away the “sticks & bricks” of ownership.

Anonymous responds; Thus, creating extreme amounts of actual real inventory that could be rented out without benefitting RTU /Points Owners. Simultaneously, major resorts banned aggregations or collections of Points that could be used for business ventures; I.e. renting the points out.

Commenter: To accelerate this effort of transition, a modernization of laws needed to be created. This started in 2012 when ARDA drafted a sponsored a bill known as the “Timeshare Resale Accountability Act”. What few knew then was that the secondary market was collapsing right along with the primary market in the “Great Recession” – Timeshare developers began stripping various benefits of owners, selling into the secondary market, and imposed great “use” restrictions on those who acquired timeshares in the secondary market (like on eBay or through another resale channel).

As the economy began to improve and timeshare sales rebounded, a new subset of companies emerged. Those companies were called *Trade-in/Transfer groups and many of them worked on the same tables alongside of the teams of resort reps waiting to help those existing owners getting into an upgraded and competitive timeshare program.

Anonymous comments – These were the earliest aggregators working in contact with the developers who were filling their land trusts with the deeds as owners got part exchanged or traded into upgrading for RTUs.  

Commenter: What to do with these competitive intervals? Most of these companies ultimately failed as a result of a suppressive business model that was never shared with owners regarding how this created the nominal value factor which some even call negative value. Examples of companies: (Fireside Registry – Catalyst – SumDay Vacations – ALL ARDA members, assisting to provide inventory recovery/aggregator services for resort developers. Each acquired inventory for literally a penny to five cents a point, or sometimes at no cost.

Further, the writer suggests that attorneys are not effective and cannot make the resorts release their owners. This is simply untrue. There are thousands of owner/members who have successfully used attorneys to negotiate a release or litigate for return of monies paid and further, many multi-plaintiff or class actions in which resorts have paid multiple millions back to owners. These all were settled out of court and protected by settlement agreements that have confidentiality clauses and/or have been sealed by the courts, designed to protect developer secrets and activities of unclean hands, they simply do not want owners to know about.

Anonymous Comments – Attorneys that were early were certainly very effective.

The industry richly deserves its worst courtroom defeats. Many large defeats were on the basis of sales misrepresentation, contract misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent credit card/credit line applications and many other examples too numerous to mention.

Most effective examples are when the attorney/client relationship is limited to one timeshare case. Thousands of people have been willed unwanted timeshares as beneficiaries and literally 100% of these get redeemed with no issues and nominal fees. In 2008/09/10 owners who went bankrupt got redeemed without any issues, their personal credit was already damaged. The resorts could not use the leverage of personal negative credit reporting to force payment so “attorneys of merit” handled all of that work, therefore “yes” attorneys of merit are effective in dealing with unwanted timeshare assets.

Sadly, not all Attorneys are cut from the same cloth. Attorneys working on behalf of TPE’s represent a type of faux-Legal Mill. Rarely do attorneys working with TPE’s ever meet, counsel, or in fact speak to the customers. In fact, attorneys working in conjunction with TPE’s seem to be ineffective, due mostly to the overall felonious strategy.

Commenter: Finally, timeshare developers are finding it harder and harder to conduct business around the world *(UK, Spain, South Africa, Canada, others) except here in the United States where powerful lobbyists have used timeshare owners monies thru voluntary contributions to ARDA-ROC, Orange Lake Resort Alliance and other funds from developers to ensure passage of laws that protect the industry from angry consumers who unfairly have not been told the truth about their lifetime vacation ownership purchases.

Anonymous Comments – These lobbying attempts indubitably and with little doubt demonstrate how the industry desperately clings to its massive residual cash-cow after decades of selling a clearly worthless, illiquid luxury product to giddy, undefended, vacation minded, innocent members of the public.

Thank you to both our Insiders. We would appreciate input from the industry, but to my knowledge have refused to admit the secondary market is a problem and that there are thousands, if not millions who have wanted or want to be rid of their timeshare. There are some developers who have responded when we have sent an article for comment. We appreciate developers who will at least respond after members report being financially harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. We hope more dialogue ensues.

Thank you Irene for your introduction and for editing the article, we would also like to thank both our Industry Insiders for their contributions, no doubt we shall receive many more from them.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare invites you to use our contact page, or join our Inside Timeshare Facebook Group, use the visit group box to log in, or use our contact page to send in your comments or questions.

If you have a timeshare issue that you would need help with or want to know what you can do, again contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide you.

Start the Week: More Scams Reported

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight another new “SCAM” in the making and revisit another which we highlighted back in January.

As we know Eze Europe Ltd (Eze Group) along with Dominic O’Reilly and his Daughter Stephanie O’Reilly, have been in the news recently and are due to appear before Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing on 29 March. It was only a matter of time before some unscrupulous people got on the bandwagon and started contacting those who have been involved with Eze Group.

The company is called Claims Assistant Bureau with the company registration number 06832938, with the address:

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

Tel: 02920099129

This address is actually used by a company called Help Debt Plus (Wales) Limited, who have full Financial Conduct Authority authorisation, so obviously have nothing tho do with Claims Assistant Bureau.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06832938

The company was registered with Company House on 2 March 2009 and the current director Stephen Michael Francis being appointed on 2 December 2009, he is also the Company Secretary, appointed on 2 March 2009.

According to the filing history at company house, the company has been listed as “dormant” since 2 April 2010 and is now listed as a “Micro Company”.

So it would seem that it is only registered so it can be used for initiating various “scams”, to fool people into thinking they are dealing with a “legitimate” UK company.

So what are they promising?

According to information from several readers in the past few days they have either been appointed by Birmingham Crown Court, The High Court in Madrid and the Courts in Tenerife to make contact with Eze Group victims. Apparently there is a substantial amount of money being held and Claims Assistant Bureau can help you retrieve it. For a fee that is.

