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Litigious Abogados: The Plot Thickens

 

litigious-abogadoslitigar-abogados-4

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

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

abogacia-logo

http://abogaciaespanola.com/

 

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

 

The following is the website for the founder Fernando Holaci

fernando-holaci-300

http://fernandoholaci.com/

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

Manuel Amas Conde for Litigar Abogados;

Emilio Leyes Catillianos for Litigious Abogados;

Fernando Roleba Holaci for Abogacía Española.

 

litigar-abogados-24

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

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

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

original-letter pdf

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

Ramon Quenan Cansal on the Litigar website;

Ramon Quilon Climol on the Abogacia Website.

 

ramon-quilnar-canal

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

Now to the court case.

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

http://www.davidoharstunjaime.com/

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

proc-fees-letter  pdf

court_fees1  pdf

confirm-case  pdf

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

confirmation-of-win  pdf

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

compensation_cheque  pdf

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

bbva_cheque_on_behalf_of_mr-x  pdf

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

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

Luisa Ernas Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Carita Departamento Legal

Maria Sanchez Gotera Departamento Legal

Madelena Huele Aflores Departamento Legal

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

European Union Data Protection Directive 95/46/E

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

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

 

ANFI: Resale Vs On-site Purchase

Inside Timeshare has recently received many enquiries from readers regarding Anfi Resales, which have been private sales either through resale companies, ebay or advertised in newspapers. Would they be better buying those rather than direct from Anfi?

 

As we know, timeshare does not have a great resale value, which many owners who have paid upwards of £15,000 for a basic week have found out. With this also comes very hefty charges for maintenance, which tends to rise each and every year.

 

For those who have purchased privately for very low amounts they have found they do not qualify for any of the benefits which Anfi add on for those who purchase on-site at Anfi. These services such as the Anfi Vacation Club are included in the price when purchasing direct from Anfi, they are not free as many have been led to believe. It is also the case the annual fees are higher for these purchases than for the resale weeks, as these services will be included in the annual fees.

anfi-resale-pageWhat are these so-called benefits?

As a purchaser through Anfi Sales the following are part of the package:

  • Anfi Vacation Club Membership (this allows for internal exchanges)
  • Club and week exchanges (again internal exchanges)
  • RCI Worldwide Exchanges (You can join RCI privately and exchange through them)
  • Springfest 2 for 1 offers (very few and far between)
  • Bonus Weeks (available through RCI anyway)
  • Being able to bank or save weeks (Bank through RCI anyway)
  • Members week offers (never available)
  • Rental programme (only when available, very rare)
  • Anfi buy-back (only when available, very rare)
  • Discounts for on-site services (Restaurants, bars etc, prices are higher than off the resort anyway)

As you can see from the above, you are not actually getting anything for the higher price that you pay when purchasing direct.

Below are some examples of resale weeks advertised either privately or by resale companies.

These four are or have been posted on ebay and Timeshare Hypermarket, what needs to be remembered is that these prices are what the seller believes they can get, most of the time they will sell for a great deal less.
anfi-hyper-1

anfi-2-bed-ebay

This is taken from a Norwegian resale website, a penthouse for week 3, sleeping 6. The price at the current exchange rate is 14,000€ this would sell on-site for upwards of 45,000€

Again this is the price that the owner and the resale company have agreed they believe they can get.
anfi-penthouse-norwegian

These two are advertised on a German resale website, Anfi Beach Club would sell for upwards of  15,000€, Club Monte Anfi for more. Again the prices shown are what the resale company and owner believe they can get, they will more than likely sell for a lot less.
german-anfi-2

So to answer the question is yes you are better off with a resale week, you can join RCI directly and receive the benefits of exchanges through them, purchase the bonus weeks that RCI offer, usually at a better price than Anfi would offer.

As for the so-called discounts, try going off resort to places like Patalavaca and Arguineguin where there is a wider selection of restaurants and bars at much more reasonable prices.

Then when you eventually decide it is no longer for you, you will not be making such a loss as the person you purchased from.

