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The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome a new contributor Diane Creiger, with her article Elder Advocates, but first a quick update on the article published yesterday regarding Anfi Tauro Beach.

After publishing it became apparent that this news was still breaking in the Spanish press, with the publishing of more information regarding the demolition of the shacks and the company employed by Anfi to carry this out. Canarias Seminal published

“UN COMANDO DE BOXEADORES PENINSULARES VIAJA A GRAN CANARIA PARA DERRIBAR CHABOLAS (VÍDEO)”

(A COMMAND OF PENINSULAR BOXERS TRAVELS TO GRAN CANARIA TO DEMOLISH SHANTIES (VIDEO))

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

This follows from the El Diario article “Violento derribo de chabolas en Tauro”

(Violent felling of shanties in Tauro)

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/Violento-derribo-chabolas-Tauro_2_794790515.html

With following photo posted on facebook:

(These are the sicarios and godosjediondos of the business  DESOKUPA traids by Santana Cazorla and the government of the Canary Islands from Spain to curb the Canaries with their corrupt laws of eviction and appropriate the public domain ¡¡¡Espabilate Canario that you eat the jediondo godo!!!) (Apologies for the translations)

I just wonder how all the members at Anfi feel that their “club” is a party to this type of behaviour?

Now on with today’s article.

“They told us if we did not give up our deeded timeshare, our children would be sued and their credit would be ruined. I recorded the presentation.”

A frequent timeshare member complaint, reported by our readers, concerns faulty estate planning advice given to members concerned about passing on a timeshare liability to their children and heirs. Members say they are told their children will be responsible for the timeshare unless they give up their deeded timeshare and buy timeshare points. Timeshare members should receive estate planning advice from their estate planning lawyer, not from timeshare sales agents. Irene Parker  

By Diane Creiger

July 24, 2018

I am writing to let seniors know how financially devastating a timeshare decision can be. I am 74 years old and my husband Tom is 77. We bought Diamond points only because we were repeatedly told our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees if we did not give up our deeded timeshare. We have learned this was not true. We were given false estate planning advice.

In Branson, June of 2014, our sales agent Kimberly told us three times, “Your children will have to take this timeshare whether they want it or not.” I had asked what would happen if our children could not pay the maintenance fees. Kimberly said our children would be sued and their credit ruined. I recorded this in-person presentation in Missouri on June 18, 2014. In Missouri one party recording is allowed. Kimberly was very threatening.

On the recording, DRI sales agent Kimberly states, “The HOA companies want their maintenance fees and they say this will go to your kids whether they want it or not.” I asked, “what if they can’t pay it?” Kimberly replied, “Then the HOA has the right to sue your children and ruin their credit. If you have a deed, which you own, that’s what we are looking at here today. That’s the difference between Diamond and what you have.” She repeated, “If your kids don’t want this, they still have to pay the maintenance fees on it, regardless. This will be willed to them whether or not they want it. Your kids do not have a choice.” That sounded pretty threatening to us.

We did not buy then, but worried about the liability we would pass on to our children, we purchased 4,000 vacation points later in Florida, only for this reason. The Florida sales agent told us the same thing.

I learned this was in no way true in our situation, but now made worse because we used a credit card to charge the purchase. This debt could complicate our estate settlement. In other words, we had no estate problem, UNTIL we gave up our deed. With a credit card liability, the settlement of our estate could be jeopardized by this outstanding debt.

I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy, Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, Diamond’s PR Firm Prosek, Barclays President’s office, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Better Business Bureau, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Florida Attorney General’s Senior vs Crime Project, and AARP. The Senior Sleuths never responded. There seems to be no timeshare enforcement. We feel trapped. Everyone responds, “You signed a contract.”

After numerous attempts to resolve our dispute, I received an unusual call from a Mr. Edward Florez. Mr. Florez stated his department was recently set up, and his job recently created, because Apollo Global Management wanted their customers to have the best customer service available and that is why they created his office. Mr. Florez said he had been a police officer for 20 years. He said he wanted to help me. I was informed our account is now a corporate account and we are to deal only with him. Mr. Florez allowed me to record our call, which is a first. He was very explicit that we should not go to any more timeshare updates, unless we wanted some particular gift. He said there was no reason for us to experience so much pressure.

I told Mr. Florez that six different salesperson had told us about the problems our heirs would experience inheriting the deeded timeshare we owned before Diamond acquired our resort. Mr. Florez agreed this was not correct. He said that there may have been a few sales people who needed to be brought up to their (Apollo’s) level of customer service.

I asked Mr. Florez why our maintenance fees had increased $500. He said this was an “impact” fee that occurs when a deeded owner gives up their deed. I said that would mean our maintenance fees should not go up because of this being a one time fee. He laughed and said “I will never say that.”

I then became a little forceful and told him I was thinking about writing some articles, and writing letters to AARP, DoJ, and Consumer Affairs. I told him that the senior community needed to be warned and the Department of Justice needs to look into the timeshare industry. There was a lot of stuttering on the other end of the line.

Diamond’s CLARITY program is about Diamond members receiving clear, concise, accountable, transparent information. We received the opposite of accountable and transparent information.

As a last resort, I reached out to Apollo Global Management. After contacting Apollo, I received a call from Diamond corporate within an hour. I was encouraged, only to be told no one will talk to me anymore. I was informed I must send my complaint snail mail to Diamond’s corporate office from now on. I feel like I have been sent to the Principal’s office.

We feel our Diamond Orlando sales agent Randy used deceptive tactics to coerce us into giving up our deeded timeshare by telling us the following:

  1.  Randy said if we did not give up our ILX (Arizona) deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees. We had heard sales agents at five prior sales presentations make this same claim.
  2. Randy told us that once we had completed and paid for our Diamond purchase we could walk away from Diamond at any time with no repercussions. No misunderstanding here. I asked this question pointedly.
  3. Randy said our current maintenance fees were much too high. He said our maintenance fees may not go up if we converted to points. Randy explained that this was because our deeded week was in a small pool. He said points are in a much larger pool which serves to dilute the fees. After we converted to points our maintenance fees went from $2,000 to $2,500.
  4. When I asked Randy about the $500 increase in maintenance fees, he just said we could deduct the fees on our income taxes. When I told him the IRS doesn’t allow maintenance fees to be deduction, he replied, “Well, many people do it.”   
  5. After signing a few papers, we were directed to the office of a DRI QA agent. She had us sign numerous documents electronically which we could not entirely read. We signed in a master block, and then were told to tap the blank blocks. One of the blank blocks stated that Diamond could not raise our maintenance fees more than 25% per year. We could not read this until we reviewed the hard copy after we returned home. We would never have signed a document that allows maintenance fees to be raised by 25%.
  6. The initials on the documents are not mine. My initials are DMC, but the contract shows DMN.
  7. When we told Randy and the QA agent that we were electronically inept, they suggested we attend a training class on the use of the Notepad. We received a letter stating we were to attend a “New Member Orientation” at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. We incurred the expense of the airfare to Las Vegas, in addition to other expenses. When we showed up for our orientation we were told there was no such thing as a New Member Orientation. We were furious. All they did was try to sell us more points.  

We have not used any of the Diamond points we purchased. We have asked Diamond to return our $16,000 that we paid for 4,000 points. We are even willing to forfeit our ILX deed for which we paid $19,000 to get out of this nightmare.

When Diamond calls us, they record the call, but when I ask if I can record the call, I have repeatedly been told no. This is very intimidating, especially to seniors who feel they have been victimized. They say it is against company policy.

