Over the past few years, Inside Timeshare has been highlighting a string of fake law firms operating out of Tenerife, we dubbed them the Litigious Abogados Family. Every few months they resurface with new names, although the websites are all exactly the same with only the names of the fake lawyers, the photographs and the company addresses changed.
One of these names is Legalidades Tenerife which we highlighted back in July 2018, (see link below), well they seem to have resurfaced with their latest scam.
One of our regular readers who unfortunately did pay them for a supposed claim has now received their latest email. Our reader who we shall call Mr X, contacted them as he had not received the cheque from the court as they had promised. According to the email signed by Javier Montoya Mulata from the Departmento de Reclamaciónes, there is some very bad news.
Apparently, Legalidades Tenerife has been informed by the Comisaria General de Policia Judicial (Judicial Police), that our of 64 “compensation” cheques issued by the Courts in Santa Cruz their cheque was intercepted and cashed. A time and precise date were given.
The cheque was paid into an account for an import-export company registered to four Ukrainian citizens. The police suspect that it was an “inside job” and 16 Post office employees are being interviewed.
According to Javier Montoya Mulata, banks have been on the receiving end of many fines for inadequate record keeping on the opening of accounts with the clearing banks having many discrepancies to be formally addressed.
The Legalidades lawyers are “most disappointed and upset of the stress this must be causing you through no fault of ours or yours”. They also go on to say that they will extend their full support to provide the documentation for a replacement cheque.
They also go on to say that although the correct documentation can be provided within days, the “protocols and implications are severe and protracted”, so it will take 180 days or more to try to resolve the matter.
According to Mulata, the National Police are now involved in the investigation in tracking the cheques path, with the Santa Cruz Courts even going to the length of appointing an “independent trustee” who specialises in this field to “expedite and resolve” the matter without further delay.
Mulata also goes on to state that Legalidades lawyers have filed an official complaint against Sociedad Estatal Correos y Telégrafos SA (post office). The lawyers have also learnt that a small standard compensation payment will “without question” be paid within the next few weeks for their “contractual negligence and shortcomings”.
Well, this is all very nice, the court issues 64 cheques and apparently, the post office workers are in cahoots with a Ukrainian gang and steal only one cheque to the value of over 21,000 euros belonging to our reader. I suspect that another batch of letters just like this one has been sent to the other “clients” telling them the same thing.
No doubt the next phase of the scam will be another letter saying that they are so sorry, but to get the money paid out a fee will now have to be paid, will this be for tax or what?
This is a very eloborate and long running scam, in fact there are so many names we just can’t keep up, below is the link to article with a list of names so far. You can also read the full letter in the PDF below.
If you have had anything similar to this, whether it is from Legalidades Tenerife or another fake name, contact Inside Timeshare through our contact page. Your information just may help to save someone else from being taken in.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we have another of our Secret Shopper Reports, coordinated by Pete Gibbes, these articles have proved to be very popular with our many readers. One thing they all comment on is how similar to their own experiences these reports show.
“Thank God It’s April 15 Day!”
For those in the US, the 15 April is the day when many members will receive a tax liability bill if a loan is cancelled. For us, in Europe, we find this very strange, especially for loans linked to timeshare purchases. At least our European members don’t get a tax bill when their loan is cancelled.
Inside Timeshare has directed many back to their CPA to dispute this tax bill for “phantom income” as the former has not been enriched by the cancellation of the loan as they have retained nothing of value.
Now before we go on with our Secret Shopper article, a little news on the legal front from the leading European law firm in timeshare litigation, Canarian Legal Alliance.
With the Easter Holidays now upon us, the lawyers at CLA are having a well-deserved break, especially after the past two weeks of court cases.
In the past five days alone, there have been 25 trial and 20 sentences issued, many of these were pre-trials, with the judges once again confirming that there was no need for the case to go to a full trial. The reason being, these cases are based on documentary proof, they are based on contracts which according to Spanish timeshare law contain illegalities. This is obviously very damaging for the timeshare companies but very good news for the clients.
So to recap, in the past 2 weeks, there has been a total of 26 victory sentences with 24 against Anfi del Mar, all heard in the Court of First Instance, San Bartelomé de Tirajana, Gran Canaria. With 2 High Court, Santa Cruz de Tenerife against Silverpoint. The total amount awarded is a staggering 931,229€ plus all contracts being declared null and void.
Now for our Secret Shopper Report.
How do you define a “Bad Apple” Sales Agent?
It’s in the Eye of the Beholder
By Secret Shopper
Tuesday, April 16
We have all heard stories of outright deception and deceit employed by timeshare salespeople. Many complaints are from those who were convinced to give up their deeded timeshare week and convert to the points-based timeshare.
Fixed week timeshares may lack the flexibility of points, but if you like knowing what you own, a guaranteed stay may mean more to you than flexibility. With a points program, you can stay more or less than a week and book other resorts at other times of the year. However, many have complained that after giving up their deed, they were not able to access even the resort they had vacationed at for years.
Timeshare companies will say that salespeople who use scare tactics represent only a few “Bad Apples” so are not typical. Timeshare Accountability Group™has heard from more than a few members that were frightened into giving up their deed, told their children will be burdened because of their parent’s decision to buy a timeshare. We’re not lawyers, so we defer to timeshare attorney Mike Finn to fill us in on what happens when you inherit an unwanted timeshare. It’s a topic many are interested in, especially as baby boomers age.
Some of the tactics sales agents use to coerce an “owner” to give up a deeded timeshare week to become a “member” are downright predatory and constitute practicing law without a license. This is what happened to Phyllis, age 67, in her own words (unedited):
I am a victim of fraud. I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I own. I was told it would last only 55 minutes. 4 highly pressured sales people took turns on me and held me for 7 hours, bouncing me into 3 different rooms. I told them I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare over and over again. They said I have to buy into the new and I own my timeshare forever, and that I could never get out of it. They said my timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with them (the new company) or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. I was tired and hungry. I was tired. In order to get out of there, I signed under dearest. I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BARCLAYS BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018, to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. DRI sent a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure and I am out of the contract. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.
(Submitted to Inside Timeshare)
Our Secret Shopper Experience
In mid-summer 2018, we went on a “mandatory” update after attending a Diamond Resortsevent in Virginia Beach. We are well versed in timeshare methods and had our “ears up” to catch any of the standard tactics they might use to persuade us to convert our two deeded weeks into points.
Despite being ready for the worst, I will openly admit that our salesperson never told us any OVERT lies during our two-hour presentation. He was friendly, polite, and had a long history with Diamond Resorts at various locations throughout the country. He told us where he lived in Virginia Beach (a very expensive waterfront area). He did not lie to us.