Remember the cost of the timeshare from any resort will always be more than it is actually worth. They do after all have large overheads like the sales staff and marketing costs, these are the bulk of the price that you pay. So if you can pick up weeks for as little as 1500 € which means Anfi over prices the weeks by 90 % ….which is also the reason why the maintenance fees are so high.

 

Friday: The Week in Review.

We ended last week with the ongoing story of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price and her continuing battle against MacDonald Resorts. The article explained the events leading up to the present dispute over a “So-called” debt for past maintenance and MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept she no longer owns.

In the article “The Story of Mrs B: Open Letter to MacDonald ResortsInside Timeshare called for MacDonald Resorts to do the right thing and let two elderly and not well ladies out of their contract. It also called for them to call off the debt collecting agency Network Credit Services, from issuing threats of legal action. So far there has been no response, even though they did receive the article via email along with many others including several newspapers. The story continues.

On Monday we published an article by Irene Parker, entitled “Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics”. This was originally published the previous week but was withdrawn for re-writing.

colerado-seal-ag

This follows on from others she has contributed about the battles in the USA between timeshare companies, workers and owners. It explains the story of the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman and how she is suing Highland Resorts at Christie Lodge Colorado for deceptive trade practices in the Denver County Court. The State is also sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants.

Irene in her article also spoke about how sales agent are made to commit these practices, and were prevented from saying anything due to confidential non-disclosure agreements. She is preparing part II of this article which Inside Timeshare will publish in due course.

On this note Inside Timeshare has a message for the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) who published “Highland Resorts Legal News”.

Irene Parker was surprised to read such similarities from her Highland Resorts article on Timeshare Consumer Association as it so closely paralleled the article she wrote this week. The same thing happened the day after she wrote the Saldana family story. As the TCA article was published so soon after the Inside Timeshare article was published, she wondered why credit was not given to the author of the original article. This is how professional journalists do things in the US. She wondered if things were different in Europe. She is glad to see the information disseminated to a wider audience. Since she is planning on writing a second part, she wondered if TCA would like her to just send them her article so they could publish it under her name?

la-provincia   the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

 

 

On Tuesday news came in about the saga that is Tauro Beach Project, La Provincia (Spanish daily paper) and Canary News (local English language paper), published the story about how much of the beach has been washed away by the sea.

Inside Timeshare has been following this story since August, when the sea flowed up the beach and flooded local homes. There is currently a huge investigation underway, which also includes the Mayor of Mogan. It is also investigating alleged corruption and impropriety at the highest levels of the Canarian Coastal Authority, the former head has already been formally charged with wrongdoing in public office and forgery of official documents. The case is already at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

Yesterday, we published the story of a company that was highlighted in September, Litigious Abogados. Since the first publication, more information has come to light, with one reader supplying vital information about how they are operating. This reader also provided documentary evidence with court papers and bank details, these court papers are almost certainly fake. Below is a “stamp” we have made in around 2 minutes just from a google image download and basic windows paint, with a little more work it could be made to look better. It is also a “stamp” not used by the courts.

jl

The week has also been a good one for clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, with several more victories in various courts.

On 14 November it was announced that the Court of First Instance in Tenerife had found for the clients of CLA against Dinastia Resorts SL. In this case they were awarded 15,950€ with their contract being declared null and void. The sentence followed Supreme Court rulings that contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) were illegal.

Yesterday 15 November, saw 2 more announcements, the first was for Swedish clients of CLA being awarded over 114,000€ including legal interest against Anfi. Again the High Court No 5 of Las Palmas found in accordance with the Supreme Court that floating weeks and perpetuity contracts were illegal. The contract was again declared null and void.

In the second announcement, again Swedish clients, have been paid out 72,885.78€ in compensation, following a recent judgement. This was against Holiday Club Finland / Puerto Calma. Again the ruling made was for the length of the contract, over 50 years (perpetuity) with the contract being declared null and void.

So an early Christmas present for some.

This again goes to show, through the hard work of the legal team at CLA, their clients are finally getting justice and the Supreme Court rulings are having a profound effect on the lower courts.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/news/

If you would like any further information on articles published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help. Also if you have any questions about any company that you are not sure about, send us a message, we will then contact you by personal email and if we don´t know them we will help you find the answers.

