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Azure Resorts

Azure X & XP: What is it?

Azure Resorts is yet another of the infamous late Bob Trotta companies under the umbrella of Limora Group. The products sold were the same as those peddled by their sister company in Tenerife, Silverpoint. They operate out of the Golden Sands Resort in Malta and as we reported some time ago they laid off around 70 staff from their sales team. Since then they have launched new products Azure X and Azure XP. So what are these products?

Azure X is a new kind of membership product which uses a “digital leisure currency” called XP, this “currency” can according to Azure be used across all the leisure products offered by Azure. This according to Azure means that members do not have to purchase into each new product that they come up with.

They way they explain it is that weeks from any time of year or even accommodation units can be used across all the classes of their membership. In theory, this gives members access to boats, cars, motorhomes, lodges, cruising and hotels from their “ever-expanding portfolio”.

The duration of membership is 25 to 30 years, yet they claim it is also flexible. Apparently, members who decide to use more XP each year, the membership can be accelerated with the duration and end date being brought forward. They also claim that with Azure X you are in control. The question here is what about availability?

They also claim that members of other products who are happy with what they already have need not acquire Azure X membership. This product was not available to upgrade by members of other products without payment, yet they will accept trade-ins of previous products purchased as part payment.

Over the years we have seen many products similar to this such as Leisure Credits, Monster Credits and of course the original points systems, all have promised so much yet, in reality, they do not deliver on those promises.

As with all these “club memberships,” availability will always be a problem, there will always be more members than what is available on the inventory. To give an example, a resort using the traditional timeshare concept of fixed weeks and apartments, the resort is only able to sell 51 weeks in each apartment, once these are sold that is it, no more new members. By changing to these “virtual currency” systems they can increase their membership base. This is where we end up with that old scenario of “no availability”.

Azure are also still offering other products alongside Azure X & XP membership, these include timeshare weeks, fractional yacht ownership (Silverpoint also sold this product in Tenerife), UK lodges and UK lodges freehold. The last two we have seen as the Excel Lodges Participation Scheme which is very similar to the Company Participation Scheme sold by Silverpoint.

As with all these types of products, there will also be an annual cost, the dreaded maintenance fees, yet Azure does not mention this in their X magazine called WOW Living, which is sent out to all members.

As always, it will be some time before “members” realise they have not purchased what they were promised, then it will be too late!

If you have purchased Azure X or XP Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you and your experiences, use our contact page and get in touch.

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday and time for another Letter from America, this week another new contributor Elaine L, in her Open Letter to many heads of the timeshare industry explains her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. But first some news from Europe.

Yesterday we published the article on SilverpointsCompany Participations” scheme and the fact that they admitted in court that it is indeed timeshare, just after we published we had some more news regarding Silverpoint.

In a case that was won recently the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have had success in securing another “Cash Embargo” against this company, also securing the payout to a German client. This happy client has now received the grand sum of 57,239.67€, which is 15,292€ more than they originally paid to Silverpoint for their timeshare.

Once again this is a tremendous blow to a company that has for many years been making millions from unsuspecting clients, the courts are obviously taking a very dim view of these past transgressions.

Inside timeshare has also received information from another reader regarding timeshare presentations, this time Azure Resorts in Malta, incidentally this is another Silverpoint company. This time it is regarding the QA sessions or what is commonly known in Europe as “button up”. It is the stage where the contracts are gone through with the client and explained.

Apparently these sessions are now being recorded, our reader explained that the person conducting the QA or button up re-words what the sales rep has told the client, such as the timeshare will go up in value and that they can sell it on if they no longer want it. The QA staff explain that they cannot guarantee increase in value or future sale, that is down to market forces. Again this is another attempt to secure the sale and negate any future litigation and complaints.

It must also be remembered that the person conducting these sessions is usually also on a commission for the completion, so it is in their best interest to ensure that the client does sign.

So now on with this weeks Letter from America.

