Welcome to the start of another week at Inside Timeshare, over the past few weeks we have been publishing many articles on Silverpoint, especially the move by the parent company Limora Investments Ltd (BVI) filing for liquidation. We have also published the news that The Paramount – Club Paradiso has closed their doors with many members unable to book, the website is down and no one seems to be answering the phones. We also reported on Keys Concierge having also gone into liquidation with all the staff losing their jobs, as we know the administrator dealing with the liquidation is Alex Lawson of Alvarez and Marsal working on behalf of the Trotta family.
So as you can imagine, Inside Timeshare has been inundated with emails enquiring about the legality of all the products sold by Silverpoint. The most prolific of these products and having by far the highest costs are the “Company Participation Scheme”, with purchases from 40,000€ all the way to 150,000€ plus. Just on the enquiries Inside Timeshare has received we are looking at purchases of well over one million euros, this certainly is a very big money making scheme, the question is where has it all Gone?
Now for some news from the courts around Spain.
Last Friday the leading law firm in timeshare litigation Canarian Legal Alliance, announced their results for the week, with 26 victories in various courts around Spain.
At the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas Gran Canaria, there were 11 cases found against Anfi, with 2 cases at the High Court of Las Palmas being found in favour of the clients after Anfi appealed.
At the same Court of First Instance, a sentence was issued against Palm Oasis.
In the Court of First Instance of Arona, Tenerife, Silverpoint was on the receiving end of the judges, with 11 rulings against them in favour of the CLA clients.
The last was against Club la Costa in Fuengirola, where the judge again found in favour of the client.
As usual, all contracts were declared null and void with the courts ordering a total of 1,226,260.15€ A very expensive week for the timeshare industry indeed. But at the end of the day, had they sold their products in accordance with the law, then they would not be finding themselves in this position.
If you have purchased any timeshare product in Spain and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim or would just like to know your legal position and your options, then use our contact page. We will get back to you and point you in the right direction.
Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot article by Irene Parker, who introduces us to Michael Santos, but first, Monday, May 27 was a major holiday in America. Memorial Day honours veterans & soldiers who work to defend even those who may seek to do them harm. Yesterday Inside Timeshare heard from veteran/active duty service member #105 asking about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many of the veterans who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are disabled, five from Agent Orange. We hope other members of the military will reach out to us because when buying a primary residence greater disclosure is required. We are reaching out to provide the same for veterans applying for a timeshare loan. Too many have been financially ruined because they believed false promises made by timeshare sales agents. The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual is another tool in our arsenal to fight timeshare corruption.
Meet Michael Santos, no stranger to struggle. Rather than succumb to despair, as many would, Michael faced his challenges head-on. Struggle is struggle. His admitted bad decisions led him to serve 25 years of a 45-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Michael earned an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree. Now he works to serve others in struggle through education, contribution to society, and a support network of people who believe in you.
Michael’s story: 9,135 Days in Prison TEDXConstitutionDrive 2013
I need help. I’m struggling, overwhelmed, with unending calls from infuriated timeshare members, many financially devastated because timeshare sales agents got away with unfair and deceptive sales practices. While top liars earned $1 million or more annually until eventually terminated, family after family described to me how they were lied to. Particularly painful to me are the stories of veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. A timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of security clearances.
How can I leverage my time and our team’s limited resources?
Enter Michael Santos of Prison Professors, Straight-A Guide Foundation
Continues with Aspiration, Action, Accountability, Awareness of Opportunities, Achievement, and Appreciation of Resources
In addition to offering a sophisticated platform that has been helping the incarcerated work towards release and reentry back into society, Michael teaches adversity skills. The Straight-A Guide Foundation helps 100,000 people every year, teaching people in struggle how to prepare for success.
Employing these same adversity skills, Michael Santos and I developed a timeshare self-help manual to leverage our timeshare team’s efforts, and the efforts of others experienced in the field of timeshare.
Unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices don’t just harm timeshare members. Honest timeshare sales agents, managers, and even an executive or two have expressed their frustration over spotty and inadequate state regulation and a Pollyanna attitude on the part of timeshare lobbyists and developers insisting all is well in timeshare.
Dr Amy Gregory, PhD in Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida and Masters in International Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management was a presenter at a 2017 timeshare ARDA World convention. She describes statistics that tell a different timeshare tale, as reported by RedWeek’s chief correspondent, Jeff Weir:
Here are some of Dr Gregory’s findings:
The average rescission rate is 15 per cent (which is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation).
A whopping 85 per cent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).
Forty-one per cent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did;
30 per cent were neutral prior to buying but then regretted it.
Wondering if there is something wrong with me, I contacted timeshare law firms and timeshare exit service providers across the country and learned that they are also frustrated with this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” media spin strategy on the part of the industry.
Two of the exit companies I contacted reported that they received 3,000 to 3,500 calls a month from people seeking timeshare relief. Both companies said they only accept as clients, less than 200 callers, as the timeshare member must meet their timeshare deceit criteria.
What happens to the 2,800 or so turned away? Even if your only option is to foreclose, thanks to the orchestrated lack of a secondary market, these members need support. As if someone broke into your home, you feel violated, alone. Most begin their call to me with, “I feel so stupid.” I respond that I have heard from a detective who works economic crimes undercover, two counter-terrorism experts, two private detectives, a professor with a PhD in criminology, an ICE agent with an M.S. in Criminal Justice, all describing how they were duped by timeshare sales agents.
If you take the time to listen to the entire 20 minutes of Michael’s Top Ten Surrender Tips before Surrendering to Federal Prison, it’s easy to see how prison adversity skills carry over to timeshare adversity:
Michael’s Ten Tips
Understand your Finances
Develop a Reading Plan
Journal, Write and Publish – Writing is Therapeutic!
Personal Belongings – One Navy veteran charged $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments to credit cards. He lived in fear of losing his home and had to seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney.
Prepare for Communication
Set Your Values and Goals and Create Timelines
Create an Accountability Metric Adhering to Timelines
Quadrant Adjustments Reflecting New Opportunities and Opportunity Costs Visualize/Plan/Prioritize/Execute
Release Plan – Think about your day of release!
Hoping to leverage what I and others have learned, I support the Free at Last Timeshare Support Manual lending what I’ve learned to others. All proceeds from our manual are to be donated to the Straight-A Guide Foundation. Together we will work alongside those in prison or formerly incarcerated to become Free at Last. I’m pretty sure Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. would support our borrowing his prayer.
I think it was Ella Fitzgerald who said her momma told her, “Go out and make something happen. If you’re not going to make something happen – stay out of the way!” Morgan Freeman said it another way:
These self-help groups were launched and subscribed to by doers seeking:
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.
15 in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi Del Mar
3 High Court against Anfi Del Mar
2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint
2 High Court against Silverpoint
1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa
1 High Court against Holiday Club Finland
All contracts were declared null and void and in most cases, clients received back their legal fees plus legal interest.
The total being returned to clients is a staggering 787,664.00€
Obviously some very happy clients but some very unhappy and embarrassed timeshare companies. Well, they only have themselves to blame!
Do you have any questions about your timeshare purchase, want to know if you have a claim or want to just get out, have you been contacted by a company offering you a service and want to know if they are genuine?
Then use our contact page and get in touch, we will point you in the right direction with the best advice available.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker asks the question Wait! What Timeshare Regulations? But first, we have an update on the last 2 weeks of court cases in Spain, these figures came in late Friday afternoon, just a little too late to include in Friday’s Letter from America.
In total, Canarian Legal Alliance has received 38 sentences by various courts in Spain, these have been against 3 of the major players in European timeshare and are broken down as follows.
2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint in Tenerife
1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa in Fuengirola, Malaga
In one of the High Court sentences against Anfi, they were also ordered to repay the client the in-house finance including interest, this may just be good news for others who purchased their timeshare using in-house finance. It certainly sets a precedent.