 

Have a good weekend. weekend01

Litigious Abogados: Latest Information

Back in September Inside Timeshare published the article Litigious Abogados Who Are They? Since then we have received the following information from one reader who has been contacted by them, this article explains how they are operating.

litigious-abogados

This reader received a call and emails explaining that they had won their case against Club la Costa at the Court of First Instance, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, they had been awarded 24,261 Euros. Fantastic news, the only problem is they did not even know they had a case going through the courts.

img_1627 img_1628

There is also a small matter of “TAX” needing to be paid in order to release the funds, this amounts to 21% of the awarded amount and totals 5,094.83 Euros, which has to be paid into the account of one D Harstun SL at the Banco Sabadell.

img_1633

According to the accompanying letter, the Procurator for their case, Davido Harstun Jaime, has already signed the tax forms on their behalf and once payment is received by the Court Procurator Office, the tax lawyer for Litigious Abogados Mrs Olivia Navarro will liaise with them to execute the tax logistics and have the funds released by the Court Funds Office. This letter is signed by Manuel Mar Prilo (Abogado). Along with the contact number 0034 822 250 489

No lawyers have been found with any of these names. Also when this number was called a native English speaker answered with “Claims Department how can I help you”, when asked what the company name was he just hung up.

To back all this up, copies of the tax forms duly made out were sent to the client, along with a copy of the court sentence.

agencia-tributaria

This document is almost certainly a fake, from genuine documents Inside Timeshare has on file, it is missing some vital information, even the “court stamp” is one that has not been seen before (google justice logo images and it is on there). It is also strange that a case has gone to court, been adjudicated, sentence passed and the money paid into the court by the timeshare company in such a short space of time. All this without any statement being given to the court by the client no power of attorney given to the “lawyers” to act on their behalf and most important not even knowing they had a case going to court. This is not how it works.

 

court_doc-page-001
Copy of Court Sentence (Right click to enlarge)

Also there is the matter of “TAX”, when a client instructs lawyers to instigate legal proceedings, court taxes are paid at the time the case is lodged, once the court has made judgement the client will receive the awarded amount without the need to pay any tax. Especially not to a named individual or company. If any tax was due, this would be paid directly to the court or the tax authorities.

This is a sophisticated fraud, which plays on the uninformed public in another country. After all if you receive documents that look official, not knowing how the laws and tax systems work in a foreign country, would you not believe they were genuine. In this case the person had found the original article and contacted Inside Timeshare for advice and confirmation, fortunately he did not pay any money to them. So that is 5000€ this lot will not be getting.

The problem is now, how many others have they taken in?

Litigious Abogados Contact details are:

Tel: 0800 862 0102

The address given is:  Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

This address is not quite correct, it should read: Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife. This address is actually for Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana which is part of the Ayuntamiento or local council offices. (Checked on google maps street view).

cab-arona

Links to previous articles

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

If you receive any calls or receive any official looking documents by email or post be very wary of them, especially if you have not instigated any legal process. It also takes a long time for these cases to actually get to court, then there is the process of the loser taking it to appeal which will prolong the case even further.

Inside Timeshare would like to hear from anyone who has had any contact with companies such as this, it is through your information that others can benefit. If you have any comments or questions about this article or any other matter, contact Inside Timeshare through the comments section.

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Timeshare is not having a good time right now, in Europe and especially Spain the industry is reeling from very costly litigation. This is costing resorts and developers a fortune in returning money for purchases made which have gone against the laws put in place to protect consumers.

In the United States the industry is also under fire, most recently a former sales agent has been awarded $20 million for unfair dismissal by Wyndham. She had been branded a “troublemaker” after she complained about unfair and dubious sales tactics being employed.

We have also seen the NY Attorney General close down the sales operation at The Manhattan Club, due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The following article by Irene Parker explains the most recent news coming in from across the Great Lake.

Colorado Attorney General Scores a Goal for Timeshare Reform

By Irene Parker

December 12, 2016

keep-calm

All timeshare owners and buyers want is honesty and a fair price for their timeshare, along with reasonable maintenance fees and a legitimate secondary market. Now a third US Attorney General scores a goal for timeshare reform by exposing deceptive timeshare business practices.


