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Update

And So It Begins!!

Following on from Friday’s article Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump, it would appear to have upset a few people on a facebook page that Irene is or rather was a member of, Diamond Resorts International Members page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/diamondresortsmembers/

Apparently some think it is political, well what isn’t political nowadays?

Gandhi free press

It asks the question what will happen to timeshare under the Trump presidency, a fair question considering his business background. He is a developer himself, having built a golf resort in Scotland, which includes plans to double the number of timeshare apartments.

He is all for business, fair enough, but is that going to be at the expense of beleaguered timeshare owners in the USA?

We have already seen in previous articles the predatory nature in the sale of timeshare including the continual upgrading and “lending” in order to fund this. It has been highlighted time and again that there is a lack of a “secondary market”, which ends up with owners being at the mercy of unscrupulous resale and termination companies.

Just from the actions in barring Irene from the group by a few, freedom of speech and expression is being eroded by a few, who think they know better. Are these people just stooges for the industry? Do they speak for the majority?

Voltaire free speech

Inside Timeshare thinks not, we will publish stories about both sides, whether they are “the good, the bad or just downright ugly”. Freedom of speech is the fundamental aspect of democracy, when we lose that we have dictatorship, Irene has lost one avenue for that freedom and it is to the detriment of those other members who wish to know the Truth.

Timeshare and Politics

Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech Works

By Irene Parker January 23, 2017

hand and pen

Whether we are talking politics or timeshare, media spin is usually the first line of defence. I have been banned from one of the Diamond Resorts Members Facebook page for posting the article Inside Timeshare published Friday, January 20 about US Attorneys General working for timeshare owners and Attorneys General who seem to be on the side of the timeshare developer. I was banned because the article was deemed political. I did not know President Trump was going into the timeshare business until I read the article after it was published.

Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

Timeshare is all about politics. The problem is, timeshare is a one sided political game with all the muscle on the side of the timeshare developers.

Several of the members of the Diamond Facebook contacted me with their reasoning as to why I was banned. I’m told the quota of unhappy owners has exceeded its limits. Happy campers are encouraged to apply.
I worked with over two dozen of the Facebook members, several having been financially devastated by their vacation plan. I felt like I had been making real progress interacting with PR spokesperson Maya Pogoda, the newly formed Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department, and Diamond’s In-house Counsel – responding when legitimate examples of deceptive and fraudulent business practices are brought forth, similar to the Monarch example below.

Owners released from a timeshare contract cannot share their story because they are required to sign a confidential non-disclosure agreement or CNDA, agreeing not to say anything negative about Diamond Resorts. How can this Monarch owner go through life not saying anything negative about Diamond Resorts? I use Diamond as an example, but a few of the big players are just as guilty.
I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.

bill of rights

Attempts are being made to suppress the America media. CNN has been aggressively targeted. Suppressing the media is the first step in a dictatorship. It pains me to see Anderson Cooper rattled by the absurdity of debating crowd size.

Propaganda and distraction are the means to control the message. In timeshare this is accomplished by requiring relinquishing owners sign a non-disclosure agreement. This is common in any industry, but seems harsh when an elderly or vulnerable family has turned over sometimes their life savings because they believed they were buying the equivalent of a second home. The family will receive nothing when they relinquish. The developer takes back the contracts and resells for full value. Amounts from $50,000 to $100,000 are not uncommon. I dare not show them past levels of executive compensation which I believe are wildly inflated. Is it fair to silence?

I sent our controversial article to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with this note:

I know Senators Warren and Sanders are kind of busy right now, but I really think they should know our President is going into the timeshare business and one of his best friends for the last 20 years is the owner of Westgate who you have been investigating for a couple years.

What can be done about it?

help key

There seems to be a real disdain for confronting a problem with the preference being to deny the problem exits. In the media, I have seen masterful examples of answering a question by not answering the question. I have always said half a problem goes away when confronted. How CAN the timeshare problem be confronted?

Finally, a timeshare company listened!

