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The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another new contribution from the Valdibieso Family, with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These features are becoming all too commonplace, so it does beg the question, When will the industry take note and change?

Our very own Irene Parker has reported that the Platinum Protestors, protesting out front of Diamond Resorts Cypress Pointe Resort in Orlando over the weekend, especially on Sunday, had a steady stream of horn honks, thumb’s up, and members who talked about their experiences, and many who asked questions about their concerns. On Friday, May 17, they protested outside the Florida Timeshare Division. One person who works inside the state facility, who asked not to be identified, suggested they protest every Friday. Unfortunately, since the protestors live in NY and AZ, it would be difficult to commute. All in all, it was a major success. A full report will be presented in Friday’s Letter From America.

Don’t Buy a Timeshare Without Checking Good and Bad Reviews

By the Valdibieso Family

May 21, 2019

Our nightmare began after we purchased a Sapphire Resort timeshare in Las Vegas in October 2017.  From the start, our timeshare experience has been one of anger and frustration.

We have joined efforts with Vanessa Hernandez who purchased a Sapphire timeshare the day of the Las Vegas mass murder. Her article is linked below. Vanessa was uncomfortable after signing her contract, so planned to review her contract that evening, but attended the concert that devastated her life. She could not even get out of bed for a long time due to the trauma. Even a horror like witnessing a mass murder did not move Starpoint Sapphire to cancel her contract, despite reported misrepresentations.  

I found 221 Starpoint Sapphire complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau, in addition to a host of complaints on other complaints sites. Starpoint has an A+ BBB rating. The BBB basically assigns a rating on how efficiently a company handles complaints. As you can see, Starpoint Sapphire is quick to respond that you signed a contract so you’re stuck.  

https://www.bbb.org/us/nv/las-vegas/profile/resort/starpoint-resort-group-inc-1086-66568/complaints#176983305

Vanessa and I have joined forces to get the word out to let others know the timeshare you buy is worthless if you need to sell it. Not only is it worthless, it is accompanied by rising maintenance fees. I know of no other product that holds the buyer hostage, making sure they stay vacationed or else.

This is the link to our Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Join our consumer protection efforts. If you bought a timeshare and are happy with it, we understand. Not all sales agents are deceptive. We intend, like so many other timeshare buyers who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, to build our Facebook group and start a RedWeek and Timeshare Users Group thread.

Until the timeshare industry wakes up to the fact that they are financially destroying family after family by allowing unfair and deceptive sales practices, and restricting the secondary market to the extent you can’t dispose of it, consumers will be harmed. Publicly traded timeshare companies even warn their stock investors that a secondary market is a risk to THEM. What about us?

Our Timeshare Nightmare

Our Sapphire sales presentation dragged on for hours. To seal the deal they offered us a free trip to Hawaii or Cancun but said we had to sign quickly because they were only giving one free trip to our group.

After we signed a contract, something didn’t feel right. We decided to cancel the contract. When we talked to them about cancelling, we asked how the timeshare could be transferred to someone else and – boom! That’s when we found out about maintenance fees and all the fees that would be needed if we wanted to sell the timeshare. They also informed us that if we could not sell it, we did not have the right to cancel. None of this was mentioned in the presentation. A company representative suggested we put it on Craigslist and hung up. We have tried to contact Sapphire, to no avail. They could care less about misrepresentations.

We were told we would be allotted 5,000 points annually that would allow us to go anywhere. This was not the case. The Sapphire points are not good everywhere. They can only be used at certain places and then only thru RCI. This was crazy because I did not even sign up for RCI. When we attempted to reserve a stay, we were informed that our points would expire on July 10, 2018. We could roll them over, but we could only roll them over one time. The points eventually expired.

All the locations listed in a book that was given to us required over 5000 points. We were also informed we could purchase trips for only $269. That was not the case, because again, we could only book through RCI and they have different rules. This had not been explained.

The free trip to Hawaii turned out not to be free. The sales agent failed to mention all the fees that we would have to pay, or that we would have to fly out from a specific airport, one we did not have easy access to. We would have to pay for plane tickets to the required airport and back. The free trip to Hawaii was what eventually sold us. If we knew about the costs associated with the “free” trip, we would not have signed the contract.

We have never used our timeshare.

