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Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom Part 3 MacDonald Resorts and Mrs B

Following on from our series Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom, we today look at a case that Inside Timeshare has been following and reporting since April 2016. The story of the ongoing battle of two elderly sisters and MacDonald Resorts is one of the most disgusting cases that Inside Timeshare has seen in the past 10 years. MacDonald Resorts have now employed the service of a law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, based in Scotland to pursue the sisters through the courts for arrears in maintenance for a timeshare that was as far as they are concerned legally transferred to another person. Here we publish the story of the case and the “bullying tactics” being used by MacDonald Resorts and their “legal
rottweilers” Shepherd and Wedderburn.

The sisters, Mrs Price and Mrs Flavell are now both in their 90’s, they are also housebound due to medical issues and not just because of the current pandemic, this is their story.

In February 2000 Mrs Price and her sisters were on holiday on the Costa del Sol, staying at the Dona Lola Club in Calahonda, Mijas Costa, then a Barrett owned resort. They attended a presentation which for timeshare owners is nothing unusual when exchanging.

At this presentation which lasted in excess of 4 hours, they eventually purchased 2 weeks in a 3 bedroom apartment, the cost was £7000. At that time they already owned a timeshare at Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote and they were both around 72 and 65 years old.

Mrs Price stated that the presentation itself was high pressure and they felt that the pressure to purchase was very strong, they then parted with £7000. This in itself was totally illegal, as the new timeshare laws had already been in existence since January 1999, the law states the taking of any money within the statutory cooling-off period is forbidden, even by a third party. Mrs Price and her sister were not informed of this fact by the sales staff, so there is a breach of disclosure as well.

So we have the sales department at Dona Lola blatantly flouting the law which was put into place to protect consumers but it does not end there. In her statement, Mrs Price explains about the other lies and misrepresentations being given by the sale staff, all in contravention of timeshare regulations.

  1. They were told that their purchase was an investment. (It has now become just a liability).
  2. The salesperson told them that the resort would buy back the timeshare for the same price they paid when they no longer wanted it. (This has never materialised).
  3. They were not made aware that the contract was in perpetuity and would last forever. (Contracts are for a maximum duration of 50 years).
  4. Mrs Price and her sister were told that maintenance fees would only increase with the rate of inflation. They were also not informed of the historical or current rate of increase over the past 5 years prior to signing the contract.
  5. They were led to believe that they were purchasing into an exclusive club, that only members and their guests could use. They then discovered that non-members were using the resort at less than the maintenance fees paid by members.
  6. By becoming timeshare owners they were told they would be entitled to various discounts. These were for car rental; travelling; airport transfers and other holiday products. Yet they found out these discounts were also generally available to the public.

Mrs Price has also stated that had they been honestly informed of the true position and not pressured into purchasing there and then, they would never have purchased.

To make matters worse, in the time they have owned this timeshare at Dona Lola, they have never used it due to illness and being unable to travel. Yet they continued to pay the annual maintenance fees as requested and have paid diligently since the year 2000.

After many years, Mrs Price has attempted to sell their timeshare, but to no avail, there were no takers including through MacDonald Resorts who had taken over from Barrett. They also tried to surrender their timeshare even willing to give it back for free with no recompense, the resort refused.

The original timeshare they purchased was for 2 fixed weeks in a specified and fixed apartment, since then thanks to the efforts of Harry Taylor the then CEO of the discredited TATOC, they were forced to transfer their fixed weeks into a point system. This was pushed and endorsed personally by Harry Taylor as “the best move for owners” (MacDonald Resorts was one of the biggest contributors to TATOC, this does make you wonder why Taylor endorsed it). Again this is also in breach of Spanish timeshare law, which has made illegal the use of points or floating week systems. The reason they contain nothing of substance, you own nothing just the ability to use subject to availability.

We now move to 2014, they were contacted by ITRA with an offer to terminate both contracts, obviously, after years of trying to sell or hand back they duly signed up in May of that year. The contract was the termination of the timeshare membership and a possible claim. The cost for this was £5695 to terminate both Dona Lola and Oasis Lanz. This was paid on 26 May 2014.

On 25 February 2015, a UK notary visited their home, (remember they are housebound), they signed a power of attorney and the transfer documents for the timeshare. On 10 April the same year, Mrs Price received notification that she no longer owned or was responsible for the 2 timeshares. According to the paperwork (Signed Notary documents giving details of the new owner), she received both had been sold to the same person for £1 each.

Since then they have had no contact or maintenance demands from Oasis Lanz, but have had constant demands for maintenance from MacDonald Resorts. They also had many calls and letters from a debt collection agency employed by MacDonald’s, Network Credit Services based in Lanarkshire.

