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CLA

Best Wishes on July 4th

Today is a very important day for our friends Across The Great Lake, July 4th, is Independence Day.

So Inside Timeshare (Europe) would like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends and contributors a very happy 4th July, we shall certainly be cracking open a bottle to help you celebrate.

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Yesterday, the week started off with another court in Tenerife finding against Resort Properties / Silverpoint, with the Court of First Instance declaring the contract null & void. In this case the CLA clients will receive back 23,150€, in this instance that is 7,000€ more than they originally paid. The infractions for this case are the contract being a perpetuity one, deposits taken on the day of signing and the lack of information required by law.

It is clear that the courts in Spain are enforcing the timeshare laws, as laid down and clarified by the Supreme Court. We are seeing more and more cases with some very large payouts, often more than the client originally paid, showing the courts will penalise resorts and their sales departments for infractions of the law. The most common ones are the taking of deposits within the 14 day cooling off period, even by a third party, which the courts are awarding double. In some cases this period is increased to 90 days if there is a lack of information required by law, which would then allow the courts to award double any payment made in this period.

Unfortunately, due to these rulings there are many companies springing up purporting to be law firms, stating they have won so many cases. Many are offering a no win no fee case, then need to have a substantial payment upfront to start the case. If contacted by one of these companies, check how long they have been in operation, check the dates of company registration (if any) and the date of any website registration. Remember many of these court cases have taken 3 years or more to go through, as they have been subject to appeals at the High Court or sent to the Supreme Court, so any company that has only just “popped up” could not have had these successes.

icalp coat of arms

Check who the lawyers are, what their Bar Registration numbers are, you can check these through the Spanish Bar Association Register. We are also seeing fake court documents, these can be verified with courts themselves, if you are in doubt contact Inside Timeshare and we can check them for you.

Another aspect to many claims companies and the no win no fee claims, is that they will need to “relinquish” your membership first, this is usually for several thousands of pounds. The no win no fee claim is then an attempt to claim under section 75 of the credit consumer act. Now the important thing to remember is if you have used your timeshare, then you have received the goods and services paid for, so there is no claim. The credit consumer act sec 75 does not pay out because the contract is illegal under Spanish law. There is only one way to make a claim and that is using a legitimate law firm with experience in this field and going to litigation.

If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of any company you are dealing with, or the offer sounds too good to be true, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will check them out for you. Remember, better safe than sorry.

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Happy Independence Day and have a great party.

jul4

 

 

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter From America, Irene Parker’s article this week focuses on eleven Platinum Diamond Members who have had problems. But first a round up of the news from Europe.

Once again, those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have made legal history in Spain. Back in March 2015 they secured the first Supreme Court ruling against the timeshare industry, on Tuesday 13 June, they did it again with their 50th ruling from Spain’s highest court. From our sources, no other law firm in any field has managed to get this many rulings through this court. It certainly has shaped the way the timeshare laws are now being applied.

This latest ruling was against Silverpoint in Tenerife, a company with a long history of litigation against them. Since January the Supreme Court has ruled on no less than 10 cases brought by CLA on behalf of their clients.

Yesterday, Thursday 15 June, it was also announced that the Court of First Instance of Granadilla de Abona Tenerife, has ruled against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. The client’s contract was declared null & void and the court ordered the return of over 29,000€ this was because the contract was the Diamond points system.

On Wednesday 14 June we published the Anfi CEO’s letter to members, in his letter he still indicates that the Supreme Court has got the perpetuity contracts decision wrong, he also says that it is not true that Anfi are losing. Well here we go, Wednesday 14 June, the High Court No 3 of Las Palmas once again declared an Anfi contract null & void in respect of the contract being over 50 years in duration (perpetuity) and that it also contained “Floating Weeks”. In this case they have been ordered to pay back over 10,950€

The truth is there and plain to see, it can also be easily verified through the courts themselves. Sounds like the “Fake News” syndrome is catching!

At least in Spain, consumers are getting the protection of the law, maybe our cousins across The Great Lake will take heart, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Now to Irene’s article.

 

Eleven Platinum Diamond Members Cry Foul

Romeo and Lily Dalisay Share their Story

be strong

By Irene Parker

June 16, 2017

It’s not easy to stand up against wealth and power, whether you are a woman accusing a famous comedian, or a former FBI Director accusing the President of the United States. Any timeshare member who has come forward to share their story can relate to the discomfort felt when the decision has been made to stand up publicly for truth and justice.

Inside Timeshare previously published the story of Romeo Dalisay, age 70, and his wife Lily, age 71, a California Filipino family. Romeo is a retired physical therapist and Lily a hand therapist. The family has maintained a good credit score until now, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life.  Mary was working just to pay for their Diamond Resorts loan and annual maintenance fees, but can no longer work due to complications from diabetes.

Romeo and Lilly decided to release their identity after reading Angela Johnson’s Inside Timeshare article. It was also of great comfort to read about the Fournier family and the lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts by attorney Amir Goldstein, as the Fournier family is struggling with the foreclosure process as well.

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

The Dalisay family is one of eleven Platinum Diamond member families that have reached out to Inside Timeshare alleging they were up-sold to a higher loyalty level by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.

Out of the eleven Platinum member complaints, Diamond’s Advocacy Department has resolved three. Three of the eleven complaints involve Diamond’s rental policy change, which states Diamond members can only rent to friends or families. All hold contracts allowing rentals and were sold on the benefits of renting.

philipines flag

The Dalisays are one of four Filipino families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare. Diamond has helped two of the four Filipino families resolve their complaints. The Dalisays first article was translated into Tagalog.

Diamond Resort’s non-deeded vacation points cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, so families find themselves forced to foreclose if they are not eligible for a voluntary surrender due to a loan outstanding. Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with an LTRBA member due to restrictions the company has placed on the use of secondary points the LTRBA members feel are more onerous than other major timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints from Diamond members concerning Diamond’s Polo Towers and Cancun Resorts sales tactics. Of the eleven Platinum members filing complaints, six are from these two resorts. One of the six was up-sold by a Polo Towers sales agent while she was training Diamond’s sales agents in Virginia.

In brief, here is a description provided by nine of the eleven Platinum member complaint allegations that do not concern the rental issue except for Irina. Irina Allen has been accused of renting, although she says she only posted one ad on RedWeek on the advice of her sales agent. There are many Diamond rental ads posted on RedWeek. Irina also alleges she was upsold by deceit. The families are listed only by number.

  • Ka’anapali Hawaii sales center, up-sold from US to Hawaii Collection or there would be no Hawaii availability. Virginia sales center, up-sold to take advantage of a 30 cent maintenance fee reduction program that did not exist, Polo Towers Las Vegas sales center, “should have been invited to a meeting” up-sell from Hawaii to US Collection, or they would regret being Hawaii Collection members.
  • Branson MO up-sold to obtain a survivor release benefit, already available, a Ka’anapali up-sell US to Hawaii claiming only Hawaii points can be rented and only Hawaii members have survivor release options.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell because points will appreciate and buying Legacy points is the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy upsell so they could sell their points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Unresolved Irina Allen up-sold in order to use secondary points, the subject of an upcoming article.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved.
  • A Polo Towers sales agent, working in Virginia to train Virginia sales agents (as she said she helped developed many of Diamond’s policies), a Hawaii to US upsell or there would be no US availability. US to Hawaii upsell or there would be no Hawaii availability and renting Hawaii points is allowed only in Hawaii to cover maintenance fees.
  • Romeo and Lily Dalisay described herein.

Back to Romeo and Lily’s story in their own words

The Dalisays are former Monarch owners. Convinced to give up their Monarch deed, they currently own 60,000 Diamond points. The mortgage balance is $85,968 financed by Diamond at 13.1% and the monthly payments are $1,375. Maintenance Fees for 2017 are $9,034. Historically, according to information culled from lawsuits, Diamond points have sold for $3 to $4 a point, so the Dalisays have spent at least $200,000 on vacation points.