That being said, his words were very carefully chosen, and of course, what he didn’t tell us was even more carefully chosen. At a minimum, his pitch was misleading, confusing, full of half-truths, and in my opinion quite diabolical. When someone commits a “material omission” is it a lie? That sounds like a question for attorney Mike Finn.
Let’s see how the game is played
Our salesperson pushed two major discussion points:
1 – Vacation Options:
Our sales agent demonstrated what would happen if we gave up our deeded weeks and purchased 5,000 points. He showed us a world of amazing Diamond Resorts locations on his computer screen. He explained these resorts would be available to us with the 15,000 points in total we would have if we gave up both deeds.
He showed us availability on HIS computer. He said things like “Here, let me show you on MY account” and “the system shows ME availability for these vacations for only 3,000 points… look at all of them!” Yes, many were available on many different dates. Wow, the world would be our Oyster.
Now, all that is technically true, but he presented it in a manner to imply that if we converted to 15,000 non-deeded points, we would see the same availability and options we were shown… but he never actually said that. His online Diamond account is a “Special Sales Double Platinum Account” (a descriptive term as there is no such thing as a Double Platinum loyalty level). It shows everything in the system and probably quite a bit more, but did not display what we would have access to using the proposed 15,000 points (for two weeks).
If the buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the contract has been executed, you would not see actual availability at your loyalty level until after the rescission period had passed.
If you knew what to listen for, the agent chose his words incredibly carefully to sidestep the issue. This would have misled us if we were not informed shoppers. In my opinion, it was a shameful sales tactic that almost anyone would likely fall for.
I know that none of the locations available under his sales account would be available to someone with only 15,000 points, especially summer weeks in Virginia Beach, which he was asking us to give up. He repeatedly showed us that Turtle Cay was only 6,500 points for a week vacation in July… which is accurate… if you are one of the handfuls of people in the US with status and connections to get access to that level of availability. It is unlikely at the Silver loyalty level we would ever be able to stay there again even if we were to convert to points. He didn’t mention that.
He also gave us pamphlets describing Diamond Dream Vacations(DDV), also known as Holiday Vacations, which we could take advantage of anytime for 3,000, 7,500, or 15,000 points. Each DDV included two airfares at top-notch accommodations. One package included four days at Diamond’s Mystic Dunes resort along with a five day Caribbean cruise for only 7,500 points.
For those not familiar with points, maintenance fees for Silver level are about $.20 per point so if the Dream Vacation requires 7,500 points, the trip would cost $1,500. Multiply 7,500 points times $.20. Always do your timeshare math. Four nights at Mystic Dunes, two airfares and a five day Caribbean cruise for two for $1,500 is a GREAT deal! It even included rental car discounts.
After submitting this article, Pete explained that these great deals really do exist. I thought they were completely bogus. He said that since these packages are for the purposes of selling points, they are available to anyone who purchases as a “sweetener” or to existing members in an effort to sell more points.
Apparently, tremendous bargains are always promotions. Our sales agent never said Dream Holidays were promotions that would require a sales session. He said “These packages are available anytime” to use his exact wording. Again, he didn’t lie… he just didn’t present an important fact.
2 – Financial Justification:
He presented a very complex 10-year financial analysis showing how it would cost us far less over ten years if we converted to points, even though he wanted us to drop more than $75,000 for 15,000 points, which would have included giving up our two deeded summer weeks. He did not know that I used to be a financial analyst with IBM. I worked on billion-dollar transactions. His spreadsheet was malarkey, and even I couldn’t follow it. Once again, he was not lying; his analysis was just crappy… which is quite common as financials go. Of course, we were not given a copy of any of his figures. When we tried to take it, he whisked it away.
All told, I doubt other salespeople would consider our sales agent a “Bad Apple” as he didn’t tell any lies. He did not mention any bogus programs (e.g. “you can pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point”) or other false claims. In fact, our sales agent is probably a shining example held up for other salespeople to emulate: nice, amiable, well dressed, 6.5 feet tall with 12 extra teeth in his smile.
After we firmly said no and started to leave, we were sent to a manager to “check out.” This person was quite reprehensible. He showed us further discounts off the $75,000. He spoke about the “investment” we would be making, what our “Equity” would be out of the gate, and how our “Equity” would grow over time. Our “investment” would only go up in value.
I got quite angry and blew up at him at this point, calling him out directly on those misrepresentations. His eyes flew open wide as he backtracked, “When I say Equity I mean your equity in future vacation time and how your vacation time would become more valuable as you learn how to use the system wisely.”
He claimed he never said he was speaking about a financial investment and not to put words in his mouth but he actually said these things with no qualifiers until he was pressed to do so . My wife loudly told him off and we got up to walk out. He asked why she was being so rude. In a sick sort of way, it was funny, really.
As our experience shows, a “Bad Apple” is in the eye of the beholder.
Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a story to share. Our standard disclosure is that we know there are honest sales agents selling the product honestly. Deceptive agents harm honest sales agents too. Our concern is the number of agents “pitching heat” to sell points could lead to a decline in sales unless acknowledged and addressed.
Contact Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes through Inside Timeshare if you would like to become a Secret Shopper.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you to our secret shopper and to Pete Gibbes the coordinator for this week’s report, these do help others to be aware and of what to expect when they attend any presentation. As the old saying goes, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
One thing is certain, purchasers of timeshare in Spain do have the full protection of the law, misrepresentation of the product is not tolerated. We also know that many other European countries are reviewing their own timeshare laws in accordance with EU Timeshare Directives designed to protect consumers, many are also looking to Spain and may just adopt their legislation. For too long the timeshare companies have had the upper hand, but the tide is turning.
If you have any comments or would like to share your experiences use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.
Do you have a problem with your timeshare membership, or need to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found?
Again use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.
Welcome to another Letter from America, over the past few weeks we have been publishing various articles on Bills which may have a detrimental effect on timeshare consumers. This week Irene Parker shares how she sees the legislation being proposed.
A Legislative Scorecard – Nevada Florida and Arizona
How to Connect Lobby Dots
By Irene Parker
April 12, 2019
VOTE “OPPOSED” TO NEVADA SB 348 UNLESS THE BILL IS AMENDED TO OFFER TIMESHARE BUYERS (NOT JUST THOSE RETAINING EXIT SERVICES), 24 HOURS TO REVIEW A TIMESHARE CONTRACT.
Review means an offer to be able to review a contract 24 hours before signing.
This offer should not be buried in fine print. Timeshare buyers who wished to waive the requirement could do so.