This has literally been one of the worst experiences we have ever had in terms of deception and aggressive sales tactics that seem geared to wear you down. They brainwashed us and have caused our marriage to fall apart due to the stress of this purchase.

Only false promises accompanied our purchase.

Excerpt from Vanessa’s Starpoint Sapphire Resort article

October 30, 2018

To be honest, I don’t remember as much as I’d like about the purchase of our Starpoint timeshare October 1 of last year. That night Rogelio and I went to the concert that flipped Vegas upside down. We hid and ran for our lives, hoping to make it out alive. Thankfully we did. We cut our trip short, so I didn’t look over the paperwork as I told myself I would. I couldn’t get out of bed or eat for a month.

I remember feeling pressured and pushed into buying the timeshare, which was why I told myself I needed to look over the paperwork as soon as I got home. The reasons I felt uncomfortable with my decision:

  • They said the timeshare was prime real estate,
  • I was not aware the credit check was being run,
  • They told me to wait 30 days before booking,
  • They promised a free trip (which never materialized).

If you would like to join Mari and Vanessa’s Advocacy Facebook, contact Inside Timeshare and we will put you in touch with two more timeshare regret consumers dedicated to warning the public about the negatives of timeshare, to counterbalance timeshare developers and lobbyists insisting few regret their purchase.

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.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/

https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

That’s all for today, thank you to our latest contributors for their story, if you have a story that you would like to share, whether it be a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or a positive experience (which we would love to hear about just to make a change), use our contact page and get in touch.

Start the Week: More Scam Companies Appearing

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight more scams appearing especially in regards to Eze Group. Several readers have been contacting Inside Timeshare with more information which does look a little disturbing considering the amount of knowledge the callers have on the member’s information.

We begin with a text received on one of our regular reader’s mobile phone, the text has been sent from +44 7860 015136 which is a number operated by the O2 network. This number is obviously new as it has not shown up on any of the who calls me websites yet.

The text received offers “NO WIN NO FEE” claim to get money back paid to Eze Group:

“Did you join EZE GROUP ? Would you like your MONEY BACK ? EZE GROUP has closed down , START your NO WIN NO FEE CLAIM TODAY.Reply YES for more information.”

There is no indication as to any company name so at present, we have no idea who is behind it, but it is obvious that they do have “client” details including their mobile numbers. Once we have more details we shall publish them here.

The next is a company called Mosaic Exchange Limited, Company Number 11764274 with the registered address

71-75 Shelton Street London Greater London United Kingdom WC2H 9JQ.

The company was registered on 14 January 2019 with the director named as Sean Michael who also has directorships with two other companies, Invictus Exchange Limited, Company Number 11260210 with the registered address

71-75 Shelton Street London Greater London United Kingdom WC2H 9JQ

and Vaway Limited Company Number 11060271, which has an active proposal to strike off.

There does not appear to be a website for this company but the email address is given as [email protected] which as we know is the free email provider Gmail, so it is not linked to any website.

Again the story is the same, the caller who is using the number 0203 745 1086 with two names being identified as Ruth Firth and Sarah Baker, is one that is very familiar to us, they state they are appointed by the courts to reimburse Eze Group (Regency Shores SL) client money which is being held by the courts. They also state that they have a “long standing relationship” with The Madrid High Court, Central Bank of Spain and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. Not bad considering the company is less than 6 months old!

Another address is also given 1-3 The Long Acre Covent Garden London WC2E 9LH which just happens to be a restaurant called Five Guys.

Now all this sounds very good, but they do want an upfront fee of £725 to do the work for the client, just coincidentally this is the exactly the same amount which every other “scam” company is asking for. So along with the fact they all seem to have very good information as to the purchase and personal details of the clients, which leads us to believe they are either employees, ex-employees of Eze Group or they have purchased the data, it also looks as though they may all be working together to maximise the money they can scam.

As always, never believe what you are told in cold calls, texts or emails, question them as to how they have your information, get as many details of the company as possible, but never pay them a thing. If you need help in checking them out, use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember no courts, either UK or Spanish will appoint or employ private companies or third parties to contact potential victims, they also do not have any funds held or seized from Eze Group.