The total amount which will be returned to the clients is an incredible 1,310,533.00 €, plus in most of the cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. All contracts were also declared null and void leaving them all timeshare free.
At least in Spain, there are regulations that protect consumers, so now on with our Tuesday article with Irene.
I enjoyed reading Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?published by Women Who Money. I agree with the author’s major points, except “regulations being in place to protect timeshare consumers.” Having heard from timeshare members about how easy it is for a timeshare sales agent to dodge a contract rescission period, I wonder if there is any foolproof way to prevent being scammed. Some things, like actual availability, cannot be discerned by reading the contract. My contract said, “You can sell your points. We will not assist you.” The part about no buyers was left out. I was duped by reading the contract.
House, Senate and Assembly Bills are flying across the country. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC was successful in extracting consumer protection measures out of Arizona HB 2639, as reported by The Courier Daily.
“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office, “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”
Timeshare members “voluntarily” contribute approximately $5 million annually to ARDA ROC via maintenance fee invoices. ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition. Why would any organization oppose offering a buyer 24 hours before signing a perpetual contract with no secondary market? Buyers are told that they have to buy the same day.
We are asking legislation be proposed that would allow the timeshare member 24 hours to review a contract before signing. We understand a member may not want 24 hours to review, so this offer could be waived. This offer should not be buried in the tap, tap, tap, electronic fine print. Members often report being held under duress for up to eight hours by a tag team of agents. Some sales centers take your driver’s license and credit card and won’t give them back.
ARDA ROC introduced legislation in Nevada and Florida that would require those contracting with timeshare exit service providers be given 24 hours to review a timeshare exit service provider contract. This was proposed because they care about their members experiencing deceptive sales practices? Give me a break.
We would think it silly if a bill was proposed requiring those who seek to buy a car be allowed 24 hours before signing a contract. Typically when buying a car, you shop, and a tag team of agents doesn’t gang up on you for hours.
A synopsis of recent Florida, Arizona and Nevada legislation:
Timeshares are regulated by states. Since timeshare buyers typically buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence, lawmakers have little incentive to react to non-constituents. Lawmakers need to listen to those who bought a timeshare in their state, not just those who reside in their state.
I found the Woman Who Money article, “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” on Lisa Ann Schreier’s Timeshare Crusader blog. Having worked in the industry for years, Lisa’s knowledge brings a lot to the table. Lisa is the author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies.
From Women Who Money
Regulations now exist to help protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics. If you buy a timeshare and quickly regret it, you may have options for getting out of the signed contract.
Timeshare expert and author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies
“While it is true that each state has a legally mandated rescission period, the fact of the matter is that 99% of purchasers will not read the contract within that time frame. The days of relying on the salesperson for good, solid information are over. Consumers must go into these timeshare sales pitches armed with a litany of questions and be prepared to walk out without purchasing anything if they don’t receive answers that can be pointed out within the contract.”
My husband and I used and enjoyed our timeshare for 25 years with no complaints, questions or Facebook posts. The points-based product does offer greater flexibility. We’re not saying timeshares aren’t good for many, and we know there are many honest sales agents, but I am convinced after hearing from over 800 timeshare members, current and former sales agents, managers and even an executive or two, “pitching heat” is on the upswing.
Timeshare buyers should record their timeshare sales sessions in one-party states where legal. Florida is a two-party state, so you cannot legally record without the other person aware. How is a victim supposed to obtain proof? All our readers’ Florida and Nevada timeshare complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation were dismissed with “You have no proof.” I would recommend not buying a timeshare in a two-party state.
One of our Supporters, Sheila Brust, has her “Pencil Pitch” denoting the following figures, with an arrow and “save” written alongside:
According to Sheilah, the three-page pencil pitch describes how she would be able to cover all her maintenance fees through point usage. A second and third buyer bought from the same sales agent. The Florida DBPR reviewer told Sheilah that she did not understand the program either until she spoke with the company’s attorney. What chance does the average consumer have if a Florida timeshare reviewer, who has reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of timeshare contracts, did not understand the program until she spoke with the company’s attorney?
