High Court Action and RCI: Update.

The RCI High Court Action is underway, the Financial Times published a story by Jane Croft outlining the history over the case. (see link below).

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/319c5804-1b7d-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15.html#axzz49Swb0kAw

edwincoe

As we previously stated this action is being conducted on behalf of Four RCI members by Edwin Coe LLP, another 483 members are also part of this case. They alledge that RCI has skimmed off weeks from the exchange inventory, thus depriving members the exchanges they had been promised when signing up to the RCI exchange system.

 

RCI which is part of the American Wyndham Worldwide hospitality company, has since it was founded in 1974 been the major timeshare exchange system. It allows timeshare owners to bank and exchange their resorts for others worldwide, thus increasing the number of locations owners can choose from.

 

We stated in a previous article http://insidetimeshare.com/rci-action-update/ this case follows one taken in the U.S. The members stated that they were unable to get the exchanges they requested or were promised when they joined the exchange group, they alledge that RCI had been renting out the weeks in the inventory to non members for profit. Members pay a fee to join and a yearly membership fee, they also pay for the exchanges, there is also a system of bonus weeks.

rcilogo

Bonus weeks are offered to members in order fill unused weeks in the inventory, these weeks are those that have not been booked, so are available to be used. Typically they will be offered as last minute deals, not unlike those offered by high street travel agents in order to clear remaining inventory. This in itself is good as it does allow the resorts to have a flow of guests as well as giving owners extra holidays.

 

The QC representing RCI Charles Graham, stated in his opening that the allegations of skimming were unfounded, because of the advantages of the “open exchange system”. RCI in a written statement stated that they were entitled to use members timeshares as they saw fit. Apparently this is due to a clause in the contract referred to as “ Permitted use”. Well I am not sure what this all means, so we will have to wait for the legal eagles to conclude their arguments.

 

If the members succeed in this case it may just open up the flood gate to more litigation, again this is another example of an industry being brought into disrepute. We have said it before, they only have themselves to blame, rather than look after the owners/members they seek only profit. We are not saying that making a profit is wrong, but at the expense of their own clients it does seem to be a tad unethical.

flood gate

Inside Timeshare will keep you up to date as the news comes in, so watch this space.

 

If you have any news or information about any company, or have had a problem and would like to share this with others, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Contact us through the comments section and we will get back to you for further information. Inside Timeshare exists to keep you the owner’s informed and up to date. You will not get this information from your own timeshare companies, they want you to stay in the dark.

A Short History of Timeshare

The story of timeshare is rather vague, although it is generally credited to a French developer Paul Doumier. His company The Société des Grands Travaux de Marseille developed ski resorts in the French alps. He coined the phrase “It is cheaper to own the hotel than rent the room”, this became the company slogan and it attracted many buyers. Doumier began marketing his concept between 1964 and 68, primarily with the resort in the alps.

 

Over the border in Switzerland another company developed their own timeshare business, this was Hapimag, short for Hotel und Appartementhaus Immobilien Anlage AG, and was created in 1963. The owners Alexander Nette and Guido Fenngli began buying their first resorts, these primarily were in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Hapimag marketed their timeshare on a right to use basis rather than on deeded ownership.

hapimag

Hapimag is still going strong today with around 60 resorts, spanning Europe, North Africa, Turkey and Florida. They are considered to be of a high standard with Hapimags own shops and fitness areas. They also have a very good reputation for their child care and activities. Strangely enough they have never affiliated with the major exchange companies and are considered one of the largest independent timeshare companies.

 

In 1969 the first timeshare resort in America was opened in Hawaii at Kauai Kailani on Kauai. The founders of the company Vacation International, Bob Burns and Bob Ringenburg, sold their weeks in 40 year increments and also developed the first points system.

disney

Florida was next and was one of the first states in continental America to develop timeshare in the early 1970´s. The Californian company Innisfree was next, they were the first to sell deeded timeshare. Around 1973 they in partnership with Hyatt had their first development at Lake Tahoe in California. It was here that the term timeshare was first used to describe vacation time purchased from a resort. When Innisfree used the word timeshare on an application to the Californian Department of Real Estate, the popularity of the term increased, it was then used on all promotional materials.

hilton

Around 1974 RCI was founded, the husband and wife team saw a need for owners to be able to exchange with owners from other resorts, which increased the popularity of the concept. No longer were you tied to the resort you purchased. RCI has since become the largest of the exchange companies and has offices on every continent. They are also part of the Wyndham group.