Diamond Resorts has created a Consumer Advocacy Department that allows owners who have been victimised by rogue timeshare sale agents to contact their Consumer Advocacy Department at:

mailto: [email protected]

Often issues are related to miscommunication. Meaningful dialogue can work wonders. The entire industry benefits although timeshare lawyers may notice a decrease in their earnings.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and his staff are working with Diamond Resorts to improve their business practices. Diamond is certainly not the only timeshare company that needs to improve.

OPC´s in Europe and the USA.

One of my favourite posts on my former Diamond Facebook was when an owner said Diamond needs to take the Blinkers off. Blinkers off? It’s a worldwide Facebook page so an American said the word we use is Blinders.

Timeshare needs to take its blinkers or blinders off and realize there is a problem with the timeshare industry and the continual conflict between timeshare developer lobbyists like ARDA, RDO and TATOC and timeshare owners and advocates. CRDA is not on this list because CRDA does have an advocacy arm. It’s called the National Timeshare Owner’s Association and it has been helping owners for over twenty years. Owners have available an “ASK CRDA” helpline that has operated without any interference from developers. But that’s Canada for you.

Too many senior citizens we used to call baby-boomers are being harmed by predatory marathon sales presentations repeatedly asking us to sign perpetual contracts with little or no secondary market.

Let’s wake up Timeshare!

The Arizona Attorney General has taken the first step by throwing out the oral representation clause in Arizona, or “license to lie” as timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group likes to describe it. For years deception and fraud has gone on unchecked because of the oral representation clause. The oral representation clause is the start of a vicious circle that ends with the widely reported timeshare resale scam industry.

Is honesty really that hard?

 

reform

Inside Timeshare will continue to publish stories such as these, without them timeshare owners around the world will be kept in the dark. If you have any comments on this or any other article Inside Timeshare welcomes them. If you have a personal story on your experiences which you would like to share, contact us and we will get back to you. You Have a voice, use it!

 

   

  

 

More News on Litigious Abogados

Once again Inside Timeshare has received another email from a concerned reader about Litigious Abogados, he also received an email that he had a case against Diamond and can be included in the forthcoming case.

To get this underway an initial payment of around 1000€ needed to be made, this was payable to the “Court ProcuratorDavido Harstun Jaime. The client did pay this and eventually he received the great news that Diamond Resorts pleaded guilty on 13 December 2016. The strange thing is, if Diamond were going to plead guilty, surely they would have made an out of court settlement, rather than go to trial?

He was informed the court had awarded him around 20,000€, but before this could be released he would need to pay “TAX”, again to the “Court Procurator”. There is also a new twist to this tale, he was informed that this “TAX” would be refunded to him by the UK’s  HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). This would be in June 2017 after the lawyers had made representations in his behalf.

Now, why would HMRC refund any “TAX” paid to a court in Spain or to the Spanish Government?

The plot is certainly getting thicker in order to lend credibility to this operation. Inside Timeshare wonders what the next twist will be.

LIT

This is a full list of the company names and websites with all names that appear on documents and emails:

Websites:

www.litigiousabogados.com/

http://emiliocatillianos.com/

www.litigarabogados.com/

http://manuelamasconde.com/

http://abogaciaespanola.com/

http://fernandoholaci.com/

http://www.davidoharstunjaime.com/

Lawyers:

Manuel Amas Conde for Litigar Abogados;

Emilio Leyes Catillianos for Litigious Abogados;

Fernando Roleba Holaci for Abogacía Española.

Ramon Quilnar Canal for Litigious Abogados;

Ramon Quenan Cansal for Litigar Abogados;

Ramon Quilon Climol for Abogacia Española.

Procurator:

Davido Harstun Jaime.

Addresses:

Litigar Abogados and Litigious Abogados

Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, this address was not quite correct and should have read: Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife,

Abogacia Española

Calle de Valentín Sanz, 16, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, España.

Staff named on Emails:

Luisa Ernas Fernandez Departamento Legal;

Layla Lavame Fernandez Departamento Legal;

Layla Lavame Carita Departamento Legal;

Maria Sanchez Gotera Departamento Legal;

Madelena Huele Aflores Departamento Legal;

All emails carry the following number: Freephone: 0800 862 0102 and carry this copyright: © 2013 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Tenerife. Todos los derechos reservados. European Union Data Protection Directive 95/46/E

court_doc-page-001
Court Document
Compensation_Cheque-page-001
Compensation Cheque issued by the Procurator

 

Luckily for this reader he found the previous articles on Inside Timeshare and this has saved him several thousand euros. Once again this proves you need to do your due diligence before engaging any company, doing your homework will save you money and heartache.