As far as proof, 83 Platinum members, who don’t know each other, reported similar to identical complaints, often against repeat offender sales agents. I’m told that constitutes proof as it is a good faith investigation and a reasonable conclusion. We have prepared a 130-page summary which is available upon request if a lawmaker or regulator is interested. We can hope.
We are working on a petition. If you would like to become more involved with our efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Of the 805 timeshare members who have contacted us, 103 are veterans and active duty services members.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you, Irene, and also Lisa Ann Schreier for your contribution, if you have any comments or views on any article published, please use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.
If you have been contacted by any company with regards to resale, relinquishment or a claim and you are unsure if they are genuine, again use our contact page and let us know. We will point you in the right direction. Remember, doing your homework will save you in the end from losing your money.
So what was once an independent website giving independent and impartial advice to timeshare owners is firmly under the umbrella of Mark Rowe. He continually denies he has anything to do with the TCA, the latest evidence shows otherwise.
This is now in black and white on the Privacy Notice updated on 24 April 2019,
So what does this mean for timeshare owners who contact the TCA for advice on how to get out of their timeshare contracts?
Very simple, they will not be getting any independent or impartial advice, instead, they will be directed to one of the companies owned and controlled by Mark Rowe. This is not the first time the TCA’s impartiality has come into question, Andrew Penman of the Mirror brought this subject into the public domain way back in December 2016.
Inside Timeshare has received many emails from timeshare owners who have paid for relinquishments and so-called claims through ABC Lawyers, one reader paid around £7,500 for relinquishment and a claim. They were simply told to stop paying the maintenance fees, which they did, they have since found out that Club La Costa terminated their membership on the grounds of non-payment of fees. In other words, ABC Lawyers did nothing, they have also never received a penny of the £30,000 they were promised for their claim, despite signing the contract with ABC in October 2017.
Inside Timeshare has continually stated that the only sure way of making a claim for timeshare purchased in Spain is through the Spanish Courts, using a genuine lawyer registered to practice in Spain, with the knowledge and experience of timeshare law.
You are also unable to make any claim through the courts once you have had your contract terminated, plus you are very unlikely to receive any money back by using the Credit Consumer Act 1974 Section 75. This is a simple fact, the credit card company (if you paid the deposit by card) will always contact the timeshare company, they will obviously inform the card provider that the timeshare was used, so they have provided the goods and services paid for. Section 75 does not cover the fact that your timeshare contract may be illegal under Spanish law.
Once again, it is important that you know who you are dealing with, the TCA may have been independent and impartial at one point, but that was many years ago, we are sure the late Sandy Grey will be turning in his grave, all his hard work has now been turned upside down.
If you have any questions or need real advice on any timeshare matter, use our contact page and we will get back to you. Remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you find on the internet.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today Irene Parker sets out instructions on how to file complaints with the FBI and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Unfortunately, many of the requests for help Inside Timeshare receives fall into the category of fraud, yet the industry still does not recognise that they need to change.
Before we start a bit of news from the Spanish Courts.
The lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have been at it again this week with a resounding 25 sentences issued against timeshare companies.
These have been broken down as 3 issued from the High Court and 22 from the Court of First Instance. With Anfi receiving 24 judgements against them and Club La Costa receiving 1. The Club la Costa case was heard at the court of First Instance in Fuengirola, Malaga and is the very first case to involve one of CLA’s Spanish clients. (Click on the PDF below for the court sentence).
The other cases were clients from the UK and Scandinavia, with most receiving double the deposits paid and the return of legal fees, all contract were also declared null and void.
The total amount awarded in all these cases is a staggering 828,329€. So congratulations to the clients and also the entire legal team at Canarian Legal Alliance.