Rescission Period means the 3 to 10 days a member has to review after signing.
Nevada has an easy method to comment on the legislation. Select SB 348 and oppose the bill unless amended to allow a timeshare buyer 24 hours to review a contract:
The timeshare member is single, over 70 years old. From 2015 to 2018 the member was ping-ponged back and forth seven timeshare times told, “You should not have bought Hawaii points,” and then “You should not have bought US Mainland points,” until up-sold into insolvency. The member has lost their entire retirement savings that were worth almost $400,000. The member also suffered tax consequences due to liquidating a retirement asset.
The timeshare member identified six timeshare sales agents, of which five are repeat offenders, names well known to Inside Timeshare. The sixth is an up-and-comer who up-sold the senior in Hawaii at a prior update. On a subsequent visit to Hawaii, a family member accompanied the senior to a March 2019 “mandatory” meeting. The sales agent informed the senior that there is going to be a huge Special Assessment in the US program so the member needed to switch back to Hawaii from the US program for the eighth time in four years. If agreed to, this would have cost the senior over $60,000, pushing the loss to more than $400,000. The sales agent also told the family member and the timeshare member that he has a broker they could retain to rent and get money back and at some point in time, the points could be sold back. They added that purchasing these additional points would also allow the member to use points to pay maintenance fees.
I am 100% confident the timeshare company will tell the member that they signed a contract. They will file a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED). NREDwill provide the senior with a “You have no proof” letter.
ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson has been quoted, “The state should not be concerned with those who did not bother to understand the product.”
I wish the member’s story was unusual. At the Florida legislative workshop and at the Arizona hearing, lawmakers themselves reported how they had experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
An OPC is a bird dog, if you will, hanging out at strategic locations, offering incentives to hear about something. NV AB 438 has no single sponsor. Many times I heard a member complain that they were not told it was a timeshare presentation. Nevada Assembly Bill 348 is an act relating to timeshare, providing the following:
Section 1 states:
1. The Administrator may impose a fine or suspend, revoke, reissue, subject to conditions, or deny the renewal of the registration of any representative if the representative has, by false or fraudulent application or representation, obtained a registration or is found guilty of (a) Making a material misrepresentation; (b) Making any false promises of a character likely to influence, persuade or induce another person to attend a timeshare presentation; (d) Must disclose that the promotion is for solicitation of timeshares.
At a Florida legislative workshop held March 12 in Tallahassee, the Florida Attorney General’s spokesperson admitted Florida received 1600 timeshare complaints annually in recent years, 700 so far this year, the bulk concerning the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors. “We engaged 42, mostly about resales,” they added.
This is good news for perpetrators as they can be assured oral representation will be dismissed, despite a volume and pattern of complaints.
Arizona ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson assured those who attended the Arizona HB 2639 hearing that unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices are minimal because Arizona only received 250 complaints in a year arguing that allowing a buyer 24 hours to review a perpetual contract is not necessary.
The Arizona House Bill 2639 was aimed at alleviating unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The bill included allowing a timeshare buyer 24 hours to review a perpetual contract. ARDA was able to get this item in the bill thrown out.
I wrote “Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders” so members foreclosed can explain to their lender how when “pitched heat” by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents, they can lose $100,000 or more in a week, one second after the rescission period ends because the resort can fall back on the oral representation clause. By their own admission, Florida’s timeshare division DBPR will fall back on it too. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-18/
Buyers often enter into timeshare contracts when on vacation, are encouraged to review documents after they return home from vacation, sometimes long after the rescission period has ended – leading to confusion, anxiety and costly fees that can last years.
The timeshare lobby ARDA and the timeshare industry have yet to acknowledge unfair and deceptive sales practices exist on the front end of the timeshare sale. The amount of money lost to timeshare exit companies pales in comparison to the amount of money timeshare members say they lost because they believed a timeshare sales agent, according to our 800 readers.
When timeshare members receive their maintenance fee invoices, they are asked to make a $3 to $10 donation to ARDA ROC. Timeshare members collectively give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year. I have yet to meet the timeshare member who can tell me what ARDA ROC even stands for.
Timeshare members that have contacted Inside Timeshare are not trying to weasel out of their contracts because they can’t afford them. They allege unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Our readers include doctors, lawyers, two private investigators, mortgage loan officers, professors, MBAs, war heroes, law enforcement professionals, criminologists (one a PhD), a detective who worked economic crimes under cover, and a contract specialist for ConEd, all alleging unfair and timeshare sales practices. What chance has the vulnerable?
All we ask is make it a level playing field, by providing disclosure, alerting the consumer – you cannot believe a word timeshare sale agents say because they could be “pitching heat.” Unscrupulous sales agents also harm honest sales agents trying to sell the product honestly. We’ve heard from a lot of them.
Our volunteers answer questions about regulatory filings when members complain of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many members have resolved disputes by filing regulatory complaints. Too many families have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare, a product advertised to reduce stress.
Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:
Thank you Irene, all we can hope for is that these Bills do not get through, timeshare consumers need protection not just from unscrupulous resale and exit companies but also from the industry as a whole. We have often stated that timeshare could be a good product, but as we know it is the way it is sold and the unfair conditions consumers have to put up with that are the problem.
Have a great weekend and join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare.
Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the growing rise in EZE Group customers being contacted with stories of companies being “appointed” or “retained” by the courts to help them get their money back.
Well, it hasn’t stopped, Inside Timeshare is still receiving many enquiries from concerned coustomers who have been contacted. Today we published the company names and adresses along with some of the names that have been supplied from our readers.
Again the story is the same, they have been “appointed or retained” by the High Court in Madrid and can get back the money, but a processing fee of £725 is required. One reader was also told that they had to travel to Tenerife and get a “Spanish Tax Number” which would cost £1595.
One reader was emailed by Sarah Elliot within an hour of speaking with Mark Spalding of Money Advice Ltd, in her email she reiterated what Mark Spalding had told our reader, although she did refer to him as Mr Smith.
So it is obvious these are all working together, either they are ex-employees of Eze Group or have purchased the data from an employee.
At the same court Anfi once again has been ordered to repay over 117,000€ plus double the deposit and the contract being declared null and void.
The same Court of First Instance has also ruled that Anfi repay over 7,000€ plus double the deposit and another contract declared null and void.
Again the truth is the timeshare companies are losing despite what they and the industry report, consumers now have the backing of the law and the courts. If you have been sold a timeshare in Spain after 5 January 1999, it is for a period greater than 50 years or known as perpetuity, you have floating weeks, points or fractional and you also paid any money within the cooling off period and you would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we look again at the Nevada Senate Bill 348, with the introduction by Irene Parker and comments from Michael Kosor. Once again it looks like the industry is moving to protect itself rather than the consumer, yet the problem is one of their own making.