I had the opportunity to sit on a federal grand jury from January of 1999 until June of 2000. I understand the patience and determination it takes to get to the bottom of a situation and to seek justice. I will not give up. I have learned we are one of many seniors who bought Diamond points and were told if we didn’t give up our deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees.  I have joined our Diamond member sponsored Facebook.  

In my complaint I included:

If the decedent left a will and named you as a beneficiary and you decline the bequest, most states treat the event the same as if you had predeceased him. The executor must probate the will as if you had died and were no longer available to accept your inheritance. Your bequest will then revert back to the estate. info.legalzoom.com/happens-someone-refuses-accept-inheritance-21217.html

We also had a terrible experience in Sedona at Los Abrigados. They put us in a handicap unit, which we didn’t need. The room was dirty with the contents of a broken colostomy bag that had dripped 15 feet across the carpet. We took pictures. They would not accommodate us with other lodging. We had our children and grandchildren with us. All they did was put rugs or runners over the carpet until the next day when they cleaned the carpet. They only refunded our points after we complained.

Florida’s Seniors vs Crime project, Senior Sleuths never responded.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-8/

Thank you to Diane for sharing her experience and becoming our own Senior Timeshare Sleuth, volunteering her time to assist other seniors who feel they have been victimized by timeshare sales agents. We look forward to future articles.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/

Thank you Diane, we hope to read many more from you, but I am sure that this will hit home to many of our readers.

Tomorrow we will be publishing the article about Marriott and their report to shareholders, which also highlights the fact that they are facing a plethora of lawsuits in Spain with a substantial amount set aside to cover the costs of this.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article published, or just need information on a company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

 

Anfi del Mar: Lopesan Seek to Take Majority Control

ABC Canarias reported on 26 May that IFA Hotels the chain run by Lopesan, will propose to the shareholders meeting in Germany of increasing their capital to 128.7 million euros in a move to take a majority control of Anfi del Mar.

In September 2016 the announcement was made that the Lyng family had sold their 50% share of Anfi to Lopesan, for a mere 41.2 million euros, but this still left the Cazorla interest at 50% plus the golden share which gives them control over the board.

Lopesan is by far one of the largest hotel chains in the Canaries, they specialise in quality 4 and 5 star all inclusive resorts with three of their largest hotels in Meloneras, Maspalomas. It is also known that they do not appear to have any interest in the timeshare model.

This now leaves a huge question for those members at Anfi, if Lopesan do take complete control, where does this leave them?

Will Lopesan continue to run the resort as a timeshare, or will they close it down and turn it into a standard hotel in the model of their other interests?

Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Thalasso 5 Star Hotel

We have in the past seen this happen to other timeshare resorts, with those members, especially on floating weeks and points systems losing all their rights. For those on fixed weeks with fixed apartments the scenario is possibly a little better.

As fixed weeks owners enjoy more rights and protection, as they technically own a piece of the property, rather than being members of a vacation club, it could be they may just get a financial return, with Lopesan paying them for the weeks to be returned. This has happened elsewhere, when a resort has been bought out and changed from timeshare to a hotel.

For the members at Anfi the future is uncertain, along with the plethora of court cases against Anfi for the illegal contracts they have sold, is also taking its toll on their finances. We know that sales are not what they used to be, with many sales decks throughout Europe cutting the number of reps they have, with many closing down completely.

Although, at present it is pure speculation what the future holds, it is obviously a very worrying time for all those who have paid substantial amounts of money to purchase their weeks along with the annual maintenance charges. For those with floating weeks, who even now have a problem with availability, will their vacation club continue or will it just cease to exist?

As usual, only time will tell, will we see an increase in the number of cases being taken to court, as members look to recouping what they have paid before they possibly lose everything?

The other question is the Tauro Beach Project, if Lopesan does take full control, will the project be resurrected, this time without the controversy?

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-project-canarian-government-revoke-anfi-concession/

Click on the link below to read the original article.

http://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-hotels-lopesan-hara-ampiacion-capital-para-controlar-anfi-mar-201805261103_noticia.html

Links to past Inside Timeshare articles

http://insidetimeshare.com/lopesan-buy-lyng-families-50-anfi/

http://insidetimeshare.com/lopesan-buys-lyngs-anfi-share-update/

If you have any comments or have any questions on this subject, use our contact page and send them in, your views are important, so share them here with others. As more information becomes available we will publish it here.

In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot we will be publishing an article by another new contributor, Margaret Chandler, about her experiences with Wyndham, the introduction is by Irene Parker. Although Wyndham were sent a draft, they have so far not responded, if they do respond at the eleventh hour with a favourable answer, the article will be pulled.

Join us tomorrow for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”.

Friday’s Letter from America: End of Year Review

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, the last one for 2017, this week Irene looks at the past year from across “The Great Lake”, while we look at the past year in Europe.

Our first article of 2017 was about the family of fake lawyers from Tenerife, Litigious Abogados, it highlighted a new firm called Abogacia Española, which happens to be the name of the official website to check the validity of lawyers registrations. This was a very good move on the part of this well planned out fraud, as it did give an air of legitimacy when you did a web search.

Since then, we have seen many incarnations of this fake law firm, although the names have changed, one thing hasn’t, that is the nature of the fraud. They are still duping consumers into believing that they have a case at court, then to be part of it you need to pay the Procurator fees. That is only the start, it get even more sophisticated. Search Litigious Abogados for the full story.

It was announced in April that Silverpoint were withdrawing their membership to the RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) and would no longer be selling timeshare.

This was a great blow to the RDO, as Silverpoint was also a major contributor. Funds this organisation could ill afford to lose. It has since come to our attention that the RDO is to form a partnership with ARDA (American Resorts Development Association). This particular organisation is well endowed with contributions and is very strong in the world of lobbying for its members. So it begs the question is the RDO going to be taking on board the tactics of ARDA?

tribunal supremo

Staying on the subject of Silverpoint, January was a momentous time on the legal front, with the Supreme Court making their first ruling against this company. This was the case of Mrs Shirley Wilson and her long battle against the selling tactics of Silverpoint.

Within a week the highest court in Spain ruled three times against Silverpoint, opening the doors for many more cases against them. Since then the rulings have been coming in thick and fast, leaving no doubt that what they had been selling was illegal.

February brought the news that Alberto Garcia had “stepped down” from Mindtimeshare and that the RDO would not be renewing the contract with that “Consumer Association”. Alberto Garcia for many years had been running the RDO’s “Enforcement Programme”, attacking any company which threatened the timeshare industry. This has now been given to Kwikchex and the “Timeshare Taskforce”, run by Chris Emmins.

Throughout the year, Inside Timeshare has been following the AnfiTauro Beach Project”, this has been a story that has now seen the former head of the Coastal Authority being charged with falsifying official documents and wrong doing in public office. No doubt we will see his trial sometime in the new year.

This project was to build a man made beach at Tauro, with the building of hotels and a shopping center. This was given to Anfi to run for 50 years, the Government of Gran Canaria is now seeking in the courts to remove these concessions in the light of the evidence of malpractice. This story is not over yet.

Anfi have been on the receiving end of many Supreme Court rulings since March 2015, they however have continued to deny any wrongdoing and inform their members that they have not lost any cases. In fact they have embarked on a campaign to attack Canarian Legal Alliance, trying to sow seeds of doubt among their clients. Below is a link to a video showing the National Spanish TV news on TVE 1, in this clip, one of the CLA lawyers explains the Supreme Court rulings. For the National Television to broadcast this item shows that CLA is doing what they say and that Anfi is trying to divert attention from this.

Another story we have been following is that of Los Claveles in Tenerife and the battle for control of the resort. Again this is an ongoing story which at present seems to be dragging on. It revolves around the selling of Wimpen to ONA Grup, who were the managing company of this resort. Their contract has been ended but they still seem to be trying to run the resort against the wishes of the Owners Committee.