Now for our Letter from America.
Timeshare Accountability Group™
FBI and FTC Filing Instructions and Talking Points
April 26, 2019
By Irene Parker
When timeshare members feel they have experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, the member should first reach out to their resort in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If informed, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” file a Better Business Bureaucomplaint and file a complaint with the Attorney General from the state where you signed a contract.
Unfortunately, some timeshare complaints meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime. If the complaint is of a nature that meets the following description, file with the FBI at IC3.gov or file orally by contacting an FBI field office.
# 1 IC3.gov
Timeshare fraud falls under White Collar Crime/Mortgage Fraud/Financial Institution Fraud/Fraud for Profit. click on the link below to read about mortgage fraud. The general definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, and bait and switch.”
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.
To file a complaint with the FBI, select IC3.gov from the three choices available. It’s confusing because IC stands for Internet Crime, but it doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal. You can file a complaint on behalf of someone else. At the end of the form it will ask if you are filing on someone else’s behalf.
Some of the information that the IC3.gov online form asks for is not necessary – fields like routing numbers, bank addresses. Don’t worry about having all that information. They are not required fields. Victim bank is the bank from where you made payments or the credit card company. Subject bank is where you send your payments.
If you receive additional information after filing an original complaint, there is a handy box to check that asks, “Is this an update to a prior report?” Start the complaint over, but check that box to add the new information.
Step #2 File an oral FBI report 24/7
You can also file orally by contacting an FBI field office. Contact the field office where you signed a contract. Members have reported some agents have spent one or two hours on the phone with them. One member met with her FBI agent!
When you call the field office, select “Submit a Tip” then wait for the white-collar crime prompt. One person ended up in the wrong pew of the right church told they had to have lost a million dollars or more to file a complaint. That’s not true.
Members report the FBI has been responsive, but the FBI agent needs to be convinced getting a lawyer will do nothing to stop the problem of timeshare fraud for profit. Timeshare companies have armies of lawyers and they can drag a proceeding on forever until the member is broke. It is an understatement to say timeshare attorneys don’t look favourably on the arbitration process.
Whether filing at IC3.gov or orally, you can provide the name and phone number of other victims, especially if you are aware of similar complaints. That way the FBI can look up other reports directed against the same repeat offender sales agent.
Sheila Brust’s article, “Just the Facts, Ma’am” is about her experience reaching out to the FBI. Sheilah worked for New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The FBI advised Sheila to file with the Secret Service because her allegation also involved credit card fraud.
Don’t expect to hear back from the FBI. They don’t work like that. That doesn’t mean they are not listening. It takes volumes of complaints and a pattern of complaints to launch any investigation, whether with the FBI or with an Attorney General.
Filing your own complaint requires dedication and perseverance. Resolutions can be accomplished, empowered with information the member needs to take matters into their own hands. Thinking beyond their own dilemma, members can become one of our volunteer Supporters to help others.
Our Complaint Instructions were revised by a millennial timeshare buyer who followed our complaint instructions to resolve her dispute.
How to File a Complaint revised January 25, 2019
Timeshare member complaints tend to start out convoluted and confusing. We suggest having a friend or neighbor, not familiar with timeshare, read your complaint to see if it makes sense. Provide examples. Expect to be denied. Read the reason for dismissal and respond with a rebuttal.
Saying things like “I can’t afford this” is useless. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say “I can’t afford my home mortgage” and expect them to take your house back. You signed a legally binding contract. If there was no deception, you are bound by the contract, although it’s possible to request a contract cancellation due to medical or financial hardship.
We refer to a lawyer about one in ten times when all else fails, or the member does not have the time or energy to follow our process, which is admittedly timeshare consuming. A list of reputable law firms is provided upon request.
You must inform the FBI agent why you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. The agent you speak with may know nothing about timeshare basics. Explain the contract is perpetual, there is no secondary market, and when members complain, the company often hides behind the oral representation clause.