In Europe a new organisation has been created, EUROC, yes, it is the European version of ARDA ROC, it is being funded by ARDA and RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) Europe’s timeshare trade body. EUROC is being set up to replace the discredited TATOC, which closed down in 2017. Once again it is a smokescreen to give consumers the illusion of having a voice. According to the press information, the two organisations behind it are only going to fund it for a year, after that it should be self sufficient, well, we shall wait and see.
URGENT AND TIME SENSITIVE
If You Bought a Timeshare in Nevada and Experienced Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices
Nevada Needs to Hear From You
The Next Timeshare Legislative Battle is April 5 in Nevada
Nevada Senate Bill 348 is an identical Bill that follows Florida HB 435
Comments by Nevada resident and Timeshare Advocate Michael Kosor
April 2, 2019
As part of Nevada SB 348, the timeshare lobby ARDA has proposed that timeshare members seeking exit services wait 24 hours before a timeshare member signs a timeshare exit service provider contract. Given the volume of complaints concerning fraudulent timeshare sales, if anyone needs 24 hours to “sleep on it,” it is the timeshare buyer. Buyers typically sign a perpetual timeshare contract with little to no secondary market. When deceived, contracts signed for even $100,000 or more are worth nothing seconds after the rescission period. We previously reported how easily a sales agent can dodge the rescission period.
Some states, like Arizona, understand the plight of timeshare victims, especially if lawmakers themselves experienced deceit. The reverse is true in Nevada. Many of the 779 complaints Inside Timeshare received were directed against Nevada sales centers. The Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) dismissed all with a “You have no proof” letter. It is likely Nevada SB 348 was proposed due to a less than warm reception for the identical Florida HB 435, given the comments made by Florida representatives who themselves experienced negative timeshare experiences. Nevada SB 348 was proposed on the last day a bill could be filed.
In Florida, spokespersons for the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) reported Florida received 1,600 complaints each year for the last few years with 700 complaints already received in 2019. Of the 1,600 complaints, it was reported that most complaints are about the initial sales presentation and approximately 50% were reported by seniors. Only 42 complaints were “engaged” and those they said were mostly about resale.
In effect, perpetrators in Florida and Nevada have been given the green light to make up anything to sell points, knowing complaints are likely to be dismissed by the timeshare company and by NRED and DBPR. Florida is a two party state so consumers cannot legally record the sales presentation.
ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson opposed the pro-consumer Arizona HB that would have required timeshare buyers be granted 24 hours to review a timeshare contract. His argument was that Arizona only receives 250 annual timeshare complaints.
If you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices in Nevada, there is an easy method to comment on pending legislation. If you signed an NDA you can still make a general comment asking the bill to be amended to include the offer of a 24 hour period for the buyer to consider the purchase of a timeshare.
To voice your opinion click on Nevada SB 348 to comment:
Thousands upon thousands of people across America and in the European Union are reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Just this week Consumer Affairs reported on a couple over the age of 85 sold $250,000 in timeshare points. USA Today and the Arizona Republic reported on a couple nearly 90 years old sold $150,000 in timeshare points. In March I received a complaint directed against the same timeshare company from a couple turning 90, both diagnosed with age-related dementia. They were sold $145,000 additional timeshare points promised a maintenance fee relief program that does not exist. A third complaint against one agent, a sales agent we have on a recording defrauding a veteran a year ago, sold a couple ages 79 and 80, 90,000 timeshare points. The husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; the wife’s first language is Cantonese. They were unsure of the purchase price but a conservative estimate is $240,000.
If this bill passes, law firms providing timeshare exit assistance and legitimate exit providers would not be allowed to receive payment for services provided until all services have been provided. Timeshare companies have not been forthcoming in even notifying timeshare members that their loan has been cancelled. Many have reported not learning of a loan cancelled until a 1099C arrives in the mail.
We want timeshare buyers to be offered 24 hours to think about their decision to sign a timeshare contract. This could be waived if the buyer chooses, but would allow those unduly pressured to consider their decision, consult an attorney, mom, dad, son or daughter. As things stand, same day sales are demanded after exhausting sales sessions.
The proposed “cooling off period” as stated in the NV SB 348:
A time-share exit assistance or relief services provider shall give the owner who is not a developer not less than 1 business day to review a contract pursuant to this section.
Timeshare exit providers have heard from thousands of timeshare buyers desperate to find release. Voice your opinion – click on SB 348 and demand your 24 hours:
Timeshare members collectively donate approximately $5 million a year to the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC through “voluntary” donations via their timeshare maintenance fee invoice, yet not one of the 779 timeshare members who have contacted us could tell me what ARDA or ARDA ROC stands for. These donations fund ARDA lobby efforts. ARDA purports to be lobbying for the consumer, but what’s wrong with a consumer being allowed 24 hours to think over a purchase that has financially devastated so many families?
Michael Kosor, a Wyndham owner and Las Vegas resident, responds to Wyndham Sr. VP Jason Gamel who testified at the Florida HB 435 legislative workshop held in Tallahassee March 12
The Nevada Senate Bill 348 denies legitimate attorney representation to responsible consumers desperately seeking to escape the perpetual liabilities of a timeshare contract. Attorneys who provide timeshare exit assistance would not be allowed to charge a retainer or any money upfront until services have been provided. Challenging a timeshare contract can take up to two years or more.
When I last visited the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) and sat down with an investigator on the issue of timeshare complaints I learned the following:
NRED continues to be one of the only states that I am aware of, with a large number of timeshare sales, with no dedicated timeshare division. I believe Nevada is #7 in timeshare sales.
NRED has no legal staff, thus NRED must forward all legal questions to the Attorney General.
The investigator confirmed that NRED produces no public report to anyone, including its own investigators, on the number, type, and/or outcome of timeshare complaints filed. Are there fifty or fifty thousand complaints?
Wyndham Sr. VP and attorney Jason Gamel, who provided testimony at the Florida HB 435 Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12, made some arguably false comments in response to Florida state Representative Newton’s question about Wyndham’s dissolution policies. Mr. Gamel explained that there was no need for owners to contract with an exit service provider because members seeking a loan cancellation due to hardship can apply for a hardship release through Wyndham. Those who were denied release and contracted with an exit service provider, or those with pending litigation, will find the testimony interesting.