 

From the late 1970´s and into the 80´s timeshare development increased, with massive building programs worldwide. Spain and Portugal were probably the main areas for these developments.

marriott

Since the start many companies have become involved in timeshare, some good some bad. Major companies such as Disney, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt have helped improve the image of the product. They offer some of the best resort around the world and also have the benefit of being among the largest hotel chains.

In 2007 or thereabouts the famous holiday camp company Butlins developed a timeshare product at their Minehead resort in Somerset. They offered a points system called Blueskies, which had a lifespan of 30 years as opposed to the perpetuity contract most companies were selling. Members were not limited to Minehead, they could also use the points at other Butlins resorts or even use the exchange system with RCI. Butlins has certainly come along way from it´s Hi De Hi image.

butlins

With companies such as the ones mentioned here timeshare can be a good product, it is just a shame that some companies involved in the industry have given it a bad reputation. Again it is a question of oversight and regulation. If the right model is used there would not be the problems associated with the industry.

 

I hope that this article has given a small insight into the history of timeshare, it has been quite fun looking for the information and answered many of the questions I had. There have over the years been many stories as to how it started, Most of the sources I located all agreed to this version.

 

If you have any questions about timeshare you can contact Inside Timeshare via the comments section.

The privileged Club Winding Down.

It has been announced that The Privileged Club Limited, Company Registration Number 08451066, has commenced winding up procedures. This began on 14 April 2016.

 

The company has gone into voluntary liquidation and the matter is being dealt with by:

 

Andrew Fender

Sanderlings, Sanderlings House, Springbrook lane, Earlswood Solihull. B94 5SG.

 

It is believed the reason for this winding up is the ill health of the Director and Secretary Mr Gary Woodward.

 

If you are a member and have not received any notification of these events please contact Andrew Fender on the above address.

 

At present it is not known what will happen to the club and its members, as more information comes in it will be published here.

 

Inside Timeshare wishes Mr Woodward all the best and hope he makes a full recovery. If you are a member and have any information which you would like to share with others about the situation, contact Inside Timeshare, so we can publish it and keep others informed.

Using a Genuine Companies Name.

As we have warned before there are many companies out there purporting to be legal entities. Some of these will also use names the same or similar to reputable firms in the UK, one such law firm that this has happened to is Access Legal. This is the trading name of Shoosmiths LLP, a genuine law firm that appears to specialise in medical cases.

 

Around three years ago Inside Timeshare contacted this company to verify if they were the same as the Access Legal Services contacting timeshare owners. The answer at the time was they were not. Again Inside Timeshare has been in contact with them and again verified they do not work on timeshare or timeshare related products.

 

It would appear that either the original Access Legal Services supposedly registered in Gibralter but with offices on the Costa del Sol have reappeared or another group is using the name. At present no information about them has been found, although looking at the old research they were linked to several entities which have been the subject of various enquiries and newspaper articles and are still in existence. Until the information is proven these other companies will not be named, when this becomes clear we will publish the results.

bogus law

There is a good reason for companies using the name of someone else, when you the consumer checks on the internet, most likely the first name to come on the search will be the genuine company. Most people will see this as proof they are talking to a genuine company, most will not make any other checks. It is all designed to fool the general public. As we have stated before checking a company’s validity further is more than just checking their website.

 

If you have had any contact recently from a company such as this and want any help in checking them Inside Timeshare is here to help and guide you through this minefield.

weekend

Debit Cards and Chargeback.

Following on from the previous article on Section 75, there is another tool that can be useful, this is called Chargeback.

 

It is used mainly for transactions made by debit card, although it can be used for credit cards where the amount is less than the £100 needed for Section 75. Unlike the system for credit cards this scheme is not law, it is a voluntary scheme set up by the banks themselves. It also has a 120 day time limit, so if you buy today and the goods are faulty the 120 days starts then.

 

If you book a flight and the airline subsequently goes out of business the 120 days will start from the point your flight should have left, unless you were informed by the airline that they would not be able fulfil their obligation. In this instance the time would start from when you were informed.

 

Most claims using chargeback tend to be for faulty goods, goods not being delivered, services not being provided or the company has gone bust.

debitcards

If your bank refuses the chargeback claim you have six months to appeal to the Ombudsman. The rules that govern chargeback may vary from bank to bank, so you will need to check with your card provider on how they operate the system.

 

Although it can be useful to have this facility using a credit card is the much safer option, at least it is covered in law and not a voluntary scheme. Follow the links below for more detailed information on this scheme. As usual the two sites are ones we have highlighted before.

 

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/visa-mastercard-chargeback

 

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback

 

If you require any information or want to know how to find it Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us through the comments section.