Your mission is to convince the FBI that this is not about only a few complaints. This article “Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders” lists just a few of the Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits, and the St. Louis Better Business Bureau reporttells consumers what to watch out for:
When a member complains, they are shown their initials on the fine print,
Retaining an attorney will not stop unfair and deceptive business practices,
Litigation is time-consuming and expensive,
Arbitration is widely known to be pro-industry. If you lose you can end up paying the resort’s arbitration fees. The resort hires the arbitrators.
The CFPB has been rendered ineffective. Even in the CFPB heyday members could not file a complaint because the borrower often doesn’t even know the name of their lender. You had to select a financial institution from the dropdown menu and timeshare companies are not a choice.
Some state AGs turn a blind eye. At a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year, the spokesperson for the Florida AG reported their office received 1,600 annual timeshare complaints in 2017 and 2018, mostly about the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors, of which the AG engaged only 42 of the complaints, mostly about resales. This spells no enforcement. The Nevada Real Estate Division responded to all our readers with a “You have no proof letter.”
Timeshare members give the ARDA ROC Political Action Committee approximately $5 million dollars annually, often “Opt-Out” donations. We have heard from over 800 timeshare members. Not one could tell us what ARDA ROC even stands for. ARDA ROC vigorously opposed recent proposed pro-consumer changes in Arizona.
Let us know if you are active duty military, law enforcement, a government worker or a veteran, as we are supported by WhistleBlowers of America. They added timeshare fraud to their March 14, 2018 report before the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has since been all but dismantled and we changed our name from TS Advocacy to Timeshare Accountability Group):
601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004
Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C
Whistleblowers of America
Committees on Veterans’ Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
March 14, 2018
House and Senate Committee Members:
Whistleblowers of America (WoA) was incorporated in 2017, as a newly focused nonprofit service organization providing peer support to whistleblowers, so we are honored to be able to share our concerns with you today. The majority of our contacts are with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees or veterans who have identified waste, fraud, and abuse, medical errors, denials of care or benefits, discrimination, harassment or bullying. For doing so, they have suffered reprisal and retaliation. From the report:
Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:
Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit. Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets. Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans. Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.
Consider a donation to Whistleblowers of America if you have been helped by Timeshare Accountability Group™
It’s remarkable that a timeshare member must go through this many stressful hoops concerning a product that was sold to be stress reducing. If you have skills that could help others, consider becoming a Supporter. Contact TAG.
3Rs or F of Timeshare
The Timeshare Tax Trap, February 26, 2019
Arizona HB 2639, March 1, 2019
Arizona HB 2639, March 5, 2019
Florida HB 435, March 15, 2019
Florida HB 435, March 19, 2019
Nevada SB, March 22, 2019
Arbitration October 24 2017
Member self-help groups
We seek to provide timeshare 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.
Thank you Irene, this information should prove a great help to many of our readers, it is just a shame that we have to resort to this type of action. One day the industry may just realise that it is through their own greed that they are on the receiving end of so many complaints.
Once again the weekend is upon us, whatever you are doing and wherever you are, have a great weekend and join us next week for news and information on the murky world of timeshare.
Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we have had more emails from concerned readers regarding Claims Assistant Bureau, a company we highlighted only last week.
As we know, this company is calling timeshare owners along with those who have had dealings with Eze Group, they claim they have been appointed by the courts to tack down owners who have had money awarded to them and is being held by various courts.
According to Harry Evans and then back up by an email from Mel Rhys, Regency Shores Holdings SL (Eze Group), have recently been in court in Tenerife. The court is now holding a substantial amount which Claims Assistant Bureau will be able to get back for you, for a fee that is.
Another fact is they also claim that they are backed up and guaranteed by The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, The Bank of Spain and the High Court of Madrid.
Another reader who we spoke with was very suspicious, as the person on the phone was contradicting himself so much it set off alarm bells. Below are the company details along with a link to the article publish on 18 February.