An Open Letter to:

Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO,

Robert Clements, ARDA lobbyist and Attorney

Gary Stein, head of Apollo Corporate Communications

Charles Zehren, Apollo Investor Relations

By Elaine L, #83 in our list of veterans, active duty service members, Department of Defense workers who feel we experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices

November 30, 2017

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. Just about anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points, and for those of us with Top Security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy because we believed a timeshare sales agent. When the timeshare sales agent suffers no consequences, the sales agent has been given the green light to sell by any means knowing all complaints are answered in favor of the sales agent.  

 The public needs to know their complaint will fall on deaf ears before buying a timeshare. No matter what the sales agents said, and with little to no enforcement, the buyer will be held responsible for the contract. Diamond should want the public to know this.

According to Social Media reports, the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) also  dismisses complaints with, “You have no proof,” so there is nothing to stop a sales agent from making up reasons existing member need to buy additional points.

Our complaint:

Ages 50 and 49 respectively

I have a Top Secret security clearance

October 13, 2018 complaint

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling the Diamond/ Sunterra timeshare we already owned. We had tried unsuccessfully to sell our timeshare.  We made it clear that our interest was to sell all our interest in Diamond/Sunterra points.

Davia told us that there was no way to sell the Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” Diamond benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” with the promise of being able to sell the timeshare easier.

She said that the points we owned from our original timeshare were worthless and that we needed to upgrade to a “Full Club Member” to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.”  We were quoted a unit price of $8 per unit. We feel that not disclosing that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.

Davia showed us Timeshareangels.com (a site selling Wyndham Resorts points and timeshares) – she told us she is also a Wyndham timeshare sales agent and said that people were selling points (units) for $4-$6 per unit. Davia showed us examples of listings for Wyndham timeshares. It has been widely reported Diamond points are worthless.    

Davia also said that she would show us how we could make money off our timeshare, if we bought into Diamond’s “Full Club Member” status. Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell because the value of the timeshare would increase. She also told us that she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Given Davia told us to wait six months before trying to sell, it was too late to rescind the purchase agreement. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Other claims Davia made:

  1. Our management fees would be locked in as “Full Club Members” so maintenance fees would no longer increase,
  2. The value of the timeshare would appreciate over time because of the affiliation Diamond now has with the Apollo Group. Due to the affiliation with Apollo, Davia said we could recoup our cash outlay and the value of the timeshare would continue to increase over time. Davia said the Apollo Group paid way too much for Diamond so were eager to recoup some of the losses.
  3. We could make our points earn money by selling them – she said we could sell our points for more than the $8/point we were paying.

We did not want to buy more points. We only bought points so we could sell them.

3500 points purchased at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas December 17, 2017

Purchase Price: $15,375

Barclays Credit Card opened and charged $14,000

I have filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I will also be writing to Maureen Farrell at the Wall Street Journal, who wrote of Diamond’s upcoming $4 billion IPO. Wall Street needs to hear our side.

Our original complaint sent March 1, 2018 was ignored. Davia used information asymmetry to make money off people in my position. My job and career are at stake due to her charade due to my top security clearance.   

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance against us. The “Hospitality” agent said my husband had asked two questions. The questions were about an assessment fee and how long is escrow. How could we ask questions about the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?

The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. Several members have reported the QA recording has been used against them. I would like to know if the QA person is penalized financially if a sale doesn’t go through. Diamond does not allow the recording of the sales presentation. For us, there was no Diamond CLARITY promise of RESPECT for the customer, clear, concise, accountable and transparent information.

I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page:

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

If a sales agent can say anything to sell points, and the company response is that you signed a contract, then the public must be warned that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. There are over 2100 members on our member sponsored Facebook page.     

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

Thank you to Elaine for your contribution this week, we are sure it will be recognised by many of our readers, we can only hope that all those it is addressed to actually take notice, somehow I very much doubt it.

If you have had any experience such as those we publish, or have been contacted by any company telling you they can “exit” you from your timeshare or even get you “compensation”, use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will point you in the best direction and save you a lot of your hard earned cash.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” and all the other scams that are out there.

Press Release from CLA, Plus a Quick Look at the Biggest Timeshare Fraud in History

As August is very much the summer holiday month, there is not a lot of news from the courts in Spain, but it is a month when some of the new names and old ones will be making a comeback on the scam front. We will be keeping a watch on these and will start reporting them as and when they do become active.