Claiming Money Back From Your Credit Card.

There is a little tool that many people can use to get money back from companies they have paid, then never received the goods or services paid for. It is called Section 75 of The Credit Consumer Act 1974.

 

The law was put into place as protection for the consumer, it is not a case that your credit provider is doing you a favour, they are equally liable for the money if anything goes wrong. There are certain rules that govern this, provided you have paid using your credit card any sum over £100 you are covered for the full amount up to £30,000, even if you paid the balance by cheque or transfer.

 

Where I have seen this has been mainly in the holiday ownership area, mostly with resale companies. How many of you have paid a company to sell your timeshare only to find that in a year’s time they have disappeared?

closed

 

If this is the case you can claim this back from your credit card company, as they are  “jointly and severally liable”. The criteria for this claim is you have never received the goods or services promised, i.e. the sale of your timeshare. The company is no longer around or has gone into liquidation and or it was a fraudulent transaction under timeshare directives. This last point is using the EU Timeshare Directives about resale companies taking upfront fees, this is not allowed, the same as taking deposits within the cooling off period.

 

Many companies get around this by saying it is a marketing fee, in order to put your timeshare on a higher profile. Even RDO & TATOC members use this. To me it is still taking upfront fees to sell your timeshare. But this is obviously a point for those with legal brains to argue. At the end of the day there is no resale market, just look on ebay, people cannot even give them away.

 

Another area that section 75 has been successful, is with the various holiday clubs that have been around. Several years ago Incentive leisure Group / DWVC and Club Class were taken out of business by the authorities in the UK. Many people had paid thousands to join these so called clubs with the view of being free from their timeshare and maintenance.

Keep Reading

An Expensive Month for Some!

Today I was looking at some of the news from the past month, it looks like it was an expensive one for timeshare resorts.

 

The TCA reported a case against MacDonald Resorts Leila Playa Club in Spain, this action was regarding contracts signed between 2003 and 2008. From the TCA article (below) it looks like the courts accepted the illegality of the perpetuity contract, the fact that buyers were not given the information they were entitled to and also that the resort did not comply with the right of withdrawal.

 

The article did not state the law firm which took on the case but it was finalised on 5th April 2016, with TCA publishing it on 4th May.

 

In this case the court awarded the client £11,839.22 The court also stated that interest on this sum was to be paid and all costs incurred by the trial. This is another ray of hope for many, it shows that the Supreme Court Rulings are being taken notice of in other courts.

 

http://www.timeshareconsumerassociation.org.uk/2016/05/04/tatoc-members-macdonald-resorts-contracts-proven-null-and-void/

 

In another part of Spain a law firm which has been mentioned in articles here, has had a tremendous month. The main highlight to the Canarian Legal Alliance month was the payout of Mrs Grimsbo, the Norwegian client who made history with the first ever Supreme Court Ruling. She has as reported on 4th May been paid out over 43.000€.

champagne

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/payout-for-our-first-supreme-court-victory/

 

Now since The beginning of April the courts have made awards to CLA clients of over 361 893.14€ all against ANFI.

 

  • April 4            27 600€
  • April 11          52 095.72€
  • April 14         92 797.42€
  • April 21      130 000€
  • May 4           43 000€ (Grimsbo)
  • May 6           17 000€

**ARCHIV**Banknoten in 50er, 100er, 200er und 500er-Scheinen liegen auf einem undatierten Foto, das von der Bundesbank in Frankfurt am Montag, 3. Dez. 2007, zur Verfuegung gestellt wurde, auf einem Haufen. Der Euro hat in Deutschland nach einer Umfrage fuer die Dresdner Bank an Popularitaet verloren. Knapp sechs Jahre nach Einfuehrung der Gemeinschaftswaehrung erklaerten nur noch 36,3 Prozent, sie faenden den Euro gut. 2004 lag die Zahl noch bei 42,6 Prozent, wie die Bank am Sonntag, 16. Dez. 2007 aus der Umfrage der Forschungsgruppe Wahlen berichtete. (AP Photo/Bundesbank) --- Undated photo provided by the German Federal Reserve Bank in Frankfurt on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, shows Euro bank notes in 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro bills. (AP Photo/German Federal Reserve Bank)

On April 26, CLA also had another victory, this time against Palm Oasis, the client in that case received an award of 26 000€. The award in this case was the perpetuity contract and the taking of a deposit within the cooling off period.

 

This is all in one month, how can the industry sustain payouts like this, all because in the past they thought they could get away with anything. They thought they were untouchable, well we have heard that before, now they are reaping the whirlwind, or is it a Tsunami as one paper put it!