14 Victories in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi
1 High Court judgement against Anfi
2 First Instance victories against Silverpoint
2 High Court victories against Silverpoint
1 First Instance against Holiday Club Finland
1 First Instance against Club La Costa
In all these 21 sentences the contracts were declared null and void, the total claim value has yet to be released, but it is believed to be very substantial.
In further news from the Courts in Maspalomas, another 8 cases have been sent for sentencing at the pre-trial stage. It appears the judges are dispensing with the need for a full trial, which is only good news for the clients. This will result in cases being concluded in a much faster manner, with payouts being much quicker.
Obviously it will not be long before other courts in Spain start doing the same thing, it is obvious now that the laws put into place to protect consumers are solid and are being enforced by the courts.
Have you been contacted by any company mentioned in any of our articles, or one that you have found on the internet or even from an advert in a newspaper or magazine?
Do you want to find out if they are genuine and not sure how to do this?
Have you been told you have a valid claim and want to know if it is true?
Then use our contact page and send us a message, we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin with some news being passed around various forums regarding Anfi. As we know Anfi is contacting members to change their contracts, but the latest is rather disturbing.
The change in contracts is to try and bring them within the law, the new contracts will be for a maximum of 50 years, with apartment numbers and week numbers being allocated to the floating week contracts, although they will remain “floating”.
According to information received, the new contracts will also penalise the members for “early termination” of their membership. Any early termination of the contract will be seen as a serious breach of contract on part of the member, Anfi will then apply a retrospective charge on the member for “hotel Costs” of around 350€ per night for all weeks used.
They have already used this threat to members who may be contemplating legal action in regard to illegal and missold contracts. This is also the subject of an ongoing legal argument, which has yet to be finally resolved.
Another point that has come to our attention is the number of members who have just ceased to pay their maintenance, especially with the new contracts. It is reported that around 100 members in 10 countries are about to have legal proceedings made against them for recovery of the maintenance fee arrears. Plus to have the mentioned “hotel costs” charged against them.
Another point which is irritating some of the members posting on the forums is the problem of resale. According to many posters, Anfi has the right to refuse the buyer of any timeshare sold privately. Again this is to ensure that all resales go through the resale programme, which we know is not very effective and will only command a very small resale price.
As with any timeshare advertised for sale, the price you see is what the owner believes they will get, remember, when purchased, many were under the impression they were investing in property. The sales staff openly told them it would go up in value, as we know this is definitely not the case.
So what do we make of this change in contracts and the other tactics being used?
Simple, by changing to the new contract, you lose all rights to take them to court, this is what Anfi want, after all it is costing them a fortune in payouts. (Which they will deny).
The threat of the “hotel costs” with legal action against maintenance arrears and making it more difficult to sell privately, is again to stem the tide of a significant loss of membership. This loss hits them in the pocket with reduced income of maintenance fees. After all, they are not selling like they used too, people are very wary of purchasing timeshare today.
There were also 2 High Court wins in Las Palmas, again against Anfi del Mar.
Again at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Palm Oasis lost 3 cases.
Over in Tenerife, The Court of First Instance again found against Silverpoint in 2 cases.
In another First Instance hearing, Club la Costa were the ones on the receiving end of a judgement.
In all a massive 27 victories against the biggest names in European timeshare, the total amount claimed on behalf of clients is over 648,000€ with all contracts being declared null and void.
CLA have also issued this video, which shows their impressive record so far, it was made at the end of 2018.
That’s it for today, join us tomorrow for a very special article, this was received by another timeshare insider after we published the article on the Florida Bill 435, tomorrow we publish Part 1.
If you need any help or advice regarding your timeshare, about any company that has contacted you or you have found either on the internet or advert in any publication, then use our contact page. We will be pleased to help.
Also if you have any comments, views or information you would like to share with other timeshare owners, then again use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor, known only as “Industry Observer” as he wishes to remain anonymous. The introduction is once again by our very own Irene Parker, who was very excited to have this published, as it is from someone who has watched the industry for many years even though he has never purchased. It is certainly a very welcome independent insight into the timeshare industry and sales presentations.