There is something flawed if a product cannot be sold, if it is not sold same day. Even car shoppers are allowed to think about it, and many timeshare purchases cost as much or more than a luxury car. There are first day pricing incentives and consumers are told they cannot buy in the future.


According to Highlands Resorts’ sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “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.”


http://www.businessden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/5B3AF6808EF5C.pdf


Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman has sued Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge in Avon, Colorado for deceptive trade practices in Denver County Court. The state is also suing sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants. Several were outbound telemarketers.


Sedona Pines Resort in Arizona was also named in the lawsuit. I spoke to a former Diamond sales agent. Diamond agents cannot disclose any company policies or procedures due to a “CNDA” sales agent agreement they are required to sign. It stands for “confidential non-disclosure agreement” discouraging Whistleblowers. Not all agents are dishonest, so the sales agent who realizes something very wrong and harmful is being done to consumers, wants to tell their story.

In this case, the former sales agent said Diamond Resort owners, desperate to be released from rising maintenance fees, went to presentations at nearby resorts hoping for alternatives. Some Pines brokers would inflate the price of the Pines program to make Diamond owners think they were getting something for their Diamond points or weeks as a trade-in. A dollar amount would be added onto the purchase price as a “trade-in” if the consumer purchased a Sedona Pines program.

The Colorado lawsuit provided an example of fake pricing. “A fake price sheet itemized costs totaling $25,224, which included $6,995 in RCI upgrade points. If the buyer purchased today, Highlands promised to pay the $6,995.  However, Highland did not pay the $6,995. They only paid $179 in RCI dues instead of the $6,995 for RCI points.”


Amy DiPierro is a reporter for BusinessDen. She writes:


According to the state, “Highlands Resorts and its owner, Telluride resident Todd Herrick, “intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured consumers” using high pressure selling tactics. Highlands Resorts is one of a larger group of timeshare companies controlled by a resort called Sedona Pines in Arizona. On its website, Highlands Resorts says it operates one resort in Durango and two resorts in Arizona.   


The state, which is represented by the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, is seeking payments of $325,000 from those four defendants and a permanent injunction that would stop them from, among other things, advertising timeshares without displaying fees and conditions. A spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

http://www.businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/


Similar deceptive and misleading sales and marketing tactics are outlined in other lawsuits. Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt sales agents filed a class action Whistleblower lawsuit against Hyatt timeshare. Candace is seeking Hyatt owners who feel they have been deceived by misleading and deceptive tactics.


http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/


A jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams a $20 million Whistleblower award. Wyndham issued a statement saying the tactics used are not representative of their company policy, according to the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1


The Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recovered $3 million for Festiva timeshare victims.  


https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the second year of a Westgate timeshare investigation.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-probe-westgate-resorts-tactics-20160318-story.html

It’s getting harder to believe these practices are not representative of timeshare.

 

whos-next  Who’s Next?

 

 


Part II of this article will examine the fourteen defendants charged with violating the “Do Not Call” list to offer vacation incentives they proclaim are valued at $1,900. The lawsuit claims these certificates cost the developer $40.

I personally received a call from Fort Lauderdale yesterday. When I mentioned I was on the DNC list, he apologized and proceeded with his pitch. This is outbound telemarketing, so there is no way to contact the person or company that called.

We’re up to three Attorney Generals who have sued the timeshare companies. Timeshare developers figure in the cost of owner lawsuits as part of their annual budget. They do not figure in the cost of an Attorney General suing the company.

In the case of Christie Lodge, the resort is open but the sales program is not operational.

get-involved

So the question that must be asked is when will the industry wake up and change how it operates, not just in the USA, but in Europe and the rest of the world?

Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her contribution, without her efforts we would not be able to bring you the news from across the water, bringing consumers together in a cause that affects all timeshare owners. Honesty, integrity and fairness are the elements that are missing in this industry, it must be said that not all are guilty of this, there are some who do work by these principles, but it is those who don´t that give it a bad name and reputation.