If you have been contacted by any of the companies in this and previous articles, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. It is through your information that others can be warned.

 

Litigious Abogados: New Update

litigious-abogadoslitigar-abogados-4

Further to the articles published on Litigious Abogados and the two other companies, Litigar Abogados and Abogacia Española, Inside Timeshare has recently noticed that Abogacia Española is also the name of the register where you can check the validity of registered lawyers:

http://www.abogacia.es/servicios-abogacia/censo-de-letrados/

abogados-espanola-official-logo

So if you were to conduct a search for Abogacia Española you would in fact come up with that website heading the page. This would give you the confidence to believe that they were in fact a legitimate law firm.

abogacia-logo

As we have stated before in our articles, there are many ways in which “bogus” operations will attempt to confuse you, using actual or similar names to legitimate companies, including using their website names albeit with different domains for example .com, .co.uk, .me, etc.

The more that we look into this operation the more it becomes apparent that it is very sophisticated indeed. From very genuine looking court documents to the letters and copies of the cheques that clients receive.

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

Along with the fact that all three websites are the same except for the names of the so-called lawyers, none who appear on the official Abogacia Española register, is proof enough that this is setup to fleece you of your hard earn cash.

Following is a list of all websites associated with these companies:

litigiousabogados.com

http://emiliocatillianos.com/

litigarabogados.com

http://manuelamasconde.com/

abogaciaespanola.com/

fernandoholaci.com/

www.davidoharstunjaime.com/

Names appearing on emails:

Luisa Ernas Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Carita Departamento Legal

Maria Sanchez Gotera Departamento Legal

Madelena Huele Aflores Departamento Legal

If you have received any call or email from any of these or similar firms purporting to be lawyers claiming against your timeshare company or resort, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. We will also help you to make official complaints to the relavent authorities, this may not help to get any money paid back into your account, but it will help to have operations such as this closed down. Remember any payment made by any other means than a credit card, that money is almost certainly lost.

If you are unsure as to the legitimacy of any company, Inside Timeshare will do its utmost to find the truth for you.

As we always say it pays to do your homework, it will save you money and a lot lot of heartache.

homework

Litigious Abogados: The Plot Thickens

 

litigious-abogadoslitigar-abogados-4

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

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

abogacia-logo

http://abogaciaespanola.com/

 

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

 

The following is the website for the founder Fernando Holaci

fernando-holaci-300

http://fernandoholaci.com/

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

Manuel Amas Conde for Litigar Abogados;

Emilio Leyes Catillianos for Litigious Abogados;

Fernando Roleba Holaci for Abogacía Española.

 

litigar-abogados-24

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

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

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

original-letter pdf

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

Ramon Quenan Cansal on the Litigar website;

Ramon Quilon Climol on the Abogacia Website.

 

ramon-quilnar-canal

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

Now to the court case.

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

http://www.davidoharstunjaime.com/

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

proc-fees-letter  pdf

court_fees1  pdf

confirm-case  pdf

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

confirmation-of-win  pdf

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

compensation_cheque  pdf

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

bbva_cheque_on_behalf_of_mr-x  pdf

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

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

Luisa Ernas Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Fernandez Departamento Legal

Layla Lavame Carita Departamento Legal

Maria Sanchez Gotera Departamento Legal

Madelena Huele Aflores Departamento Legal

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

European Union Data Protection Directive 95/46/E

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

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

 

Wyndham Whistleblower: Update

Following on from the article published on 1 December titled: Whistleblowers Expose Timeshare Sales Tactics, Inside Timeshare was sent an an article written by Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times. It is an interview with Patricia Williams, who recently won her case against Wyndham for unfair dismissal, the San Francisco jury awarded her $20 million for lost earnings, emotional distress and punitive damages.

patricia-williams

In the interview which was conducted by telephone, Patricia explained how she was branded a “troublemaker”, because she pointed out and complained about inappropriate sales techniques she and other sales staff had to employ. The constant high pressure selling especially to the elderly, with upgrades along with loans or mortgages, in some cases credit card accounts were also opened for purchasers without their knowledge or permission.

