Today we bring the news of yet another Anfi appeal being rejected and dismissed, this time not by the High Court of Las Palmas (Appeals), but by the highest court in Spain, Tribunal Supremo or the Supreme Court based in Madrid. As we already know it was this court which returned a landmark verdict in the 2015 case of Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her case against Anfi. That ruling lay the groundwork for all subsequent rulings of which Canarian Legal Alliance already has 130, it was legal history and changed the way the timeshare laws were interpreted once and for all.
Back in 2015, when the Supreme Court heard the very first timeshare case, all eyes in the legal profession and the timeshare industry were on the court and this landmark case. It all began in the Courts of First Instance and then passed to the High Courts with many appeals. It was the first time that the timeshare laws brought into force in January 1999 had really been tested.
Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mrs Grimsbo and the rest, as they say, is history. (See link below for a rundown on this story).
Since that momentous day in 2015, there have been many more rulings and clarification of the law, this has not been welcomed by the timeshare industry with even the trade body the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) claiming the courts have interpreted the law wrongly.
All we can say to that is after 130 rulings it is the industry and the RDO who are wrong.
As you, our readers are very much aware, Anfi has been conducting what can only be described as “delaying tactics” all designed at making the litigation process as long and difficult for the clients as possible. This has resulted in appeal after appeal, all of which are being dismissed and returned to the original courts for the execution of sentence.
This is the latest appeal to have gone against Anfi, this time it was the Highest Court in Spain who rejected the appeal.
Anfi obviously felt justified in challenging rulings at the Supreme Court again, the very court which since 2015 has set very clear, decisive and rulings which are totally unambiguous on every occasion. The reason why Anfi launched this appeal, your guess is as good as mine, but, we do suspect that it is totally in line with their attempts to buy time and delay the inevitable.
The Supreme Court not only rejected the appeal made by Anfi, but they also refused to study the appeal. The panel of Judges could see no benefit in doing so, as far as they are concerned there is no conflict between the previous rulings of the court along with its application by both the Courts of First Instance and the High Courts.
In this case, the Swedish clients represented by Lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance, have now had their case returned to the original court for execution of sentence, with the sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court.
The client’s contract has been declared null and void, with the court awarding 120,000€ plus legal interest. This also included double the amount for payments taken illegally within the statutory cooling-off period.
This is now the end of the case apart from the execution order and the eventual payout to the client, there are no further grounds open to Anfi for any appeal.
It is now very clear to Inside Timeshare and to our regular readers that Spain’s courts are most definitely on the side of the consumer when it comes to timeshare purchases, as we have stated before the industry only has itself to blame for their woes at this time. Anfi is trying to correct this situation with their contracts, but, as we have come to expect they are doing this in a very underhand way.
As we have reported for the past few years, Anfi is trying to entice members to sign the new “legal” contracts, the problem is since the start of the pandemic situation, Anfi has used this to “blackmail” members into signing.
For those who have lost their weeks this year due to Anfi being closed, the restrictions on travel and the cancellation of many flights, Anfi made the following offer to members:
They can claim a voucher to save this year’s week and use it next year (that’s if everything returns to normal), sounds great until you discover the terms and conditions of receiving this voucher.
In order to save your week or weeks, the only way to get the voucher is to sign the new contract which legalises it to conform with the law. This in itself is not a bad thing until you realise why they are doing it, the moment you sign the new contract you lose all your rights to make a claim through the courts for the mis-selling of the product and the illegal contract.
If that is not “blackmail”, well I don’t know what is.
Do you have an Anfi contract and are looking to terminate and get your money back?
If so and you would like to find out if it is an illegal contract and what your options are, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot and another revival of our Letter from America series, today we bring you another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” with the horrific story of an elderly couple targeted by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. This particular story is a result of a comment on a previous article “A Timeshare Sales Agent Repeats Himself”, by Donald E. Puyear which we published on 1 December. It is such a dreadful story that we decided that it needed an article all of its own. It appears that in the US this is a significant problem for the elderly, in Europe, we have had some similar stories but not to this extent. This is the story as related by Tiffany Renee on the trials and tribulations of her elderly parents at the hands of timeshare sales agents.
Our ageing population is more vulnerable as they are more trusting, susceptible to trickery and are less likely to fight or report a scam. The authorities and courts are not up to date with the latest scams and are less likely to investigate or prosecute financial abuse cases.