After making several enquiries with Network Credit Services, as MacDonalds refuse to discuss the matter even though Mrs Price has given her consent for Inside Timeshare to work on her behalf, it transpires that MacDonald Resorts do not recognise the transfer made by ITRA. Had Mrs Price been aware that MacDonald’s did not recognise ITRA brokered transfers they would never have signed up with them. This is also the fault of MacDonald Resorts for not having a clear and easy relinquishment policy or informing “members” of companies they do not recognise.

Well, we do know the reason why MacDonald Resorts have a policy of allowing “selected” members to relinquish every two years, but this is also very costly and greedy. The requirements are that you must apply and also pay in advance 4 years maintenance fees and also legal fees, plus be fully paid to date with your maintenance. But, that is no guarantee they will end your membership, numbers are limited.

So we are now at the stage today where MacDonald Resorts have employed the service of a “law” firm Shepherd and Wedderburn to harass these two old ladies, now in their 90’s for almost £10,000. In their tactics to force payment this “law” firm is pushing to take the case to court and have the County Court issue a CCJ and enforce payment.

To back this up, along with the letter of intent to take the case to court they also sent 6 court documents of the case they have won on behalf of MacDonald Resorts in the county court. Having read these they are nothing like this case and are totally irrelevant apart from attempting to scare Mrs Price and her sister into paying. Obviously, this is having serious consequences on their mental health.

According to Shepherd and Wedderburn, they claim that the contracts are subject to Scottish law and that the timeshare laws and Spanish courts do not have jurisdiction. In fact, this is incorrect, in 2016 MacDonalds lost a case over this very point in the Spanish courts. The Spanish courts have also made the same ruling against other timeshare companies recently. As far as the Spanish courts are concerned, the purchase and contract was signed in Spain, the payment was made in Spain and the resort itself is in Spain. In the letter sent by Inside Timeshare (published below) to Shepherd and Wedderburn, this is explained, you will also find links to these cases.

Dear Mr MacFarlane,

In your letter dated 15 October, you state that Spanish Law does not have any jurisdiction on the contact with MacDonald Resorts. They along with other timeshare developers have attempted to circumvent Spanish Timeshare law by the use of UK Ltd companies and the clause that UK Law and UK courts have jurisdiction. The High Court of Malaga has ruled on many occasions that timeshare developers cannot choose the jurisdiction of their contracts. The courts have ruled that the contracts were purchased in Spain, the contracts were signed in Spain, the deposits were taken in Spain and the fact is the resort is based in Spain. Therefore the courts have ruled that Spanish law will apply and have jurisdiction on these contracts.

In fact, I have been trying to find the reference to a case held in Spain against MacDonald Resorts in 2016, in this case, the courts ruled that they do have jurisdiction over the contracts and MacDonald Resort lost the case. Unfortunately, without the actual case number, it is difficult to find the court rulings.

Below are just four recent rulings on the matter of jurisdiction. These cases have been brought by the leading law firm in this field Canarian Legal Alliance. Even though these cases show Club la Costa and Diamond Resorts, the ruling is quite clear that Spanish law and courts do have jurisdiction.

Spanish law is quite clear,

  • Contracts should be a duration of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. If there is no end date on the contract that means it is in perpetuity.
  • Timeshare is to be sold as fixed weeks and fixed apartments, points system and floating weeks are illegal as they contain nothing of substance just the right of use subject to availability.
  • The taking of any payments within the statutory 14 days cooling off-period is forbidden including by a third party.

The law regarding timeshare in Spain is Law 42/98 with Law 4/12 updating. (pdfs attached English and Spanish).

On point 2 above, this ruling regarding points and floating weeks has been made by the Supreme Court in Madrid, this is Spain’s highest court.

Clearly, had Mrs Price and Mrs Flavell still had their original paperwork, I am sure that Canarian Legal Alliance, M1 Legal or one of the other main law firms in this field would certainly take the case to court and have the contracts declared null and void with the full return of their purchase price plus double any amount taken with the statutory cooling-off period. Plus legal interest and legal fees. It may also be the case that the 90 days ruling would also be invoked by the courts and if so the entire purchase price would be awarded in double.

This is a totally pointless case taking 2 old ladies to court, I honestly think that MacDonald Resorts have outdone themselves in their behaviour in this matter, I also think that as a law firm you also share in the responsibility of acting in a totally disgusting and unprofessional manner in allowing yourselves to be used to harass these old ladies. After all, they continued to pay their annual maintenance fee for around 10 years even though they did not use it due to ill health.