There has been a lot of argument on this issue, with some very nasty consequences, it is clear that this issue is not going to be resolved in the near future. It may also end up being a rather costly one with only the lawyers benefiting.

In July we published a rather different article on the timeshare world, this was a positive one, featuring a company that we have not been able to find any adverse comments or complaints. It is off course Disney.

This is a shining example of how the timeshare industry should operate, fair, truthful and with the consumer in mind. There again, it is what we expect from an organisation which prides itself on putting people first.

This same month also saw a very big shake up in timeshare, TATOC, (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees). This was run by one Harry Taylor, who was very much a mouthpiece for the industry rather than those who his organisation purported to represent.

image1 (1)
Howard C. Nusbaum, ARDA President and Chief Executive Officer Handing the cheque to Harry Taylor for $30,000 Published May 2017

After a long reign TATOC finally went into liquidation, with Harry Taylor and TATOC being totally discredited. For years this organisation has duped not only timeshare owners but also organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Any owner that went to CAB with a problem would be recommended TATOC as the place to go. Little did CAB know that this organisation was funded and basically run by the industry. All we can say is good riddance to a very bad and foul smelling egg!

There have been so many articles it is difficult to review them all, but Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of the most dodgy companies that have emerged over the course of the year. These articles have saved many readers considerable sums of money, we intend to continue with this.

But before we go on with Irene’s roundup of the year from the US, we finish with the news of yet three more sentences issued by the courts. On 27 December the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared yet another Anfi contract null and void with the client being awarded over 29,000€ plus legal interest.

On the same day the High Court in Tenerife announced another ruling against Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and the client in this case being awarded over £9,000 plus legal interest.

There then followed on the 28 December another Supreme Court ruling from Madrid, this was number 82! Again the company was Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and an award of over £23,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.

These cases were brought on behalf of clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, so this does show this law firm is doing what they say.

CLA Logo

Now for the year from a US perspective.

What Timeshare Members Can Look Forward to in 2018 and what

I wrote looking forward to 2017 on December 26, 2016

2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

By Irene Parker

December 29, 2017

Our Advocacy Group did not have a name one year ago, or a Facebook page. Our advocacy Facebook page was launched February 2017 and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ April 2017. As I write this, our advocacy Facebook page has 706 members. We encourage industry observers, as long as they are respectful.  

Back in February, I remember scrolling down my Facebook feed, a pianist, waiting with nervous flute, oboe, trumpet, and bassoon middle school students for our competitions to begin, when I suddenly saw a post called “Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy” launched by an economics professor. This Facebook page was launched in response to a draft article I had written and distributed, requested by a few former timeshare sales agents who felt the practice of “pitching heat” to sell vacation points needed to be addressed and brought to the attention of the general public. Based on reader responses, only Disney Vacation Club seems to disavow this sordid selling technique.  

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

Our professor also prepared this mission statement for our DRI advocacy group, but as our Inside Timeshare readers started to reach out to us asking for help with timeshare issues concerning other timeshare companies, I borrowed our DRI mission statement and generalized it to apply to all timeshare companies.

We seek to provide timeshare members and owners 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.

April 2017, a former Diamond sales agent contacted me, urging me to write a press release as she was worried Diamond members were not aware of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800,000 DRI settlement and the Assurance of Discontinuance announced December 23, 2016. There was a May deadline to file a complaint.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

This former timeshare sales agent said we needed a Facebook page so that readers had somewhere to respond. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I got mad at timeshare July 2015, but I struggled through the establishment of a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ page, delighted to find a butterfly with a “Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens” quote by Jimi Hendrix. My first concert I attended in high school was Jimi Hendrix, second row, in front of the mic.

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

I expected my new creation to last for a month or two, until the press release ran its course, but it continues to receive views. We consider this Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebook a clearinghouse of articles written about all timeshare companies and are grateful to all our volunteer admins for both Facebook pages.

Now a look back to what I wrote December 26, 2016 with updates

Timeshare Lawsuits 2017

By Irene Parker, December 26, 2016

2017

Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys General:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and  solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.

Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?

conference

 Westgate Update 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegel was seen campaigning next to the candidate in 2016. That’s Mr. Siegel to the left of Trump. Charles Thomas reported on the timeshare the Trump family is launching in Scotland, reported as a golf course in the US during the campaign.  

trump

Here is King David’s house

https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2017/03/09/the-queen-of-versailles-jackie-siegel-i-may-want-a.html

But back in 2016

“Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.pbyQ8MPbx#.pmA2BeVyM

Colorado Attorney General

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman is investigating Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

Wyndham $20 Million

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.   

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Hyatt

Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt timeshare agents would like to see the industry improved. They are in year five of a class action alleging deceptive practice.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

The Manhattan Club Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneiderman managed to ban the owners of The Manhattan Club from working in the timeshare industry and achieved a $6.5 million settlement. Rarely is wrongdoing admitted. However, attorney Douglas Wasser, representing TMC owners, said “Hundreds of members will be helped, but there are over 14,000 members.” Even a settlement this size will do little to curtail predatory marketing and sales practices. The investigation took years.  

Back in 2016  

Attorney Douglas Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.

“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point.  The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed.  But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016

http://www.reuters.com/article/manhattan-club-ruling-idUSL1N18U0DL

 Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Update: Most disturbing of all, political and legislative maneuvering in Florida resulted in a change in the definition of timeshare, seemingly in an attempt to circumvent the merit of the case, according to attorneys involved with the case. That was not the end of it. We will hear more about this case in 2018.  

“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.” Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.  

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-racketeering-20161013-story.html

Diamond Resorts Update: A judge ruled in favor of arbitration in the billion dollar lawsuit filed against the company, and Congress reversed the CFPB ruling that would allow class actions. Diamond Resorts is one of the only timeshare companies to have a class action ban in their contract, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is binding and private. Lawsuits filed are public record.  

A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/348667-diamond-resorts-class-action-high-pressure-timeshare-sales-deceptive/

Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

holI don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,

People are listening!

Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:

⦁ A legitimate secondary market

⦁ Less aggressive and deceptive selling

⦁ Less predatory lending

Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Since last year we have found a few more self-help groups we are confident are on the side of the timeshare member and are not industry influenced.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

So that is 2017 in a nutshell, if this coming year is anything like the last we will be seeing many more stories like these.

Inside Timeshare thanks all those who have contributed to the articles and also to all the readers and those who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help and advice. If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of using but need to know about them, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

We wish you a prosperous New Year, enjoy your celebrations and we will be with you in 2018.

Anfi: The Legal Battle hots up!

Just recently Inside Timeshare was sent an email from a reader who is an Anfi member, it was regarding a video interview posted by a Norwegian Anfi member. In the video he berates the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, who we must remember have been instrumental in having the timeshare laws in Spain clarified through the many Supreme Court rulings they have achieved over the past two years.

It turns out that this member had sought legal advice from Canarian Legal Alliance, with the view of regaining his purchase price and having his contract declared null and void. But for some reason he decided not to go ahead.

Anfi have also employed a Public Relations company, Geelmuyden Kiese AS, this company has been deemed the task of putting a “spin” on the problems that Anfi are having with all the lawsuits and adverse publicity. It was this company which wrote the letter to Norwegian members on behalf of Anfi, it was signed by the CEO Jose Luis Trujillo who then sent the letter to members with quotes from Mr Aksel Malterud along with the video. Mr Malterud in one quote goes on to say that “CLA pretends to be a law firm”, well I just wonder what the registered lawyers of CLA think about that one?