By Tiffany Renee
December 3, 2020
My parents are devastated because of what happened at a Diamond Resorts presentation in June of 2019. View the video on Protecting our Elders website to see how easy it is for a senior to get scammed. What happened to the senior in the video is why my parents were in a sensitive state. They had been victims of prior scams throughout their lives that resulted in us losing our personal homes and property. Imagine having a bank take your home because they said your deed wasn’t real? And whoever had the real deed, was being foreclosed? Imagine knowing all the money you paid towards your home meant nothing because someone else out there had an outstanding mortgage that you were not aware of. Imagine receiving this news with your wife and two babies, forced out of your home. I won’t get into more details, but my parents didn’t know how to fight this with the mortgage company. They are good, honest people, trusting, hard-working, and God-loving individuals. They trusted the system and, like the senior in the video who had his home stolen and a lien filed against him, felt it was out of their hands. This happened to them more than once! They never wanted this to happen again!!!!
This is why the rawness of what they experienced at Diamond Resorts has devastated my parents more than anyone could ever know. Diamond knows they are devastated. They don’t care. I call what happened to them at Diamond Resorts elder abuse and false and unjust enrichment because my parents received no benefit from this transaction. In laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust and unfit…where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipient to make restitution, subject to defences. Liability for an unjust (or unjustified) enrichment arises irrespective of wrongdoing on the part of the recipient.
The concept of unjust enrichment can be traced to Roman Law and the maxim that “no one should be benefited at another’s expense” : “nemo locupletari potest aliena iactura or nemo locupletari debet cum aliena iactura.” This has been my motto!
At Diamond Resorts, the consumer is blamed because you signed a contract. Never mind the contract was signed after 11 hours of hard sell, unable to read the contract, relying on the ethics of a timeshare sales agent. They don’t understand rescission periods or cooling-off periods.
We owned two Gold Key deeded weeks prior to Diamond’s acquisition of Gold Key! Diamond’s Mystic Dunes Resort sales agent Dawson Allen, and Quality Assurance Agent Tim Lima told my parents in June of 2019, that they were required to attend a meeting, or they would be fined $400 !! They are elderly and trusting, they cannot afford this unexpected news, so they agreed to attend the “update” to avoid the fine. They had no obligation to attend this meeting.
During the meeting, Dawson and Tim told my parents it was necessary to give up their Gold Key deeds in order to protect themselves and their children from dire financial consequences. If they didn’t, their maintenance fees would increase by thousands of dollars over the years and could put my parents in a position of bankruptcy because they could be one of the last deed-holders standing. They could end up solely responsible for building repairs if a hurricane came through… looking at a 5 or 6 figure liability! That’s right, they threatened bankruptcy and a bill in the double or triple-digit thousands. They told them their current deeds were worthless, despite being told the prior year that their deeds were worth $250,000.
The news devastated my parents, feeling as if they could lose their home again and became homeless. THEY WERE PUT IN AN EMOTIONAL STATE. They could not think clearly or logically. They must turn in their deeds and purchase points. On top of it, they were promised they could use points to pay fees, they could sell points for profit, Diamond would buy the points back, blah blah blah.
My parents cannot see well. The agent read the contract, stopping off and on, to explain “how this really works” or “this is the way it really is,” pointing to information missing from the actual contract. My parents had informed the agents they could not afford to do anything right now, and the decision would have to wait until the following year. NOTHING was to take place until they could attempt to get their finances in order. This was June of 2019.
My parents said they had no food, water or medications for over 11 hours. They were exhausted and eager to have permission to leave. FINALLY, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel and started to perk back up, happy to finally be released. They were informed they would be recorded. They did not want to sound sad, embarrassed, and stupid to the general public. They made sure they “looked good on TV” as one would put it. They had not yet given Diamond any form of payment and they had not yet filled out any applications. They signed paperwork to acknowledge they had attended the meeting so as to not be fined $400 and were finally released with the notion they had a plan and that this was something that will need to be addressed in the following year.
My parents had no idea that Diamond had charged a down payment onto a Barclay Bankcard, and then later received a few bills due immediately. Remember when they said they would be avoiding high maintenance fee increases? Their maintenance fees jumped from $2200 to almost $6000 immediately! They now hold 78,450 points. How is this not enough?