So to finish, congratulations to the clients on your cases, well done to all the legal teams who fought for your rights. If the industry has any sense it would know that the writing’s on the wall, they can no longer behave as though they are lords and masters, that it is you the consumer/member that keeps them going and keeps them in a job.

on the wall

If you require any information regarding any article posted or have been in contact with any company and are not sure of their authenticity, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us  on the comments section, if we do not know the answer we will find out.

Happy Owners!!

Yes, there are some owners out there who are happy with what they bought years ago, some have learnt how to use the system to their advantage, this is one story.

 

Kim and Andy have been friends of mine for several years, we met while I was working at a restaurant and were old friends of the owners. Each year they come back for their week at Anfi Beach Club, which they have owned for around 15 years. They have a fixed week and return to the same apartment each time. This suits them perfectly.

 

Over the years Kim & Andy have however been subject to the coffee and chat routine with in house reps. They have tried to convert them or upgrade them to floating weeks, points and even tried the sell them Tauro Golf. Each time they have declined.

on holiday 2

As they have said they like what they own. “The apartment we own is situated so that we get the sun from 9.30 am until around 5.30 pm on our balcony”. Sounds idyllic. “ We also have great views and it is relatively peaceful, whilst still being close to the pool and beach”. They also added “this year when we arrived the apartment had new appliances fitted, these were of good quality, so we felt our maintenance fees had been well spent”:

 

Why did they not take up any of the offers? “We realised that these little chats were nothing more than a sales meeting, they could not offer us the guarantees that we had with our fixed week at the Beach Club”. They also said that these meetings were taking up valuable time from their week, so now they politely decline any invitation from the rep and continue to enjoy their holiday.

 

Around ten years ago they also purchased Infinity Points from Petchey. They bought 60,000, and these could be used to book at a multitude of resorts. As they said “whenever we wanted, each resort / week had a set number of points, we could save points from 1 year to use the next or borrow from the upcoming year”:

on holiday 1

As they pointed out there is an exchange fee to book RCI resorts that were out of the Infinity Portfolio. “This was working well for us in the initial years. However on one visit to Grangefield Oasis we fell prey to one unscrupulous rep”.

 

They remember his name was Sheldon, he managed to convince them to upgrade another 40,000 points. This gave them 100,000 points to use, it also according to him gave them enough to qualify for corporate membership and the company could then rent out  the points making them some money which would cover the maintenance costs.

 

“On our next visit to Portugal when we went for our “chat” with the rep, we discovered that this was not right”, how many times have I heard this. “The rep concerned had been caught doing this a lot and was subsequently sacked”. They were told that unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to reduce the points back to the original 60,000 or compensate them in any way for the additional costs. “So we had to put it down to a bad experience and learn from it”:

 

Initially they struggled to use all their allocated points before they expired, they just didn’t have the time or afford to take that many holidays. As the years have gone on “we have found it easier as we have used our points to send family away and have enough points for better apartments”. They have also found “a place we love in Portugal that also enables us to have short breaks as well”:

 

They are now looking forward to the future when the extra points will allow them to spend more time away in the winter sun. They also now avoid doing the rep chat wherever they go.

 

This does show that for some timeshare is working, I have said it before it is not the concept but the way in which it is sold that is the problem. The experience of Kim and Andy at the hands of Sheldon show this.

on holiday

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kim and Andy for their time in talking to me and writing their experiences down for this article. Inside Timeshare wants to create a balanced view, not just highlighting the bad things around this industry, but also show some of the positive outcomes.

 

Charles Thomas

 

Inside Timeshare

How do I Find a Genuine Firm?

This is a question I am asked frequently, there is no simple answer. It is a matter of doing your homework, finding out where to look and how to look. The internet has made this easier, the only problem is which sites are genuine and which are not.

 

Firstly, let´s take a look at small claims companies, these are the ones you may be familiar with doing PPI claims. There are many such entities around, they tend to be using the Credit Consumer Act 1974 Section 75 as a way of reclaiming your money. There have been many pop up around the timeshare industry over the years. Many originated around the time that DWVC was in the spotlight and being closed.

 

A general rule is that section 75 can be done by yourself, Google it and the first two items will be Which and Money Saving Expert. The latter is run by Martin Lewis. Another source of help is Citizens Advice, or even your own bank.

claimmoney

Both these sites explain what the act is and how to go about claiming. Both have an extensive archive of template letters, they are easy to use, replace the markers with your information and the reason for your claim. Generally this will be not receiving the goods or services paid for or promised. Another general claim is the company has disappeared. This particular claim is one I have been involved with in the past, usually from bogus resale companies.