This letter is another step in the continuing battle Anfi are waging against CLA, still they deny any wrongdoing or that they have lost any cases. The ones they have mentioned losing, they claim the judges have got the law wrong.

lies

It must also be asked why has this PR firm taken on this case, after all have the Scandinavian press not run many stories on these cases, including the now famous case of Mrs Tove Grimsbo, the very first Supreme Court ruling?

Could it be they have not done their homework, and believe whatever they are told in order to get the business from a client who is clearly in the wrong?

We leave you to decide the answer to that question. After all, we have all come across this type of “spin” before, it follows the old saying “keep telling the lie long enough then everyone will believe it is the truth”.

From information received, these are the facts which it would appear the PR company Geelmuyden Kiese do not know:

Mr Malterud still owes for services and legal work done up to this point.

He has by all accounts never paid, which leaves CLA no other option than to take out legal proceedings for the outstanding legal fees. For whatever reason he decided not to take the case any further his subsequent actions leave a lot to be desired, CLA have evidence written by him claiming the underhand way Anfi was sold to him, the fact he was sold a contract that the courts have deemed illegal. Had he known this at the time, along with the fact that what was sold to him was worth nothing, he wouldn’t of signed.

Yet now he appears to be on the side of Anfi, so it does beg the question why?

What incentives has he been offered?

Anfi after all, are losing daily in the courts, only just recently 25/10/17 they had to payout a Norwegian client 136,000€ which was 106,000€ more than he had originally paid. Inside Timeshare has published many articles regarding these court cases, all have been verified by the courts and are genuine.

These figures also have been verified:

  • 32 First instance rulings against Anfi
  • 41 High Court rulings against Anfi
  • 32 Supreme Court rulings against Anfi
  • 1,210,169.11€ Pay-outs from Anfi to former Anfi timeshare owners
  • 5,516,694.81€-  already instructed by the courts to be returned by Anfi
  • 61,646,867.62€ Total claim amounts against Anfi

It was also announced last week that 3 pretrials were held at the Court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, the judge ruled that there was no need to take them to full trial, his reason was the contracts were in breach of all the rulings made by the Supreme Court. The judge then announced he would deliver the sentence himself in due course.

With information such as this being made public, it really is not surprising that Anfi will do everything in its power to discredit a very successful law firm. Inside Timeshare say to all our readers, before you decide what the truth is, just remember where it comes from. If you want to believe Anfi, that is up to you, but remember what you were told when purchasing, all the promises that never came to fruition.

We have also published some of the history of the Anfi Group and the legal battles over the years, especially the most recent events surrounding the debacle of the Tauro Beach Project, which is currently under investigation by the authorities. The former head of the Coastal Authority is the first to be charged for forging documents and malpractice in public office. We would not be surprised to see more charges being filed with the courts over what has become a nightmare for the local residents.

We also published a similar story back in June, again it was a letter to members from the CEO Jose Luis Trujillo (see link below). For more articles on the subject of Anfi over the years including the story of the Tauro Beach Project just enter Anfi in the search box.

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-ceos-letter-members-desperation/

lie2

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week Eron Grant submits her open letter to ARDA (American Resorts Development Association), for those in Europe that is the RDO. She explains her experience at the hands of a sales agent and asks why does ARDA have a code of ethics if these agents and resorts ignore it? Very good point, the same can be said of the RDO.

First a roundup of this week. For August it has been quite a full week for Inside Timeshare considering that the courts are closed so no news on that front. We began with the ongoing story of the fake law firms in operating out of Tenerife, yes, that family called Litigious Abogados, bit of a sorry story this one.

Unfortunately, the gentleman in question didn’t find our previous story in time, he was totally taken in by the documents and smooth legal talking of this crowd. It began with the usual pitch, that his timeshare company had a case against them ready to go to court and he could be part of it. He duly paid the initial Procurador fees, then a few weeks later he got the great news that he won the case and the court had awarded him thousands in compensation, brilliant!

Now it was only a matter of paying 20% of the award to the tax man to release the money, this done he was told his cheque was on the way. The envelope arrived with the court papers, but no cheque, the envelope had been opened and the cheque missing. After contacting the “Law Firm”, another company contacted him saying the court had appointed them to investigate and get his money back, apparently this Romanian gang had stolen the cheque and cashed it. Don’t worry, we will get the money back from the bank. First you have to pay us 10% of the amount.

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

Then in what can only be described as a further insult to injury, he was told he owed the property tax on a property he owned in Spain, his NIE Number had expired plus he had outstanding fines for a traffic offence. But we can sort this out for you and get the money released, for a fee.

This has lost him thousands of pounds and has caused him great stress. So beware, it may sound good and look genuine, but it rarely is.

On Tuesday, we published the ongoing story of Tauro Beach, the flagship project from Anfi, this time it was a couple of independent research journalists, Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer. In their article, published in the UK paper The Guardian, they investigated the importation of the sand for this man made beach, brought in from the Western Sahara in breach of UN sanctions and European Court of Justice rulings.

This investigation is still underway by various authorities, the main one being SEPRONA, the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil.

Wednesdays article was from Irene Parker on the Welk Resorts case against Timeshare Exit Team. It highlights the dire need for a proper secondary market and a fair exit strategy for those who do not wish to sell.

In this article we opened with news that the TATOC Help Line had closed, we also published a link to a very good in depth report on the importation of sand from Western Sahara and a little of the history from that region. This was written by Ed Timon Editor of The Canary News, an english language newspaper in Gran Canaria.

Yesterdays article was entitled, Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare, in this piece we showed that even old friends will attack each other for your money in this business. It told the story of a company owned by an ex manager of another company, who is now in the business of supposedly claiming compensation against his old employers. Unfortunately, his history and publicity is not as squeaky clean as he would like you to believe, we leave that to your judgement.

So on with this week’s letter.

Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Woman what

Members are beginning to wonder

ARDA’s Answer from ARDA’s website

ARDA and its members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation ownership. To demonstrate that commitment, all ARDA members as a condition of membership must agree to comply with the ARDA Code of Ethics.

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.

By Eron Grant

August 4, 2017

Part I – My letter to ARDA

Part II – ARDA’s Code of Ethics

Part III – List of Inside Timeshare member articles that question the Code

Mr. Clements, General Counsel and Lobbyist for ARDA,

My husband and I feel we have been deceived by Diamond Resorts International, and ask for your assistance in getting justice for our victimization.

In November of 2016 we stayed in one of DRI’s timeshare resorts in Sedona, AZ through our Interval International membership. While there we attended a DRI sales presentation. The hotel concierge gave our family of 4 a $150 gift card to a local restaurant for our thanksgiving meal, and in return we were to attend a 90-minute sales presentation. The presentation ended up lasting 6 hours, with our sales agent becoming agitated when we said we needed to leave due to my husband’s golf tee time. This violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics of “Information”.

The sales agent, Karen Calvano, empathized with us about our inability to stay in resorts unless located close to home which is in Houston, TX. She said she knew Interval International did not have many resorts in our area, but that DRI had many resorts, and we would certainly be able to find resorts in Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. As it turned out, DRI’s resorts in our area are owned by affiliate resorts rather than DRI and costs approximately more points than we were sold. This violates ARDA’s “Exchange Program” in which we were over promised on the likelihood to exchange for Diamond’s inventory in our area.

When I looked on the Diamond member website recently, Diamond’s Great Wolf Lodge affiliate property in Texas was available for 26,911 to 66,467 points. If we multiply 26,911 by 20 cents which is the typical cost of maintenance fees, it would cost $5,382 for a one week stay. Booking.com had the same Family Suite available for the same week for $1,700. This is not an unusual scenario. I have searched various times throughout the year.