Many Monarch owners at all loyalty levels have contacted Inside Timeshare alleging deception, claiming they were told they had to buy additional points due to Monarch’s bankruptcy as they were responsible for their share of Monarch’s debt, when in fact many Monarch owners were able to deed back their Monarch week for a $250 fee.

In Romeo’s and Lily’s words

In Las Vegas at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in 2013, we were told we should have received an invitation to attend a dinner to discuss the transition from Monarch Grand Vacations to Diamond.

“You should have been invited to a dinner” is being used today on Gold Key and Intrawest owners. It seems designed to confuse.

The sales agent asked us to write a letter stating we did not receive the dinner invitation and therefore should be given the same price per point as those who attended the dinner. He faxed our letter to a Las Vegas Diamond office. We were told that due to Monarch’s bankruptcy we would lose our equity if we did not purchase additional Diamond points. The promised one hour meeting lasted five hours. We eventually broke and signed a contract to buy more points.

We constantly received telephone calls asking us to attend more updates. We generally turn them down, but accepted an offer from Diamond’s Cancun Resort. A previous telephone sales encounter from Cancun lasted over three hours.

In Pomona, California July 2015 at another meeting, we again were told we had to get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch.

This is a difficult topic and one of great interest to Intrawest and Gold Key owners as well because it is unclear how diminishing numbers of deeded members will be treated. At a 2016 Monarch Annual Meeting it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners had not paid their 2016 Maintenance Fees.

The Pomona sales representative said that if we keep our Monarch deed, we will be assessed increased maintenance fees to pay for the repair of the Cabo property caused by a hurricane. Another example he gave was the water damage at The Point at Poipu, a Diamond acquired property in Hawaii.

This meeting lasted over five hours until midnight. Focus, decision making ability, and judgement falter if kept that long. The increase in maintenance fees after this purchase started our financial struggles.

A total of four credit card accounts were opened to pay the down payment.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-finance-barclays-hot-water-high-court/

In 2016, we took out loans to pay our maintenance fees. We also used points to pay maintenance fees, but a point purchased for around $4 is only worth $.04 if used to pay maintenance fees.

stick men

Many of the tricks of the timeshare trade, like promising a buy-back program when none exists, are not unique to Diamond. What is unique is an organized effort among 5,000 Diamond member supported Websites and Facebook members determined to report deception when it occurs by obtaining the sales agent’s name and ID number, the resort location, and date and nature of alleged deceit. In other words, we act to hold Diamond accountable when members feel “the script” is nowhere to be found.

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

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

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

We hope the goals of accountability and transparency promoted by Diamond’s new CLARITY™ program are acted on and enforced as we work in partnership to make sure they are.

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. It is our hope that one day timeshare developers will not look upon customers such as those described in this article as “the enemy”. Those mentioned in this article with issues resolved issues were initially denied and had to fight for a positive outcome. We teach our children to admit when they make a mistake, but grown-ups working in the corporate liability world must abandon this important principle in order to survive in a sometimes customer unfriendly world.

truth set you free

So there we have it another week over in the murky world of timeshare, thanks to all those who contribute, either by writing their stories or just giving us the heads up on the latest news. The truth is out there as Mulder and Scully from the X-Files would say, it is just a matter of who you wish to believe, those who sold it to you or independent sources?

friday dog

Have a good weekend.

stop press

Just as we were about to publish this news came in from the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, (Diamond Resorts Management Ltd), Club Sunterra Europe Ltd,(Sunterra Europe Ltd) Diamond Resorts International have just been ordered to return over 33,451€, with the client’s contract being declared null & void.

Diamond in the News Again.

Yesterday 23 May 2017, Canarian Legal Alliance announced another sentence passed from the Courts in Tenerife. The company in this instance is Diamond Resorts Tenerife SL, which was the sales company selling Diamond products in Tenerife.

In this judgement two contracts have been declared null & void, the first was a purchase in 2008 which came under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98. In this case it breached the law regarding the points system, which like floating weeks has no actual object to the contract.

The second contract was signed in 1998, so the timeshare law could not be applied, although the lawyers from CLA asked for the nullity by the civil code for the lack of object of the contract (points system).

There were also other infringements of the law which were:

  • The contract was in perpetuity;
  • There was a lack of information in the contract;
  • The withdrawal period was missing along with various other points.

In this case the client has been awarded over 28,000€ plus legal interest.

PDF of Court Sentence. (click to open)

20170523103054910

Another case they announced on 22 May, was that Holiday Club Finland (based in Gran Canaria) have been ordered to pay back the client over 36,000€ and the contract declared null & void.

Once again the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, followed the Supreme Court rulings that deposits taken with the cooling off period illegal. In this instance the client had paid almost the whole amount within the 14 day period, the court ordered that to compensate the client the company had to pay back double the amount received.

As this article was being prepared, CLA announced another case from the Tenerife Courts, this was against that old adversary Silverpoint.

The judge in this instance found many infringements in the contract contrary to the timeshare law. Again the contract was declared null & void with the return of over 24,000€ plus legal interest.

It would seem that the lower courts are following what the Supreme Court has laid down to the letter and according to our information there are many cases still waiting to be heard.

Inside Timeshare also issues this warning, there are many firms being set up purporting to be lawyers, using these cases as a basis for duping the unsuspecting. Not every owner has a claim, with many of these dubious companies stating that they do, then all you end up doing is paying a fortune only to find the company then disappears.

If you want to know if you do have a legitimate claim contact Inside Timeshare we can check this for you. If you have been contacted by any company saying that you have a claim or that your timeshare company has been taken to court, found guilty and there is money waiting for you, then let us know before paying any money.

Be informed and stay safe, in the end you will save yourself thousands, as we always say:

homework
Now for another article from across the great lake, once again Diamond are in the frame!

Another Polo Towers Diamond Misadventure!

Not Las Vegas Again!

Result

By Neina Orrillo May 26, 2017  

It’s hard to believe a fun trip to Las Vegas can turn into a financial disaster – all over a vacation plan! After reading David Franks article about his plunge into the abyss of an eternal timeshare sales presentation, I decided to tell my story too, hoping to warn others to beware of the bait! When Diamond Resorts says “STAY VACATIONED!” they mean it in a way not expected.

I ended up at Polo Towers in Las Vegas at the presentation because I was using a “Sampler” package I had previously purchased. My niece had a dance competition so we decided to use the timeshare to stay in Vegas with our family. Since the Sampler is a trial presentation I was told I had to attend a sales presentation.

We listened to a vacation plan that was out of this world. It sounded as if it was too good to be true. It was. I fell for it, but I know I am not alone thanks to our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group.

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

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

We signed up and we are living to regret it. Here is what Diamond sales agent, Janine Viraga, told us:

The timeshare would be tax deductible like mortgage interest, and the deal is so great if she wasn’t already an owner she would take the deal she was offering me.

We would receive a “free” trip but it turned out I had to pay $1000 before I could even book the trip!

I should and could easily get a personal loan like a home equity loan to refinance it to reduce the 14% Diamond interest rate.

The interest rate on what Diamond financed would be no higher than 13.99% when it turned out to be 15.99%.

When I said I wanted to take the offer back to my room and think about it, she told me that if I left before buying then she could not offer me the deal I was getting.

Here is what timeshare buyers should know that I didn’t know:

Know your cancellation period. I was never told of the 5 day cancellation policy.

I didn’t have the money for a down payment so she “talked to her manager” who decided they could put the down payment on the Diamond Barclaycard credit card and finance the rest so double interest charges.

Go to complaint sites and Advocacy sites like our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook before you buy to see how many complaints there are relative to other timeshare companies. Most car shoppers and home buyers don’t buy the first car or house they see. They comparison shop.   