Following on from Start the Week on Monday, we reported the news from the Royal Courts of Justice regarding the case of the Financial Conduct Authority and the validation order issued to Barclay Partner Finance:

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-13/

We have been given the following press release from Canarian Legal Alliance.

On 19 June 2018, a representative from Canarian Legal Alliance attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Upper Tribunal, Tax and Chancery Division, to represent the interests of one of our clients.

These clients had been sold timeshare in Malta by Azure Resorts and were financed by loan agreements with Barclay Partner Finance. It transpires that these loan agreements were brokered by an unauthorised agent Azure Services Ltd. As such these agreements breached the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

This affected 1,444 credit agreements with a total value of £47 million, in the period between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016.

This made the agreements unenforceable, which entitled the borrowers to recover their money and have the agreements cancelled. Therefore BPF applied to the Financial Conduct Authority in May 2017 to have a validation order issued to rectify this. The FCA on the evidence and information at the time issued the order to validate the loan agreements in February 2018.

This validation would then entitle BPF to retain money paid to them under the agreements, also allowing BPF to enforce payments by any consumer who defaulted.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement, in his ruling he stated the FCA should re-examine the original order and take into account “client detriment”, a factor which the FCA had not considered in the original order.

In the case of our client, this “client detriment” is very clear, they were mislead into purchasing the timeshare as an investment with the promise of income rental and then resale, which never materialised. They were pressured into signing the loan agreement after hours of high pressure timeshare sales tactics, even though our client explained they could ill afford the timeshare.

They were not explained the terms and conditions of the agreement or the full extent of the cost, the product they were purchasing was not suitable for their needs and would not fulfill the promises given. They were also mislead as to the length of the loan agreement, being 2 years and not 15 years which it turned out to be.

There were no proper credit checks made with regards to affordability or the ability to afford the repayments, they were not asked to provide any proof of income (bearing in mind they were both in their 70’s and on pensions), or any proof of outgoings.

Once the validation order is overturned by the FCA, this will leave our client able to recover all money paid to BPF and have the loan agreement declared null and void.

This ruling may also have an effect on loan agreement for timeshares purchased via loans even by an authorised broker. As a law firm we have many clients who have gone through the same process, lengthy presentations, high pressure sales and no proper checks regarding the ability to afford the repayments. We believe this may give clients an avenue to have these agreements cancelled and be reimbursed the money paid.

Canarian Legal Alliance

Our thanks to CLA for that information, now a quick look at an old story which was prompted by an item on ITV News, this was an interview by the wife of John “Goldfinger” Palmer who was shot and killed at his Essex home in June 2015.

In the interview she expressed her disbelief at the inability of Essex Police to find her husband’s killer, which the police believe was a professional hit. She also claimed she felt “sorry” for those who lost thousands in the timeshare scam. This is after she started the interview with “It was a wonderful Lifestyle” and “We had everything we possibly could want”. On whose money is the question?

The timeshare scam involved 17,000 victims and was worth over £100 million, it revolved around the multiple selling of timeshare units, resorts that had not been built or ever going to be built and ones without any planning permission.

It has been regarded as the biggest timeshare fraud in history.

Palmer was eventually jailed for 8 years in 2001 in the UK after being convicted for timeshare fraud. He was also ordered to repay around £33 million to his victims, but as the Crown Prosecution Service bungled the paperwork this order was overturned to the consternation of the police. He was released in 2005 and returned to Tenerife.

He was eventually arrested on the runway and bundled into a military transport and taken to Madrid to await trial by the Spanish authorities, he spent 2 years in jail and was then released on bail returning to the UK. The rest as they say is history.

Click on the link below to see the interview and the second link which is a report by Roger Cook made around 2 years ago on the full story of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, from his involvement in the Brinks Mat bullion robbery through to his timeshare frauds.

https://www.facebook.com/ITVWestcountry/videos/2076879189011352/

Join us tomorrow for our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker reports on the Whistleblowers Summit which she attended in Washington DC in July, you will certainly find it a revelation.

 

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