According to one of the readers they received a call from a Harry Evans, who explained that due to a recent court case against Regency Shores (Eze Group) Holdings SL they have been awarded their money back. They then received an email from one Mel Rhys:

Dear Mr & Mrs XXXXXX

Further to your telephone conversation with Mr. Evans here is an email giving you further insight into the situation at hand.

All monies that you will be receiving are being settled to you by the successful outcome of recent court proceedings against Regency Shore (EZE Group) Holdings SL, were upon you were listed as one of their members GP11186.

The amount you will receive is £3,950.

About any paperwork you may or may not have, do not worry as we will be sending notarised legal paperwork that will include all company histories and court documentation regarding your outcome.

Some of your paperwork will be in Spanish if you have any problems understanding it please do not hesitate in contacting us as we offer a free translation service for you the client.

Our processing fee is £695 this includes our fees, courier service and translation services, once you have paid our fees we will be under contract with you to finalise the claim, all monies will be settled within 10 working days. If the process does not complete within the given timeframe all monies will be returned to you the client.

We are now giving you not only our company guarantee but that too of our contractual and fiscal arrangements with the Bank of Spain, the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and the High Court of Madrid. This means that all business is backed and covered by these three entities and ourselves.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us on the details below.

Kind regards

Mel Rhys

Claims Assistance Bureau Limited

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close,

Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

02920099129

06832938 companies house

As you can see from the email, not only do the clients get the “company guarantee” but the company is also guaranteed by The Bank of Spain, The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and th High Court of Madrid!

With those sort of “Guarantors” it must be safe!

Well, not very, for one there is no money being held by the courts, there has been no case in Spain against Regency Shores, those institutions would not be making any guarantee or have any dealing with a private company for any legal matter.

The case in Birmingham has not been concluded so no money has been set aside for victims.

If the courts had your name and membership numbers as victims of any company, they would have been in contact through official channels, not using a third party company. If you have been contacted with this or a similar story, do not be fooled into paying anything, it is a “fraud” pure and simple.

In January we reported on another company JB Legal / SIM Legal owned by Jeroen Martijn Brussel, pictured below.


Another of our Scandinavian readers has been contacted by this person and his companies, our reader has paid a substantial amount for the SilverpointCompany Participations” and somehow Brussel had his details.

Unfortunately, our reader was taken in by the pitch that JB Legal / SIM Legal would take their case against Silverpoint to court, claiming fraud. A lawyer was named as the person taking on the case, Ruben Padron Perez, but it seems he claims his identity has been stolen for illegal purposes.

This reader then paid over 17,000€ to a company called Walker Padron Perez Consultants Ltd, a UK registered company, Company Number 11099369, registered on 6 December 2017 with the address:

The Apex, 2 Sheriffs Orchard, Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom, CV1 3PP

This address is mail box and virtual office run by Small Firms Service Limited, so is not a permanent address.

The director is named as Alan Walker with according to filing history one Mrs Marisol Sanati De Walker (Dominican Rep) as a person with significant control.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/11099369

Mr Brussel also required a payment to himself of almost 2000€ to be paid in cash for the notary, that is a rather large amount for any notary.

But it doesn’t end there, without his knowledge of permission, his documents were handed to another firm, which at this point is not being named. He has also paid this other company over 28,000€ to take on the case.

So what has happened to the initial payments made to Walker Padron Perez and Jeroen Martijn Brussel?

Our reader has not been able to contact Walker Padron Perez or Brussel, all emails are being ignored and the telephone calls not being answered.

He has been told by the “new” company that they will get him back this money, we will just have to wait and see.

Once again, these two stories reinforces what we have been saying all along, before doing any business and paying out substantial amounts of money, do your homework. If you do not know where to start, then use our contact page, we will help you find the genuine from the fraudsters.

If you have also been contacted by any of the companies mentioned, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, use our contact page and let us know what happened.

You will also notice that we have started a new Facebook Group, log in to join.

Friday’s Letter from America: On Thursday

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, yes it is Thursday, but due to personal matters we are publishing this today, also to give a little more time to gather more people to attend the Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest. We also thank Patty Boyak for this article.

Our Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest at the Mall Entrance

Harmon Avenue

Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

Join Us this Weekend February 16 & 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

Thursday, February 14 (Friday’s Letter from America)

By Patty Boyak, event organizer

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. I should be thinking about hearts and flowers, but I am having a hard time getting over the deception 70 Platinum timeshare members experienced. I am one of the 70. We were told and believed buying additional points would qualify us for a program to reduce or eliminate our maintenance fees. It was a program that did not exist. Other Platinum members were sold on the ability to be able sell points. They later learned that their timeshare points are all but worthless. We were loyal, and most importantly, trusting customers, so believed timeshare sales agents. We are educated professionals. We are not deadbeats with buyer’s remorse.

Florida Representative Wyman Duggan submitted a Florida House Bill 435 concerned about unfair and deceptive timeshare exit company sales practices. What about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? The bill proposes exit companies be required to provide one day for a buyer to review a contract. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

Why can’t timeshare buyers be given one day to review a contract?

  • Probably because the industry would disappear if the buyer was allowed 24 hours to review the contract. Timeshare companies demand buyers must buy a timeshare the same day – often after a long aggressive sales session.

What about deceptive timeshare sales practices?

Why isn’t Florida Representative Duggan concerned about the much larger dollar amounts consumers are losing to unscrupulous timeshare sales agents?

The St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau gets it:

THE ST. LOUIS BBB RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use a neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

Voluntary deed-backs work for those who have used and enjoyed their timeshare for years, but what about the buyer deceived who signed off on high interest rate loans and credit cards after experiencing unfair and deceptive sales practices? Voluntary surrender programs don’t help them.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official response to complaints of unfair and deceptive practices – seconded by lawmakers and the regulators in some states (like Nevada), the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Nevada all our complaints were dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” There are too many educated professionals, who don’t know each other, reporting similar, and in several cases, identical complaints.

Platinum member Sheila Brust (and our T Shirt designer) reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a Florida regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market.”