Learn about availability issues. I have a hard time using the timeshare because everything is always booked. I am a nurse anesthetist, so I am not retired and cannot travel as spontaneously as someone who is retired.

We ended up buying 7,500 points for $29,305 and the balance on our loan is financed at 15.99%. Through our Advocacy Group I learned Diamond is the only major timeshare company that can’t be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association because the 64 members feel the restrictions Diamond places on the use of points purchased on the secondary market is more restrictive than any of Diamond’s major competitors.

When I contacted Diamond’s Advocacy Department after filing a formal complaint I was told, “Well, you signed the contract.”

I realize now I have joined a growing list of timeshare consumers who know we were sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and “bait and switch”.

It’s time timeshare members organize to stop predatory and aggressive timeshare sales and lending.

My Advice:

Consumers need to do their homework and don’t sign anything on the same day!

Stay Strong!

Bullying

Thank you Neina for your contribution, your voice has been added to all the others.

stop press2

As we were about to publish this last piece of news just arrived.

Following Yesterday’s article on “Clarity”,   one families story that was highlighted by Irene Parker,  has had a successful outcome.

 

Your voices are being heard, some of these companies are taking notice. One voice is never heard, but coming together they get louder and stronger.

To those owners at Los Claveles, take heart from this, your voices will be heard above the lies, deceit and bullying of the Ona Group. You have many supporters, all it takes is them coming together.

together 1

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to our “Friday’s Letter From America”

Following our theme of readers experiences, today David Franks shares his and his wife’s holiday turned into nightmare by a sales presentation. What was supposed to be 90 minutes turned into 5 hours of hell.

As usual we start with a few items from Europe, yesterday we published a rather tongue in cheek article about the court ruling against TATOC, as we said in the article all comments have now been removed from the TATOC Facebook page. This includes the comment about someone meeting Harry Taylor and found him to be a gentleman. It certainly looks like they are on the defensive.

Last week ended with the news after publication of another defeat in the Tenerife courts for Silverpoint.

In this case Court No 3 in Arona found for the British clients of CLA and ruled that the contract did not fulfill the terms of Spanish timeshare law, the court awarded them over 13,000€ and declared the contracts null & void.

The Supreme Court rulings are certainly having an effect on timeshares sold in Spain.

Tauro beach gone

In Gran Canaria, the beach at Tauro, which was the artificial beach being developed by Anfi remains closed to the public, that is not surprising really as much of the sand has been washed away. There was some worry last week as we were expecting some severe storms, these thankfully never came. There have however been reports, though unconfirmed of sightings of scorpions on the remaining sand. One does wonder if it could be true as the sand came from Western Sahara and was untreated.

The investigation into corruption over the project is ongoing along with the investigations of licences and other documents being forged. The former head of the coastal authority is still awaiting trial, we will report on that as we get the news in.

Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails from US owners, these are passed on to Irene Parker, who is better place to deal with them, however we have also been receiving many questions from owners in the UK. These mainly concern calls they have received that say they have a claim, on a “no win no fee” basis. Many of the names are not new to us, and are what can only be described as “dubious”.

In many cases the consumer does not have a valid claim as they did not purchase in Spain. It then turns out that the “claim” is going to be on a section 75 of the credit consumer act, with then a substantial amount to be paid to relinquish / surrender the timeshare. Unfortunately, section 75 is not going to work, the credit card company / provider will rightly state that you purchased ex number of years ago and have used it. Therefore you have received the goods and services paid for, the act does not cover illegal timeshare contracts. So the so-called “no win no fee” claim is just a ploy to get thousands from the owners to just be rid of it.

On this particular theme, Inside Timeshare has saved this week alone several readers from paying anything to the “fake” law firm in Tenerife, the family known as Litigious Abogados and company. At least the news is spreading.

wensley clarkson

A new book is due to be published on 1 June and will be available from Amazon. The book is the story of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, who was implicated in the Brinks Mat bullion robbery but was found not guilty by a jury for smelting it down. It charts his Tenerife Timeshare business in which many people lost thousands of pounds. The author Wensley Clarkson contacted Inside Timeshare after reading a previous article “TIMESHARE” A Dirty Word For Many.” He thought it might be of interest. I will certainly be placing my order.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Killing-Goldfinger-Inside-Story-Britains-Richest-Gangster/1786484862

Now onto our Friday’s Letter from America.

Our Diamond Resorts Misadventures

Aces

Chapter One: Vegas, Baby!

“Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.” François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac

By David Franks

May 19, 2017

My lovely wife and I enjoy Las Vegas. Our last visit, in July 2015, found us at The Golden Nugget. Unfortunately, Diamond Resorts was also there, at the entrance fronting the parking garage. We had seen the two episodes of Undercover Boss featuring Stephen Cloobeck, who had striven to be impressive. We were offered gift cards that seemed ample compensation for the supposed ninety minutes they would commit us to, and we’d get to see what passes for a resort near Las Vegas.

The next day, they shuttled us to Diamond’s Cancun Resort, barely within sight of town. In we went, and into a conference room where we filled out a survey about our travel interests. Then the earnest pitchman told us about the benefits of buying in. He focused on cost control, talking about the exchange value of Diamond points and their supposedly stable cost over time, compared to an inflation rate he pulled out of some warm part of his digestive tract. He said quite a bit about the exchange value of Diamond points, mentioning 30 cents several times. He might have mentioned a 20-cent valuation a couple of times; but apparently he wasn’t interested in promoting the more plebeian levels of membership.

There were a couple of people in the group who claimed to be happy owners of timeshares. As I recall, they were not Diamond members, but I have no evidence that they were shills.

That took about eighty of the ninety minutes.

The targets were then ushered out to a large room with bad lighting and loud music, where we would discuss our most intimate aspirations and financial details at tables separated only by a few feet and loud music – a disoriented slice of vulnerable humanity.

Well, we tried to not be interested. We told the helpful salesperson that our only conceivable interest in Diamond was as a small outlay whose yearly expense would goad us into getting out of the house once a year. We enjoy traveling, but we also enjoy being at home, and we are frugal wherever we are. Economy would be the key.

We explained that we like cruises and train travel, road trips, old motels and roadside attractions, and dining at local restaurants. After a while, the attentive salesperson stopped talking about resorts and started talking instead about how points can be used for all kinds of travel for their exchange value (20- or 30-cent). He talked about how being a member of Diamond Resorts and Interval International made it possible to book any kind of travel, get discounted pricing and pay for it with points. We asked about European river cruises, explaining that we would be interested in a Viking river cruise on the Rhine or the Danube. He said that should not be a problem. We explained that we didn’t want to spend any additional money. He said that should be possible, though we might need to save points so as to use two years’ worth at one time.

A couple of hours later, the solicitous salesperson suggested a tour of the resort. We tried to tell him (again) that it would not be necessary because we have no interest in resorts, but he would have none of it. He was proud of the irresistible pile of faux-Mayan faux stucco, and off we went to the example unit. I explained (again) that I cook at home, and see no need to go on vacation to cook. Back we went to the interrogation room.

Certain that he could pretend to meet our stated expectations, the intrepid salesperson showed us several options for joining, to no avail. After another hour or so, he excused himself for an awkward spell, and then returned with a grizzled veteran of the timeshare wars. He had with him the  data sheet for a 2500-point membership. He said they don’t usually offer them, but – as he was unable to let us go without buying something, however inappropriate – here we were. It was pointed out to us that this would not get us a full week in a resort, which was irrelevant to us. It would give us an opportunity to experience the advantages of Diamond membership, they said. It was not pointed out to us that this minimum membership had few of the benefits that had been sold to us.

We bit.  About an hour later, as we flailed around in the flurry of papers they thrust at us, one of the three people who had ganged up on us by that point mentioned, in reply to our question, that Diamond does not buy back memberships, but members can certainly resell them themselves – not that anybody ever wants to, of course.

