Browse Tag

ARDA

A New Member to EGTBW (Re-published)

Yesterday we published an article which highlighted yet another Anfi defeat in the High Court, it then went on to ask the question, Why the RDO allows its members to continue to flout the law and yet does nothing to sanction them, despite the fact they are also ignoring the “Code of Conduct” of their membership to that organisation. Back in June 2016 we published the article “A New Member to EGTBW”, which has been republished several times. Although a “Spoof” article with the “Trade Body” being made up it certainly reinforces the question of what are the RDO there for? Today we re-publish the article with a couple of changes as it does go into a little more detail. But first, we begin with a very significant victory in the Spanish Courts.

The case involves a Spanish consumer who purchased a timeshare membership with Club la Costa at their Malaga resort, all well and good you might say, they are covered by the Spanish timeshare laws. Unfortunately this was not to be the case which then resulted in an epic legal battle, one which we have highlighted before, it covers Club la Costa’s insistence that the Spanish Courts do not have jurisdiction over their contracts.

CLC insist that all their contracts, which have the following clause, are subject to UK Law and the Jurisdiction of UK courts, this contention has been the subject of many cases which the High Court of Malaga has rejected. They have consistently ruled that as the purchase was made in Spain, the purchase was made in Spain and the fact the resort is actually located in Spain, gives Spanish Law jurisdiction.

They have also constantly expressed the view that companies operating in Spain cannot unilaterally decide or choose which jurisdiction they come under, thus denying consumers the full protection they deserve.

Now considering that it is also a Spanish Citizen who purchased in his home country, how can a company deny that citizen the full protection of the laws of their OWN COUNTRY?

Well, the Court of First Instance Number 3 of Fuengirola seems to agree, also following the rulings of the High Court of Malaga. They ruled that they did have jurisdiction and declared the contract null and void, ordering Club la Costa to repay 22,546€ including Legal Interest.

No doubt we will see Club la Costa launch yet another appeal, which we have all confidence in them losing yet again.

The case was brought on behalf of the Spanish client by Canarian Legal Alliance.

This is another reason why today’s article is being re-published, according to the RDO “Code of Conduct” which states:

“To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.”

This to Inside Timeshare appears to be a very good example of timeshare operators doing what they like along with the protection and support of the “Trade Body” they pay to join. We hope it gives you a bit of a laugh, but most of all it will show you that all is not as it seems.

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kitemark of excellence.

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately, this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis, we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo
The Old Boys Club

This organization’s own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.

They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:

“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”

“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”

So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out that MacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).

tony hetherington
thisismoney

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2346500/TONY-HETHERINGTON-I-escape-nightmare-sun.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2527546/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Timeshare-boss-relents-spite-fighting-talk.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1323162/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Death-doesnt-bring-end-timeshare-fee.html

So these are poorly researched are they?

On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believes the court has got it wrong, the RDO, it seems agrees with them!

For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is ageing, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.

What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?

It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:

  • In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
  • A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
  • If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
  • In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases, any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.

(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)

As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.

In the original article we also asked the question:

What of TATOC in all this?

Although since the first publication TATOC, (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees)) is no longer, having gone into liquidation due to several legal altercations, it’s purpose was supposed to be representing the owners and their elected committees. As we know Harry Taylor who was the CEO, was in fact a full supporter of the industry and TATOC funds were paid by the industry members the same as the RDO.

tatoc logo

No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!

Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.

We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything have finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non-members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

The Tuesday Slot: Elder Abuse and Timeshare Sales

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot and another revival of our Letter from America series, today we bring you another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” with the horrific story of an elderly couple targeted by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. This particular story is a result of a comment on a previous article “A Timeshare Sales Agent Repeats Himself”, by Donald E. Puyear which we published on 1 December. It is such a dreadful story that we decided that it needed an article all of its own. It appears that in the US this is a significant problem for the elderly, in Europe, we have had some similar stories but not to this extent. This is the story as related by Tiffany Renee on the trials and tribulations of her elderly parents at the hands of timeshare sales agents.

Mortgage Scams Targeting Seniors

https://protectingourelders.com/

Click on the Rachel Ramos Video.

Elder Senior Court

Financial Assaults on our Seniors

  • Home Theft
  • Identity Theft
  • Fake Arbitration Scam
  • Grandchild Needs Money Scam
  • Lawyers Inflated Fees Scam
  • The Timeshare Scam
  • Long Term Insurance Scam 
  • And many more…..

What is causing this alarming epidemic trend?

Our ageing population is more vulnerable as they are more trusting, susceptible to trickery and are less likely to fight or report a scam. The authorities and courts are not up to date with the latest scams and are less likely to investigate or prosecute financial abuse cases.