When asked about the percentage of owners who would be eligible for release through Wyndham’s dissolution program, Gamel stated “…over 99% of the inventory qualifies and if the owner is current in their maintenance fees and their mortgage is paid off, it’s literally just about everybody. So anybody that has called us in the last few years while this program has been active, we have taken those timeshares back.” He further went on to state, “If they qualify for the program everyone gets out.”
I have talked to those who own Wyndham (as I do), who tried to get out but did not “qualify”. When I researched the program I discovered:
A policy to exit a Wyndham contract is only a few years old at best.
To my knowledge, Wyndham doesn’t publish any qualification criteria. I am an owner. I have asked. They will not provide the specific policy criteria in writing or in a telephone conversation as to what is sufficient to “qualify”. If anyone has the qualification criteria of any developer, exchange program, etc., I would like to see and share it. It is my assessment “qualification” is a purely subjective determination made by Wyndham.
Contrary to my experiences and those I have talked to, more often than not, simply being current on maintenance fees and having no mortgage does not automatically result in the ability to exit/dissolution.
In my opinion, the entire effort is primarily a smoke screen created in response to increased consumer issues seen as threatening a very profitable business model while deflecting attention away from fixing the flaws in the product and its lack of a resale market.
Florida Representative Newton requested and was promised information to support Gamel’s assertions. I hope it will be made public.
Mr. McKelvey, representing ARDA ROC, also made some questionable comments that need to be rebuked. First, he claimed “most of the developers I know and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single (one). There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us (the management company) to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have a one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy….”
Mr. McKelvey’s Defenders Resorts may have had a dissolution policy, but in no way can the statement be supported that all resorts have a dissolution policy.
McKelvey went on to imply dissolution policies are “passed by your board of directors.” These are not developers, these are board members elected to a board that have passed a certain dissolution policy. We send that (dissolution policy) to the directors, but we never get an answer.
There is much to challenge in McKelvey’s testimony:
I seriously question the validity of his claims related to the vast proliferation of dissolution policies.
There is a huge difference in “having a way to get out” and getting out.
Dissolution policies, contrary to what McKelvey implies, are the developer-controlled boards of the corporations and exchange trusts formed by the developers used in the developer’s affiliation (exchange) programs.
I find it incredible that legislators and consumer protection agencies fail to act on the realities encased by prior flawed and outdated legislation that permits the sale of perpetual contracts, on the twin legal fantasies that timeshares represent an interest in real estate, and the equally damaging “constructive notice”- a presumption purchasers are knowing of and accepting of all the contract provisions imposed. I know of no other consumer product that fits these twin categories and have produced so much wealth destruction. As I have said in the past, the properties of real estate have been stripped away from timeshares. Buyers own little more than a “membership” in a strange sort of country club that can cost $100,000 or more upfront with perpetual liabilities.
ARDA’s claim that it represents both the industry and the consumer needs to be debunked. Who are the true consumer advocates?
Thank you Mike for your opinion. Please voice your opinion on the Nevada link provided. Venting on complaint sites is easy and might make you feel better, but venting affects no change.
Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome KOALA, a new innovation in Timeshare Rentals & Exchange, with the introduction by Irene Parker.
First another word of warning for those who have had dealings with Eze Group, as we reported on Monday, Dominic O’Reilly has been jailed for 2 years 4 months, with Stephanie O’Reilly receiving 9 months & 18 months suspended for 2 years.
Since this case has been in the public domain several readers have informed us of companies claiming to be working with or appointed by the courts to help “victims” get their money back. The main one that seems to be contacting people with this story is Money Advice Limited.
The latest reader to have been contacted has been told that the money is in the Spanish legal system, that they need to pay £725 in order to get the money. Once this is paid they will receive a cheque within 10 days.
This is a scam, there is no money held by the courts either in Spain or the UK. No court appoints a private company or third party to contact victims. If you had come up in any investigation the authorities would have been in contact before any case, this would have been to provide any evidence and witness statements to strengthen any case they had.
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS SCAM.
Now for this weeks article.
KOALA Provides a New Era for Timeshare Rentals & Exchange
Founded by a team that believes everyone has the right to decide how and when they travel, Koala is empowering owners to utilize their timeshare without limits. There are no upfront costs, no commitments and no hidden fees.
Visit the KOALA website to join their exclusive wait list
I met with the founders of Koala last summer when visiting our daughter in New York. Co-Founder Mike Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and spent 10 years as a Sales Executive at Hilton Club New York. Inside Timeshare has received only two Hilton complaints out of 742 reader complaints. Mike gained valuable insight into the struggles of timeshare owners today and is committed to modernizing and improving the industry.
Co-Founder James Burbridge reached out to Inside Timeshare about a year ago. Since then the two have been laying the groundwork to launch Koala’s modernized timeshare exchange platform. James has spent over 20 years in digital media, business transformation and delivery of cutting-edge technology. He has developed multiple web solutions in the travel, retail and hospitality space.
The two founders met through James’ wife and quickly found common ground when it comes to their beliefs in entrepreneurship – solve a big problem and work with people who focus on solving that problem ethically and efficiently. These core beliefs stem through the company culture at Koala. The company has assembled a team of experts to deliver the website to the market this summer. This is the inventory build-up phase, so contact Koala to become a part of this revolutionary new service. According to Mike, “We have had a great response from our sign-up page. Many owners are signed up and ready to go.” https://go-koala.com/owners/
In a remarkable display of a lack of business ethics on the part of SellMyTimeshareNow (SMTN), when I searched for the new Koala timeshare exchange, I found a link to KoalaSellMyTimeshareNowSalesandRentals.SMTN stole our Inside Timeshare keywords too. When I searched Inside Timeshare the link was to InsideTimeshareSalesandRentals/SMTN. Inside Timeshare has received complaints about SMTN, and there is a RedWeek thread started by people who paid SMTN $1,700 to list timeshares widely known to have no secondary market. On this front Inside Timeshare supports the hotly contested Florida House timeshare Bill 435 and Nevada Senate Bill 348 feeling SMTN should not receive compensation until after a timeshare has been sold. Koala is considering a SellMyTimeshareNowSalesandRentals/Koala link.
Koala is a secure, peer-to-peer marketplace for timeshare owners to easily rent unused time to anyone in the world. It is reinventing the way owners use their assets to Go Somewhere New whether you’re a savvy owner ready to embrace innovation, or your timeshare no longer fits your lifestyle, Koala is set to disrupt the status quo.
There is a growing demand from travelers for accommodations that offer more space than a hotel room and more safety than a stranger’s home. Koala connects timeshare hosts to those seeking the value and certainty that timeshare rentals provide.
Transactions that occur between owners and travelers are secure as Koala safeguards both parties. Technology is at the heart of this innovation, ensuring the highest level of certainty and trust.