Patricia had worked in the timeshare industry for over 15 years, she was also, as all timeshare sales agents in the US, a licenced real estate agent, so it is not hard to see the dilemma she was in. It is about personal integrity.

This trial has caused her considerable stress, she was unable to find work as a sales representative in any field, it also had a severe effect on the relationship with her longterm fiancé, resulting in a break up. She also admitted that it had caused her to start drinking heavily, and at times she had to “raid” her parents kitchen for food. The only work she could get was low paid, with the most recent being a hostess at a restaurant for only $9 an hour.

Patricia was finally asked if she would do the same again, even with the knowledge of the consequences of being a “whistleblower”, her answer was definitely, “Protecting these vulnerable elderly owners,” she added. “That was the main reason I was able to continue.”

It is such a shame that this case had to be brought, if Wyndham had listened in the first place, changing how their product is sold and the way sales agent are made to lie, timeshare would have a better reputation. This is not just the case in the US, Europe has also seen the same tactics employed. Sales staff saying anything to get the sale, the oral representation clause, if it was not written down it didn’t happen.

For the full interview and article see the link below.

nytimes

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1

If you have any comments or questions about this or any article published, use the comments section to contact us. If you need any information on any company or want to know how to find it, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help.

Owners Data: Update.

Inside Timeshare has received an email from Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA in response to Edwards article yesterday on Owners Data. In his email Greg addresses the fact the developers community has been battling the issue of the the breach of owners records for decades. In his opening he states:

“I think the developer community has been dealing with “owner records data breach issue” for decades. Those lists of owners have been stolen…sold and resold many times over and it continues to happen at present day. (***Get a quote from the Orlando Florida PD – timeshare resale task force…and they will tell you that people are making more money selling lists of owner records than actually selling timeshare or resale***)”.

When you consider the last part, that people can make more money from selling these lists than selling timeshare or resale, it goes to show how valuable this information is. It is not just timeshare that has suffered, in the UK there was a proliferation of calls regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance), again where did this information come from? Was it stolen by ex-employees or sold by the companies themselves?

landing-pages

 

There is also another form of compiling these lists which does not involve theft, that is the landing page on the web. When searching the internet for say a resale company, you will quite often find a website which offers the service, on many there are no company details, they direct you to a form which you then fill in. It will ask for your contact information, what timeshare you own, the maintenance fees etc. This information is then sold to resale companies for quite substantial amounts per lead. There is nothing wrong in this, you have initiated the search and voluntarily given the information.

Another area which has resulted in personal information being sold is one that many have fallen foul of. When taking out a loan or even applying for a store rewards card, such as Tesco Club Card, how many people did not tick the box, this box was the opt out for your information being passed on to third parties, which may have or provide goods and services which may be of interest to you. Whether it has been changed we don’t know, but many declared that it should be an “opt in” not an “opt out”, quite simply the box was so small most never even noticed it.

The two examples above are not illegal, what is illegal is for employees or ex-employees to steal and then sell this information. In the world of timeshare, especially in Europe, many sales staff in the past were on commission only, in many cases some of the sales companies did all they could to withhold commissions. It was not uncommon for a client to “cancel” then the salesperson did not get paid, when in reality the client completed. This practise was instrumental in staff “stealing” the data, many even kept their own records for future use, a kind of unemployment insurance policy.

data-theft

Wyndham according to Greg has gone after former employees:

Wyndham has actually pursued former employees who either acquired the data illegally or purchased it from an insider to use for the thief’s own ill-gotten gains”.

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, Diamond has also informed their members of a claims company set up by ex-employees, who they say are using “stolen” client lists. They then contact the owners with a view to claiming compensation for misselling.

This is a problem and one can understand the industry in their view that legislation preventing owners groups such as HOA or Owners Committees from accessing this information, will protect them. But the question is who stole the information, was it the owners or the employees?