We owned TWO Gold Key deeded weeks, both 3 bedroom condos with a lockout. We NEVER had a problem going on vacation or exchanging. Now all of a sudden it wasn’t enough? My parents have no intention of travelling anywhere in the future EXCEPT to go to the same spot they’ve always gone in Virginia Beach. Now that Diamond has their Gold Key Deeds, they are unable to return to their home resort during their previously guaranteed week. Nothing they search for is ever available for exchange.
I recently found our “QA” agent has an extensive criminal record, complete with a four-year jail term, with multiple felonies ranging from theft, burglary, domestic violence, and traffic criminal charges. Tell me WHY this person is allowed to work in Trading and Money Lending????? As a QA agent?
The timeshare lobby ARDA has a Code of Ethics? Diamond has a representative on ARDA’s board.
Link to ARDA Code of Ethics see Frequently asked questions: Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?
In all the years of doing this work, Inside Timeshare has never come across a story as devastating as this, in our opinion this behaviour is not just against all moral codes and ethics, it is downright criminal. If this story doesn’t show that there is a great need for change in how these timeshare agents are allowed to operate we are unfortunately going to see many more of these in the future.
If you have a similar story and would like to share it with others please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
There are many stories about the history and development of timeshare, it is actually rather vague with several claims as to who and where it was first developed. The story we publish today is one version and may not be entirely accurate although the concept and development of timeshare is what we have all come to know.
After the end of the Second World War, three entrepreneurs, Fred Pontin, Billy Butlin and the Warner Brothers began to expand their holiday camps using in many cases decommissioned military accommodation. These became the holiday camps we now associate with Hi De Hi, the fictional holiday camp Maplins a great British comedy, these were the first of what we now call the “package holiday”.
These holiday camps became a bit of an institution, but as time moved on and air travel for the masses became more affordable and accessible, people started to go abroad for their holidays. Spain and Portugal became the favourite destination for Brits. The decline of the holiday camp was on.
As for timeshare, there are two versions as to who was the first, Paul Doumier or Hapimag, both began to develop ski resorts, both around the same time so this is where the confusion begins.
The French developer Paul Doumier is generally credited as the “father” of timeshare, his company the Société des Grands Travaux de Marseille, began to develop ski resorts in the Alps. His famous slogan was “It is cheaper to own the hotel than to rent the room”, it was a slogan that attracted many buyers to his concept of purchasing time at the ski resort with the time being owned by the purchaser. This concept was being marketed between 1964 and 1968.
Primarily these resorts were located in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, with Hapimag marketing their timeshare concept on a “right to use” basis rather than deeded ownership. This is the model that we all know today, which for Hapimag has been a very successful model. Today Hapimag is as strong as ever with around 60 resorts worldwide spanning Europe, North Africa, Turkey and Florida.
Even though Hapimag has never affiliated with the major exchange companies they are considered as one of the largest and best timeshare operations in the world. It is also very telling that Inside Timeshare has not found one complaint made public about them, they also have a very attractive buyback scheme for members who wish to end their membership.
Moving now to the other side of the world, it was 1969 that the first timeshare resort was opened in Hawaii at Kauai Kailani. The company was called Vacation International and was founded by Bob Burns and Bob Ringenburg. Their company sold their weeks in 40-year increments and they are also credited with developing the points system.
The next place where timeshare began to be developed was Florida and this was one of the first States in Continental America to develop timeshare in the early 1970s. The Californian company called Innisfree was next and they began to sell deeded weeks, then around 1973 they went into partnership with Hyatt to develop their first resort at Lake Tahoe. As legend has it, it was here that the term timeshare was first used to describe the purchase of vacation time from a resort.
Apparently, this story comes from the time when Innisfree used the word timeshare on an application to the California Department of Real Estate, the term became popular and it was then used on all promotional material. It is a term we are now all familiar with and unfortunately, it also conjures up some very negative connotations, hence the move to other names such as Holiday or Vacation Ownership.
Obviously, the way the time was originally sold with the fixed week and apartment, there was seen to be a need for “owners” to be able to exchange these weeks and resorts to give them more choice and flexibility. So it was in 1974 that RCI or Resorts Condominiums International was founded by a husband and wife team, with this development you were no longer tied to one resort and week, an idea that really took off.
During the late 1970s and into the 80s, timeshare development increased substantially with massive building programs worldwide. Spain and Portugal were at the forefront of this building and subsequent sales of the timeshares. Unfortunately, this is where the “rot” began to set in and timeshare in Europe began to develop a very nasty reputation.