If you have any questions or comment about this or any other article published, use the comment section to send us a message. If you have a story or information that you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

  weekend

News on Friday

We ended November with news of another Supreme Court ruling for clients of Canarian Legal Alliance. Just after publishing (30 November) it was announced that the High Court N2 of las Palmas had found in favour of Norwegian clients of CLA against Palm Oasis /Tasolan.

In this ruling, which followed all the judgements of previous Supreme Court decisions, the contracts were declared null & void, due to the contract being over 50 years and the taking of deposits within the 14 day cooling off period.

The clients in this case have been awarded 448,000 Norwegian Crowns or 49,334€, this also includes legal interest and the return of all legal fees.

Then to start the month of December, it was announced that a British family have just received an early Christmas present, 49,888€. This money is now in their bank account, and was awarded against Anfi several weeks ago, they have still yet to be paid the legal interest and the return of legal fees.

This once again shows that the Supreme Court is having a profound effect on these cases, with payouts coming a lot faster. So it is congratulations to all at CLA and especially their clients.

truth1

Yesterday 1 December, Andrew Penman of the Daily Mirror published an article on The Timeshare Consumer Association. Inside Timeshare has been following this story for some time and has published articles on this subject.

His article titled “The Timeshares Consumer Association claims to be an independent consumer champion, but is it”? Tried to find an answer to this question, unfortunately he did not.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/timeshare-consumer-association-claims-independent-9367808

Mark Rowe denied owning or running the TCA, yet all company records show that he is the director and was appointed in place of William Aspinall on 8 July 2016. It must also be noted that since that date all posts on the TCA website and its sister site timesharetalk, about Monster Travel and Sellmytimeshare.tv have been removed. Readers of this site have also commented that they have placed posts about them and they have been removed within hours.

It was also reported by one of our readers back in September that they had contacted TCA for advice, this is her message to Inside Timeshare:

“We bought our floating week timeshare before 1999. We decided to contact the TCA to see if they could explain how the new Spanish laws affect or don’t affect our week. Had read somewhere about a Deed of Adaptation and were just curious to see if they could shed any light. A very nice young lady answered. Said she would find out and call us back at 11a.m. the next day, which she did. She explained what we could do told us that the TCA recommend Sell my Timeshare. We explained why we would not be happy to do that and she replied that the TCA found them to be a very reputable company. As Kevin said in an earlier post, It is a sad state of affairs.

And just because I could, I wrote about this on Timeshare Talk in response to another post relating to SellmyTimeshare.tv. (Only last night 22nd Sept)

Yep, you guessed it. The fairies have been busy in the night again and both posts gone this morning. You have to laugh!”

So the question is what is the truth?

It seems that even the intrepid Andrew Penman is having difficulty in answering this one, see the link below for the above comment and others.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

If you have any comments or questions about any article published, Inside Timeshare will do its best to answer, if we don´t know the answer we will find it for you.

Have a good weekend.   friday-again

Timeshare Transfer Agents and Exit Companies: Friend or Foe?

Irene Parker and I take a look at timeshare relinquishment comparing Europe to America. As many Europeans own timeshares purchased in America, it’s useful to have the complete picture. This time she asks the question “Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

For those not familiar with the term, Transfer Agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. (more on this further on).

In Europe we have a different take on this subject, as we do not have the same model of Transfer Agents like the US. We tend to have resale firms and exit companies, some purport to be legal firms, who for a sizeable fee will relinquish your contract. Many of these companies do both, so the lines can be a ltiile blurred. Although we do have some of the same problems, such as resorts /developers who do not recognise the sale and or transfer.

Here we bring in the ongoing story of two elderly sisters, known as Mrs B. Around two years ago they took up the services of a company  who claimed they would get compensation for them if they joined their “Class Action” group. But in order to do this they had to pay around £5965 to relinquish their two timeshares, one was Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote, the other was Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, run by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels.

Mrs B signed a power of attorney so the company could work on her behalf, all appeared to be above board. After around a year she eventually received notification that her timeshare had gone, both had been transferred / sold to a gentleman for £1 each. Inside Timeshare has all documents relating to this.

Sounds all well and good.