Will this legislation stop the theft of these lists by employees? Somehow we think not.

As highlighted in Edwards article, the Spanish Data Protection Agency even stated the information belonged to the owners, the resorts or management company were just “Custodians”. The Community of Owners are the true owner and controller. Yet we see them being denied access using data protection and protecting them from abuse as an excuse.

Is this just another example of a huge divide between the industry and owners?

In the end the developers need to work with owners if the industry is to survive, they need to listen and take note of the concerns of the people who in effect pay their wages and keep them in business. Without some level of cooperation there is no hope, both sides will be at loggerheads and who in the end will be the losers?

Litigious Abogados: Update.

Further to the article on Litigious Abogados published 27 September, The so called lawyers named on the websites for Litigious Abogados and Litigar Abogados, do not appear on the register of lawyers.

 

There is also no trace of either company when the CIF Numbers are checked on Spanish companies register. It certainly looks like these companies are not what they appear to be.

 

The named lawyers are as follows:

 

Emilio Leyes Catillianos.

Manuel Amas Conde.

Simone Manuel Olivaz.simone-manuel-olivaz-111

Ramon Quilnar Canal.ramon-quilnar-canal

 

Websites and CIF Numbers:

litigious-abogados

litigiousabogados.com

http://emiliocatillianos.com/

CIF Number: A36428761

 
litigar-abogados-4

litigarabogados.com

http://manuelamasconde.com/

CIF Number: A34812673

Address Given on all websites for these “Lawyers” is:

Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Actual address:

Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife

Along with the fact the address is for the Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, which is the equivalent to the Citizens Advice Bureaux and is part of the town hall in Arona, it is advised that extreme caution should be exercised if contacted by either of them.

cab-arona
Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, Arona, Tenerife.

If you have been contacted by either of these, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Any help required to trace any company you can contact us and we will help you to check if they are genuine.

 

More News from the Supreme Court.

The latest news from those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance is again hitting the papers. El Diario has published the news of two Supreme Court sentences, these are against Puerto Calma Holiday Club Finland and Tasolan SL at Palm Oasis.

 

The ruling against Puerto Calma was made for breaches in the selling of fractional ownership, the court ruled that this was not property as indicated by the sales division, but was indeed timeshare. It also upheld previous rulings that contracts over 50 years are illegal. In this case the client received a tremendous award, £235,542 plus legal fees and interest.

 

As for the Palm Oasis ruling, again it was the over 50 years contract, as yet no indication of amounts awarded have been published. These ruling are becoming a regular almost weekly event, going to show that the laws will be enforced, and the decisions made by the Supreme Court will stand.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/sentencias-Supremo-timesharing-Gran-Canaria_0_562744176.html

 

In another article on their website, CLA have told the story of Mr & Mrs Grant. Their case went to the Supreme Court in July, their Anfi contract was declared null & void as per the over 50 years ruling. Mr & Mrs Grant took time out from their holiday to visit the CLA offices and personally thanked the team for all their hard work and efforts. This must have been appreciated by the members of the CLA team, who must have also had great big smiles like the Grants in the photograph.

 

News was also published on 22 September that another Supreme Court ruling had been made, once more this was against Anfi. The court again upheld previous rulings that contracts over 50 years are illegal. So another UK family have had their contract declared null & void, with an award of £31,548 including legal fees and interest being made.

 

Once again congratulations to the legal team and to all the families who have been victorious, to those waiting for their cases, be patient, the law and the courts are on your side.

 

If you have any questions about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-supreme-court-success-against-puerto-calma/

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/anfi-supreme-court-21/

 

US Real Estate Regulations Update.

Further to the article highlighting The Property Man Bob Massi, Irene Parker informed Inside Timeshare that all States except one define VOI (Vacation Ownership Interests, points) as real estate. However Diamond‘s own contracts state (although buried within) insist that the membership is not real estate. The Diamond annual report also states they are not subject to real estate laws.