If MacDonald Resorts do continue to pursue this course, Inside Timeshare will have no other recourse than to ensure the story gets out into the press, namely Tony Hetherington and Andrew Penman. I’m sure they would love the story, well, in fact, they already are following it. This will only result in even more bad publicity for a company that has already lost so much credibility that even the Resorts Development Organisation (European timeshare trade body) removed them from membership due to their unethical practices.

As the law firm acting on behalf of MacDonald Resorts I feel it is your duty to at least attempt to get them to see sense, harassing two old ladies in very bad health and in their 90’s is one of the most disgusting things I have ever had to deal with in the 10 years I have been running Inside Timeshare. This email along will be published as an open letter on Inside Timeshare on Monday, this is not going away and your reputation will be sullied and I make no apologies for that.

Regards

Charles Thomas

Inside Timeshare

Links to recent jurisdiction cases.

As you can see and for those who have been following this case for the past 4 years, MacDonald Resorts is nothing more than a bully, we also know that they are in dire financial difficulties and are attempting to sell-off resorts and hotels. Could this be the reason that they are harassing two old ladies?

Inside Timeshare leaves that answer to you the reader, we know what our answer is.

Have you been on the receiving end of disgusting, unprofessional and unethical behaviour from MacDonald Resorts or their “legal bloodhounds” Shepherd and Wedderburn, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you? If you would like your story published then please do say so.

Some previous articles on Mrs B, V’s MacDonald Resorts

https://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/more-disgusting-behaviour-from-macdonald-resorts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-macdonald-resorts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/macdonald-hotels-resorts-members-complaints/

Latest Court News & Update on J Foster Associates

Yesterday we published part 2 of our Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom articles, we began last week with Belton Woods Lodges and yesterday we looked at Diamonds “exit” policy, our next article will be looking at Club la Costa. Today however we look at another two cases to come out of the courts in Gran Canaria, these cases involve Holiday Club and Airtours. We also have an update on the new “claims & exit” company J Foster Associates and their rather wild and exaggerated claims. It certainly looks like desperation.

Earlier in the year a German client of Canarian Legal Alliance won his case at the Court of First Instance Number 4 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana against Holiday Club. In July the Court received the payment from Holiday Club for the amount the court awarded to the client.

The client has now received into his own bank account the 25,407€, so not only has the contract been declared null and void, but the client also has received his original purchase price plus double the deposit paid. As far as this particular client is concerned his journey is over and he is totally timeshare free.

So it is congratulations to the client and especially to the Lawyer Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez who prepared and conducted the case and also to Jasmin Erhard the Claims Consultant who helped this client through the case.

The next case is against Airtours and this is a very surprising case, again brought on behalf of a Norwegian client by Canarian Legal alliance.

What makes this case different from all the others is the time it has taken, CLA filed the case on 9 July 2020, within 2 months the case was heard with the sentence just being issued. It transpires that the Judge sitting at the Court of First Instance number 13 of Las Palmas decided that there was no need for a full trial and proceeded to deal with the case at the pre-trial stage.

This does appear to becoming a very common occurrence, with more and more judges deciding that full trials are no longer necessary. This can only be good news for clients with cases pending, let us just hope that more and more judges do the same.

In this case, the client has been awarded over 63,000€ plus legal interest and their contract has been declared null and void.

The lawyer representing the clients was Aroa Farray Martin with Claims Consultant Lotta Nielsen assisting the client.

We now move to an update on the new “claims & exit” company J Foster Associates, we highlighted this company back in September (see link below).

https://insidetimeshare.com/end-the-week-new-cold-caller/

As we stated in our previous article the company website was only registered in August, so it is only just 2 months old. We have also failed to find any company registration either in the UK or in Spain. We do know they are claiming to be operating out of Mallorca, one of the numbers is certainly +34 971 228 089 is for La Palma de Mallorca, but they also have this number +34 922 099 170 which is for Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

We have also been informed that they appear to be working with yet another company that we have highlighted in the past Claims Solutions Group of Aberfeldy along with a couple of others who we believe are Fullbrook Associates of Stirling and Meridian Associates of Tenerife.

We also know that these three companies are also working with another company we have highlighted, Carl James Associates, the articles below explain about them and it does not look good.

https://insidetimeshare.com/end-the-week-6/

https://insidetimeshare.com/end-the-week-7/

https://insidetimeshare.com/one-sided-press-reports/

Now, J Foster Associates who have been actively cold calling mainly Silverpoint clients appear to have come up with a new story which they are using to create urgency for the clients to sign up with them. As one reader put it, “it was just like a timeshare presentation, expect you to sign after a 3-hour Zoom meeting”. Talk about pressure tactics.