Check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare or to find out if your timeshare even has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Our Mission Statement

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 Patty for your article, for all those who are going to attend, Inside Timeshare will be with you in spirit and we hope you all have a wonderful day. We never know, it may just make a difference, we can but try!

Nordic Consulting, Company Participations: More Readers Send Information as a Warning

Further to our previous articles on the Silverpoint Participations and Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, today we publish the experiences of one reader from Scandinavia, taken from the many enquiries received in the past two days. It explains how he was sold the these “participations” and has since been contacted by Ali Farhoud from Nordic Consulting. We have slightly changed certain details to keep the identity of our reader private.

Back in 2017, our reader attended a meeting with Silverpoint Vacations, the representative was Alex Farhoud, another brother of Ali. The scheme was explained to him and he was led to believe that he was buying a specific apartment at Beverly Hills Heights, part of the agreement was that he would receive an income from the rental of the said apartment and eventually be able to sell.

After some time, he eventually signed the contract and parted with over 150,000€, along with the purchase contract was a rental contract with Silverpoint Vacations, the client left in the belief that he had a good deal.

Then in 2018, Alex Farhoud made contact, our reader was informed that the rental contract had been cancelled and new less favourable conditions had been presented. In order to fix this Alex Farhoud demanded a further 10,000€ fee. Our reader fearing the loss of his “investment” duly paid. The new rental contract was with Excel Hotels and Resorts. He received an outline of the new rental contract, which to some extent the original conditions that they had initially agreed to.

Nearly a year later he was once again contacted by Alex Farhoud, this time it was stated that the purchase contract they our reader had signed was not valid. The reason being he could not get a title for a product that was essentially made up of timeshares!

Enter Nordic Consulting and Ali Farhoud, Alex Farhoud referred our reader to this company with the proposal that Nordic Consulting would instigate legal proceedings to have the contract with Silverpoint nullified, plus claiming back what they had initially paid, but in double. Obviously there was going to be a fee for this, that was estimated at over 30,000€. Our reader has had repeated calls from both brother to pay and get the process initiated. But our reader has not done so, one reason is that he has received no explanations or clarification in writing.

Our reader has also received a letter from Silverpoint informing him that the process of obtaining title was moving on and that all units had been cleared of timeshare owners. Apparently a “certificate” confirming that all 52 weeks in the unit purchased were clear. Our reader would then be called to Tenerife to sign the title.

Our reader is now so confused, can he believe or trust Silverpoint?

Can he trust Nordic Consulting, his brothers company, especially as it was Alex Farhoud who sold him the product in the first place?

This is why our reader turned to Inside Timeshare, he had nowhere else to turn, he didn’t know who to trust. After lengthy discussions we made a recommendation and our reader is now discussing his options with a leading law firm in this field. It will be sometime before we will be able to give you an outcome, but we are sure that his problem will be resolved to his satisfaction.

Have you had dealings with Silverpoint, either the “investment weeks” or the “company participation scheme”, have you been contacted by Nordic Consulting regarding these?

Have you been contacted by JB Legal / SIM Legal and Jeroen Martijn Brussel, (See article published 28 Jan 19), along with Walker Padron Perez, with a similar story?

If so, get in touch with Inside Timeshare, let us know your experiences so that we can keep these warning going, we will also offer free and impartial advice on what options are open to you.

The Tuesday Slot: Manifesto Part 1

After we published our interpretation of Florida HB 435, Inside Timeshare received the following Manifesto written by an Industry Insider. Part I examines the history of exit companies. Of note is the mention of the role private equity plays in today’s timeshare industry. Private equity firms played a major role in the junk bond debacle of the 80s and the subprime mortgage crisis of the 90s, so it is of no surprise to find private equity firms directing timeshare today. A junk bond or a subprime mortgage had some value for the borrower, but a timeshare contract, often adding up to $100,000 or more, is worth next to nothing should the borrower need to sell.

We look forward to Part II in which today’s author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Florida HB 435 addresses timeshare exit services

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

MANIFESTO

Timeshare Exit Companies and the Future of Timeshare

WHAT DO THIRD PARTY TIMESHARE EXIT COMPANIES (“TPE”) TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE TIMESHARE INDUSTRY?

Part 1.

By Anonymous.

Our Questions;

 

  • Are Third Party Exit (“TPE”) companies selling a product that is largely undeliverable?
  • If the product is undeliverable are all remaining TPE’s simply exhausted Ponzi schemes awaiting implosion and bankruptcy?
  • How many Customers in the last 12-48 months have paid thousands of dollars for services yet remain unresolved, un-exited, un-refunded, and are still on the hook for their timeshares?
  • How large is this Exodus?

 

In this manifesto we shall attempt to break down into layman’s terms the causes and effects on the Timeshare Industry at the hands of the so-called third-party timeshare exit companies or “TPE’s” and eventually in Part Two, draw public comment for a new business proposal to remedy and resolve some of the issues.

We shall also reminisce at some of the more notable examples of earlier ill-fated timeshare exit businesses, all of whom reveal the starkest of similarities. In doing so, we will also be commenting on the chest-beater from the Industry in the form of a Sept 17th 2018 public release. Sadly, we shall also be debating the unconventional elephant that still sits in the room.

  • Why is there such resistance to owners exiting a Timeshare?  
  • Why is there no organized, unionized, “brand supported” exit & secondary market offering that satisfies the disposal needs of owners who are aged, retired, unwanted beneficiaries of, no longer travel or are on Federal poverty levels?  

 “On Sept 17th 2108 the Timeshare industry, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), have united to stop the misconduct of those deceiving timeshare owners into paying for illusory timeshare exit services through fraudulent means”.

I applaud the Industry on the use of the word “illusory’ as defined as: based on illusion; not real.” In what appears to be a long overdue case of karma, the timeshare industry is altruistically defending its long suffering, desperate “exiting and cancelling” owners from paying for illusory exit & cancellation services.  

(We don’t know who is more naïve; the Resorts for expecting that no one can ever get out of a Timeshare, or the deluge of Owners who paid upfront to try to get out!)