Well, as far as Oasis Lanz is concerned it is, Mrs B has not had any contact from them or received any maintenance bills. The problem is Dona Lola Club and MacDonald Resorts, they will not recognise the transfer. This has now caused a problem for Mrs B and her sister.

They have been subject to threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency, Network Credit Services, employed by MacDonald Resorts. According to them there is £1412.54 (as of April 2016) for maintenance, accrued after the supposed transfer, (this amount increases as time goes on).

So why do MacDonald Resorts not recognise this transfer?

On speaking to Network Credit Services and explaining that the debt was under dispute, Maureen stated that MacDonald Resorts will not recognise any transfer made by this company, because in Maureens words McDonalds just get paperwork back from  saying no longer required”. In other words, there was no actual sale or legal relinquishment. You will see the same in the article by Irene, using a company to take on the transfers.

This case is still ongoing with official complaints about the chasing of this “debt” going through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Another aspect that is very common in Europe is the “Bait and Switch” tactic employed by many companies claiming to be “resale” firms.

The basis of this method is very simple, the timeshare owner either contacts a company they have found on the internet, or, they have been cold called by. They promise they can sell your timeshare and even give a very high valuation over the phone. Next they arrange a meeting to discuss your options.

Unfortunately there is no resale market, with one company actually stating this, so what then happens?

Simple, in order to get rid of your timeshare you must now purchase another product, be it leisure credits or discount holiday club. At the meeting ( read sales presentation), you are told that the product will cost around £10k to £12k. But don’t worry, we will discount that price for the value of your timeshare, so it will only cost you a fraction of that amount.

This was used to dupe many owners into Club Class and DWVC, where the incentive was the cashback offer. With this you are given a certificate for the value of the timeshare plus the cost of joining the club. In 3 to 5 years, as long as you follow the rules (which were complicated) you could then claim back the value on the certificate. So far we have never known anyone who did get paid out.

But what happened to your timeshare?

For many it was simple, they did not get rid of it, then after a couple of years they found they owned years of back maintenance. The timeshares were not transferred or relinquished, they are still liable for the maintenance and still own it, causing many a stressful situation with debt collectors.

So, let us look at what the situation is in the USA.

Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

dollar    By Irene Parker November 20, 2016

Lately, a company by the name of Resort Release has been running an ad on my Facebook feed. It is always frustrating to invest time and energy campaigning to improve the timeshare industry, only to have companies we don’t approve of take out ads promoting their service. At least Inside Timeshare can control who posts on their site.

Transfer agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. The upfront fee ranges from $3500 to $7000 or more. Contracts taken back are “bundled” 25 to 50 and sold back to the developers, similar to what happened during the worldwide subprime mortgage crisis. The developers resell for full value.

What else can happen to the points or weeks or “inventory” recovered?

According to Greg Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association,   

“There are basically four buckets that transfer companies often attempt to put inventory into…

Bucket 1 – Works with an inventory broker who may or may not have a direct inventory recovery agreement. *Branded properties only

Bucket 2 – Lists timeshare properties on eBay and Craig’s List for $1.00

Bucket 3 – Transfers to “Mules” *Foreign Nationals who may be judgement proof

Bucket 4 – Transfers to Companies who later dissolve the corporation administratively. *Leaves resort pursuing a clouded title, doubling recovery costs and impacting association’s bad debt line, which all remaining owners on the roster end up absorbing.”

saleman

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Timeshare Consumer Association: Incorrect Information

What are the regulations regarding cold calling?

This question has been prompted by the latest post on the TCA website, in their post they talk about a company based in Barcelona called La Moneda, this particular company was highlighted on 4 November by Mindtimeshare. This in itself is not the problem, it is the incorrect information they give regarding cold calling.

They state “Cold calling in the UK is illegal as it is considered a breach of privacy”. This is actually incorrect, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office website they state:

You can call any individual who has specifically consented to receive marketing calls from you – for example, by ticking an opt-in box”.

“You can also make live calls without consent to a number if it is not listed on the TPS – but only if that person hasn’t objected to your calls in the past”.