 

All this is very confusing to say the least, even Irene is confused and she lives in the US! So she kindly put me in touch with one of her contacts who was once a sales agent ILX and the after the acquisition and Diamond agent. Mark is a licenced broker, for 4 years he has been challenging the ADRE (Arizona Department of Real Estate) regarding “fraud” in the sales process of Diamond products. He has kindly sent the following information, which I have produced below, the reason is he explains it better than I could, after all I did say it was confusing. The following is his story:

 

Key to abbreviations:: ADRE Arizona Department of Real Estate. VOI Vacation Ownership Interest: AZ AG Arizona Attorney General.

 

In Arizona any sale of a property interest within the state requires licensing of ALL sales agents. All transactions are to be reviewed by the designated broker or their licensed assistant. The designated broker is liable for all transactions, and conduct of agents. The conduct of all agents is regulated by statute, Diamond has a designated broker in Sedona for all their properties.  


ARTICLE 11. PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
R4-28-1101.
Duties to Client
A.
A licensee owes a fiduciary duty to the client and shall protect and promote the client’s interests. The licensee shall also deal fairly with all other parties to a transaction.
B.
A licensee participating in a real estate transaction shall disclose in writing to all other parties any information the licensee possesses that materially or adversely affects the consideration to be paid by any party to the transaction

While Diamond trains (requires) its sales agents to commit fraud, there is a clause in the brokers manual (which is not disclosed by broker) which states that the agent shall indemnify Diamond in the event of ANY action is taken against the company for misrepresentation, to the extent that the agent will even cover Diamond’s legal fees. I brought up the fact that the broker did not disclose this at the time he required me to sign a receipt for his manual, agreeing I understood and would abide by the terms however ADRE was not interested.

Most RE development within the state requires that all buyers receive what is called a public report It is  viewed by ADRE as a disclosure document that carries sufficient importance to the buyer, that pre- approval of its content by ADRE is required before sales can commence. Diamond and other companies selling VOI’s in the state are required to give buyers a public report.

It is important to note that it is a somewhat generic document and does not include material information regarding how a timeshare interest is structured, no explanation of the difference between a deeded interest and a VOI, or mention of relevant statue regarding sales and administration of these systems. This has left the door open for pirates like Diamond to circumvent disclosure requirements mandated by licensing, while openly committing fraud in the sales process. By alerting buyers to the existence of their RE license Diamond agents falsely present to buyers that they are being protected by RE statute.

In general real estate ALL sales must include a sellers disclosure document that requires all known material facts affecting the value of real estate being sold be disclosed by the seller. It is known as a SPUDS and intentional withholding of material information is grounds for civil litigation and other administrative penalties.. As I have been arguing repeatedly with the AZ AG and ADRE, since no SPUDS is given in connection with a timeshare, the sales presentation constitutes an oral SPUDS with appurtenant disclosure obligations.

During my 6 month tenure with Diamond I filed multiple administrative complaints against Diamond’s designated broker for lack of mandatory supervision. ADRE investigated those complaints and would not have done so if Diamond’s product was not considered real estate and subject to applicable statute. I was required to maintain an active license to sell Diamond’s poisoned pill. I have found in public records that Diamond’s broker entered into a consent order, and paid a fine for allowing an agent to continue selling VOI product after his license expired. ADRE could not have taken these administrative enforcement actions without Diamond’s VOI being legally defined as a real estate product in AZ.

This was the basis of my argument to AZ AG and ADRE that institutionalized fraud was being committed on the public by lack of enforcement pertaining to regulation and the insistence of continuing to classify VOI’s as a real estate holding when in fact Diamond’s own contracts states to the contrary and insists in clear terms (buried in an obscure place) that the membership is not a real estate interest. Clear as mud, that’s how they like here in sunny AZ.

 

As you can see, things are not as clear cut as we thought, Europe is not as big a minefield as the US. But this could be a very big problem for those in Europe who did purchase in the US, especially as they would not be aware of the regulations there.

 

As more information comes in, Inside Timeshare will publish it here, thanks to Mark and Irene for their input into these articles, it has helped to clarify some important points.

 

If you have any questions or information regarding this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

News From Across the Great Lake.