We were there for a bit over five hours. By that time, the shuttle bus had become an antique and was placed in a museum, so the helpful salesperson called a cab and paid the driver to take our gullible selves back to our hotel. We enjoyed chatting with the cab driver.

Man board

Important points so far:

  • The music was playing at about 75 decibels – almost as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Conversation was difficult.
  • The 20 or 30 cent exchange value of points was the only exchange value mentioned.
  • Convenient, discounted travel was emphasized.
  • The availability and advantage of comprehensive service through Interval International was emphasized. (This despite the fact that Interval International had stopped providing comprehensive service for Diamond at the end of 2014).
  • There is a distinct and important difference between “Diamond Resorts does not buy back memberships, but members can certainly resell them themselves” and “Diamond Resorts actively obstructs individual resale of membership and the resale industry won’t deal with them.”

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

Inside Timeshare would like to thank David for his article and sharing his experience at the hands of Diamond sales agents in Vegas. It is the first time we have heard of loud music during the presentation process, it does make you wonder if these agents had been trained by someone well versed in the techniques of interrogation!

Also once again thanks to Irene Parker for her invaluable help in bringing people together to share those experiences and editing the articles, it has saved a lot of time at this end.

If you have any stories and experiences such as this you would like to share, you can contact Inside Timeshare or our Advocacy Facebook page.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to do your homework, it will save you money in the end.

friday dog

 

 

 

 

 

homework1

Welcome to Monday and a Happy Birthday to the National Timeshare Owners Association

Welcome to our Monday article, we start with some news from Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been at it again. More news from the courts in Tenerife finding for CLA clients against Silverpoint.

On 2 May, the judge presiding over The Court of First Instance No 5, ruled the contract these clients had contained several infringements and declared the contract null & void. The judge also ruled they should be awarded over £25,957.79 plus the return of their legal fees and legal interest. In this case the main infringement was the floating weeks. The Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, a timeshare contract must include a specific date, location and period.

The following day, the same court declared yet another contract from Silverpoint illegal under law 42/98, this infringed the length of the contract. The Supreme Court on numerous occasions have stated that under the law no contract can be over 50 years. The judge in this case again declared the contract null & void, ordering Silverpoint to return over £8,856.71 plus legal fees and legal interest to the client.

Canarian Legal Alliance also received a visit from the Kavli Family, who had their Anfi contract declared null & void awarded back over 39,413€ plus legal interest. Their visit while enjoying a relaxing holiday was to thank the entire team at CLA for all the work they put in to resolve their situation.

Kavli

On another note, this weekend saw the awards presentation of the Canary News Business Awards. Canarian Legal Alliance won the the award in the Service Category, with the Head of Operations, Csilla Nazali being awarded Business Person of the year, this was accepted on behalf of the entire CLA Team. So congratulations to them.

It would also appear that our “Fake Law Firm” the Litigious Abogados family have a new member, Abogados Amable & Garcia. The website is very much like all the others, accept they have a few new photo’s of “Lawyers” with some new names: Juan Hernandez Amable, Armando Ignacio Garcia and Ramon Quemon Cremul. These have not been traced on any Bar Association register. Even the logo on the website is a rehash of the Abel Garcia one. More on this as the information starts to come in.

abogadosamablegarcia-amable-garcia-logo

So on we go with the NTOA article, this follows the news that TATOC, the association that is supposed to represent owners committees, is going into administration. As you will see from the article, there is a difference between the two organisations. The NTOA is independent of the industry, whereas TATOC was funded and run by the industry for the benefit of the industry and not you the owner’s / members. After all we know that Harry Taylor took up his position with TATOC while still a senior figure with Diamond Resorts Europe. We also know he supported MacDonald Resorts to the hilt against owners, when MacDonald’s decided to remove all fixed week owners and replace them with a points system, legal action on this is still ongoing. Somehow we think that is a conflict of interest and not conducive to being “independent”.

stop press 1
Just before publishing today’s article, ARDA once again unleashed its powerful propaganda arm in retaliation against Don and Irene’s FOX Property Man interview with Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi. This was Don and Irene’s attempt to warn the public about Diamond Resorts points not being able to be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. A timeshare member can list any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts with any of the 64 members of the LTRBA. The members feel the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points are more onerous than any of the major timeshares they do list.  

You decide the merit and purpose of this interview. The industry continues to ignore the secondary market preferring to promote surrender programs. While the elderly are often mentioned, many young families who feel they were defrauded on the front end of the timeshare purchase have reached out to Inside Timeshare to let their voices be heard.

http://wjla.com/features/7-on-your-side/7-on-your-side-uncovers-the-smart-way-to-break-away-from-your-timeshare

One of the many Diamond Advocates has reached out to the ABC reporter to offer a 101 in Truth. Why Diamond will not loosen its restrictions so that a member can actually sell their timeshare is a mystery.

Our National Timeshare Owners Association 20th Anniversary

NTOA – A Timeshare Member’s Only Voice

Lobbying

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

May 8, 2017

European timeshare member lobby efforts are in a state of upheaval due to the bankruptcy of TATOC. It is not always easy to determine if an organization is on the side of the timeshare member or on the side of the developer. One thing is clear. The timeshare developer is not on the side of the member when the interest of the member is at odds with the developer.

The National Timeshare Owners Association in the US is one timeshare member/owner organization unquestionably on the side of the owner or member. As the industry moves towards points, timeshare buyers don’t “buy” or “own” anything. I will use “member” from now on when referring to timeshare purchases.

Timeshares today are mostly a “right-to-use” program. Buyers “join” the program. Unlike a country club that charges a nominal initiation fee upon joining, a timeshare purchased directly from a developer usually involves an initial outlay of $25,000 to over $100,000. Unlike a country club, you can’t cancel at whim.

Signing a perpetual contract without a secondary market, or a limited secondary market at best, has given rise to a robust transfer agent scam industry and has been a boon for timeshare lawyers assisting those sold by “deceit, concealment or bait and switch”, defined by the FBI as White Collar Crime. There have been numerous lawsuits.

Timeshare developers have been unwilling to address the need for a secondary market, preferring to focus on voluntary surrender programs, which are not guaranteed. Often members must grovel before the developer seeking release from a timeshare they no longer need or want.

This unwillingness to allow a legitimate secondary market could lead to the industry’s demise. As one member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association told me, “Many of the calls to our office begin with – my parents got roped into this timeshare.”

Timeshare has had its share of ups and downs over the years. My husband and I bought our first timeshare in 1984, so we have ridden the waves. Never have I seen such an upswing in predatory lending and aggressive strong arm selling tactics. Never before has there been such a need for an organization that truly and purely is on the side of the timeshare member.

I asked Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association to describe the organization in a nutshell.

NTOA is a source of real and unbiased information and education. Over the organization’s 20 year history in the timeshare community, we have seen many ownership programs develop and later change. For example, developers have been converting to points programs from deeded intervals for several years. There are other major changes happening in vacation ownership and often owners are not keeping up with those changes. Our role is to help educate those owners (our NTOA members), assisting them to better understand their current ownership benefits”.

“Advocacy is another area we focus a lot of attention on in the United States, Canada and now Mexico. We work with law enforcement, regulators, legislators and attorneys, assisting in consumer protection and again educating all stakeholders on various threats to consumers that exist in the marketplace”.

“Finally we do everything we can to encourage owners to get the most beneficial interest out of their Vacation Ownership. As timeshare owners ourselves, we feel these are the three areas that owners typically seek knowledge and support from us.”

gregcrist600
Greg Crist: CEO NTOA

Inside Timeshare previously published an article about NTOA’s efforts chasing fraudulent timeshare transfer agents caused by the limited secondary market. This is one area the NTOA and the timeshare developer lobby organization ARDA share a common interest. As NTOA works so much behind the scenes, many timeshare members are not even aware of the organization’s existence.