We attended DRI’s “Event of a Lifetime” in January, 2017 which we were told was our member orientation. The “orientation” turned into a high pressure sales presentation quickly with misleading information regarding redeeming our points for 30 cents per point if we paid to upgrade our membership to platinum. When my husband, Dr. Mark Grant, asked to see the price per point in writing, the sales agent pointed to his own written notes to show us that it was legitimate. My husband pointed out the documented literature which showed the amount at 10 cents per point, and the salesman quickly dismissed us to the next sales agent.

According to the ARDA Code of Ethics, this sales agent violated the ethics standard of “Avoidance of False and Deceptive Statements”.

Mr. Clements, as you can tell from the brief account I have written, we are in a rough situation with devious minded people who have not followed ARDA’s Code of Ethics, and should therefore be forced to let us out of our contractual agreement.

We appreciate your consideration, and assistance!

Sincerely,

Eron Grant

Response from Diamond

I am responding to your concerns regarding availability in Texas and Louisiana. While Diamond Resorts does not own or manage any properties in these states, we do have affiliate agreements with several resorts. These properties offer us limited inventory each year to offer to our members to book with their points. Inventory is typically limited, and prices are set by the properties themselves, and not by Diamond Resorts. These properties are offered on a first come, first served basis in addition to the Diamond Resorts properties covered under your contract.

Diamond Resorts does offer a property in New Mexico, the Villas de Santa Fe. If you would like assistance booking at this property, please let me know and I will be happy to assist.

My Response

My concerns with Karen Calvano stating “DRI has several resorts in TX, LA, and NM” is that when we asked her to show us the properties she said, “Oh we can’t do that right now, but we can do that later.” After 6 hours of being with her, we were exhausted and never did see the properties.

We explained that we are owners with Marriott and members of Interval International already, so affiliate properties through DRI really don’t help us. Plus, the value of your affiliate properties is ridiculous. How does this help us?

questman1

I would like for Mr. Clements or someone at Diamond to explain to me why this does not meet the definition of White Collar Crime: Deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. In my opinion, there is no doubt what we were offered and what we received meets this definition and violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics.  

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association

adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. General Ethics Standards.  
  1. Disclosure.

With respect to the sale, resale or marketing of a Vacation Interest, the Member shall:

  1. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer regarding the Vacation Interest and all material terms and conditions of the offer of a Vacation Interest.
  2. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer of all material terms and conditions of all other products offered contemporaneously with the Vacation Interest, including exchange programs, incidental benefits, financing, short-term products and exit programs.

The Full Code: http://www.arda.org/ethics/

audience

Note from Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from many angry timeshare members, including Bluegreen members. Here are just a few of the many members who have contacted Inside Timeshare wanting their voices heard.

This is our DRI Advocacy Facebook page which respectable sales agents and corporate personnel are allowed to join. We hope the folks at Diamond, Bluegreen and ARDA will take the time to read member stories. We promise you will learn a lot.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Member articles

Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-australia-no-read-correctly/

Alan and Debbie Callner

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

Detective Lela Renea a Bluegreen member

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

David Franks Chapter 2 (Chapter 4 upcoming)

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

Karen Garello Secret Shopper June 22, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Romeo and Lily

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-9/

Dr. Jeffries

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-7/

Angela Johnson

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy-group-update/

Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

Barclaycard and Member stories May 17 2917

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Eron Grant May 12, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

Betty Burmeister and a Filipino Family April 13, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

Laurie Sabbagh Secret Shopper March 17, 2017 Clarity Review

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

A Military Family March 6, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys January 25, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Irina Allen January 13, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

Kathie Old December 6, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award December 5, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles November 7, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

Sylvia Saldana and the Barclaycard October 25, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

right wrong

Thank you Eron Grant and Irene for this weeks contribution, these are your stories, they are published so you know what is going on in this murky world called timeshare. If you have a story you would like to share or have any comments Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or even need to know if you are dealing with a possible “scam” company, get in touch with us. Even if we don’t know the answer straight away we know where to look and can point you in the right direction. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry, doing your homework is essential, even more so in today’s timeshare world.

So it only leaves us to say, it’s Friday, have great weekend.

fridaycat

Mid Week Report

Following on from the news that TATOC is no more, the latest news is that TATOC Consumer Helpline Ltd has also been wound up, when more comes in we’ll publish it here. If you have tried to access the TATOC website, you will have noticed that it no longer comes up, confirmation that TATOC and Harry Taylor are truly gone, although we wonder if any of his old allies (MacDonald Resorts) will be offering him a job?

job wanted
Contact Harry or is it Henry Taylor?

On the story published yesterday regarding the sand on Tauro Beach, The Canary News has also published a full in depth report. It not only looks at the controversy surrounding the importation of sand from the Western Sahara, it also has a very good introduction to the history of this region.

http://thecanarynews.com/the-shifting-sands-of-tauro-beach-investigation-for-alleged-breach-of-un-international-law/

the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

Now it is August, the courts have closed down for the month, so there will be no news emanating from there. Good news for the timeshare companies! But it is guaranteed that come September there will be a flurry of sentences being announced.

It is also a time for the new “scams” to start getting ready for the Autumn and Winter season, the new company names and websites will soon be surfacing along with some of the old names that will be resurrected. So be warned, do your homework first, check and recheck, these scams are getting very sophisticated, you only have to see the articles on Litigious Abogados and their family of firms. If in doubt or not sure how to check, then contact Inside Timeshare.

So now on with our Wednesday article from Irene Parker.

Welk Resorts sues Timeshare Exit Team for Racketeering

Right To Use timeshare programs need a secondary market

hear no evil

By Irene Parker

August 2, 2017

Welk Resort of Lawrence Welk fame has sued Timeshare Exit Team for racketeering. Once again, the lack of a secondary market forces beleaguered timeshare members into the nets of alleged unscrupulous transfer agents when a resort provides no exit for members sold a timeshare contract in perpetuity.

First, a hat’s off to Lawrence Welk, a big band great that kept early American households riveted to their seats for over 20 years. To this day the Welk resort is a family friendly resort that knows how to run a business. My husband and I stayed at a Welk Resort in California. It was one of our most memorable timeshare vacation experiences.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDgzQyiUfEo

Inside Timeshare has received a volume of reader responses alarmed that there often is no way out of a timeshare contract. ARDA and the industry have lauded timeshares evolution towards a right to use product and have stated members should not expect value back when they seek release from a right to use timeshare.

The problem with ARDA’s “see no evil, hear no evil” position is – about 90% of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received, have loans attached and many allege they were duped into signing off on high interest rate loans and credit cards. Voluntary surrender or “take-back” programs require the member be free of loan encumbrances. In addition, voluntary surrenders are never guaranteed.

Mr. Howard Nusbaum, President and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), was quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable timeshare resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshare-resales-arda-predictions

Timeshare Exit Team Response to the Welk Resort lawsuit

Response from Brandon Reed, founder and CEO of Timeshare Exit Team:

Timeshare Exit Team learned of this matter through a media release distributed by Welk Resorts on July 26, 2017. Following the news being publicly distributed, we were formally served on July 27th, 2017, and intend to present a vigorous defense to these claims. We would also like to inform consumers that the meritless lawsuit and inaccurate accusations therein will not dissuade our team from continuing to advocate for consumers.

I’m proud of the service we offer and of the company we have built. Timeshare Exit Team has built an unparalleled in-house team, leveraging effective outside resources as needed, to assess each customer’s unique situation and to provide them with qualified, thorough, and trusted management of their issues.

The Welk Resort lawsuit v Timeshare Exit Team reported by Business Wire    

“SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Welk Resorts, developer of family-friendly vacation resorts, has filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Reid Hein & Associates, operating as “Timeshare Exit Team,” and law firms in two states for allegedly operating a nationwide racketeering scheme to induce vacation owners to disrupt Welk’s contractual relationships with its vacation owners, causing breach of contracts, delinquencies and defaults that damaged Welk, the vacation owner association and vacation owners.”