On many occasions Inside Timeshare publishes news as it comes in from the United States, much of this comes from my colleague Irene Parker. Irene is a long standing Diamond member, although she and her husband are happy with the holidays and membership over the years, she has highlighted the main problems in many articles. Irene also publishes articles in The Street, an online financial journal, in these articles she mainly highlights the stocks and shares side of the many timeshare companies. Whether they are a good investment or not and the reasons behind some of the falls in these share prices. (see link to her latest article in The Street at foot of the page).

 

In many of her articles she also highlights what they call in America as the secondary market, or to us in Europe the resale market. The fact that no secondary market exists for owners of Diamond Resorts International, is one of the biggest complaints owners have. Another that we are very familiar with in Europe is the difficulty in being able to exit your membership. In the US, the perpetuity contract is not illegal, unlike in Europe where the EU Directives on Timeshare have stated contracts should be for no longer than 50 years. As we have seen from the Supreme Court rulings in Spain, this is actually helping people to get out of their contracts and in many cases being paid back the full purchase price for being sold an illegal contract.

 

Many people in America are watching the events here in Europe, especially in Spain, taking stock of the way timeshare laws are being implemented. Some are even wondering if these laws can be brought into place for them in the USA.

dri logo

Following is the email she sent with a letter from Stephen J Cloobeck of Diamond, she also points out two complaints on Tripadvisor, then her own letter to Mr Cloobeck.

 

An Open Letter to Mr. Cloobeck from Irene Parker

 

A Message from Stephen J. Cloobeck

 

Dear Members and Owners, 

I am thrilled with the completion of the acquisition of Diamond Resorts by an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC (“Apollo”), and am confident that this transaction will only enhance your vacation experience at Diamond resorts worldwide. 

Diamond Resorts was founded on the platform of The Meaning of Yes®, a customer-centric ideology that elevates the hospitality experience above all else. The company goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional vacations to its members, owners and guests so that you can enjoy a lifetime of memories and experiences that can be passed down from generation to generation. Over the years this platform has transformed into a core belief and our philosophy of We Love to Say Yes®. 

 

Recent complaint posted on Trip Advisor:

 

  1. Re: Diamond Resorts International (Trip Advisor)

Sep 01, 2016, 10:10 PM

To Glenvine32 – my husband and I got caught in this scam to our incredible embarrassment. We thought we were smarter and I should have read reviews before we went to their presentation in May in Sedona, AZ. It was a 4 hour ordeal and we bought a worthless 2500 points which we have not used nor plan to. We have since heard from their own reps that we should have never been offered so few points, that those were add on points to be purchased by owners – not prospective buyers. We are retired and will never get value out of these points even if we buy more which we absolutely have no plans to do.

Having read so many negative reviews now I am concerned we will have little recourse. It’s bad enough losing the 13k but to be held to annual fees for at the rest of our lives? Have contacted them by phone and have drafted a letter to send by registered mail. Probably won’t get a reply. I don’t want to resign myself to the loss of the money but what’s worse is how it will affect my credit. Any thoughts? How did you do?

Complaint #2

I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.

September 5, 2016

Dear Mr. Cloobeck,

If I were you, I would be thrilled with the millions you and other insiders made on the Apollo leveraged buyout; along with the millions paid out in executive compensation.  For Diamond owners who are widowed, elderly, ill, unemployed or victims of high pressure sales, slogans like “Stay Vacationed!” and “The Meaning of Yes” feel like a cruel taunt.

According to a Kroll Bond report, Diamond employs 90 full time collectors making over 100,000 calls per week via a dealer. These calls originate because of being told no. All firms have a few bad apples and complaints on the internet, but complaint sites are flooded with Diamond Resort and Westgate complaints.

Please explain to me how the contract I signed is different from a junk bond in that it became worthless the moment I signed it if I could no longer travel and needed to sell. In the subprime mortgage debacle, even properties foreclosed could be sold.

My husband and I have used and enjoyed timeshare for over 25 years without a question or complaint until Diamond purchased ILX. We signed a contract that said we could sell points. We also asked several times if we would be able to sell points if we could no longer travel and were told we could.

The first person who told me Diamond points cannot be sold was attorney Bob Massi of the FOX show Property Man. After Property Man aired a segment explaining how to unload a timeshare, I contacted David Cortese of Magical Realty. Mr. Cortese was featured on a Property Man segment stressing the importance of using a licensed resale broker to sell a timeshare, rather than listing or transfer agents that come with a minefield of scams.