We hope that will change as we launch a membership drive.

Here is one example of how NTOA worked with Eagle Crest in Oregon to stop this particular timeshare transfer fraud.

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

As to the demise of TATOC in Europe, Greg expressed some dismay over the demise of this organization.

“The NTOA has worked with TATOC in identifying a number of rogue resale and secondary market companies over the past several years. To that end, our staff has shared intelligence and best practices for consumers and for foreign purchasers of timeshare intervals. We have always considered TATOC a partner in the war on resale fraud.”

I posed the following questions to Greg:

What can a timeshare member do to promote legislative changes to reduce the volume of complaints about aggressive selling and predatory lending?

Greg: The various state legislative processes are often fast moving and difficult to keep up with. Having success in this area requires a grassroots effort in states where owners reside. The optics that many legislators have is that our owners/members are not voters in the states where industry lobbying is prominent. We have to change that perspective so that elected officials are more receptive to the voices of owners.

What is NTOA’s three to five year plan?

Greg: NTOA is in the final leg of its expansion plan in North America. We have been working in Canada for the last three years and began working in Mexico in 2016. This year, we are participating in two industry conferences in Mexico and intend to have a consistent presence there going forward.

To accomplish this part of our mission, we rely on close relationships with other associations in those countries. This includes the CVOA, CARE, ASUDESTICO and ACLUVAQ. In working with partners, we can not only better assist our members/owners but also promote regional tourism as well.

Is there anything NTOA can do to promote a legitimate secondary market?

Greg: The secondary market is a very complicated problem and no one-size fits all solution will work. The NTOA is working with the C.A.R.E. resale task force to develop a better understanding of the barriers, challenges and opportunities for owners and HOA’s.

When you support the NTOA, you are supporting the only recognized independent association in North America supporting timeshare owners.

ntoa-logo

Timeshare Advocacy needs more member voices. We look forward to hearing from you. For more information about how to join NTOA, here is their website.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

NTOA has assisted many of our Inside Timeshare readers through member supported advocacy groups. We have several upcoming articles contributed by timeshare members reaching out to the general public and to current members by sharing their story hoping to promote increased awareness.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy is one Advocacy Group Inside Timeshare supports. We hope other timeshare member groups join the cause.

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

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

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

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA for his contribution to this article, as usual Irene has done a superb job of conducting the interview.

We would also welcome any views or comments on any article published, it is your voice, use it.

your voice

TATOC: Is The End Now Upon Them!

Well, well, well, the news for consumers just keeps getting better, TESS announced on their website yesterday, Wed 3 May, that Harry Taylor’s crusading enterprise TATOC is finished.

They are now being placed into administration, as TESS put it “TATOC is bankrupt, insolvent and unable or unwilling to pay its debts if and when due”.

Inside Timeshare published the photograph of Harry Taylor receiving a cheque of $30,000 from ARDA, this was ostensibly for their helpline, as it was said they were helping owners of American Timeshare. This information was supplied by our US readers before it was announced publicly by TATOC.

image1 (1)
Howard C. Nusbaum, RRP President and Chief Executive Officer Handing the cheque to Harry Taylor

We also know that recently TATOC has been losing support from its long standing industry allies, namely the RDO and Silverpoint. These are the ones we know about, how many more have been fleeing the nest or reducing their membership contributions, without us knowing about it.

This is another of the self proclaimed TIMESHARE CONSUMER CHAMPIONS falling by the way side and being totally discredited.

Along with TATOC, there was Alberto Garcia, another “Timeshare Consumer Champion”, again funded by the industry, primarily by the RDO. He was made head of the “Enforcement Programme”, (very Hollywood), along with his website mindtimeshare, he waged a war against any company or individual that threatened the industry.

Alberto-garcia-2
A Rare Photo of Alberto Garcia

He may have highlighted the most dubious of enterprises, but he made it his mission to destroy by any means possible, not only the downright dirty, but also those companies that were genuine, including respected and practicing lawyers and law firms.

This culminated in his fabrication of evidence to destroy the Arguineguin law firm CLA, even to presenting statements to the National Police that these lawyers were part of a “Criminal Gang”. He alleged that they were extracting money from people for court cases they could never win, yet still took them on.

All this has been proven to be false, the law firm is thriving and beating the industry on behalf of consumers from the lower courts right up to the Supreme Court.

TATOC have duped organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau into believing they were on the side of timeshare consumers, so they advised people with timeshare problems to go to TATOC. What did TATOC do? Send them back to the timeshare company they had the problem with.

A very good example of the way Harry Taylor and TATOC have behaved is their unwavering support of MacDonald Resorts, (even the RDO has had nothing to do with them since 2005). Harry Taylor extolled and fully supported MacDonald’s moved to take away from all fixed week owners their weeks and moving them into a points system. He even went on to say it was in the best interests of owners, regardless of the fact that fixed week owners had more rights than points club members. This effectively transferred ownership of the resort from the members to MacDonald’s. There is an ongoing legal battle by these owners against MacDonald Resorts.

tatoc logo    mcdonaldsresortlogo

Another example which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting and fighting for almost a year, is the case of our Mrs B. She went to TATOC because MacDonald Resorts did not accept that she had legally transferred her Doña Lola week to another person using the services of another firm. She has been and still is  being chased by MacDonald’s through a debt collecting agency for maintenance arrears, (aged 87). TATOC told her to speak to MacDonald’s and even directed her to Alberto Garcia to report the firm she had dealt with as “bogus”, all because they were not RDO or TATOC affiliated. The case is still going.

Harry Taylor has lost credibility, reputation and now his little empire, this can only be good for the owners, unfortunately, unconfirmed news from our contacts across the pond is not very promising. It is reported that the one and only, serial failed director Chris Emmins of Kwikchex, Timeshare Business Check and the RDO’s Timeshare Taskforce, (replacing the enforcement programme, still trying to sound hollywood or pseudo legal), is set to take over the resurrected and saved TATOC, (if that does happen).

task force
The Timeshare Taskforce

 

We have said it before and we will say it again, the only way timeshare owners can be represented properly is to have their own association which is not funded or controlled by the industry. The only problem is the industry is very good at sending in the infiltrators.

So there we have it, great news for some but devastating news for others, as the news comes in we shall be reporting it here. So watch this space!

Since we went to press the NTOA are very surprised at this news, here is their response: “The NTOA has worked with TATOC in identifying a number of rogue resale and secondary market companies over the past several years. To that end, our staff has shared intelligence and best practices for consumers or foreign purchasers of timeshare intervals. We have always considered TATOC a partner in the war on resale fraud.” 

TATOC “The Butcher of Consumer Rights”-is in Administration

 

Friday’s Letter From America

Another week over and another Friday Letter From America from our intrepid travelling writer Irene Parker.

Before we go to Irene’s article, a little news from Europe, we begin with the never ending successes of the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, we begin with an announcement  which came in after publishing last friday’s letter. The Court of First Instance N1 in Arona Tenerife found for the CLA client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint, declaring the contract null and void, this was on the basis it was for floating weeks.

CLA Logo

These contracts according to the Supreme Court are illegal, under law 42/98, the contract must specify a week, date and location. The judge in the case at Arona awarded the client the return of 26,000€ plus legal interest.

On Tuesday 25 April Anfi was on the receiving end of another judgement at the Court of First Instance N5 in San Bartelomé de Tirajana. In this ruling the Judge found for the clients on two infringements of the timeshare law:

  • Contract is over 50 years in duration (perpetuity);
  • It contained floating weeks.

Again the contract was declared null and void and the client will receive 39,413€ plus legal interest.

On Wednesday 26 April the Court of First Instance N5 in Arona found once again for the client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this case the client has been awarded over £25,957 plus legal interest, for a contract which was for a duration of over 50 years (perpetuity).