We speculate that in the last 36 months a crescendo aggregating to millions of owners had the audacity to want to end their Timeshare experience and as a result many hired Lawyers and Advocates and spent tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to get rid of their timeshares. Most of these fees were paid upfront, and most were promised that fees were 100% refundable if the exit contract expires and one still owns one’s timeshare assuming the Lawyer or Advocate is actually still in business!

Customers are asked to pay $7500 or more ‘upfront’ to be represented or advocated. Most marketers claim that there are magical back passages into resorts that take back the timeshares quietly in a forbidden black market open to only the special few. Marketers support this notion by suggesting that if the resorts were to publicly announce that they take back timeshares there would be an immense exodus of cancellations. No present evidence supports this tall tale.  

The Timeshare Industry is familiar with the exiting, canceling or generally getting out of a timeshare scam. As we can see Timeshares are complex and very sticky to get rid of. The Industry continues putting TPE lawyers and advocates out of business and into bankruptcy, yet the Industry cannot find a solution to the real problem – an evident immense Exodus.

Nothing, other than Moses leaving Egypt could be compared to the TPE Companies assault on popular branded timeshare owners in 2015 – 2018. All the major brands had rolled out vacation club programs with all types of new generation upsells and exchanges. Publicly traded companies in the hotel, recreation, leisure and timeshare industries had begun curiously separating their timeshare divisions into new public companies. Yet at conventions, the Resort Owners, Lawyers and Administrators all reported that their biggest headaches were the Exit firms. Their disruptive activities caused added administration issues, defaults, millions in lost revenues, angry customers all dealing with these flimsy cancellation letters from dozens of Lawyers and hundreds of Advocates interrupting contractual obligations and communication with the customers. They all knew where this would end…owners were paying thousands upfront for services that weren’t going to happen. Owners were routinely signing and notarizing Powers of Attorney to exit companies like they were signing Christmas cards! This wasn’t a cottage industry any more. It was an epidemic that had to be eliminated.

Apollo Global Management, owner of privatized Diamond Resorts (who as Merchant Bankers were possibly the first well-known brand to recognize the sudden disparity in results and the probable cause), began aggressively suing TPE Lawyers & Advocate Company’s in 2015. Apollo has made it known that they are preparing to re-IPO Diamond Resorts

  • The cause; The Timeshare Developer/Owner HOA true concerns are the financial effect that an immense Exodus of Owners and the sudden loss of payment of residual annual fees would have on the bottom line.
  • The effect; The Timeshare Industry has adopted a widely “illiquid” stance based on the capture of customers annual fees. The Timeshare industry survives in a very large part from customers annual maintenance fees.

Where did this idea of how to bilk the Timeshare Industry come from?  

In 2004, Uri Fried, an Israeli businessman and so-called inventor of the Third-Party Exit (TPE) business sent millions of postcards to timeshare owners inviting them to get rid of their timeshares for an upfront fee. Uri had formed over 50 straw buyers LLCs and began transferring thousands of unwanted timeshares per month into his LLCs. For several years Uri’s activity went relatively unnoticed by developers and resorts. Along the way Uri sold timeshares on eBay for $1 thus cementing the perceived market value of second-hand timeshare at one-dollar. None of Uri’s LLC’s ever paid a cent in maintenance to any resorts. Uri ended up serving a couple of years for $1.9m tax evasion.

In 2017 Uri settled all misrepresentation charges with the State of Wisconsin for $132,000 and received a lifelong ban from ever handling timeshares again. None of Uri’s ill-gotten gains were ever recovered.

Uri Fried woke the Industry up to the vulnerability of the Viking Ship LLC exit scam. The Resorts & HOAs were so fragmented. Collectively, they had no clue what Uri was up to. Uri’s customers owned everything and anything. Uri knew he was never going to pay a penny in dues or maintenance, so he stuffed them all into his defaulting LLCs. If the Resorts grew suspicious of the LLC name(s) Uri would simply create new ones.

Eventually the resorts smartened up and unilaterally responded by refusing to honor or acknowledge transfers to certain suspicious names and eventually certain transfer companies. The Developers had falsely believed that some level of organic secondary market had been occurring. As the industry is so hugely fragmented the major developers were fooled for a while.

As we shall see, the Viking Ship LLC model grinds slowly to a halt when the resorts block or refuses customer re-registrations and transfers. However, the TPE’s marketing machines continue “in almost every case” to sell new Customers on getting rid of their timeshares, in order to continue to collect thousands in what surely become ill-gotten fees, thus becoming a Ponzi scheme; whereby new monies pay off older refunds.

After the failure of Uri Fried’s business, an alternative Viking ship business became strongly marketed; Attorneys claiming to ‘cancel’ a timeshare.

On behalf of Owners who retained the firm, Castle Law (and others similar) wrote to the HOA’s and Resorts and in some cases Lenders, a series of scalding, lawyerly stamped, heavily embossed, important looking letters accusing and maligning the Resorts with allegations of much malfeasance, misrepresentation and fraud in the inducement.  

Owners were claiming any or all of the following:

  • Told that this offer is good for today only.  
  • Told that timeshare is in hot demand
  • Told that timeshare is a great investment
  • Told that timeshare – like all real estate will appreciate over time.  
  • Told the timeshare presentation is only going to be 90 minutes.
  • Told the timeshare is in such demand it could always be RENTED for a profit.
  • Told that you are buying pre-construction and this timeshare can be SOLD for a profit after the next “phase.”  
  • Told that this week/resort is such a valuable week to all of the exchange companies that you can trade for “anytime, anywhere.”  
  • Told that this maintenance fee will not increase over time
  • Told you will be attending an “update” to discuss questions (also called a policy change, owners update, etc.… – later it was actually a sales presentation).  
  • Told that this is not timeshare but Vacation Ownership or Vacation Property.  
  • (You) were subjected to high pressure sales tactics or felt that you could not leave the presentation without purchasing timeshare.
  • The timeshare sales agents plied you with champagne (or other alcohol or drugs).
  • The timeshare sales agents assured you, you could cancel if we had second thoughts/buyer’s remorse.  