Apparently, the caller from J Foster Associates tells the “potential” client (I prefer victim), that 5 of the Silverpoint properties are being sold to the Ona Group and here is the most laughable part, “all proceeds will be going to the Bob Trotta Foundation/Excel Hotels to discharge any debts and claims in Tenerife”.

Apparently, this is all agreed with Alvarez and Marsal who have taken over as administrators of Silverpoint, (this is not the same as the court-appointed administrator dealing with the liquidation). It has also been stated by JFA that all this has the blessings of the Spanish authorities and they are offering “a safety net underwriting any deficit”.

What a joke, the Spanish authorities are going to cover any deficit for debts and claims, they haven’t even got enough money to keep up the furlough payments let alone “bailout” a fraudulent timeshare company.

What we do know is that Ona Group is not purchasing the properties, they are a resort management company and it is they who may, just may be taking over the day to day management role from Excel.

In another attempt to coerce potential clients (victims) with the need for urgency, they are also using Brexit as a tool. According to J Foster Associates, there is a deadline of 31 December 2020 to register the claim with the Spanish courts as once the UK leaves the EU no UK clients will be able to take a case to the Spanish courts.

This is a good pitch for urgency but it is a total fabrication of the truth, it makes no difference if the UK is in the EU or not, they still have the protection of Spanish Timeshare law. Well, Inside Timeshare knows for a fact that there are Russian clients with cases in the Spanish courts and they are not part of the EU.

Once again, this is a stark reminder that not all you are told by these “cold calling claims & exit” companies is the truth, that you should always do your due diligence first.

REMEMBER, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

If you have received any calls from this company or any other with these types of claims, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Court News: Silverpoint Appeal Dismissed; Anfi Lose at Pre-trial

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published the article titled One-Sided Press Reports? This was following the article by Andrew Penman of the Daily Mirror about a court case against Carl James Associates being brought on behalf of a client by Club La Costa. The case revolves around an “exit” of a CLC membership Carl James was supposed to do for a client at a cost of £4,200. Although the client had not signed any contract and wanted to terminate the service, they were told they were in breach of contract and would not receive a refund. The way the story was put together all blame was placed on Carl James for their behaviour, yet as our article pointed out Club La Costa along with other timeshare companies are the main reason these “exit” companies exist. Inside Timeshare has already received many emails arguing the same thing, isn’t Club La Costa just the pot calling the kettle black!

Today we bring you the latest news from the courts in the Canary Islands, we begin with a very good result for one English client of Silverpoint Vacations SL.

The High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has once again dismissed another appeal by Silverpoint and upheld the ruling of the Court of First Instance of Arona. The judges confirmed the original sentence and declared the contract null and void.

The court has also ordered Silverpoint to repay the client over 45,000€ plus costs and legal interest. Both courts also followed the Supreme Court rulings and ordered the payment of double the amount of the illegally taken deposit. The law clearly states that it is illegal to take any form of deposit even by a third party within the statutory cooling-off period which is 14 days.

Due to the situation regarding the liquidation of Silverpoint, this case will now be submitted to the Mercantile Court for the recovery of the funds to the client.

The client was represented by the Canarian Legal Alliance lawyer Miguel Angel Melian Santana with the Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser assisting the client with translations.

The next case is against our old friends Anfi in Gran Canaria, the case was heard at the Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana Number 3, where the court declared the contract null and void.

Other infringements of the law included the contract was longer than the 50 years duration allowed by law and it contained floating weeks which are also illegal. There was also the taking of an illegal deposit within the statutory cooling-off period. Anfi has now been ordered to repay over 14,000€ plus legal interest.

This case was heard in record time taking only 10 months and considering that the courts were closed for almost 4 months. It is also a case where the judge deemed that no trial was needed and issued his verdict after the pre-trial. This has become a very common practice at the Courts in SBT, let us hope that other courts begin to follow suit.

The Swedish client, in this case, was represented by Lawyer Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez and assisted by the Claims Consultant Michael Gadman.

There has been more news arriving from the courts this morning but they have not yet been released, these are just some of the cases being pursued by CLA, on their website under News, Facts & Figures, they have what they call a “dashboard”.

This is updated to give accurate figures of the number of cases, the potential amounts being claimed along with the amounts already paid as well as other interesting statistics.

So far the total amount of cash payouts and transfers to clients is a staggering

45,597,898.73€

At Present CLA has 3342 clients and 1951 live cases at court, no wonder the courts are so busy!

To see the full facts and figures follow the link below.

If you would like to know if you have a valid and viable case in the Spanish courts, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.