By Tiffany Renee

December 3, 2020

My parents are devastated because of what happened at a Diamond Resorts presentation in June of 2019. View the video on Protecting our Elders website to see how easy it is for a senior to get scammed. What happened to the senior in the video is why my parents were in a sensitive state. They had been victims of prior scams throughout their lives that resulted in us losing our personal homes and property. Imagine having a bank take your home because they said your deed wasn’t real? And whoever had the real deed, was being foreclosed? Imagine knowing all the money you paid towards your home meant nothing because someone else out there had an outstanding mortgage that you were not aware of. Imagine receiving this news with your wife and two babies, forced out of your home. I won’t get into more details, but my parents didn’t know how to fight this with the mortgage company. They are good, honest people, trusting, hard-working, and God-loving individuals. They trusted the system and, like the senior in the video who had his home stolen and a lien filed against him, felt it was out of their hands. This happened to them more than once! They never wanted this to happen again!!!!

This is why the rawness of what they experienced at Diamond Resorts has devastated my parents more than anyone could ever know. Diamond knows they are devastated. They don’t care. I call what happened to them at Diamond Resorts elder abuse and false and unjust enrichment because my parents received no benefit from this transaction. In laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust and unfit…where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipient to make restitution, subject to defences. Liability for an unjust (or unjustified) enrichment arises irrespective of wrongdoing on the part of the recipient.

The concept of unjust enrichment can be traced to Roman Law and the maxim that “no one should be benefited at another’s expense” : “nemo locupletari potest aliena iactura or nemo locupletari debet cum aliena iactura.” This has been my motto!

At Diamond Resorts, the consumer is blamed because you signed a contract. Never mind the contract was signed after 11 hours of hard sell, unable to read the contract, relying on the ethics of a timeshare sales agent. They don’t understand rescission periods or cooling-off periods.   

We owned two Gold Key deeded weeks prior to Diamond’s acquisition of Gold Key! Diamond’s Mystic Dunes Resort sales agent Dawson Allen, and Quality Assurance Agent Tim Lima told my parents in June of 2019, that they were required to attend a meeting, or they would be fined $400 !! They are elderly and trusting, they cannot afford this unexpected news, so they agreed to attend the “update” to avoid the fine. They had no obligation to attend this meeting. 

During the meeting, Dawson and Tim told my parents it was necessary to give up their Gold Key deeds in order to protect themselves and their children from dire financial consequences. If they didn’t, their maintenance fees would increase by thousands of dollars over the years and could put my parents in a position of bankruptcy because they could be one of the last deed-holders standing. They could end up solely responsible for building repairs if a hurricane came through… looking at a 5 or 6 figure liability! That’s right, they threatened bankruptcy and a bill in the double or triple-digit thousands. They told them their current deeds were worthless, despite being told the prior year that their deeds were worth $250,000.

The news devastated my parents, feeling as if they could lose their home again and became homeless. THEY WERE PUT IN AN EMOTIONAL STATE. They could not think clearly or logically. They must turn in their deeds and purchase points. On top of it, they were promised they could use points to pay fees, they could sell points for profit, Diamond would buy the points back, blah blah blah. 

My parents cannot see well. The agent read the contract, stopping off and on, to explain “how this really works” or “this is the way it really is,” pointing to information missing from the actual contract. My parents had informed the agents they could not afford to do anything right now, and the decision would have to wait until the following year. NOTHING was to take place until they could attempt to get their finances in order. This was June of 2019. 

My parents said they had no food, water or medications for over 11 hours. They were exhausted and eager to have permission to leave. FINALLY, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel and started to perk back up, happy to finally be released. They were informed they would be recorded. They did not want to sound sad, embarrassed, and stupid to the general public. They made sure they “looked good on TV” as one would put it. They had not yet given Diamond any form of payment and they had not yet filled out any applications. They signed paperwork to acknowledge they had attended the meeting so as to not be fined $400 and were finally released with the notion they had a plan and that this was something that will need to be addressed in the following year.

My parents had no idea that Diamond had charged a down payment onto a Barclay Bankcard, and then later received a few bills due immediately. Remember when they said they would be avoiding high maintenance fee increases? Their maintenance fees jumped from $2200 to almost $6000 immediately! They now hold 78,450 points. How is this not enough?

We owned TWO Gold Key deeded weeks, both 3 bedroom condos with a lockout. We NEVER had a problem going on vacation or exchanging. Now all of a sudden it wasn’t enough? My parents have no intention of travelling anywhere in the future EXCEPT to go to the same spot they’ve always gone in Virginia Beach. Now that Diamond has their Gold Key Deeds, they are unable to return to their home resort during their previously guaranteed week. Nothing they search for is ever available for exchange.

I recently found our “QA” agent has an extensive criminal record, complete with a four-year jail term, with multiple felonies ranging from theft, burglary, domestic violence, and traffic criminal charges. Tell me WHY this person is allowed to work in Trading and Money Lending????? As a QA agent?

The timeshare lobby ARDA has a Code of Ethics? Diamond has a representative on ARDA’s board.  

Link to ARDA Code of Ethics see Frequently asked questions: Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

https://www.arda.org/about-us/code-ethics#:~:text=ARDA%20and%20its%20members%20are%20committed%20to%20ethical%20behavior%20in,with%20integrity%2C%20dignity%20and%20propriety.&text=ARDA%20does%20not%20mediate%20or,consumers%20and%20ARDA%20member%20companies.