Attorneys and Advocates, armed with Limited Power of Attorney, filed cease and desists on behalf of owners. Attorneys were demanding that the Resort have no communication with the aggrieved customer (s). Simultaneously, customers were instructed not to communicate with their resort, and to forward any communication from the resort to the attorney or advocate.

It wasn’t long before far less scholarly ‘advocates’ caught on to the jolly wheeze and suddenly millions of timeshare data records were for sale and hundreds of thousands of robo dialed calls an hour were being made to every timeshare owner looking for people who wanted to get out of their timeshares.

Unbelievably, millions of owners wanted out.

In the words of ReedHein dba Timeshare Exit Team CEO & timeshare exit Advocate Brandon Reed;

The reality behind the recent litigation is that resorts are leaving millions of consumers with no other options. Timeshare Exit Team exists because the resorts have created a problem without providing a solution. We hear countless stories from customers who were unable to even give back their ownership. Others have found that their timeshare investment was actually worthless when  they tried to resell it. Owners must have a way to safely and legally end their ownership when it no longer fits their lifestyle. Until that happens, we want to make it clear that we will not be dissuaded from continuing to advocate for consumers.”

Reed Hein are the guys advertising on TV. Estimates show that ReedHein is now the largest timeshare cancellation firm in the USA. We wonder what ReedHein is doing differently from Uri Fried, The Macmillan’s, ACC and other notable predecessors.       

Ok, why isn’t there a secondary market for Timeshare?

The Timeshare Industry publicly abhors any notion of a secondary market almost as much as the Wicked Witch of the West abhors water.

Why? …It’s so simple.

Let’s say you buy a Westgate ‘second hand’ at 90% off current Westgate prices from eBay.

  1. Westgate gets no new dollars from that exchange, Westgate gets a new Customer, the perception of “secondary market” timeshare true value is realized,
  2. Westgate takes on the risk that you will or won’t pay its annual fee’s.

Unlike the auto business, the timeshare core product is the same in “both Primary & Secondary Markets,” the most glaring disparity is price.

All the frontloaded exorbitant sales commissions, fees, marketing expenses and popping champagne are in the primary market versus a vast global array of venue choices at huge discounts available in the Secondary Market.

Sadly, developers use punitive measures to hamper and deter secondary market purchases of Points based/Club, Right to Use contracts by restricting further points accumulation (s), restricting booking access or exchange, restricting access to deed back and contract back programs, voiding visiting guest rental certificates and other contractual privileges. Certain developers’ restrictions have been described as downright draconian!   

The Industry publicly states in countless SEC filings that a Secondary Market would cut deeply into the Industries profitability. We can see why they would be worried.

In SEC filings:

  • “…the resale market for VOI’s (vacation ownership interests) could adversely affect our business” (Bluegreen)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market could negatively impact our sales” (Wyndham)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market by existing owners could cause our sales revenues and profits to decline” (Starwood)

Source – EDGAR.

In loosely translated SEC language that means the entire industry agrees with the notion that a secondary market should not exist, and they will stamp on the windpipe of any attempt to conjure a secondary market.  

This cannibalistic, illusory industry has a bone through its nose! As the industry makes sweeping, ubiquitous, cannibalizing, business decisions we urge serious consideration to the real threat to the future bottom line. As the Industry has discovered, there is a serious flaw to timeshare. Having built these lavish, illusory, granulated palaces, one must continue to sell to new mug punters who are still naive enough to sit through a bruising several hours long presentation and then when sufficiently punch drunk, pick up a pen and sign complex contracts that one has never read nor had the opportunity to do so, nor to many if read would actually comprehend. This is the sales model of the Primary Timeshare market? Is this the best they’ve got?

Possibly that’s the reason behind the aforementioned public company players in timeshare creating new public companies for their Timeshare only assets. Maybe they also see the writing on the wall of this woeful sales channel and are protecting their other core assets from devaluation.

After all, how many mug-punters could there possibly be?   

In a 2017 Orlando Sentinel News story, Mr. & Mrs. Morrison stated they are horrified by what they did on their last vacation to a Wyndham Resort in Orlando. They paid $25,000 to buy a timeshare, after a four-hour sales pitch that wore down the couple’s resistance and skepticism. Now they’re being hounded by people promising to get them out of the contract — if they pay an up-front fee. They don’t want to pay out any more money and aren’t sure who to trust. “We can’t afford this,” said Morrison, 69, who lives near Ottawa, Ontario. She says Wyndham offered to put them in a program that will eventually allow them to sell their timeshare, but they aren’t sure how long it will take. “Why won’t someone help us and put a stop to this?” she said. Wyndham didn’t respond to questions about the Morrisons’ case.

As if the Industry abandoning its aged, non-using, beneficiary owned and generally unwanted/unaffordable owners wasn’t bad enough, the Industry thwarts every attempt to stop an immense Exodus creating a need for Lawyers, Advocates and evidently miscreants and swindlers.

If Timeshare is an investment in making memories in people’s lives then shouldn’t it know when it has outstayed its welcome?

This of course is all karmically comical as the Timeshare Industry has cut its teeth on brutally sharp practices of high-pressure selling techniques, flogging its wares in well documented grueling four or five hour long “90” minute information breakfasts.

The Industry is undeniably infamous for pitching heat. Sales offices manned with trained professionals are often well trained in manipulative sales techniques. These timeshare hit-men pitch to the giddy, all too often inebriated, vacation-minded unaware prospects. It has been alleged that commission driven sales people often misrepresent overly complex customers contracts, agreements, loan documents, mortgage addendums all of which are tragically packaged by Closers, TO’s (Take Overs), Hail Mary’s and Managers at a table somewhere in a Timeshare sales room. Their only compensation is the commission from a sale.

Can you hear the champagne popping corks now?

The Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips, founder of the Castle Law Group, on a myriad of charges relating to consumer fraud complaints. In the past few weeks, Castle Law Group has ceased business operations following federal lawsuits brought by developers against Castle Law Group and those acting in concert with the firm.

Wyndham’s pursuit of American Consumer Credit (“ACC”), ACC’s principal, Dana Micaleff and attorney, Michael Saracco, resulted in ACC filing bankruptcy on September 7, 2018. Attorney Michael Sarocco, stated that Canadian entrepreneur Micallef always had “good intentions”, however things fell apart when developers and resorts wouldn’t allow ACC’s clients to break their contracts.

Castle Law & Judson Phillips were among the pioneers of the timeshare law firm and the cancellation business. Castle law had dozens of tertiary businesses who were marketing Castle Law services. These marketing firms fed Castle Law with thousands of desperate owners who were willing to pay $7500 or more “upfront” to exit their contracts.

In order to understand the scale of timeshare in the USA, the Timeshare Industry does about a $9billion a year in gross revenue. About 9.4million ownerships exist. There are approximately 1600 resorts. Average maintenance is approximately $900 a year. The Industry aggregates approximately $8.5billion from maintenance annually.

A typical single resort’s simple deed math would look like this:

  •         Typical Timeshare Resort – Individual Condo Units Per Resort: 500 units
  •         Weeks for Sale Per Unit: 50 weeks 500 x 50 = 25,000 Weeks for Sale
  •         Average sales price per week: $ 25,000
  •         25,000 weeks’ x $25,000 = $ 625,000,000 developer receipts
  •         Plus 25,000 weeks x $900 maintenance p/a = $22,500,000 per year.

In a new improved version of Uri Fried’s Viking LLC scheme; David and Cindy Macmillan sent millions of solicitation postcards and letters to Timeshare owners enticing them to attend informational meetings that led to “exiting their timeshare with 100% money back guarantee.”

The MacMillans ran a bunch of Viking Ship LLCs and their own transfer company in a timeshare transfer operation that resort owners alleged was bilking the industry out of hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of about nine years.

In 2008, spurred on by a failing economy and the USA housing crisis, the MacMillans operated over 65 straw buyer LLCs claiming that in exchange for several thousand dollars upfront, owners could be released from any timeshare contract. The MacMillan’s prize-winning company based in Torrance, California held sales meetings for owners by the bus load. Hundreds would cram in waving their credit cards in readiness. The MacMillan’s charged $6000 or more and allegedly mishandled over 120,000 timeshare contracts before becoming the target of the Attorney General of California. RICO allegations from Plaintiff Wyndham Hotel & Resorts proved undefendable. The MacMillans were banned from the business. They didn’t pay a single cent to the resorts in maintenance. Most of MacMillan’s eager customers found they were still on the hook for their timeshares. David MacMillan filed bankruptcy in 2016. Once again millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains went unrecovered. In a karmic twist of fate, Macmillan’s own transfer agent transferred thousands of the Macmillan’s Viking LLCs timeshares back into the original owners’ names before leaving the scene of the crime and left the Macmillans to take the fall.          

By 2014 Timeshare Exit marketing companies had mushroomed up all over central and south Florida, Tennessee and Missouri. Most of the new crops were marketing firms owned and run by seasoned telemarketing recidivists or by ex-timeshare sales people, some of whom had access to valuable owner data. The marketers, mostly acting as advocates, fed a variety of attorneys and both shared in the customer fees.  

In call center parlance this new business represented a new ‘data’ vertical. Call centers that had previously run ‘data’ looking for mortgage consolidation or debt relief were suitably adaptable for Timeshare Exit marketing. The busted timeshare Resale/Rental telephone scams that had left many recently unemployed in south and central Florida simply redeployed themselves. Some sales people told sad stories of repenting for all the lies they had told while selling Timeshare.    

In Phillips’ case, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Phillips after reviewing upwards of 18 client complaints, many of which made similar allegations of fraud, highlighting a pattern and practice of misconduct. In its ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” Central to the series of complaints were allegations that Phillips and his business partners misled and/or defrauded consumers by taking exorbitant fees from timeshare owners for purported timeshare exit or cancellation services based upon fraudulent and misleading representations.

The ACC case is based on various legal theories, some of which are founded in Federal law, known as the “Lanham Act of False Advertising”. The case remains pending against Micaleff, individually, and Saracco, individually, although an automatic stay has been issued relative to ACC in the U.S. District Court action as a result of the bankruptcy filing. That, however, has not deterred the prosecution of the case. As of today, there is a motion pending against Micaleff and Saracco to punish them for, among other things, failing to appear for a deposition.

The Industries press release further commented;

“The constant pressure that our member companies, owners and federal and state agencies are putting on disreputable timeshare exit companies has again produced a positive result for the consumer,” said Robert Clements, ARDA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations.”

Diamond Resorts implemented an aggressive litigation strategy in pursuit of third-party exit companies for their nefarious and unlawful conduct in an effort to protect the interest of their members who were promised outcomes that could not be legally accomplished.

The number of customers who “wish to exit” an owned, fully paid up timeshare is an immense Exodus. Far higher than was ever imagined or projected by the industry. The elephant in the room is that there is still no safe exit from unwanted timeshares and no robust market with which to capture and reposition the unwanted timeshares.

In light of the recently filed Florida House Bill 435, one must question the fates of the remaining exit and cancellation firms including; Resort Release LLC, The Newton Group & Reed Hein AKA Timeshare Exit Team amongst others.   

It is obvious by the recent advertising budgets expended on TV, Radio and all other assorted media, along with the number of employees and general expenses to run these TPE’s that there are probably millions of Owners who have already paid Fees to exit or dispose of a timeshare in the last 12-36 months that are as-yet unresolved and may begin actions suing for refunds. The Term of a TPE’s contract generally offered is 12-18 months. We are sure many contracts have now been extended far beyond their legal limits. All the previously named TPE’s and Law firms offered a 100% refund upon eventual nonperformance, assuming they were still in business.

