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Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

The Friday Letter from America

Back in January, Inside Timeshare published Irene Parker’s article Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump, This was at the time of the now President Trump’s inauguration. In the introduction, we broke the news to our US readers of the plans  Mr Trump had going through planning in Scotland, for a second golf course and the increase in the number of timeshare apartments.

This apparently came as a big surprise to our American readers, it would seem they had no idea that he was also involved in “timeshare”.

Below are three links to two major UK daily newspapers, the last link is around 9 months old, but shows the opposition that Mr, now President Trump faced from local people. In this particular article is the story of a quarryman who refused to sell his home to Trump, who described him as a “disgrace” for not wanting to sell him his “pigsty of a home”. I don’t know about you, but in the UK and especially in Scotland that type of remark about someone’s home is a total insult.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-organization-golf-links-resort-scotland-aberdeen-conflict-interest-a7534596.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/planners-reject-donald-trump-revised-plans-scottish-golf-resort#img-1

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/23/donald-trump-faces-wall-of-opposition-as-he-returns-to-scotland

Now to Irene’s article.

What is ARDA-ROC Doing Today? An Analysis

By Irene Parker – March 24, 2017

torch

After reading the March article “What is ARDA-ROC doing today?”

http://resorttrades.com/what-is-arda-roc-doing-today/

It seems a good time to revisit my $7 “voluntary” donation to ARDA-ROC. The word voluntary has a nice ring to it so for years when paying our maintenance fees, if I was asked if I would like to make the voluntary donation to ARDA-ROC, I said, “Sure.” Since then I have learned too much to ever answer in the affirmative again, unless proven wrong.

According to Lisa Ann Schreier, the ARDA board only lists one timeshare owner. Of the 23 board members, included are Frank Goeckel, Diamond Resorts, recently departed with a $2 million handshake and Franz Hanning, departed after the Trish Williams $20 million Wyndham Whistleblower verdict with a $3.4 million handshake.

http://www.ardaroc.org/roc/about/default.aspx?id=1354

Of the $816,068 ARDA made in political contributions, 74% went to Republicans and 26% to democrats. This breakdown was also provided by Lisa Ann Schreier:

https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00358663

Like it or not, timeshare is all about politics. President Trump, or his family, is going into the timeshare business. Pictured to the left of President Elect Trump is long-standing friend David Siegel, owner of Westgate timeshare. Given the current political climate it would not surprise me if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau halted their investigation of Westgate. The CFPB was spearheaded by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. That’s the organization that helped the Wells Fargo victims.

trump
David Siegel seated to the left of Donald Trump

As Charles Thomas of Inside Timeshare previously reported,

“Well it is actually quite simple for those in Scotland, back in 2008 there were some very heated debates over Mr Trump’s plan to build an 18 hole golf course and resort in Balmedie Aberdeenshire. This met with considerable resistance from the local people, but eventually Trump won through.

The original plan was to build a 450-room hotel, a second golf course, 500 luxury homes and 900 timeshare apartments along with a second 18 hole golf course. In a recent article in The Guardian newspaper these plans now intend to double the number of homes and timeshare apartments”

Whether you are or were for or against now President Trump, it is clear he is on the side of the timeshare developer which has become a battlefield pitting owners against developers.

Now to our main attraction:

What is ARD-ROC doing today?

A breakdown for soundbite reading and request for more information:

In a perfect world the only thing ARDA-ROC would be doing today would be writing checks, sitting back and relaxing. But, it’s not a perfect world and so a typical day for Chairman Ken McKelvey goes something like this:

ken McKelvey
Ken McKelvey

It is a Thursday and McKelvey started his day discussing a new wrinkle in the South Carolina transfer legislation that ARDA-ROC has been proposing.

I believe this is South Carolina House Bill 3647 tightening the language of timeshare transfers. In our last article we reported how the nature of the perpetual contract, rising maintenance fees and little or no secondary market spells a disaster for aging original owners if denied a voluntary surrender.

That was followed by a conference call regarding the proposed United States Virgin Islands timeshare fee.

This does sound like a benefit for owners because an extra $300 slapped onto an exchange seems exorbitant.

The day before was loaded with details regarding a Saint Maarten Parliament Timeshare Ordinance and its potential impact on consumers.I know nothing about the Saint Maarteen Parliament Timeshare Ordinance but it sounds ominous.