Yesterday Thursday 27 April, CLA announce another First Instance ruling against Anfi, for a contract over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of a deposit within the stipulated 14 cooling off period. Over £37,913 plus legal interest was awarded back to this client along with the contract being declared null and void.

It is certainly a case of the lower courts adhering to the ruling laid down by the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, it leaves no doubt as to the illegality of many of these contracts with case after case being won, leaving many happy ex-owners timeshare free and reimbursed with money paid.

Inside Timeshare again this week published the latest in the saga of the “fake law firm” in Tenerife, Abel Garcia Abogados, one of the many in the Litigious Abogados family. This time one lucky gentleman decided to do an internet search of this “firm”, he came across our previous articles and contacted Inside Timeshare for clarification. This has saved him from losing thousands of pounds, he also provided Inside Timeshare with the letters documents and emails he received, these have been passed to our lawyers to be included in the denuncia to the Guardia Civil.

Another “firm” was also highlighted, FHA Marketing. Very little is known about this one as there are no entries at company house and their website registrant is hiding behind a privacy service, so it is not known who is behind them. One thing is for certain they haven’t got all their facts right.

So now onto the “Travelling Writers” article.

A Reader’s Response to Nancy Callahan and our Experience at Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links

guitar

By Irene Parker

April 28, 2017

One of our readers emailed us with a sophisticated comment in response to our article about Nancy Callahan’s extraordinary experience, unaware she and her husband had acquired a $143,000 loan to purchase 50,000 Diamond vacation points. Our reader’s comment is kind of heavy, so I’ll start by sharing our more light-hearted Friday, end of the work week comment about our Diamond Resorts, Scottsdale Links experience, post Clarity.

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

We checked into Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links in Arizona a few nights ago. Our unit is spacious and clean. We found good value using our Diamond points in that we used 6000 points to stay two weeks at a Sedona Diamond property as well. It’s surprising how many timeshare members don’t think about timeshare math, converting maintenance fees dollars into equivalent real dollars in order to make a comparison as to whether it would be less expensive to book online.

Sometimes it is more expensive to use points, but in this case, $.23 per point in maintenance fees times 6000 points equates $1,380 for two weeks or $98 per night. Online the cost was $112 per night for a one bedroom unit, but there was also a $13 per night fee and a 13% tax so we are way ahead. Of course, the initial amount we spent purchasing our points is not factored in. The older you are the less advantage buying a timeshare, as there is less time to make up that initial outlay.

We are not asked to attend sales presentations. It takes some convincing, but you can request that your name be taken off the prospect list.

Diamond’s new Clarity program is about accountability and transparency and respect for the customer. The program was recently launched in response to the Arizona Attorney General issuing an “Assurance of Discontinuance” which includes a toning down of the aggressive nature of the sales presentation and, most importantly, requires the sales agent not to deviate from printed sales material.

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

Diamond is certainly not alone among their industry peers in needing to improve the integrity and honesty of a timeshare sales presentation. In the case of Nancy Callahan, the agent went pretty far afield of actual policy, as explained by our reader.

I found only one lapse in transparency at Scottsdale Links. Of all places, it occurred at the activity center! I had asked activity representative Brandy if there were any good activities this week. “You’re in luck!” said Brandy. “We have a cowboy guitarist and singer tonight”.

The cowboy singer was Wally Bornmann. Wally started his performance singing Cowboy songs by composers no one, out east anyway, would ever recognize and worked his way up to Gene Autry. He peppered his songs with cowboy stories like when Gene Autry paid $5 for the lyrics of a song when he was traveling cross country that became famous. “It may not sound like a lot, but at $1.67 a mile, it wasn’t bad pay at the time,” explained Wally.

“Do cowboys use Facebook?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” responded Wally.

“Aren’t you a cowboy?”

“No”, said Wally. “I know a lot of cowboys, but I would be at best a cowboy looking in. I have great respect for the work a cowboy does. Only Diamond Resorts calls me a cowboy.”

As a Diamond Resorts member Advocate, I reported this lapse in transparency to Brandy.

“Wally isn’t a cowboy,” I explained. “There’s no need to call Wally a cowboy”. What Wally is, is a gifted “Cowboy Song Artist and Exceptional Storyteller.” Wally played a song he wrote that made me cry, ‘Till Morning Comes Again”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XBdDT-GiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEVzayDyZo4

Fishin’ for Chickens was written by Hobo Jim, the Official Hobo of Alaska!

We have a lot of European readers. Arizona is a real special state that is now more Diamond member friendly thanks to Clarity. Next time our overseas friends hop over the pond, consider Scottsdale Links in Scottsdale and then head up to Red Rock Country in Sedona just south of the Grand Canyon. It’s our favorite place to hike.

The moral of my story is that Diamond has a product and if sales agents would stop overstating availability, understating maintenance fees and loosen the restrictions on secondary points so an owner could sell the darn thing if they had to, through a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, members would stop complaining so much.

Now on to our Reader’s Response

group table

It is very disconcerting to see that the unfair, unethical and misleading business practices described by these Diamond members’ experiences are not isolated incidents. It is clear that it has become endemic of the entire accepted Diamond sales process, as well as with other timeshare companies.

The misrepresentation of the ‘Legacy’ program as a ‘resale’ option when it is merely a way to ‘share’ a block of points with other family members, the embellishment of the value of points earned through the Barclay Credit Card, including how many points are actually earned, what they may be redeemed for (for example, NONE of the down payment for the purchase qualifies) and the false representation of the amount that may be applied to the maintenance fee.

In addition, the common representation that points have a “Currency Redemption Value” is being made by every ‘successful’ Diamond Sales Agent and is expected by the managers of the business unit. Basically, the actual benefit described in the Member Directory allows a member to redeem “up to 30%” of annual points towards, “up to 30%” discount on travel rewards.

Specific rewards have their own restrictions, limitations, terms and conditions however; what the sales reps are telling customers is that they may redeem their points for .30¢ per point. They tell customers that using this formula that with 50,000 points they can get $15,000 back EVERY YEAR! They use this to upsell, as with these unsuspecting customers in this article; that they will be able to pay ALL their maintenance fees and costs and that actually buying more will cost them less.

It would be bad enough if this were a case of a few outlaw sales reps pitching heat, however; this is encouraged by the industry. Sales agents are coached and compelled to present the product this way and reprimanded, ostracized and eventually terminated for NOT ‘going along with the program’.

Accurately presenting the product leads to lies being discovered by the customers that they were ‘pitching this heat’. It is absolutely disgusting to me that a product that promises to deliver quality family vacation experiences is sold with such reprehensible disdain for honesty and integrity.

Inside Timeshare wants to thank our industry insider for explaining what the Legacy program is and what it is not. Sometimes we hear so many versions of a program we don’t know what to believe.

honest

If you have a question or concerns about Diamond Resorts or any timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

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

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

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

So there we are, another week over and more news from the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any comments or question about any of the articles published or have been contacted by any company highlighted, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and to Irene, enjoy your vacation.

weekend02

 

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

After we published Fridays article, news came in from Canarian Legal Alliance, of four more sentences at the Court of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife. These were once again against Silverpoint, again this lower court applied the previous rulings made by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In one case the court ordered the return of 85,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, the client’s contract was again declared null and void. In another two sentences the clients were awarded with the return of over 25,000€ plus legal interest, with the contracts declared null and void. A rather expensive end to the week for Silverpoint, with no sign of these cases letting up.

The week also started on a bad note for Anfi with CLA announcing another sentence issued by the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas. Once again this lower court ruled as per the precedent set by the Supreme Court that contracts over 50 years were illegal, therefore the contracts have been declared null and void.

Court Masp
Court of First Instance Maspalomas

The clients in this case have been returned with over 14,000€ plus legal interest. They are now timeshare free and are no longer bound by the rising maintenance costs. So what a start to the week for those lawyers at CLA.