By monitoring the largest TPEs on social media and by paying particular attention to present and past customers reviews, it is evident that satisfaction is extremely low and that refunds are aggressively being sought. How many hundreds of complaints like these does it take before another AG steps in or another exit company gets driven to bankruptcy by an aggrieved resort or the FTC?

Here’s what we know.

Exit firms can’t get rid of your timeshare unless the resort ‘wants them back.’ Most Timeshares are indeed worthless. All timeshares come with some form of annual cost. In light of 2018’s vacationing and travelling popular habits, the notion of paying an annual fee is not popular or appears economically attractive.  

It may well be true to say that all TPEs charge upfront fees for truly illusionary services because they now know within a moral certainty that their customers will get nothing for their money.

One would have imagined that Timeshare Developers, being an enterprising bunch, would have figured out how to ‘selectively take in’ enough exits & cancels to quell this Exodus problem. This sensible move would have made the TPEs redundant and quickly ended the third party exit business by allowing worthwhile and fitting exits for owners, for a small fee.  

This, however, further highlights the possible size of the immense Exodus problem.

Thank you to our new contributor, at some point he will reveal himself, but we look forward to Part Two of the Manifesto.

Remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain or upgraded after 5 January 1999 and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

 

Start the Week: Latest News

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin with some news being passed around various forums regarding Anfi. As we know Anfi is contacting members to change their contracts, but the latest is rather disturbing.

The change in contracts is to try and bring them within the law, the new contracts will be for a maximum of 50 years, with apartment numbers and week numbers being allocated to the floating week contracts, although they will remain “floating”.

According to information received, the new contracts will also penalise the members for “early termination” of their membership. Any early termination of the contract will be seen as a serious breach of contract on part of the member, Anfi will then apply a retrospective charge on the member for “hotel Costs” of around 350€ per night for all weeks used.

They have already used this threat to members who may be contemplating legal action in regard to illegal and missold contracts. This is also the subject of an ongoing legal argument, which has yet to be finally resolved.

Another point that has come to our attention is the number of members who have just ceased to pay their maintenance, especially with the new contracts. It is reported that around 100 members in 10 countries are about to have legal proceedings made against them for recovery of the maintenance fee arrears. Plus to have the mentioned “hotel costs” charged against them.

Another point which is irritating some of the members posting on the forums is the problem of resale. According to many posters, Anfi has the right to refuse the buyer of any timeshare sold privately. Again this is to ensure that all resales go through the resale programme, which we know is not very effective and will only command a very small resale price.

As with any timeshare advertised for sale, the price you see is what the owner believes they will get, remember, when purchased, many were under the impression they were investing in property. The sales staff openly told them it would go up in value, as we know this is definitely not the case.

So what do we make of this change in contracts and the other tactics being used?

Simple, by changing to the new contract, you lose all rights to take them to court, this is what Anfi want, after all it is costing them a fortune in payouts. (Which they will deny).

The threat of the “hotel costs” with legal action against maintenance arrears and making it more difficult to sell privately, is again to stem the tide of a significant loss of membership. This loss hits them in the pocket with reduced income of maintenance fees. After all, they are not selling like they used too, people are very wary of purchasing timeshare today.

Canarian Legal Alliance has issued some figures for the last week of January and the first week of February.

At the Court of First Instance, in Maspalomas, they had 19 (nineteen) victories against Anfi del Mar alone.

There were also 2 High Court wins in Las Palmas, again against Anfi del Mar.

Again at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Palm Oasis lost 3 cases.

Over in Tenerife, The Court of First Instance again found against Silverpoint in 2 cases.

In another First Instance hearing, Club la Costa were the ones on the receiving end of a judgement.

In all a massive 27 victories against the biggest names in European timeshare, the total amount claimed on behalf of clients is over 648,000€ with all contracts being declared null and void.

CLA have also issued this video, which shows their impressive record so far, it was made at the end of 2018.

That’s it for today, join us tomorrow for a very special article, this was received by another timeshare insider after we published the article on the Florida Bill 435, tomorrow we publish Part 1.

If you need any help or advice regarding your timeshare, about any company that has contacted you or you have found either on the internet or advert in any publication, then use our contact page. We will be pleased to help.

Also if you have any comments, views or information you would like to share with other timeshare owners, then again use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

Consumer Warning: Update (Link added Sunday 10/02/19)

Further information has been received by Inside Timeshare regarding a previous article on the Silverpoint Company Participation Scheme and a company contacting consumers who have purchased this flawed product.

From the information received from an English client, he was sold “participations” in this scheme by none other than Ali Farhoud, this purchase was for over 440,000 Euros.

He received a call from Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, (Mr Farhoud’s company), the caller was, yes you guessed it, Ali Farhoud himself. In the call the client was informed by Mr Farhoud, that at the time he was selling this “product” for Silverpoint, he did not know that it was “fraudulent”, (if you can actually believe that).

Also during the call this client was told that Nordic Consulting would take his case to court and get him compensation. The cost, over 21,000 Euros, plus 25% of the awarded amount. This client felt as though he was once again being pressured into parting with huge sums of money, from the very same person who sold him the “product” in the first place.

Needless to say he didn’t fall for it on this occasion, he has decided to take legal action through a respected and experienced law firm.

Now obviously the list of clients who purchased into this “scheme” is in the possession of Nordic Consulting and Mr Farhoud, one does have to wonder how this was obtained?

It is also very obvious that the person who made large amounts of money from selling the “scheme” in the first place is now set to get what is called a “double dip”, in other words making more money out of those who were sold a defective and highly floored product in the first place.

So the warning is very clear, if you receive a call regarding taking legal action against Silverpoint (Farhouds previous employer) by Nordic Consulting, you will be lining the pockets of the one who sold it to you in the beginning.