Along with a final draft of legislature in Florida regarding the sunset clause to help legacy properties gain reasonable voting requirements to extend into the timeshare agreements into the future. Whew.

This is Florida House Bill 818 concerning a reset to continue beyond the sunset provision.

And he’s just a volunteer who is happy it is not Monday.

The ongoing operations of ARDA-ROC is both reactive and proactive; on one hand they react to any proposed legislature, dealing with real estate or tourism proposed laws that have any tentacles that could possibly affect timeshare and on the other hand they write and lobby for legislature that could help timeshare owners.

This lobby effort sparked outrage among owner advocates. Did my $7 go to this effort?

“The bills (House Bill 453 and Senate Bill 932) have been sponsored by two politicians from Central Florida — deep in the heart of time-share country: Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

Both politicians have received money from time-share interests — an industry that showers cash on Florida politicians and committees, including $300,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $150,000 to the Democrats,” reported Scott Maxwell for the Orlando Sentinel.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-timeshare-tactics-scott-maxwell-20150411-column.html

Throughout the year, ARDA-ROC has lobbyists on retainer in up to 25 states, and territories, and who according to McKelvey “we HOPE the only thing we ever hear from them is an invoice.”

These lobbyists monitor and pick through every piece of proposed legislature with a fine tooth comb, seeking things that are rarely specifically spelled out to say timeshare, but could be interpreted to have grand impact on it.

This from Advocate Michael Kosor:

The “fine tune comb” can be seen in the Nevada State Bill 195 that would have allowed an Association Board to terminate its management contract (the most important and costly agreement a board oversees), issued to them by the developer, without obtaining a majority owner vote – an impossible effort. ARDA-ROC identified the change and successfully lobbied to have it removed.  This was clearly an owner friendly provision the industry did not support.  Lobbyists (of ARDA and ARDA ROC, they use the terms loosely and interchangeably) suggested (vaguely and without discussion despite being an absurd assertion) the original language was “intended to protect timeshare owners” and should not be changed.

Keep Reading

My Thoughts Today: End of January

We began January with an update on “bogus” law firms Litigious Abogados and Litigar Abogados, with the addition of a third firm called Abogacia Española, with the founder being Fernando Holaci. All three websites are the same except for minor alterations such as colour and the names of the founder and the lawyers.

The method of enticing timeshare owners to pay is also very sophisticated, with fake court documents, copies of compensation cheques and official looking documents from the so-called Procurator, Davido Harstun Jaime.

LIT

They begin by sending or calling prospective clients about the court case they are about to conduct against their timeshare company, that they are eligible to participate. In order to be registered on the coming court case, a sum of around 1,500€ is required. This has to be paid quickly as the case is due to be heard within the month.

Once this sum is paid, the client receives another email with the fantastic news that their case has been won, with the court awarding many thousands back to them. All this is done within weeks, a feat not seen in a Spanish court or any other court for that matter. Now comes the main part of the “sting”, in order to get this sum paid out court taxes etc need to be paid first, the amount varies from client to client depending on the court award. But they are in the region of £4000 to £8000. For further information see the link below or search Litigious Abogados in the search area for all the posts.

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

Inside Timeshare with Irene, also broke the news of a settlement between the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Diamond for $800,000 which revolved around “Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations”. This is a story that we have been following all month. (see following articles).

arizona-ag-seal

After the “Breaking News” of the settlement, a joint article by Charles and Irene on the role and use of OPC´s in the timeshare sales cycle. It began with an outline on what regulations various countries in Europe have on controlling how these “scratchcard touts” operate. Going on to explain how they work in the US, with Irene laying out the information they are after. She also spoke about an OPC that she knows personally. It was an insight into how you ended up on the presentation.

This was followed by more Litigious Abogados updates and the article “Thinking of Buying a Timeshare”. It was closely related to the previous article on OPC´s as it explained how the scratchcards work, then going on to ask “Is it worth buying one”?

It came to the conclusion that it depends on what you are after, it also weighed up whether to buy from the developer or a resale. There was also a link to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group, who also gave some very sound advice.

Again we went across The Great Lake for more news from the US,

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

In this article Irene gave her analysis of the importance of the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond. Irene told the story of the nightmare suffered by Irina Allen and her purchases, along with the fact she had her membership suspended on false allegations of being a “mega renter” with an AirBnB account. She had even been advised by a sales rep to buy more points as renting will help pay the maintenance.