So, on with today’s writings by Irene Parker, in this article she explores the three R’s, Resolution, Relinquishment and Refund.

In Spain one of the three R’s is hitting the industry, as we have seen from the opening of today’s article, many owners are receiving back their full purchase price and some, purely because the timeshare companies have sold a product that does not comply with Spanish Timeshare Law or the Directives issued by the EU.

For those who do not have a claim, the other option is relinquishment also known as surrender, unfortunately this does depend on who you own with, some are easier than others. One company that is renowned for not playing ball is MacDonald Resorts, there have over the years been many articles written and published about how they make it very difficult for anyone to get out of their contract. They say they allow a limited number out every two years upon payment of 4 years maintenance fees, this is done on a first come first served basis, so no guarantee.

Some resorts, especially the smaller independent and usually family owned resorts, just allow owners to hand back, in some cases they will even pay back something. This obviously is good for both parties, the member is released and the resort has inventory to sell. Win Win!

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

Resolution, Relinquishment or Refund

Part I of the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

Part III – Two More Rs – Rental and Resale

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

travel lights

By Irene Parker

April 12, 2017

Most consumers are unaware of the perpetual nature of a timeshare contract. The combination of rising maintenance fees and a mortgage interest rate ranging from 12% to 18% if a loan is attached can spell disaster when the timeshare member can no longer afford the timeshare due to illness, unemployment or age.

We hear a lot about the elderly being targeted, but our advocates have also heard from the young. So far the youngest person I have interviewed was 19 and pregnant when she signed her contract just after midnight. When I explained what a perpetual contract meant, she was shocked.

“A perpetual contract in itself is not harmful,” explained timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When you buy a house or car the contract is perpetual. The problem comes when there is no secondary market as Mike explains in his article, “The Unconscionable Suppression of the Timeshare Resale Market”.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/the-unconscionable-suppression-of-the-timeshare-resale-market

The First R: Relinquishment

Timeshare developers and the timeshare lobby ARDA seem to think voluntary exit programs are the answer. How does this help the family who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000 to purchase a timeshare, only to get hit with a life event that results in not being able to afford the timeshare shortly after purchase? Would you buy a house that could not be sold? The price of a timeshare can easily rival the cost of a modest condo or home.

Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA is quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  Recycling inventory is the term used when a resort “takes back” your points or forecloses due to nonpayment of a loan or maintenance fees.

Timeshare companies are starting to offer voluntary surrender programs, but surrenders are evaluated on a case by case basis. The money invested in a timeshare can easily run over six figures, so walking away from that kind of money without a fight, when you feel you have been defrauded, doesn’t seem right.

The Second R: Refund

A refund is not easy to come by. Litigation takes years and if you win, there will in all likelihood be an appeal. Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause.

Let’s examine the most common complaints our advocacy group has heard to determine if these tactics meet the FBI’s definition of white collar crime.

Reportedly coined in 1939, the term white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.

These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The most common complaints:

  • The agent said I could sell my shares,
  • Maintenance fees increase only modestly,
  • You can get airline and other travel awards but the value is zilch,
  • It’s less expensive to book online than to use my points,
  • The contract is perpetual? Who knew?
  • The interest rate is 18%!! I didn’t know till I started paying!

According to the FBI, there is corporate fraud and mortgage fraud. Corporate fraud includes accounting schemes designed to deceive investors about the true financial condition of a business entity by manipulating financial data, share price or other valuation methods.

While the definition above is most often applied to stock transactions, we can draw some comparisons to a timeshare point. Availability of accommodations, the value of travel awards can be overstated and the escalation of maintenance fees can be understated.

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

The backend of timeshare fraud has been widely reported, but there has been little attention paid to the front end. The industry needs to stop focusing only on the backend of timeshare scams as detailed in this US Department of Justice Timeshare Scam Report and take a closer look at the front end – the timeshare sales presentation.

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

Timeshare members who begin their complaint with “the salesman said” are sadly told about the oral representation clause contained in a timeshare contract.

 Wyndham has appealed Trish William’s $20 million Whistleblower award.

In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner’s request.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.” These sales practices included “TAFT” days, which stands for “Tell Them Any [email protected]#*ing Thing” days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn’t put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.”

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

R3: Resolution

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Diamond Resorts has instituted a new consumer advocacy department to help members or owners resolve disputes. A member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group works with members and Diamond’s advocacy department to resolve issues. There is always the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using Diamond points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We just booked two weeks in Sedona for far less using our points than we could have by booking online.

We wish all complaints could be resolved by better understanding the resort’s program, but that is not always the case.

Our complaint format is included in this Inside Timeshare article. Inside Timeshare readers can use this form when contacting Inside Timeshare or their resort when problems arise. Of course there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare year after year. Those owners don’t need us, yet.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-post-look-past-week/

Our Diamond Resort Advocacy Group:

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

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

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

Inside Timeshare is here to listen and respond.

fix prob

Related story

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hoa+collections

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who help to make these articles, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, who helps Irene with the legal aspect of her writing.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try find you the best answer or solution. You can also join our facebook pages and join the discussions. It is through these that we all find out what is going on.

The Friday Post: A Look at the Past Week.

It’s Friday, the end of another week in the murky world of timeshare, and what a week it’s been.

The RDO and TATOC announce that Silverpoint has withdrawn their membership from these two organisations, with Silverpoint announcing they will no longer be selling timeshare. One can only speculate as to the reasons behind this, but it does look like they may just be looking to develop another product which circumvents the timeshare laws. Rumour has it, this may be a “leisure credits” type of product.

There is also a lot of speculation as to a probable name change to the company, again this might just be to deflect any further litigation. After all Silverpoint did try and argue that they were not Resort Properties at one point, but the courts threw this out stating they are one and the same entity.

Inside Timeshare also announced in a previous article the sell off at Beverly Hills Heights, with owners being moved to other apartments or to Hollywood Mirage. We saw this at Beverly Hills Club a couple of years ago when this resort was sold off. It is now used as a hotel. Palm Beach Club owners also had the same thing happen, when the top 3 floors were sold. Again they were moved to other apartments or resorts.

Silverpoint’s woes do not just stop there. This week alone, the Canarian law firm, Canarian Legal Alliance announced 6, yes 6 court judgements against Silverpoint. All of these were delivered by the Court of First Instance in Arona, they all followed the 50+ Supreme Court rulings.

All the contracts were declared “Null & Void” with over £120,000 awarded to the clients, including legal interest and legal fees. This is quite a staggering amount to have to pay out in just one week, with many many more in the pipeline. It makes you wonder how long Silverpoint can hold out with these figures being awarded against them by the courts. So they may just need to come up with a new product pretty damn quick!

Again this week we have had new information passed to us about the Litigious Abogados family, these “law firms” are hitting many timeshare owners with false promises of cases against their timeshare resorts / companies being lodged at court. One which we highlighted this week was a gentleman who had a narrow escape, luckily he found previous articles and never paid them.

The new “firm” Abel Garcia Abogados, told him his case had been lodged with the court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 4 March, the case was due to be heard on 25 April. Under 2 months to get the case heard, this is astronomical, even CLA take around 2 years and they are the most experienced in this field.

The only problem is he did not own anything, the “club” he purchased and the marketing company selling it, were dissolved many years ago so no longer exist. They were also UK based and the sales were conducted in the UK, so how could a Spanish court have jurisdiction?

These “law firms” have a very sophisticated operation, all the documents look genuine to those who do not ever see the real thing. The story is also very plausible, then coupled with the high amounts being “awarded” by the court, along with copies of the cheque waiting to be sent to the lucky client, it is easy to see how people can be taken in.

Irene Parker, our US colleague, has also been busy, getting ready for her “starring role” in the Fox News programme Property Man with Bob Massi. Today’s article from the US is an update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups.