Do your homework and keep your money safe.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, following on from our previous articles on the timeshare bills put forward by Florida and Nevada, Attorney Mike Finn submits his thoughts on this subject with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

But first, a reminder that today is the first day of the Platinum Protest in Orlando, even if you can’t make it, please enter your support for them on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy page on Facebook. We hope to bring you a report from them next week.

Lawyers and Their Important Role in Consumer Protection

By Attorney Mike Finn

Why You Should Sign our Petition asking a lawmaker to sponsor a Bill in 2021 requiring that timeshare buyers be offered 24 hours to review a perpetual timeshare contract before signing.

By Jordan Raskin

May 17, 2019

Our petition preparing to launch:  

https://www.care2.com/?fbclid=IwAR3w3tungUxAWYjY3fSro_WJBRUKB9pe99LiJ_9ur8T5WZOyC9wHsyswqZc

Provide the timeshare consumer 24 hours to review, at least think about, their decision to sign a lifelong perpetual contract, with no secondary market, often without even having tried the product, and often not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.

This offer could be waived if the buyer chooses, either due to the certainty that the buyer wants the product, or the need to sign because the vacation is ending soon.

This offer should not be buried in the electronic fine print. It should be a separate disclosure presented and signed before the sales presentation. The price per point offer would be required to be maintained for 24 hours.

What’s so unfair about that?  

Introduction by Irene Parker

Never mind a lawyer! We’d settle for our mom, dad, son, or daughter!

Both the Florida and Nevada Bills referenced in Mike Finn’s article below, asking that timeshare exit providers provide buyers 24 hours to review their contract before signing, died in committee: Florida HB 2639 and Nevada SB 348 bill are dead  

SB 1430 Companion Bill to Florida HB 2639 Vacation and Timeshare Plans

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/01430

SENATE – Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? There are legitimate lawyers and lawyers with questionable business practices. I have contacted a number of exit company providers to inquire about the volume of calls they received. Two of the major exit companies say they receive between 3,000 to 3,500 calls each month from timeshare buyers desperately seeking release from timeshares they were told would be easy to sell. Each company only accepts less than 200 callers as clients, as the member must meet specific criteria of unfair and deceptive sales practices.  

Before we begin with Mike Finn’s article,  

If you are going to be in the Orlando area this weekend May 17-19 Friday – Saturday, please support our Platinum Protestors. Locations and dates provided: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-49/

Now onto:

“Why Kill All the Lawyers?”

By Attorney Mike Finn

“Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.”

It’s hard to say anything about lawyers that haven’t already been said. They are both revered and reviled as staunch proponents and champions of justice or as avaricious opportunists. The profession is comprised of all types, from the most learned jurists to the slightly seamier side of humanity. We lawyers share the same spectrum of positive human qualities and negative frailties as the rest of our species.

The import of this article is less related to the issues of lawyers individually, but rather to the role of the attorney as consumer advocate within the legal system. I speak to the issue of what removing lawyers, or significantly diminishing their role to effectively represent their consumer clients, does to strengthen or weaken consumer protection in general, as a matter of national policy.

Currently, there is pending in at least two states with a significant timeshare presence, Nevada and Florida, House and Senate Bills sponsored by ARDA, the timeshare industry’s trade association. Ostensibly, per the statements made by ARDA’s political arm, ARDA-ROC (American Resort Development Assoc.-Resort Owners Coalition), the primary intent of these Bills is to enhance consumer protection. However, to some of us on the consumer side of the equation, we suspect there may be a darker, more industry serving purpose. These Bills seek to regulate two separate and quite distinct groups, lawyers and timeshare exit companies.

There can be no argument that some regulation is warranted, specifically in regard to the unlicensed and unregulated timeshare exit companies; however, this ‘shotgun style’ approach of lumping-in lawyers with this proposed legislation will if passed, create some chilling and decidedly consumer-unfriendly impacts on the timeshare consumer/owner.

To further distinguish these totally disparate entities, lawyers are already both licensed and extensively regulated by their respective State Bar Associations. Additionally, as lawyers, (and unlike exit companies) we are specifically trained and educated to handle matters involving contract disputes, as well as debtor/creditor rights issues and other relevant matters that may well arise in the course of a controversy. Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s fair to state that the pending State Bills are clearly designed to severely limit and restrict the involvement of both timeshare exit companies and, from my perspective, more importantly, lawyers, in terms of their ability to provide services to timeshare owners seeking third-party assistance in terminating or modifying their timeshare purchase contracts.