State of the Industry
Peer-to-peer technology is leading the industry in the rest of the travel sector but timeshare has seen no evolution in this direction.
Millions of owners don’t utilize their timeshares and are reaching for new ways to subsidize their unused asset.
Your Time is Valuable – Your timeshare is rented faster. We put your rental in front of all travelers, not just those looking for timeshares.
Free to List – Signing up and listing is totally free. Owners remain in control and can delist at any time. Fees are only charged once a rental is completed and, depending on a few variables, the fee will be 5-10% of the total rental. The fee is collected once your guest has concluded their stay. Owners always see exactly what they’ll earn and exactly what we charge before they list.
It’s Simple and Secure – Creating your listing is quick and simple. Our secure network ends your worries and gets the money to your pocket.
Safety and Security are at the core of Koala’s Company Culture
With years of timeshare and tech-industry experience, Koala’s founders were driven to build a tool that would grant owners the control and freedom they deserve. Backed by a group of industry experts, Koala is shaping the future of vacation ownership.
The next generation of timeshare buyers expects more control over their vacations. Koala will revolutionize vacation ownership using a peer-to-peer solution the same way Uber & Airbnb have for their respective industries. Koala is set to launch this summer and is currently accepting early members online.
Be sure to check with your resort to determine any restrictions on renting.
Thank you Irene and Koala for this article, we hope that this is something that will at last be of benefit to owners.
If you have been contacted by any company that tells you money is being held by any court, use our contact page and let us know, it is with your information that we can inform others of the scams that are going on.
The registered director is Joshua Rice, born April 1989, with the occupation of Financial Consultant. Also registered at the same address. He has no links to any other directorship or company on Company House records.
The address is one that is owned by Regus PLC, one of the largest office space providers. Part of their service includes rental of office and conference facilities by the day and virtual offices. The Virtual office facility provides a business address at a prime location, call answering service and mail handling. So a very convenient way to provide a company such as Money Advice Limited with the cover of legitimate company.
According to our information Money Advice Limited is contacting customers of Eze Group and Regency Shores SL and informing them they are working directly with the courts. That only Money Advice Limited will be able to recover the money paid by the customer. As we know, the courts do not use third party or private companies to contact “victims”.
If during any investigation by the Police, Trading Standards or any other authority, they discover “potential victims” of fraud, it is they who would make contact. They would then be asking for information and statements in order to facilitate their inquiry into the alleged fraud.
So the question arises, how has Money Advice Limited got hold of customer details, knowing what they have purchased and for how much?
The only answers are very simple, either they are ex-employees of the company and have stolen the customer records, or they have purchased them from another ex-employee.
So along with Claims Assistance Bureau Limitedand other companies, Money Advice Limited is using genuine court cases to defraud people who have already lost a great deal in the original purchase.
As we have already highlighted, Claims Assistance Bureau Limited, have hijacked a genuine company name to make their calls, all to give them credibility. (see link below)
If you have received a call or unsolicited email from any company claiming they have been appointed by or working with the courts to retrieve any money, whether it is Eze Group or any other timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and let us know the details. We will research them and publish our findings to warn other consumers.
Have you paid for a timeshare or timeshare related product and want to know how to get out or even if you can get your money back, use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
But do remember, you must do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet or advert in any publication. Only by doing this will you prevent yourself from being scammed.
As usual before publication we have sent the article to Wyndham and ARDA for comment, but as always these tend to be ignored. As a matter of course we always send the proposed article as we welcome comments from the industry, as it furthers debate and it can accomplish our goals of consumer protection.
Without this debate nothing will ever be achieved and the consumer will forever be at the mercy of the industry. In this respect the lack of response only says one thing, for that we let you the reader decide what it is!
More on the Florida House Bill 435 Workshop held March 12
In response to ARDA ROC and Wyndham’s testimony:
How Timeshare Sales Agents can Dodge a Rescission Period
Why Reading the Timeshare Contract does not Always Help
Why the Delay in Reporting Fraud
By Irene Parker
March 19, 2019
The Florida HB 435 Workshop held March 12 in Tallahassee:
At the Florida HB 435 workshop held in Tallahassee March 12, Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare complaints in 2017 and 2018, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. There have been 700 complaints filed so far in 2019. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.
This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints submitted to Florida’s http://Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) were met with “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.” This lack of enforcement gives a green light to perpetrators, knowing their company will dismiss complaints with, “You signed a contract,” echoed by DBPR’s response, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”
Platinum timeshare member Sheilah Brust, who designed our Timeshare Regret T-Shirt pictured above, and other Platinum members, are organizing a protest in May in Orlando, astonished at the figures reported by Florida’s timeshare division. The oral representation sentence in the timeshare contract stating, “I did not rely on oral representations to make my purchase,” buried in an 80+ page contract, gets a workout. Our goal is to alert the public that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says, which is not fair to timeshare agents selling the product honestly.
Inside Timeshare has heard from 735 families. Of the 735, 100 are veterans and active duty service members. Over 200 of our readers have sent complaints to the timeshare lobby and PAC ARDA ROC. ARDA ROC does not mediate complaints, but they have a Code of Ethics. All complaints sent to ARDA ROC but one were ignored. ARDA ROC responded to one complaint, “This has been resolved,” even before the member, with a top security clearance, had heard from the company. The CEO of the company sits on ARDA’s board. An active duty service member or a defense department worker can lose their security clearance, their job and their career over a timeshare foreclosure. ARDA ROC purports to be the voice of timeshare members.
On Saturday, March 16, I heard from Platinum member #74, told that by purchasing additional points, they would be able to sell or rent points to offset rising maintenance fees, now over $10,000 per year. A 126 page summary report I prepared of reader complaints, shows a pattern and volume of complaints, often the sales agent a repeat offender. All the Platinum members report being told of maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist or a program allowing the member to sell points, if they purchased additional points.
Platinum report submitted by Andrea K, Platinum member #74:
Our family has been emotionally and financially devastated because of the last timeshare points purchased. By 2016 or 2017 our maintenance fees had increased. The sales agents said we were the only deeded owners left and that is why they said our maintenance fees were so high. They said they were not sure if it was too late, but they could try to get us converted to points.
In 2017 we went to Hawaii. We purchased $55,000 worth of more points. They said if we purchased Hawaii points, we could easier sell because Hawaii is so popular. He showed me a magazine listing Hawaii timeshares for sale. I still have the magazine. He also said if I have this many points I can rent, especially in January to pay for the maintenance fees. We have learned our timeshare company does not allow us to rent using the internet, and that their points are worthless on resale.