In all the years of doing this work, Inside Timeshare has never come across a story as devastating as this, in our opinion this behaviour is not just against all moral codes and ethics, it is downright criminal. If this story doesn’t show that there is a great need for change in how these timeshare agents are allowed to operate we are unfortunately going to see many more of these in the future.

If you have a similar story and would like to share it with others please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

TARDA: Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability

Back in October 2019, Inside Timeshare published the following story of a new organisation for timeshare owners in the US. Due to the number of emails being received by many US timeshare owners, Inside Timeshare decided the time was right to republish for your information. This was one of the last articles to be published by Irene Parker for Inside Timeshare.

Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc.

https://tarda.org/

We are an organization servicing North America timeshare buyers, prospective buyers, or those interested in timeshare reform. North America includes Canada and several other countries

https://www.countries-ofthe-world.com/countries-of-north-america.html

October 15, 2019

By Irene Parker

Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc is a 501c4 nonprofit incorporated in Delaware and domiciled in Washington D.C. Our mission:

We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

If you are a timeshare member, owner, prospective buyer, or just someone interested in seeing an improvement in timeshare sales and marketing practices, join TARDA today to join your voice with ours. Your donation of $10 or more will automatically enroll you as a member of TARDA. A complete explanation of TARDA can be found on our website linked above.

The time has come to have the timeshare consumer’s voice speak for the timeshare consumer, as opposed to timeshare executives speaking to lawmakers on our behalf. We know there are millions who use and enjoy their timeshare weeks or points, but we also know thousands have reported how they have been harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales and marketing practices.

Our initial legislative goal is twofold:

  • Allow the timeshare buyer 24 hours to consider their decision to buy a timeshare product 
  • If the signing session is recorded, allow the buyer the opportunity to record the sales session

By their own admission, in testimony provided at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), acknowledged in their statistics that reports of verbal representations are dismissed.

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.   

What is a 501c4?

Nonprofit organizations typically classified under 501c4 include:

  • Volunteer fire departments
  • Civil leagues
  • And other groups that promote social well-being

Restrictions of a 501c4

Similar to a 501c3, no profits of the 501c4 can be used to directly benefit any of its individuals. The 501c4 organization cannot stand in support of or against any politician, whether done indirectly or directly.

However, the 501c4 is allowed to partake in minimal political activity, but those activities cannot become the focus of the organization. Also, when engaging in political activities, the 501c4 risks that any expenses incurred may be taxed.

Lobbying is allowed only for the sake of achieving its social well-being goal. If the 501c4 engages in lobbying, it may have to disclose how much of its members’ dues are going toward lobbying. https://www.upcounsel.com/501c3-vs-501c4

Hundreds of timeshare member complaints have been sent to the timeshare lobby ARDA and to ARDA-ROC, a political action committee. Complaints have been ignored. ARDA-ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics.     

Not one in over 1,000 timeshare members have been able to tell me what ARDA even stands for, yet ARDA ROC collects approximately $5 million a year in “voluntary” donations. At some resorts contributions are opt-out. When I attempted to opt-out my $7, the $7 was moved to another account and reported as delinquency. It took a while on hold until the matter could be researched and resolved. ARDA and ARDA ROC’s boards consist of timeshare executives with one exception. There are no timeshare owners on the board.   

https://www.arda.org/arda/government-affairs/default.aspx?id=1156&libID=1176

Why ARDA does not represent the voice of the timeshare consumer

  •  As described in the RedWeek article linked below, ARDA proposed and passed legislation in Florida in 2015 that makes it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts due to non-material errors.
  •  In Arizona ARDA vigorously argued against offering the timeshare buyer a 24 hour “cooling off” period before signing a perpetual contract that likely has no secondary market. Shorter-term products have been developed, but even a ten-year product can wreak financial havoc. Clearly, any organization arguing against a 24 hour cooling off period is not on the side of the consumer. 

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solvedDaily I receive requests from timeshare buyers seeking release. They do not know where to turn. Many are seniors who would never find their way to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. Most have owned their timeshare for 10 to 30 years, rarely used it, and have been paying maintenance fees for decades. An out of touch quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:

But the bottom line said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.

According to an Arizona Senator who supported ARDA’s defeat of a pro-consumer bill that would have allowed 24 hours to consider a timeshare purchase:

“These people are adults. There was a meeting of the minds and they signed a contract. They should take responsibility.”

The first timeshare complaint I read on Tripadvisor in 2016 is reflective of the over 1,000 complaints received, one of the adults who “did not bother to understand the nature of the deal.” Since this complaint, I have heard from more than 1,000 others. 

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

Member-sponsored timeshare resources:https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you Irene, Inside Timeshare wishes TARDA all the best in their endeavours and hopes that the industry does take notice and change its ways. If they do not, then they will end up just like the dinosaurs,

EXTINCT!