“The suit cites fraudulent racketeering activity, intentional interference with contractual relations, and violations of the California unfair competition law, California Vacation Ownership and Time-Share Act, California False Advertising Law and the state “Running and Capping” Law. The latter makes it illegal for non-attorney agents to obtain business for an attorney or law firm for compensation, or solicit others to engage in running and capping.”

Timeshare Exit Team charged fees of $5,000 and more for this “service.”

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170726006103/en/Welk-Resorts-Files-Suit-Timeshare-Exit-Team

Timeshare Exit Team fulfills an HOA Collections Agent’s Prediction – Previously Reported by Inside Timeshare

Kristi, a Home Owners Association timeshare collection agent I interviewed back in March of 2017, complained of lawyers transferring timeshare contracts to fictitious persons or LLCs. Some things are universal. Charles Thomas has been reporting on a recurring “Litigious Abogados” theme. Inside Timeshare is published in Spain.

As reported by Inside Timeshare in our interview with Kristi:

Irene: Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?

Kristi: I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.

Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Here are ARDAROC’s (Resort Owners Coalition) eight tips for selling your timeshare and how they apply or do not apply to Diamond Resort members. This is what I have learned since trying to sell my Diamond right to use points.

  • Know what you own – Most own non-deeded right-to-use points
  • Consult your resort – Diamond’s Advocacy Department has helped some members but others have had to seek legal assistance when denied relinquishment. Tracking our reader outcomes thus far – 29 out of 77 report positive outcomes.
  • Sell it yourself – member supported Facebook pages seem to be the best option, but complaints abound that “no one wants it.”
  • Get assistance from a Licensed Reseller – not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will accept a listing for Diamond’s non-deeded points due to secondary market restrictions.  
  • Pass it on or gift it to your family – maintenance fees are also passed on
  • Donate it to a Charity – Donate for a Cause is a scam according to Consumer Affairs. A charity has the same problem. They don’t want the rising maintenance fee liability. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/timeshare-donation-scheme-is-a-scam-feds-charge-120115.html
  • Generate income by renting. Diamond Resorts does not allow renting through a third party website. “Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.”
  • Beware of scams.

http://www.ardaroc.org/timeshare-resales-resource-center.aspx

Lela Renea, a Bluegreen timeshare member, contacted Inside Timeshare about her battle with Timeshare Exit Team after they appear to have stonewalled her. Since Lela is in the middle of negotiations, she did not want to elaborate on the distress she feels, attempting to resolve her Timeshare Exit Team concerns – suffice to say she had reason to reach out to Inside Timeshare. We will be reporting as to whether Bluegreen will come to her rescue or allow her to fall to the mercy of Timeshare Exit Team.

Despite the customer loyalty and lack of complaints we reported last week among Disney deeded timeshare owners, with access to resale and rental options, right to use non-deeded timeshare programs continue to ignore the growing problems caused by perpetual contracts not able to be sold, rented or relinquished.

Welk Resorts back in the day was a fixed week timeshare but has converted to a right to use non deeded program. A life change like a job loss or illness, rendering the timeshare unaffordable, is as much a problem for members of right to use programs as it is for legacy resorts.

light thought

 We hope someday, someone in the industry or ARDA will see that throwing up roadblocks to a secondary market is a detriment for all. As we reported last week, timeshare attorney Mike Finn has never had a Disney client and it is unlikely Timeshare Exit Team has ever had a Disney client either.

Some answers are so logical and simple, they cannot possibly be understood.

Once again thank you to Irene, who explains the timeshare world across the great lake, as you will have noticed there is very little difference to the problems that owners / members face.

In this Friday’s Letter from America, we have another contribution from Eron Grant. In her Letter to ARDA she asks Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics? This very question was also asked of the RDO, Europe’s equivalent of ARDA. We still don’t have a genuine answer to that little conundrum!

So there we have it, half way through the week and a couple of hard hitting stories, we’ll be keeping an eye on the Tauro Beach story and will bring you the latest as it surfaces. Remember, beware the scam artists, do your homework, check and check again, it will save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

 

sits vac 1

CUSTOMER SERVICE AGENT
Experience in Bull Shit Essential

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week at Inside Timeshare, last week we had the privilege of publishing our first article from Canada, sent in by the Club Intrawest Owners Group Hopefully this will be the first of many.

We also highlighted the latest news about the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, again the local people are being treated in the most dismal of ways. This project has been a fiasco right from the start, it has still a long way to go before it is resolved, we hope in the interests of the locals.

LIT

On the fake lawyers front we highlighted a very lucky escape for one of our new readers, it concerned Armando Gareca Abogados one of the new names in the Litigious Abogados family. At least this reader found out before he paid the initial fees to get a ficticious court case underway. This group has produced some very convincing documents and an even more convincing story, if you are contacted by them, think very carefully, if in doubt contact Inside Timeshare.

That intrepid law firm from Gran Canaria, Canarian Legal Alliance, also had a very good week, after publishing on Friday, our contacts informed us that they had received several Supreme Court rulings during the course of Friday afternoon. It brought the total of judgements by the highest court in Spain to 56, all brought by the lawyers at CLA. From what we at Inside Timeshare could gather those lawyers were absolutely ecstatic, as they received 5 rulings in one day!

From what we have been able to find out, no other law firm in Spain has ever achieved this amount of rulings, let alone had this number of cases sent to the Supreme Court. A truly remarkable achievement, with apparently many more still waiting to be heard.

nyt logo

To start the news this week, we look at a story from the New York Times, received by email for our morning briefing.

Europe Edition
Your Monday Briefing
By STEPHEN HILTNER
Good morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
The New York Times
• Turkey is facing mounting difficulties both at home and abroad.
The government has seized control of more than 950 companies since last July — from small baklava chains to large, publicly traded conglomerates — over accusations that they were linked to a coup attempt. The seizures, worth about $11 billion, have changed the way Turkey is perceived in the international business sphere. The Turkish lira is crumbling, and foreign investment has dropped by half compared with last year.

You may ask what has this got to do with timeshare?

Quite a bit if you have purchased a Club la Costa Fractional in Turkey!

As we know fractional is being sold as a real estate investment, with points attached in order to use it. The whole point is that it will increase in value and then be sold for, we hope, a profit in the future.

pigdress
Fractional, is it just a pig in a dress?

With the current situation in Turkey, it now makes this investment a rather dodgy deal. How long will it be before these seizures of businesses affect the resorts, after all who is building them, who owns them?

Also as foreign investment in Turkey is declining, will this make Club la Costa withdraw?

Will these properties actually get built?

What will happen if they don’t, will you get any of your money back?

Will CLC transfer you to a European Fractional?

These are all legitimate questions you should be asking yourself, where do you stand if it does go wrong?

Inside Timeshare is waiting for confirmation that the Supreme Court has made a ruling regarding fractional, once we receive this we will explain their judgement.

For the coming week, on Wednesday we will be publishing another article from Irene Parker, this one will be little different from our usual fare, it is a story of how timeshare should be, honest, above board and beyond reproach. But you will just have to wait till then.

Remember, it pays to do your due diligence and check things out before you go ahead and spend vast sums of money on anything to do with Timeshare. It is a minefield, so if you need any help or advice on how to check any company out contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

If you have a story you would like to share with others contact us and we will work with you to publish it. Inside Timeshare is here to give you the facts, the truth and a place where you can share your own experiences with others.

thank-you-background-have-a-great-week_4lryptpix__F0000

 

Friday’s Letter From Canada

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter From Canada, Inside Timeshare is pleased to give a warm welcome to Club Intrawest Owners Group who have contributed this week’s article. As Usual we start off by looking at the European timeshare scene.