To summarize the owners’ plight, many owners didn’t realize that their purchase contracts did not include a way to terminate their contract when they could no longer utilize their timeshares because of life changes, like aging, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or other major life changing events. This issue wouldn’t be so troublesome if it were not for the fact that there exists little to no resale value or market for these timeshare interests, trapping owners who cannot continue to derive any benefit from their ownership, but remain legally bound by their purchase contract, subject to annual rising maintenance fees and other contractual liabilities.

The ‘timeshare exit’ industry sprang into existence to fill the market void created when the timeshare developers themselves were unwilling to offer owners relief from essentially ‘lifelong and perhaps beyond’ contracts. This exit industry includes lawyers who focus on consumer timeshare owner issues as part and parcel of their law practices, and exit companies, non-lawyers who claim industry knowledge and apparent ability to act on behalf of timeshare owners in their negotiations with timeshare developers or property owner associations.

The focus of this article will remain on the lawyer and not the exit company. It’s important to distinguish between these two different kinds of organizations and avoid comparing the two. They are completely and totally unlike and should not be combined or grouped together in these Bills. It’s impossible to make any logical form of comparison beyond stating that each seek to represent the consumer timeshare/owner in dealing with the respective owner’s timeshare situation. Combining the two and treating them as equals in proposed legislation is grossly inaccurate and inappropriate. It only adds to consumer confusion!

Attorneys have undergone extensive education and training and have prepared for and passed a state mandated Bar examination in order to prepare themselves for dealing with contested and controversial legal issues. Our legal system is by definition adversarial in nature. Justice involves a process by which parties on each side of a controversy present, through their selected legal representative, their respective position to an impartial determiner of the facts in order to produce a just outcome. Indeed, our very symbol of justice is a robed and blindfolded woman holding a scale aloft in her hand.

Each side, through its appointed legal representative, presents its best case to the referee, hearing officer, or judge and jury. At the end of the contest, the winning side, through presentation of evidence and persuasion, tipped the scales in its favor. This is our legal system, or at least the portion of it that decides controversies. Add to our justice system the requirement that each side starts off with a level playing field. Neither side has gained an unfair advantage prior to the contest commencement. As a condition of fundamental fairness, may the side with the most compelling case for justice win!

What can skewer the ‘level playing field’ aspect of the justice model, is if one of the players gets to the game before the other side, gaining a one-sided advantage. Arguably, that’s exactly what the Timeshare Developer has been able to do. Since the state requires the Developer to register and apply for a license to market timeshares within that particular state, the Developer has prepared its purchase contracts and other disclosure documentation and submitted them to the appropriate state agency well in advance of its initial sale. It’s probably fair to suggest that these purchase agreements were prepared by an able team of lawyers with the Developer’s best interests in mind. In fact, the only remaining task for the Developer’s sales team at the time of consumer purchase is to fill in the blanks on the preprinted purchase contract with the purchaser’s name and other pertinent information.

Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.

Now that you can envision, from the consumer’s perspective, the un-level playing field that the consumer finds themselves on at termination time, and add to that the circumstances that would exist if the Timeshare Developers are successful in passing these new laws. These Bills, if passed, would further restrict the consumers’/owners’/members’ ability to seek justice within the legal system, if the lawyers’ ability to represent the consumer is constrained and restricted.

From where I sit, as lawyer representing timeshare owner/consumers, it appears that the timeshare industry is dissatisfied with its already existing unfair advantage over their consumer and still seeks to tilt the field further in their favor. My advice to them (not that I anticipate them appreciating any of it) is to show a kinder, gentler aspect to your loyal owners by either recognizing and permitting an easier contract termination, or, at minimum, not further attempting to restrict their right to effective legal representation as they seek relief from their onerous timeshare purchase contracts.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

Thank you Mike and Irene for this week’s edition of Letter from America, these articles are certainly helping many timeshare owners see exactly what is going on in the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any views or comments on any article published then use our contact page we would love to hear from you. Do you have a story to tell, be it a positive one or a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, which you would like to share, then contact us and we will help you to submit an article.

Well, that is all for this week, remember the Platinum Protest and show your support, have a great weekend and join us again next week.