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CLA

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)

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.”

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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