At the moment, which is nothing unusual for this time of year as it is rather quiet, that will change after the summer holidays when the maintenance bills start to arrive. That is when we start to see a lot of new or resurrected bogus companies start to appear.

bogus clipart

On the legal front, the courts in Spain have been very busy, with an almost daily announcement of cases being resolved. At the moment there seem to be two companies in the firing line, Anfi in Gran Canaria and Resort Properties / Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Anfi, which was the dream project of the late Norwegian Bjorn Lyng, who wanted to build a resort which was pure luxury, has for some time been on the receiving end of many claims for breaches of the timeshare law.

Many of these, involve the taking of deposits within the statutory 14 day cooling off period, contracts with a duration of more than 50 years and the floating weeks and points systems.

This week the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas has ruled on two case to the value of 44,131€ and 35,485€ respectively. In both cases the contracts have been declared null & void.

Resort Properties / Silverpoint have also had several rulings against them this week.

The first was at the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife, the judge ordered the return of £22,736, this was followed by a Supreme Court ruling with the judge ordering the return of 37,400€.

Tenerife

We then had another Court of First Instance ruling of around 25.000€ and as we go to print our sources in Madrid have informed us of another 3 rulings by the Supreme Court. At the moment we have no idea of the amounts involved, but we do know that all contracts have been declared null & void.

On the fake law firm front, one gentleman has had lucky escape, he received correspondence from Armando Gareca Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family, who we highlighted sometime ago. He received notification to pay the initial procurador fees to get the case into court, but something made him suspicious. He did a search on the internet and found the articles posted on this website about them.

Needless to say he realised he was about to be the victim of an elaborate scam and has not gone ahead. He sent a message of thanks as this has saved him not only a substantial amount of money, but a lot of stress. This does go to show that you must do your homework before engaging with any company, especially if they have contacted you with a story that sounds too good to be true.

homework

Tauro Beach

The Anfi man made beach project.

It has been awhile since we had any news on this sorry subject, so here is the latest.

As we previously reported the beach has been fenced off denying access to the public, with security guards and police removing anyone who entered the beach. Although recently massive crowds have flocked to the area in defiance, a new strategy has now been implemented.

This new move has also had the impact of denying access to the homes of people who live there, all paths and access roads have now been blocked with rocks and other implements. Videos and photographs have been posted on facebook by one resident who has been campaigning against this project from the start and also published in laprovincia a Spanish newspaper.

This is another example of how a timeshare company behaves, not just to it’s own members but to the local community. It is also an example of how elected authorities view the people they are supposed to serve. Please show your support for the people and post your comments on the links.

Follow the links to view the posts from this local resident and the La Provincia newspaper.

http://www.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2017/07/20/grupo-anfi-cierra-acceso-playa/961620.html

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1491927374183912

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1492232357486747

Now on with our latest contributors.

Club Intrawest v. Canada

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

Must Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Following Recent Federal Court of Appeal Decision

gavel

July 21, 2017

On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now re-branded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club.  The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time.  All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

“Based on a detailed survey answered by more than 400 members, I expect that the majority of our members will be shocked and disappointed that the court found that members have no beneficial ownership in the vacation homes.  About 79% of them remember being told by Intrawest and DRI sales representatives they would own a real estate interest in the resort properties. About 91% of members also remember they were explicitly told that members controlled the Club and that resort properties were vested in a trust for the benefit of members. The Federal Court of Appeal now tells us that no evidence was produced that ownership of these homes has been vested in a trust for the benefit of members”, says Patrick Cormier, Volunteers Team Leader of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG) a grassroots movement of over 3400 members.  “However, it seems clear that the Intrawest/DRI-dominated Board of Directors anticipated the GST liability all along since it began accumulating a C$14 million reserve from members’ resort fees under a 2011 Board resolution without informing members until the CIOG raised the GST issue with the Board in 2016”.

Club Intrawest was established by Intrawest Corporation in 1993 as a stand-alone not-for-profit Delaware corporation, but with Intrawest in a controlling position. Intrawest ensured they had control of the Club in several ways, including by granting themselves (as “Declarant” member) a 15 times voting power advantage over individual members guaranteeing Intrawest and now DRI, ongoing and complete control over all aspects of the Club.  In addition, Intrawest and now DRI voted in their own employees on the Club’s Board of Directors to maintain a controlling majority on the Board, hired themselves as manager and pay themselves a guaranteed 10 to 15 per cent management fee on all financial transactions.  Club Intrawest (Embarc) members have no control of the club or effective means for recourse, even though members, other than DRI, own 95 per cent of the timeshare points.

About the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG)

The CIOG is a grassroots movement of over 3400 members who are banding together seeking fairness and transparency in their Club’s operation for all 22,000 members.  The CIOG is disputing and challenging unfair actions of Intrawest Corporation, Diamond Resorts International and their domination of the Club’s Board of Directors and Management Company. The CIOG came together as a volunteer group in December 2015, following Intrawest’s announcement of the sale (without member input) of Club Intrawest’s management to DRI. Following the sale, DRI rebranded the club to Embarc and fully controls the not-for-profit timeshare.  For more about the group, visit

www.citheownersgroup.org.

Judgment of Federal Court of Appeal:  see link

http://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf/decisions/en/item/232795/index.do

canadian flag

Clearly this is an evolving story. Inside Timeshare will continue to monitor and report ongoing developments.

Other member sponsored Diamond Advocacy groups include:

DRIP launched by over 1,000 British Diamond members

http://drip.enjin.com/

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group and because timeshare concerns are bigger than any one resort Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

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

Some of the points in this article regarding the judges decisions are very similar to those from the Supreme Court in Spain. Especially on the system of “points”. The Spanish Courts also agree that they are not owners but members with only a right to use, it makes us wonder if the Spanish rulings may have had an effect on this?

Anyway thank you to our Canadian cousins or should we say “Canucks”, we look forward to more contributions from you. Also a great big thanks to Irene who is helping to make this happen. It is through articles like this we make the world smaller and help timeshare owners no matter where they are. So welcome to the global timeshare family from, The Philippines, Australia, USA and Europe. We now need some from South Africa!

Have a good weekend and don’t forget to do your your homework!

weekend cat

Friday’s Letter from Australia (No, you have read that correctly)

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from (America) now Australia, this is just to confuse our American cousins, the reason is that we welcome our first Antipodean cousin to our pages. Justin Morgan, makes his debut with his first contribution to Inside Timeshare. It is ironic that it happens to be on the first anniversary of Irene Parker’s very first article, which was about the acquisition by Apollo of Diamond.

Since her first article, Irene has been a major contributor and very much a driving force in bringing the problems of owners in the US to the fore. She has also become a very valued friend not just to myself but to all those she met while visiting Gran Canaria.

But enough of that, how about some news of timeshare in Europe?

Diamond Resorts has had a battering in the courts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance has secured a victory for one of their clients with the High Court declaring their contract null & void, with the return of over 29,000€ plus legal interest. In this case the court stated that the contract did not contain specified information required by law, with the product being the points system which the Supreme Court has deemed illegal due to their lack of tangibility.

This is the fourth verdict delivered against Diamond by the Tenerife courts this year, which our sources indicate is just the tip of the iceberg!

justice2

Anfi, based in Gran Canaria is on the defensive, it would seem they are already sending out new contracts after the vote last Friday 23 June, which coincided with another defeat at the High Court in Las Palmas. In that case the court declared the contract null & void as it was for more than 50 years.

As this is being written, the news has just arrived from our contact at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, that another contract has been declared null & void, with the client being awarded over 35,000€ plus legal interest.