In 2018 we stayed at Tahoe in California but purchased in Nevada. In Tahoe they said because we had not purchased at our last stay, we lost our $3 price so that we would have to pay $9 per point if we did not buy additional points that day. He said our price lock was lost, but when he checked our records, he said for some reason the $3 was still there. He said I needed to sign a paper to remove the $3 price and in the future I would have to buy points at $9. He should have told us our timeshare points are worthless on resale. These presentations have taken 6 to 8 hours, despite being told they would only be for 90 minutes.
As years have gone by, we have learned that things we were told are either exaggerated or not true. Many of the reimbursements promised did not yield what they had said they would yield.
Twenty of the 74 Platinum complaints were lodged against the same sales agent over a two year period. According to a lawsuit the agent has filed against the company, he said he was instructed to create reasons why existing members needed to buy additional points. He reported earning over $1 million in 2015 selling timeshare points, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017, before being terminated. His replacements are generating similar to identical complaints.
Mr. Ken McKelvey, ARDA ROCChairperson, questioned why timeshare buyers wait so long to report deception. Mr Jason Gamel, Wyndham Sr. VP, Legal said exit companies are not needed because Wyndham has a hardship department to address members struggling with high interest rate timeshare loans. Both spokespersons said the rescission period provides enough time to review a contract and rescind. Our reader complaints address these objections:
How timeshare sales agents and timeshare companies can easily dodge the rescission period:
The buyer is told, “This is a new program, so don’t say anything to quality assurance because I could get fired.”
The buyer is told, “This program will be available after January 1.”
The buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period. Several buyers report being told airfare is included when booking. It’s not until they attempt to book they learn this is Blarney.
The buyer reports being told loans will be consolidated, but then the loan is not consolidated. The buyer does not learn this until the next loan payment, after the rescission period.
The buyer is told to wait a few months before refinancing.
Why reading the contract does not always help:
Buyers are shown a booklet of resorts, but the buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period. Actual availability cannot be determined by reading the contract.
My contract stated, “You can sell points, we will not assist you.” It left out the part about licensed timeshare brokers will not accept a listing for my timeshare points.
Why there is a delay in reporting fraud:
The reason that it may be several years before fraud is reported is because a negative life event triggers the need to sell. It is not until that trigger occurs that the buyer, who was sold on the promise that the timeshare is like real estate, easily sold, learns their timeshare is worthless.
It is not until a tax preparer, attorney, or grown child of elderly parents discovers predatory actions, such as the retired Navy veteran, living on a letter carrier’s pension, up-sold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. There have been numerous complaints involving Alzheimer diagnosed buyers.
We are hoping Marine veteran James Sherwood fell through the cracks at Wyndham, and that Wyndham will reach out to Mr. Sherwood. Mr. Sherwood’s wife broke both hips three years ago and has had a total hip replacement. He is disabled. Neither can travel. Wyndham would not accept that Mr. Sherwood was disabled. They demanded proof he could not travel. The VA provided a letter stating Mr. Sherwood could not travel. This was not sufficient. Mr. Sherwood felt it was an invasion of privacy to demand all medical and financial records, especially since he was told when he purchased the timeshare, that the transaction was a real estate transaction and could easily be sold. http://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5114/
Timeshare members are deeply grateful to Florida lawmakers, who echoed some of their negative timeshare experiences during the Florida HB 435 workshop. For the first time in memory, lawmakers’ voices talked back to the timeshare industry and to industry lobbyists. A timeshare consumer protection Arizona HB 2639 bill is currently being debated, strongly opposed by ARDA. The Arizona Attorney General’s office received 400 complaints against just one company. After a press release announcing an investigation a few years ago, they received an additional 500 complaints, according to members who spoke with the Arizona AG’s office.
The question I am most frequently asked: “How do they sleep at night?”
My answer, “Bernie Madoff had no trouble sleeping at night.”
The comment I hear most frequently, “I feel so stupid.”
I answer that the following have reached out to us describing unfair and deceptive sales practices, in addition to the vulnerable:
Three PhD economic and criminal justice professors
A Florida detective who worked economic crimes undercover
A Consolidated Edison contract specialist
Lawyers and mortgage brokers
Can it be, after all this time, the consumer’s voice is being heard?
Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help:
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
As we know he no longer works for Silverpoint but is a consultant for his brother’s company Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, who are now making more money from the very people they sold the scheme to in the first place, this time through dubious legal action against their former employer Silverpoint.
It all began with a visit to Tenerife in 2017 and a subsequent invitation for a return visit with discounted air fares and two week stay at Beverly Hills Club. The only “condition” was they would have to attend an “information” meeting with Silverpoint.
Once they arrived they were contacted by the Silverpoint representative Alex Farhoud. They attended the arranged meeting and were greeted by the friendly Alex. He began in the time honoured timeshare “warm up”, enquiring into their health, how they are enjoying their stay and giving information on the variety of restaurants, trips and attraction that Tenerife had to offer. All designed to put them at ease.
Eventually the conversation switched to a proposal which would be of great interest and benefit to the client, namely how they could purchase an apartment at Beverly Hills Club well below the market value, this equated to about 60% less.
He went on to explain that they would be able to use the apartment for up to half of the year and for the rest rent it out for a considerable income. Although they would have to wait a few years they would receive “compensation” of 4.5% of the the purchase price, around 155,000€
Alex Farhoud explained the business structure with the aid of the tried and trusted “pencil pitch”, (of which Inside Timeshare has a copy). It shows the workings of the 4.5%, which would equate to 6,975€ which they would receive in the first year as compensation of forthcoming rental income.
This forthcoming rental, was also shown on the hand written “pitch” and showed the proposed income of 21,623.51€, although the amount was actually shown in Swedish Kroner. There would also be a 19% tax deducted from the amount to be paid to the Spanish Tax Authority. This note does have Alex Farhouds name on it.
For the purchase to go ahead a deposit of 5,000€ was payable at that time with the balance of 150,000€ within the next couple of months.
As they had received so much information it was proposed that they would return the following day after looking over the paperwork.
They obviously had many questions they wanted answers to.
According to the paperwork, they would not receive “title” to the property until all the “timeshares” had been freed from their owners, a process that would take approximately 3 years. The paperwork also stated that they were not purchasing “timeshare”.
Moving on to 2018 early 2018, Alex Farhoud makes contact with an important announcement, problems had arisen with the lease. He also announce that he had parted company with Silverpoint, but did not elaborate if he resigned or was dismissed. Now that he was an independent agent he would be able to restore the original terms of the Rental Program Agreement, but this would entail a payment of 2 x 5,000€, paid in two instalments.