Another article we published was on the subject of plagiarism, this was prompted by posts appearing on the TCA website which more than resembled articles written by myself and Irene. Any author will recognise their own writing style and use of words. Especially as the grammar used by the TCA writers is to say the least very poor.

But, the main point was the use of information not just from Inside Timeshare but also from Canarian Legal Alliance. In all the posts on the TCA site, no mention or accreditation to where  this information had come from. It all appeared  the TCA was taking credit for the information and the Supreme Court victories achieved by CLA. Whenever Inside Timeshare publishes any article that uses information or news from another source, that source is always credited for it. That is the basic rule of any journalist or writer.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tca-using-others-work/

plagiarism

The next article on US timeshare had a very happy ending, back in November Irene explained that Wyndham had launched “The Ovation” surrender programme. After receiving this news Inside Timeshare contacted one of our readers, Steve, who owned at Wyndham. Due to his personal circumstances he wanted to surrender his ownership, he did not have a claim, so relinquishment was the only option.

It was explained to Steve about the Ovation news and he duly contacted them to surrender his ownership. Within two months he got the news that they had indeed accepted his surrender request. Since then Diamond have also accepted the surrender of his European membership, although due to his statement of events at the point of sale, Diamond are investigating and we hope to report on that in the near future.

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndhams-ovation-surrender-program-latest-news/

On the day President Trump was inaugurated Inside Timeshare along with Irene published the question “Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump”. The article explained how the business and politics are linked, including the role of the “lobbyist”.

This was a subject being asked by many owners of timeshare in the US and only time will tell what effect his presidency will have on them.

http://insidetimeshare.com/attorneys-general-timeshare-trump/

In the article “And So it Begins”, it followed Irene being banned from the Diamond Resorts International Members facebook page. The reason, a few thought her posts and links to our articles were political, Inside Timeshare posed the question “what is not political nowadays”?

The real reason of her ban is simple, she asks questions about Diamond, she writes about Diamond, she questions Diamond, she questions the practices of the sales reps, but she also has dialogue with Diamond. She brings to their attention the concerns of thousands of members, she has also had statements from senior Diamond employees which she has used in her articles.

In her following article she called for advocacy in timeshare, highlighting Diamond creating an Advocacy Department, even contacting Maya Pogoda, Diamonds Public Relations Representative, who is also helping to launch the Diamond Advocacy and Clarity programme. But to some on the facebook page she was attacking Diamond, when in reality she and Inside Timeshare are calling for dialogue. Yes we do highlight the ugly, but we also highlight the good.

In another twist to this tale, two more people have been banned from this group, the reason? They have been highlighted in articles by Irene and published on Inside Timeshare, They are Irina Allen and the Saldana family. Do those calling for a ban who are the administrators believe in two sides to a story or are they only interested in promoting their own ego´s, one openly boasts how he owns so many points yet has never actually paid for them, one wonders how he got them? You know who you are and Inside Timeshare awaits your response.

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

CLA Logo

Back to Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been hitting the news again, published on the 26 January, was the news of two Supreme Court rulings against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. In the first judgement the court announced that the Club Paradiso product was indeed timeshare and fell under the relevant laws, they also concluded that the client in this case was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint claimed. This has significant implications for other “Club” schemes operated by other companies.

This case was picked up by The Northern Echo follow the link:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2

Within days there were another two verdicts delivered by the highest court in Spain, again against Silverpoint. In the fourth ruling, the court reiterated the earlier verdict that the “Club” scheme was timeshare, this was in relation to Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation package. Now if memory serves me correctly the second ruling on “Club” schemes now puts that into jurisprudence.

 

In the last article this month, Irene gave her views on Diamond’s Clarity programme, she had an interview with Maya Pogoda the Diamond PR and also had comments from Executive Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Flaskey. Now if this isn’t creating a dialogue, well I don’t know what is!

This will be followed next month by Part II: How Owners Feel About Clarity.

We have also been informed of a major news item that is just breaking, we hope to have an article on this tomorrow, Irene is busy on it now. But we must remember she is several hours behind us, so watch this space.

Inside Timeshare publishes these articles to keep you informed of the latest news, developments and views in the world of timeshare. Much of it you would never hear about, especially as many forums will remove posts the administrators don’t like. We will continue to publish even if it is controversial, that is what we believe in, the freedom to question, criticise and comment.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to articles this month, either through information or comments, without you the stories would not be there.

great quote