At the same court yesterday Palm Oasis / Tasolan, were ordered to repay over 31,000€ and declaring the contract null & void. In this case the court ruled against the points system, which it deemed as selling nothing but promises.

On the Tauro Beach project, which has been the subject of many articles, it seems that the beach is still closed to the public, although many people are ignoring the fences and entering the area. There still seems to be no indication when this area will be fully open to the public, it may not be for sometime yet as there are several court cases pending.

So now on to this weeks article.

Who is Apollo? What is Apollo?

Two Diamond Member Consumer Advocates offer their opinion

Up Down

By Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

Introduction by Irene Parker

June 30, 2017

In honor of my one year anniversary writing for Inside Timeshare, it is only fitting to revisit Apollo Global Management’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts as Apollo’s Diamond acquisition was the subject of my inaugural article June 30, 2016.

http://insidetimeshare.com/700-2/

I had been shouting my timeshare concerns from the rooftops since my husband I attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation July 2015 at Diamond’s Grand Beach Resort, which ultimately led to our appearance on the FOX News show Property Man, interviewed by Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi.

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

The first I heard from Diamond was a year later in reaction to my Apollo article written for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money’s investment news service, TheStreet. Diamond contacted TheStreet demanding a rebuttal. Diamond members are still waiting for Transitions, a relinquishment program that must still be in development.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

Diamond boasted 11 quarters of robust earnings growth until shortly after the Apollo acquisition announcement. A delayed 2016 second quarter earnings report was attributed to accounting irregularities.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13702895/1/diamond-resorts-international-s-second-quarter-earnings-reversal-is-worrisome.html

According to a May 2017 KROLL Bond Report, Diamond’s default rates remain elevated.

The collateral pool of DROT 2014 – 1 has experienced elevated levels of defaults, which similar to certain other vacation ownership companies in the industry, Diamond Resorts attributes to an increase in the number of borrowers who have been solicited by lawyers to get out of their timeshare and/or have sent Diamond Resorts “cease and desist” letters.  

https://www.krollbondratings.com/announcements/3705

A National Mortgage News article appeared indicating the interest rate on the Apollo acquisition was raised due in part to the earnings restatement. Earnings had to be restated back to 2014 resulting in an earnings decline from the prior earnings report. Since the merger was announced as an all cash $2.2 billion deal, I did not understand the comment about the raised interest rate.

advocate 1

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Timeshare Advocate Michael Nuwer explains. I now understand what it meant when Diamond owners were informed Diamond is owned “by an affiliate of an affiliate of funds.” It’s pretty high finance.

Apollo Global’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts was organized as a “leveraged buyout”.  Here’s how the deal worked:

Apollo created a shell company called Dakota Parent. Four of Apollo’s investment funds own this company. Dakota Parent created a wholly owned subsidiary called Dakota Sub. Dakota Sub borrowed $2.2 billion dollars (a big chunk of it, $1.1 billion, from the four Apollo funds) and bought 100% of the DRI shares — 72.7 million shares at $30.25 each. Then DRI merged into Dakota Sub, changed the company name to Diamond Resorts International, and thereby took on all Dakota Sub’s debt. This is the way leveraged buyouts typically work. Former Diamond CEO Cloobeck used the same structure when he bought Sunterra in 2007.

Now that all is said and done, DRI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dakota Parent. The equity in Dakota Parent is owned by the four Apollo funds. Diamond has $2.2 billion debt on which it must make interest payments. The primary lenders are the four Apollo funds. They are in for $1.1 billion, $500,000,000 at 7.75% and $600,000,000 at 10.75%. The secondary lenders are in for $800 million, and another $200 million is secured by some DRI assets (I think they are consumer loans).

There are two ways Apollo makes money on this deal assuming all goes well. First, the four Apollo investment funds receive interest income out of DRI’s cash flow. They are guaranteed $103,250,000 per year. High profits or low profits, it doesn’t matter, Apollo gets paid. Further, the Apollo investment funds own a claim to all the equity growth of the company (that is all value over $2.2 billion). Thus, if they can sell the 72.7 million shares for $45 each, not an unreasonable number if all goes well, Apollo’s capital gain will be about $1 billion.

Aussie Flag

From Justin Morgan Australia

As a tax accountant, finance planner, part time private equity guy, I completely agree that the Apollo deal will only end in debt being laid upon Diamond members, for the benefit of those who arranged the details of a LBO merger that, when combined with the liabilities of the timeshare structure that utilized Association Board powers and targets them, it becomes a lethal mix that allows financial dealers to write their own checks bigger each year. It seems there is no end to how high they could simply raise their own salaries, pay-outs and ‘returns’ towards simply legally expecting members to pay their share of these increased contributions.

In the economy, we have certain protections such as Trade Practices Acts, Fair Trading Laws, financial regulation, monopoly laws…All this is designed to prevent abuse of market power. In my opinion, I would characterize this Diamond set-up as worse, because there is NO market that is anything other than what DRI, and the timeshare industry in general, allows. It is engaging in practices specifically designed to restrict the market to only it and its approved associates.

I feel this exploits consumers at near will, and I wonder where Apollo will set their ceiling …Looking at how the deal was structured, they see huge opportunity to lend to a membership base locked up in dubious legalities and unfair contracts. All this would not be legal in Australia. I’m amazed at how it turns out to be in the US. And I write this from Mexico, where it is well known what happens when dangerous cartels form and throw their money around here.

Circumstantial evidence is that the proof is in the pudding, but proving it in the US, where the banks and private equity already got away with much…well, I can only hope that the powers that be realize that it won’t get better if they keep allowing the average consumer and householder to be abused by what is, in my opinion, predatory sales and lending.

If the new DRI were to strip assets, it’d be left holding the large liabilities, but that is usually the reason why they then go back to legacy members warning of bankruptcy if they do not buy more points. It looks like the new DRI is just financially ‘creating’ this balance sheet to look exactly how it should look to siphon off more money from members. They already have their interest windfall. Next would be the stripping, and finally, the call for more contributions to boost management revenue…all this whilst the members are forced into more debt.

This is a strategic type play from the banking world, but DRI and private equity were some of the quickest learners out of the Great Financial Crisis. Many learnt how the banks do it. Private equity rushing into timeshare is the new rush to create financial instruments that creates only ‘liability’ for the timeshare owner. The financial guys profit from the creation of liability, which is their ‘debt-holding’. In a near zero interest rate environment, Apollo is looking to create the debt, then shift it across to the membership…effectively, they’ve already done it. Now they must get their $1.1bn back, and the result is just pure profit for the financial players. This could turn out to be a textbook case of why this must be stopped immediately. It will possibly play out over years.  Bravo Irene for taking a stand. I will support your efforts however I can. You’ve struck here what I believe is the actual core of the New Timeshare. The Old Timeshare was less sophisticated, but for those of us who know that private equity in this industry is licking its lips over several recent acquisitions, the old caveat of “buyers beware” may even be too late.

Teacher

Thank you to Michael and Justin for their reader responses which are possibly the most sophisticated reader responses in the history of Inside Timeshare. More and more timeshare Advocates are coming forward bringing their expertise and experience to the timeshare table.

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebooks or websites if you need timeshare assistance or can become an Advocate.   

So there we have it, another week over in the murky world of timeshare, Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for her efforts in bringing so many people together to share their views and experiences.

To our latest addition to the Inside Timeshare family, a very hearty welcome and we hope to hear more from those in the “Land Down Under”, who we do tend to forget share the same experiences as us in Europe and the US.

It’s Friday, the weekend is here, so break out the BBQ’s and let’s PARTY!!!!!!!!

barbie