I wrote to Mr. Massi after enduring a pathetically aggressive sales presentation at Grand Beach in Orlando last July. We were promised three times we would not be paired with a commissioned agent. We were greeted and tortured by three commissioned sales agents.  

In a timeshare presentation, an agent gleefully explains how Diamond has many affiliated resorts. Our daughter lives in New York City. In searching for a Diamond location, I found a Diamond affiliated resort. It required 63,000 points. It was the least expensive offered. This equates to over $10,000 in our maintenance fee dollars. Booked through the hotel, the cost including taxes is $2,693.  I will be sending a copy of this letter to NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the few AGs actually on the side of the consumer. I doubt there is a sales agent in the Diamond organization that would explain affiliated properties are not discounted. A Diamond representative explained that these Diamond offers are for platinum owners who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them. They are probably short on math skills.

Never imagining I would earn a response from Mr. Massi, I was contacted and learned the show received a multitude of timeshare complaints after airing “The Queen of Versailles”. The producer told me I was the only person selected for an interview because I was the only person that said I would like to talk about timeshares positives in addition to the negatives.

It is my understanding that not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will buy or sell Diamond’s non-deeded points or Westgate weeks due to restrictions placed on the use of points purchased on the secondary market and other tactics designed to restrict the secondary market.  I also leaned members of the LTRBA will buy and sell all Diamond’s competitor programs except Westgate. I sent a survey to all the members and received 16 responses. These I compiled and forwarded to the Attorney General of Arizona and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

The Trip Advisor complaint I included with this letter has convinced me that Diamond has become so brazen; the company is confident it can get away with anything indefinitely and unchallenged. Unless an owner is fortunate to live in a state like New York or Tennessee, Attorney Generals do not seem to consider timeshare abuse a cause worth pursuing.

Many of the complaints are about availability and maintenance fees. The 15% pure profit Mr. Palmer bragged about to shareholders, added on to maintenance fees, is excessive. In a Latticework article written in cooperation with ADW Capital, the lack of a secondary market is mentioned as a reason to buy Diamond stock. From my research, I have determined Diamond and Westgate are the only two timeshare companies that have restricted the secondary market to the extent it does not exist.

I have written an article entitled Sometimes a Diamond Resort Dream Vacation Turns into a Nightmare. Diamond’s in-house council, Ben La Luzerne, said he hoped he could help the Saldana family devastated by Diamond’s rising maintenance fees and victim of high pressure sales. They were told to get a home equity loan to reduce Diamond’s high interest rate.  I am still waiting to hear back from the family before publishing the article, hoping for a positive outcome.

What I am asking, is for Diamond to reach out to a few members of the LTRBA to see what would be needed to create a secondary market. Unlike most internet complainers, I can live with the maintenance fees and the problems with availability. I would like to enjoy my retirement instead of researching, on a daily basis, how Diamond is ruining the financial lives of so many, especially the elderly.

I look forward to hearing how we can work together to stop the harm Diamond is placing on the ill, the widowed, the elderly, the unemployed and the victims of the oral representation clause protecting Diamond and be able to say YES! to the people .

Sincerely,

Irene Parker

The Peasant of Venice (Florida)    

As you can see, our cousins across the pond are not very happy with how Diamond Resorts International operate. They too are locked into contracts which are almost impossible to extricate yourself from. The fact that their so-called investments in Vacation ownership Interests (US term for holiday ownership) are virtually worthless. Lets hope that they take stock of what is happening in Europe and use it to help the many owners in the US to get some protection.

Inside Timeshare thanks Irene and the many others who have contributed to the information we share with you, we also thank the many readers in the US for their support of this publication.

If you have any questions about this article or any other matter, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to answer them. If you are looking for advice on who to go to for cancellation of contracts or possible claims, Inside Timeshare will help point you in the right direction.

Link to The Street article by Irene Parker

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13653117/1/the-timeshare-industry-has-improved-its-reputation-but-still-faces-scrutiny.html