It was the 80s and 90s in Europe that was the downfall of timeshares reputation, during the 80s, many timeshares were being sold “off-plan”, in other words, it was a hole in the ground and would not be completed for quite some time. Unfortunately, for many purchasers, this was their first introduction to timeshare and many lost their money as the developer crashed and the resorts were not built.
Adding to all this we then moved into the 1990s and the entry into the industry of some very dubious characters, people such as John “Goldfinger” Palmer who developed a huge timeshare organisation in Tenerife. He began overselling and basically ripped off consumers, many losing thousands of pounds in the process.
Many companies with very good reputation cottoned on to the concept of timeshare, some of these were good and some were bad. Major companies such as Marriott and Hyatt developed a timeshare model and began to market this all over the world.
Disney became involved in timeshare with their Vacation Club, this model is being held up as a very good example of how the “product” should be marketed and how members are treated. So far, Inside Timeshare has not found one complaint anywhere which has not been resolved satisfactorily, this has got to be a first in the timeshare industry.
Moving back to Europe, around 2007, the UK holiday company Butlins developed their own timeshare product Blueskies at their Maidenhead Resort. This was based on the points system and was sold with a maximum duration of 30 years. It was also reported that during the presentation no pressure (which we come to associate with timeshare presentations) was being used. The sales staff did not use the “today and today only” pitch and the club became quite popular.
Again there were very few registered complaints on various forums and the system seemed to be working well, that is until 2017 when Butlins ended Blueskies and the members lost everything. Another nail in the coffin of timeshare.
Moving now to the present, the timeshare industry probably has the worst reputation around the world than any other industry, with many complaints of “pressure selling”, “unavailability” (due to overselling the points and floating weeks systems) along with many other “mis-selling” complaints which in Spain has resulted in many court cases.
In Europe, timeshare seems to have had its day, the major developers have either completely closed their sales offices or have reduced the number of “sales reps” they have. Even before the closedowns of this year we also noticed the number of OPCs (the “scratchcard touts”) on the streets of Spain diminished considerably.
People in Europe no longer see timeshare as a better alternative to the more traditional forms of vacationing. We have increasingly seen the resorts advertising availability on websites such as booking.com and in most cases cheaper than the annual maintenance fees of members along with the huge initial outlay for membership. This has of course infuriated members who are unable to get the weeks they want due to lack of availability.
In the US, timeshare still seems to be selling well, but it must be said that the number of complaints about the lies of sales reps has been increasing dramatically, yesterday’s article is just one of many published by Inside Timeshare from our US readers and timeshare owners.
In the end, the industry only has itself to blame, it has failed to keep pace with the changing world, it has developed so many variations of the product it has become one of the most confusing purchases ever. The industry also has not really developed any sense of “customer care or service”, members are treated with contempt by these companies, all they are is a means to make money. This is seen with the ever-increasing rise in maintenance fees along with the continuous “upgrading”, yet, the members do not seem to be benefiting from it.
In Europe and especially Spain which has by far the most timeshare resorts introduced regulations for the sale of timeshare, these were the EU Directives on Timeshare. These were to be placed in each Member State’s own laws, Spain (Ley 42/98), enacted theirs on 5 January 1999, but it was not until around 2010 that the first cases using these laws went to court. Since then virtually every case which has gone to court has been found against the timeshare companies.
Again, this is having a very serious effect on the industry, but once again we have to say it, they only have themselves to blame, after all, they did not change their ways and did not comply with the law. They believed that the law was wrong and continued to sell a product that was declared illegal under Spanish law, they actually thought they were “untouchable”. Sorry to say, they certainly made a big mistake on that one.
In the end, the original concept was a good one, it did guarantee quality, it removed the uncertainty of booking in the more traditional products such as the package holiday, but it has not kept pace with the times. The new generation has been brought up with the internet, they see timeshare as antiquated compared to the freedom of putting together your own package from the many choices available. They also see the initial outlay for the purchase and the subsequent annual maintenance fees as throwing money away.
The world has changed but the timeshare industry has not, they are still working on the same old model of sales, sales and more sales without the slightest consideration for their members. Timeshare I’m afraid may just have had its day. The question is what product will they come up with now?
Inside Timeshare would like to remind you that this is one version of the history of timeshare, but it is one that seems to be the most accepted with most sources agreeing to this version. We hope that you have enjoyed this little journey into history seeing how things have changed and to be honest not really for the better.