This is becoming a very big project, attracting more and more owners to the various facebook groups, it is also stimulating a lot of dialogue with the industry. Could it be the industry is now starting to realise that without you the owners / members, there would be no industry?

Well thats enough of that, on with Irene’s Friday piece.

Update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups

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Irene Parker

April 6, 2017

Our consumer advocates have heard an earful, so we are encouraging those who feel they have been victims of deception or fraud, review ARDA’s code of ethics and email ARDA ROC to express your concerns.

The biggest complaint our Advocacy Group members have expressed is lack of a secondary market.  ARDA ROC needs to know when there is no secondary market for a timeshare, at least not through any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

If you are looking for information on selling your timeshare, please note that ARDA-ROC is not a resale organization, however we can point you in the right direction. Visit

http://www.ardaroc.org/tips-to-exit-your-timeshare.aspx

for more information on the timeshare resale process as well as a link to resale companies who are members of ARDA.

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. Conduct.  All  Member Activities with customers, clients, other Members, business or community partners, regulators, legislators or government agencies shall be honest, legal, ethical, and in accord with standards of fair business dealings, professionalism, integrity, dignity and propriety. Members shall not denigrate the Vacation Property business, but instead shall use their good faith efforts to promote the Vacation Property business.

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Timeshare narrative can get confusing fast, especially when there are multiple contracts that span several years. To make it easier for the resort and for our members, here is a blueprint members can follow.

How to File a Complaint

Name

Phone Number

State of Residence

Number of points currently owned

Current Maintenance Fees

Original Loan Amount and stated interest rate

Current Balance

Resort where purchased and sales agent’s name

If you are claiming deception or fraud, list how you feel you were deceived.

Deception 1

Deception 2, Etc.

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment? If your investment is $20,000 or less and you owned your timeshare for ten years or more consider relinquishment.

Are you sure you know how to use points and the program correctly?

Why do you want relinquishment?

Is it due to Deception, Health, or Financial Burden?

Availability – There are many who are happy with availability but there are those who have been oversold on availability. For example, we were told to buy more points because NYC properties were being added. Because these are affiliated properties, like in San Francisco as well, they are never discounted and never have 59 days or fewer rates. On average, year round, it costs $5000 to $10000 in maintenance fee equivalent dollars what could be booked online in New York for $2500 to $3500 for a week. Great Wolfe Lodge is similar.

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

Remove numbers from your testimony. It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the contracts and figures at the top of your complaint.

ALWAYS include the name of the sales agent (s). Refer to your contract if you don’t know.  Provide the sales agent’s ID number if you can.

How Advocacy Works

Email your sworn testimony. Raise your right hand. Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Start writing.

Send to intake volunteer who will review, edit and return to you.

Position open: Volunteer report writer. No experience necessary.

An email will be sent to the resort, public relations and you.

Owner or member takes it from there unless there are questions or concerns along the way. Owner or member will report back with positive or negative outcome. Due to the mutual release, terms and conditions will not be discussed. If negative, complaints to be filed with:

Attorneys General where you signed, where you live and Nevada.

Our Advocacy Group

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

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

It’s a lot of work but it is the only way to change business practices is through an organized lobby effort targeting legislators and regulatory agencies that may be sympathetic to owners or members, and media outreach targeting the general public.

What to expect from regulatory agencies:

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Send us your comments or articles! New voices are needed.

need you

So there we have it, the end to another week, but as we say, timeshare never sleeps more news will break over the weekend so watch this space for next week’s articles.

Have a good weekend and enjoy yourselves.

weekend cat

Litigious Abogados: Showing Some Charity!

Nothing surprises us here at Inside Timeshare, but sometimes we are a little taken aback. This time it is the very charitable offer from that wonderful group of “lawyers” in Tenerife, Emilio Leyes Castillianos or Litigious Abogados.

LIT

Readers of Inside Timeshare have shared with us the latest in this firm’s game plan, our readers informed this company that they could not afford to pay the “Tax” to the Procurator, Darston Jilmo Davida. They also asked for their original fees to the Procurator to be returned, conveniently the lawyer liaison Richard Lehmen did not receive the email.

Instead he had a meeting with the partners of Litigious Abogados and they very generously have offered to pay 80% of the “Tax”. As they state in their lovely letter “ We as a firm, occasionally carry out “Pro Bono” work, to assist those who are unable to pay for services, or, as in your case, pay the imposed tax fees”.

Ayuda redacted-page-001Ayuda redacted-page-002

Above the letter offering the “charity” payment.

They then go on to say “We feel that there is a lot of money at stake for the common good and therefore you were made eligible for this arrangement, however this decision was reached mainly because Mr Richard Lehman explained to us your particular circumstances”. I would guess the “common good” was their own pockets!

I don’t know about you, but this Mr Richard Lehman is a very lovely person and the lawyers are the most charitable I have come across. They are sending a BBVA cheque to the Procurador to the value of 5,384.40 Euros, which is 80%, leaving the client to pay 1,346.10 Euros. They will then invoice them for this amount and add it to the 20% commission upon payment of the compensation cheque.

Bbva_Cheque_on_behalf_-page-001
A previous readers “charity” cheque to the Procurator
Bbva_Cheque_redacted-page-001
Latest “charity” cheque to Procurator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The letter ends with “We trust the above is clear and pledge to be as proficient and professional as you would expect of a company of our standing”. This is signed by Simone Maro Malivas, Abogado. This is a new name to add to the list of “lawyers”.

Also the Procurado seems to take on a new persona, this one is Darston Jilmo Davida, with a bank account at the BancaMarch, Then there is  D Harstun SL with a Banco Sabadell account Harstun Davido Jaime with his account at Bank Santander. Another name was Davido Harstun Jaime, just wondering if they are brothers, or just the same person?

Cuenta Procurador.-page-001 Modified Court Fees-page-001 procurator-page-001Three of the Procurator bank accounts.

The question is how have they managed to set up so many bank accounts, after all many of us who live in Spain had to show so much identification to open up our accounts?

Going back to another firm in this little family living in Tenerife, Legitimos Abogados, one of the named lawyers, Juan Luis Partalabo, one document gives his Colegio de Abogados (bar association) number as 4057. When checked against the bar association registry 10 names come up around Spain, none with this name or the colleges he is supposedly registered in: Madrid; Málaga and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. So this would confirm he is not a registered lawyer.

Legitimos redacted-page-002

So far we have not been able to locate any of the named lawyers in any colegio de Abogados, on mainland Spain the Balearics or the Canary Islands.

Court Document 01 Court_Doc-page-001 Court_Lodgment redacted-page-001Three fake court documents

As we have said before, this is a very well put together operation, we have seen very convincing court documents, copies of cheques with clients names on, wonderful letters offering to “pay the taxes” and to cap it all, the sending of cheques to clients. The only problem the letter was open and the cheques missing. This is then followed up with another letter from another firm, claiming that a gang of Romanians have stolen and cashed the cheques. They have been charged with getting your money back but in order to do this they have to be paid.

Compensation_Cheque-page-001
The Banesto compensation cheque issued by the “court”

Please remember, courts do not issue cheques, especially on Banesto cheques which were taken over by Santander in 2012 and they stopped using that name. There are no “Hacienda” taxes to be paid for compensation. These cases do not exist, even the best law firm in this field cannot get a case to court within the timescale these have done.

For all the articles on this group of law firms and consultants search Litigious Abogados in the search box.

This is a great example of doing your due diligence, it looks very genuine and to those of you who don’t know how the system works in a foreign country or what the official documents look like, will be taken in. If you have been contacted by any company or law firm that tells you that the court has money waiting for you or that you have a claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will have them checked for you. There has been a huge proliferation in these types of fraud since the Supreme Court ruled in favour of clients of the Canarian law firm CLA, so do your homework.

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