It would also appear other “buyers” had received similar information.
Step in Nordic Consulting, as we have stated the CEO is Ali Farhoud, Alex Farhoud is the consultant. They announced they had “found illegalities” in the agreements, that what they had purchased was “timeshare”, which as we know is subject to some very strict laws in Spain.
Nordic Consulting explained they had already taken several cases to court where the contracts were cancelled with the client receiving back full payment. They proposed that they would take on the case and help this purchaser. The cost would be over 30,000€ to be paid to Nordic Consulting.
So now we have the very people who sold the scheme in the beginning, making what must have been large amounts of money in “commissions”, contacting the very people they sold it to, claiming they had no idea it was “illegal” at the time. Now making more money from the very same people!
From information received, several formal criminal denuncias have been made against them, with apparently more in process of being filed.
We don’t know about you, but it does appear to us that something is very wrong that these brothers who sold the timeshare and the participations scheme on behalf of Silverpoint for many years are able to operate in this way.
If so, use our contact page, let us know what you have purchased, Inside Timeshare will get back to you with information on where you stand and what is open to you on the legal front. Whether you are from the UK, Scandinavia, or any other European country, we can point you in the best direction.
Over the past few months, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries regarding claims and legal action against timeshare companies. As we know there are now many firms contacting timeshare owners informing them they have a claim against their timeshare company. Most are not even law firms, but companies setup to get on the bandwagon of claims since the Spanish Supreme Court strengthened the laws.
From the enquiries received, it would appear that everyone has a claim, unfortunately that is not the case, although the purchase may have been in Spain, unless it can be proved that there is a link to a Spanish entity i.e. an SL or SA company, there may not be a viable case.
For example, one reader contacted Inside Timeshare about a Marriott purchase in Mallorca, the company who contacted them was adamant there was a claim and they could take Marriott to court. This reader contacted Inside Timeshare as they were suspicious that what they were being told was not correct, how could they know there was a claim just by the conversation on the telephone?
This reader sent copies of their documents, unfortunately for them there was no viable claim, all the documentation and payments went via Marriotts Florida headquarters. There was no Spanish link, so no Spanish court would have accepted the case. The contract even though purchased in Spain was essentially a US contract, so it was not covered by Spanish law.
We have even had enquiries from readers who have purchased in the UK, being told they have a valid claim. With many of these they have been told they can do this on a no win no fee basis, then are told they must first pay for the contract to be cancelled. The no win no fee is the enticer, the claim is unlikely to ever be paid out.
Spain has the strongest laws regarding timeshare in Europe, by comparison the UK laws are weak and favour the timeshare companies, it is a fact that the EU has issued directives on the sale of timeshare, but these are not law, they are directives pure and simple. It is down to the individual state to place the basic guidelines into domestic law.
The basic criteria for a valid claim against a timeshare contract in Spain is one or a combination of the following:
The purchase must have been made in Spain after 5 January 1999;
The contract is over the permitted 50 year duration, i.e no end date known as perpetuity;
Contains floating weeks or points systems which also includes fractional and “investments”;
Any payments made within the 14 day cooling off period, this is extended to 90 if other infractions such as any of the above are present.
These have been reinforced by the Supreme Court and all lower courts must now follow suite, they have no choice. These are civil cases and it is all down to contracts. Other laws may also be invoked, this is usually done on a case by case basis when the lawyers are preparing the case. They may include Civil Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.
The Supreme Court has also recently ruled that in the case of any payment made during the cooling off period (which includes the 90 day extension) this must be paid back double.
What would be the claim?
Double the deposits paid within the 14 day cooling off period, the balance only if paid after, this is the minimum claim amount. If paid within the cooling off period then double that as well. (All double if 90 day invoked), this is the maximum claim amount.
Added to the claim will also be the return of legal fees (this is at the judges discretion), but also legal interest is paid from the time the case is presented to court.
Maintenance fees may be added to the claim, but again it is the judges discretion if he awards the return.
Obviously, to enable a case to be brought, a competent and genuine lawyer is required, they also should be registered to practice in Spain and have knowledge and experience in this field.
Legal fees are also required to be paid for the work and case to be carried out, these fees are broken down as follows:
Translations of all documents into Spanish, interpreters if the client is required to attend court;
Lawyers fees, for the preparation of the case and representation in court;
Procurator fees, (barrister), they work alongside the lawyer and is responsible for filing the case, submitting and retrieving documents at court;
Court fees and taxes.
Notary fees for Power of Attorney, if signing in Spain this is included. If the POA is signed in the UK then that must be paid separately by the client.
The fees are calculated on the minimum claim amount, which is the purchase price, they are a one time fee, so if the case has to go to an appeal court, no further fees are requested. This system enables the client to know the cost of bringing a case in advance, unlike most systems in the UK where the legal bill for a civil case is not known until the conclusion.
They do not operate a no win no fee system, in fact even in the UK, no win no fee is not what it seems. This system usually involves a litigation funder who pays the legal bills for the case to be brought. You could say they are gambling on the case, if successful, they will take around 40% of the compensation awarded. If you lose, you could be liable for the oppositions cost, which has happened in several timeshare cases in the UK High Courts. One aspect of these no win no fee offers is they do not advise you to take out a litigation liability insurance in case you lose.
As for the prospect of losing in the Spanish courts on these cases, as long as the correct law firm is employed, which has the experience in these cases and this field of law, that possibility is very remote. Plus the correct firm would not take on a case unless it fulfilled the relevant criteria and breached the laws.
If you would like further information Inside Timeshare would be happy to help, also if you would like to have your case checked as to whether you have a valid and viable claim Inside Timeshare can arrange that free of charge and without obligation.
The documents needed would be scanned copies of:
Terms & conditions;
Any finance agreements if these were provided by the sales staff at the point of sale.
If any finance was taken out and is still being paid, then if you do bring a case this still needs to be continued. Once a ruling and sentence on your case has been issued, then the finance company can be approached to have the contract cancelled and all interest returned. This can only be done at the conclusion of the case, the reason is once the court finds in favour of the client the contract is declared null and void on the grounds it is illegal, therefore, the loan agreement was used to finance an illegal product. A claim for interest may be possible if the loan has been cleared.
Once you know for certain that you have a valid and viable claim, Inside Timeshare can then make a recommendation for the best law firm for your case, they would then be able to go through costs and procedure.
Also if you do not have a case which can be taken through the Spanish courts, but have a finance agreement which you are now finding to be a problem, Inside Timeshare may be able to recommend a firm which specialises in this field.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please use our contact page and we will get back to you.