Below is a transcript from a recorded meeting between Ali Farhoud and one of his duped clients, this was in 2013. It revolves around the “investment” weeks Silverpoint were peddling. These sales are subject to many court cases being brought in Tenerife. It must also be noted that Silverpoint were at this time members of the Trade Body the Resorts Development Organisation (RDO).

Just from this transcript alone, Farhouds claim that he had no idea that the “participations” were fraudulent is somewhat flawed. He knew he was selling a “frudulent” product long before the “participations” came on the scene.

We leave it to you the reader to decide.

The link to the transcript since publication has been removed from the TCA website. Although it is still showing on Google search.

Have you purchased into this product and now feel that you have been defrauded?

Do you want to know who you can actually trust to get you your money back and have the contracts declared null and void?

Then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare will go through it with you and point you in the right direction and to the people who can and will do the job. In the end Inside Timeshare will give you the best advice without any obligation and free of charge.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish Part 2 of our Secret Shopper Questions, by Pete Gibbes, our Secret Shopper Coordinator.

First we have some rather sad news to share, Bob Massi, a Las vegas Attorney and host of the Fox TV show Property Man has sadly passed away at the age of 67, after a battle with cancer.

He was a great advocate for the underdog, even suing Diamond Resorts for Elder Abuse. He was also one of the law firms listed on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy group on Facebook, which is reserved only for the most trusted of firms.

Inside Timeshare would like to extend our sincerest condolences to his family.

R.I.P. BOB MASSI

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bob-massi-real-estate-attorney-fox-news-legal-analyst-dead?fbclid=IwAR2zqLDycKfIEMJDXv7PDYj6n711zWY01wblVCDqM1ySxm8eJbTNGOGT1Po

Secret Shopper Questions Part II

By Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

 Friday February 8  2019

Many timeshare complaints begin with, “The sales agent said….” and are dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Due to this overused knee-jerk dismissal, timeshare buyers should record their sales presentation. You can legally do so without the other person aware in a one party state. This link allows you to select your state to determine if you can legally record.

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/state-law-recording

If you are attending a presentation in a two party state, note taking may be the next best alternative. If the sales agent says you are not allowed to take notes, red flag. Walk out. No gift is worth being lied to. If you do stay and the sales agent scribbles a “Pencil Pitch” on a piece of paper, buyers should remember that paper, ask to see it during the signing process, and ask the agent or closer to show you in the contract where his or her promises appear in the contract. Ask to have the item added to your contract as an addendum. This is an actual response to a “The sales agent said” complaint:

“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”

It’s a good idea to get to know the agent’s qualifications.

How long have you worked at this resort?

Have you worked at other resorts?

What did you do before you sold timeshare?

What’s your ID number?

Consumer Protection Questions

May I call my lawyer/accountant/son/daughter/mother/father to discuss your proposal? May I take the contract to my room so that I can have an adequate amount of time to review such a major purchase?

If the answer is no, ask why not? The reason they say no will be suspect. Contrary to what you will be told, trust me, you can still buy a timeshare tomorrow. The reason for this, “You have to buy today” strategy is because anyone who thinks over buying a timeshare in all likelihood will not buy if given a chance to think it over. You need to be in the driver’s seat, not the sales agent.

According to Highlands Resort sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in a Colorado Attorney General’s investigation, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”

Are you a member? May we log onto your account so I can check actual availability and value? I am spending a significant amount of money on something I have not even attempted to use.  

There are many complaints about promised availability and limitations on trial timeshare products the buyer was not aware of.

Ask about Resale or Exit Programs

What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?

Who do I call? Can you give me a reference? Most timeshare companies will not allow their agents to assist in resale in any way, shape or form.

BEFORE you go on your sales presentation, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no money upfront to list a timeshare. The best part is they work with all timeshares, so you are not relying on the word of a sales agent that their program is the best program. Check the pros and cons of buying directly from the timeshare company compared to buying on the secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

Is there anything I can do to offset maintenance fees?

This is what we get the most complaints about – bogus programs that claim to offer maintenance fee relief. Watch out for scare tactics. For instance, beach erosion is one reason provided as a reason for special assessments, but an ocean engineer, one of our Supporters, said beach erosion is the responsibility of the state or federal government. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-17/

What is the cap on maintenance fee increases? Do you have a five year history of maintenance fee increases?  If not, don’t buy.

If I can use my points for maintenance fees, how much per point are they credited?

Where in the paperwork can I verify this information?

If I can offset maintenance fees with credit card purchases, how much of a $1 purchase (typically $.01 or $.02) will be credited toward maintenance fees? How much would I have to charge to pay off my entire annual maintenance fee? (It would cost $200,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee at $.01 per dollar spent!)

Travel awards are often grossly misrepresented

If I can use my points for hotels, what is the actual value per point? Provide an example. If I can use my points for airline tickets, what is the value per point?

If I can use my points for a cruise, what is the value per point?

Can I rent my timeshare to pay maintenance fees? If the answer is yes, review the requirements in the contract. Some companies do not allow the member to use the internet to rent points.

Loans

Where in the paperwork does it state my loan interest rate?

How much will I pay for the timeshare if I carry the loan for the maximum term?

Is there anything I can do to reduce my interest rate? This is a set-up question because banks do not finance timeshares. Never transfer to a third party lender because then you are asking the timeshare for a refund instead of a loan cancellation.

If consumers must take out a loan to buy a timeshare, consider carefully the actual cost of financing a vacation at 12 to 18%. America is a buy now pay later society. I don’t think many financial planners would recommend financing a luxury item at 12 to 18%.

We hope Secret Shoppers create smart shoppers asking the right questions before plunging into a purchase so many of our readers have come to regret.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Secret Shopper report:

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have interest in becoming a Secret Shopper or would like to share a positive or negative timeshare shopping experience.

There are several member supported Facebooks and websites where members can reach out to other members to share experiences.

We seek to provide times 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 Pete for your contribution, also a big thank you once again to Irene Parker for your editing efforts, we know that you have been very very busy of late, so we appreciate you taking the time to carry on.

Well that is it for this week, remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.