 

If you get a company to do it for you, many will work on a no win no fee basis. But remember when you do have a successful payout it may cost upwards of 40% of your claim.

 

Most legitimate companies will be registered with the Financial Service Authority, some may even be registered with the Ministry of Justice (Claims). These registrations depend on the type of work they do, but obviously they are the ones to investigate further.

fsa logo

Law firms, this should be the easiest, but how many people have been taken in by slick operations and websites?

 

Genuine Law Firms will be registered with the relevant authorities, in the UK it will be the SRA, these can be checked using Bar Registration Numbers. In Spain I use a website reddeabogados, they have made it a little more difficult to use than I remember. Again use the Bar Association Registration Numbers. All practising lawyers must be registered with their bar association. Using Spain as an example, a lawyer working in Malaga will be registered there, a lawyer in Barcelona will be registered in that city.

sralogo

If you are looking to find a lawyer to represent you in another country, a good first stop is the British Consulate for the area the lawyer is in. You can also go to the Embassy or Consulate of the specific country to check. In the world of timeshare doing this just diligence is the most important step you can make. It is the difference between losing thousands or getting the result you wanted.

One reader has sent in a comment which will be of use. There are some European Lawyers that are registered with the UK SRA as “Registered European Lawyers”. You can ask to see their certificate of registration, if they are registered then you can be sure the SRA has checked their qualifications. (See comments for the full version 04/05/16).

 

Inside Timeshare can help begin the process of research, if you have been contacted or are looking to contact any company and wish to know how to check them, we will help. Inside Timeshare can also put you in touch with various companies depending on your problem. We will also offer any advice if you wish to make a section 75 claim, showing where to get any supporting evidence.

 

Remember, do your homework and stay safe from the sharks!

Bogus Calls and Money Awarded.

We have mentioned this item before, albeit briefly. It concerns calls from so called law firms and claims companies, the pitch is usually that a court case has been heard and assets have been seized, usually from companies that have taken money from you in the past.

 

These will range from resale scams, bogus Section 75 claims companies to fake law firms. These new companies are probably the same ones that took the money from you in the first place. Hence they know all the details.

 

If you have ever paid a company and they have disappeared, or even been closed down by the authorities, you would probably have been informed at the time. Especially if you reported it to the authorities yourself. The courts do not contract out to others to trace you. That is the job of the Courts and Police.

police

The way the scam works is very simple, you are informed by telephone or email that the court has awarded you ex amount. Usually more than you actually paid, this is the enticer. Quite often a second call from an official sounding body confirms this. You may be given a number to verify the information given, when you do call, it will be confirmed that this is the case and you have indeed been awarded the money.

(see link below)

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/fraud-warning/

 

Then comes the crunch.

 

In order for you to receive the amount stated, taxes will have to be paid, in advance, you may even receive via email an official looking form from the tax office. (Easily downloaded from the internet see pdf below). Now in order to get the tax you will also need a Spanish NIE number. This is called Numero de Identificación de Extranjero, or Foreigner’s Identification Number. It is a Spanish tax identification number issued to all foreigners. Now this is a stroke of luck, the company calling can also arrange this for you, obviously for a fee.

Spanish Tax Form

Now, you do not need this number unless you come under the following:

 

  • Open a bank account
  • Buying, selling or insuring a property
  • Arranging a mortgage or credit
  • Pay taxes
  • Being employed
  • Registering with employment agencies
  • Registering to study
  • Applying to start a business
  • Registering with social services, receiving social security benefits
  • Applying for a driving licence
  • Inheriting assets

 

You would not need it to receive any money due in compensation paid by a court plus there would not be any tax to pay.

 

For more information on NIE Numbers check the link below:

 

https://www.angloinfo.com/spain/how-to/page/spain-moving-residency-nie-number

 

These types of fraud are becoming ever more sophisticated, we have seen a great rise in recent times of this pitch. This is mainly due to the publicity of genuine court cases being won in Spain, the people use the fact that these cases are being shown in the news, which then convinces you they are indeed genuine.

 

Remember, the courts do not operate in this way, there are procedures they follow. If you are not aware that you are part of a case, then you probably are not. If you have never reported any loss of money to any type of scam, then you probably are not part of any case. There is only one way to claim any compensation and that is by going through the courts yourself with a genuine law firm.
If you receive any calls like this contact Inside Timeshare and we will check it out for you. This is what we do, research and research, giving you the tools to find out the truth. We are here to help you save your hard earned money.