“In practice, this means you will need to screen most call lists against the TPS register. You will also need to keep your own ‘do not call’ list of people who object or opt out, and screen against that as well”

call-centre-2

The rules for live marketing calls are very simple and are as follows (again taken from ICO website):

“The rules on live marketing calls are in regulation 21. In short, you must not make unsolicited live calls to:

  • anyone who has told you they don’t want your calls; or
  • any number registered with the TPS or CTPS, unless the person has specifically consented to your calls – even if they are an existing customer.

You must always say who is calling, allow your number (or an alternative contact number) to be displayed to the person receiving the call, and provide a contact address or freephone number if asked”.

TPS is the Telephone Preference Service for individuals, all lists must be screened through this service, but it only applies to companies based in the UK, any company based elsewhere is not bound by it.

CTPS is the Company Telephone Preference Service and is for companies and other corporate bodies.

calls

We know that cold calls can be annoying, but it is a legitimate marketing tool, as long as the regulations are adhered to. In the end you are the one in control, you can just say not interested and ask them to remove you from their list. Once you asked them to remove you, then it is illegal for them to call again.

It is just a shame that a so-called Consumer Advice Association cannot even get their facts right, so the question has to be asked, can you trust any advice they give?

I leave you to decide on that one.

Follow the link for more information on this subject:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/telephone-marketing/

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare, if we do not know the answer we will find it.

Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender Your Timeshare!

Today’s article is one many European owners will identify with, getting out of your timeshare when no longer being able to use or travel due to illness. Yet they are expected to continue to pay the yearly and often risings maintenance fees regardless, Mrs B a MacDonalds owner that Inside Timeshare has been working with for around 6 months is a classic case. She and her sister owned at the Dona Lola Club, they purchased around 15 years ago, due to illness both of them were unable to use or travel, even to the resorts in the UK for the past 11 years. Yet they continued to pay the maintenance year on year.

MacDonalds would not let them surrender, despite their ages (both over 80) and the fact they are both unable to travel. Eventually they signed up with a company to get rid of the timeshare, this was duly done and recorded by a notary, (we have the documentation). Unfortunately MacDonalds do not recognise the transfer and have sent in a debt collection agency to recover the unpaid maintenance. (The case is with the Financial Ombudsman).

Is it fair that people such as Mrs B and Ralph Marble should be tied into something they can no longer use or even afford?

Once again Irene Parker has sent the following article on the case of Ralph Marble and his Diamond Resorts membership.

Should those with Debilitating Medical Issues be required to pay Vacation Maintenance Fees until they Die or until the end of their Descendant Lineage?

image03       By Irene Parker        November 14, 2016

Mae West, German Immigrant turned Vaudeville and then Hollywood star famously said, “Less is more.”

image00

Today, we ask timeshare developers, ARDA, TATOC, RDO this simple question:

Is what happened to Ralph Marble alright with you?

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Surely not even Wall Street, venture capitalists and private equity investors think the situation that exists, requiring those with serious illnesses to pay maintenance fees for vacations they can’t take, is all right? If they do, there is something deeply wrong with our society.

According to the interview,

Marble told Washington that he tried to cancel his timeshare membership several times to no avail. Marble was told they couldn’t let him out of his membership, even though he disclosed to them that he had a medical condition.

Diamond Resorts International responded with a letter stating, “We are unable to grant your request, a surrender of ownership.”

Statements from Marble’s membership show that maintenance fees have gone up every year.

The first initial payment was $200 a year, but the last bill he received was for $684.

Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group only handles timeshare cases, and he says Marble’s story is not uncommon.  “It’s not intended to let anybody out and it’s intended to be a lifetime obligation.”

The timeshare industry is a billion-dollar industry, and once you join many say you can’t get out.

And if you think that you can sell your timeshare, Finn says think again. “The resale market for timeshares is nearly non-existent. Your timeshare must be paid off, and most are completely worthless.”

Marble said he attempted to sell his timeshare twice. “They turned out to be bogus, they went off with our money,” he told reporter Washington.

The good news for Marble was that Diamond Resorts International did let him out of his contract after we (the reporter) contacted them.

Is the media our only hope?

Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:

“At Diamond Resorts International, we regularly work with our owners who find themselves in difficult health, financial or other circumstances and are seeking to relinquish their ownership. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, earlier this year we announced a program called Transitions by Diamond Resorts that will launch in the coming months. It is intended to formalize the process for owners in good standing who wish to relinquish their ownership without having to resort to third party timeshare relief companies.”

Mae West also said, “Your line isn’t low enough to trip me.”

image02    Public awareness is our goal. Prospective timeshare buyers should ask:

  1. May I take the unsigned contract and have a timeshare lawyer review it?
  2. May I see a five year history of maintenance fee increases?
  3. Please provide details of a secondary market. In the US, owners can call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask, in advance of signing a contract, whether a secondary market exists for the timeshare you are considering.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

To find out what your timeshare is worth, check Sharket: https://sharket.com/

For those Diamond Resorts owners in Europe, there is at least a ray of hope, Diamond are putting into place ways that people can surrender their membership. They already have a programme whereby those over 75 can be released.

They also allow for those where a partner has died and the remaining member can surrender, there is also provision for those in financial difficulty and illness to also hand back. Much of this may be due to the changes in the timeshare laws within Europe, which have strengthened legislation in favour of the consumer.

Inside Timeshare also asks the same question as Irene, is it right that people such as Ralph Marble and Mrs B be locked into paying for something they no longer have any use for, especially when maintenance has been paid when never used?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

It now remains to be seen what the trade bodies ARDA, RDO and TATOC have to say about this, after all it is their own members who are making life difficult for owners such as these. Surely, there must be a way forward, it does the industry no good when matters like this get into the news, giving the impression that it is an industry solely interested in getting your money. At least for Ralph his nightmare is over, thanks mainly to the publicity and help from News 6 and the story from Eryka Washington.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for another insight into the world of timeshare in the USA. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

Dialogue: The Way Forward!

Today Inside Timeshare publishes another article submitted by Irene Parker, with the end of the election in the USA, Irene looks at the divide in the nation and how this also equates to the divide in the timeshare world. In this article she looks at the great gap between owners and developers, using a video from Parker J. Palmer titled Stand in the Tragic Gap, showing how there are two sides to any controversial issue.

Again Irene calls on developers to join with owners to find a solution which will benefit both parties, it has been said before in previous articles, until both parties work together then there is little hope for this industry. There are many owners who love what they have, but there are also many who feel they have been let down, either with the “resale” or “secondary” market, or down to the problem of handing back when no longer being able to use either from illness, financial changes or just old age. This is also a problem for many owners in Europe, some developers have put in place exit strategies, some are fair, others are downright greedy with up to 4 years maintenance payments and only limited numbers being allowed to exit on a first come first served basis. In other words you need the luck of a lottery win.

Inside Timeshare hopes this article will explain the problem and how it can be solved, enjoy.

 

How Will the Outcome of the US Presidential Election Affect Timeshare?

c1By Irene Parker, November 9, 2016

Like the Clinton and Trump camps, timeshare owners and developers cannot heal until the two sides listen to each other. If we continue to

“Stand in the Tragic Gap”

Timeshare will continue to be a battlefield with timeshare owners at odds with timeshare developers. True and meaningful dialogue could heal an election or timeshare. Sometimes timeshare and elections overlap, as in the case of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

According to the Tragic Gap, creator Parker J. Palmer says there are two sides to any controversial issue. One side Parker Palmer calls “corrosive cynicism” – “greed is how this works, I take mine, run and forget these other people and their needs.” The other side is “irrelevant idealism”. Parker Palmer claims both sides cause a functional disconnect that takes us out of action.

Ironically, my name is Parker and the CEO of Diamond Resorts is David Palmer.

Take a listen:

http://www.couragerenewal.org/723/

Next consider:

Timeshare owners of the Diamond Resorts Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.

But here’s how the CEO, David Palmer, described it to investors in 2014, per a NY Times article written by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morganson

“Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee,” Mr. Palmer explained to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript. “That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Many remember the junk bond debacle and subprime mortgage issues that drove unsuspecting homeowners into foreclosure, while unscrupulous lenders like Drexel Burnham Lambert made billions.

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