Firstly a little news provided by Canarian Legal Alliance, they are certainly going to be keeping the courts busy over the next month.
At present they have in various courts around Spain 75 pre-trial scheduled, the three main timeshare companies are Anfi on Gran Canaria, Silverpoint on Tenerife and Club la Costa who have resorts on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Pre-trials are basically a formality and a last chance for a settlement to be reached before the case goes to a full trial. At the Courts in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, 4 judges have been dealing with cases at this stage and issuing sentences without the need to go to a full trial. They have sat on so many cases now that they feel it is a waste of the courts time to set full trials. This has certainly speeded up the process for many clients.
Along with the pre-trials, the are 26 trials to he heard against the same timeshare resorts, again at various courts around Spain. We hope to bring you news of the conclusions as and when the cases are concluded and the judges issue their judgements.
One of the many complaints that Inside Timeshare receives from readers about their timeshares is the number of resorts that are advertising on the internet and the various booking websites.
This was sent to Inside Timeshare from one very angry reader, (see link below), it is for Select Marina Park, Mijas, Costa Del Sol. This is a Club la Costa Resort, which as we know is not a cheap timeshare to buy. It also uses the points system, which has been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court on many occasions, the reason is that it lacks any substance.
What that means is that you do not actually have any guarantee of booking your holiday accommodation, it is subject to availability. Yet this resort is being advertised on hotels.com for a fraction of the cost of the exorbitant maintenance fees that owners / members are required to pay annually, on top of the original extremely high purchase price. Is it any wonder that so many timeshare purchasers want out of their contracts!
Why at Age 70 I Have Never Attended a Timeshare Presentation
Introduction by Irene Parker
Timeshare members are always grateful when a member who has been through the complaint or foreclosure process, thinks beyond their own Nightmare on Timeshare Street to support others. There is nothing more frustrating than groveling before timeshare customer service representatives who dismiss complaints of unfair and deceptive sales practices with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our deepest gratitude to the author of today’s article who has been keeping Charles and me informed of industry developments over the past two years so we can in turn pass that information on to our readers. He has never owned a timeshare.
By an Industry Observer
January 22, 2019
I have been a timeshare industry observer since 1985. I have concluded that timeshare is not for me. I shun contracts (especially perpetual ones) and I don’t plan very well in advance. For those with disposable income and the ability to plan, timeshare may be a rewarding experience. However, I would advise looking to the resale market for the best bargains. And, I would study the industry before dipping my feet in the resort pool.
In 1985 my wife and I were at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on our first beach vacation. Upon leaving the supermarket, I noticed a flyer underneath our car’s windshield. Similar flyers were under all the out-of-state car windshields. The flyer offered a $40 gift to preview a new resort in North Myrtle Beach. Husband and wife were required to attend. A minimum income of $30,000 was required, as well as a driver’s license and credit card. Military couples with a certain minimum grade level were also welcome. I thought,“Why do they have to pay people to go see something for sale?”People don’t get paid to look at houses or condos, and condos were quite the rage in Myrtle Beach in 1985.
I filed this experience in the back of my mind. It would reemerge numerous times in the future. On subsequent vacations to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Charleston, Orlando, Branson, and of course, Las Vegas, I would become more than aware of the smiling faces of OPCs who wanted to be my friend to get me to attend a tour, open house, remodel, new resort – whatever. Each approached us at a boardwalk or a booth, often a hyped-up boy or girl who had something special to share with me for only a few minutes of my time (90 minutes). I always reacted poorly to these solicitations since #1: I was on vacation and #2: I am not a real estate guy.
Fast forward to 2012 – I was in the midst of closing a company that I had run for 24 years. The economy had been unkind to the printing industry. I had to close the doors to my tiny empire and move to an early retirement. Fortunately, I could afford to do so. In 2013, finding myself with time on my hands, I decided to study the timeshare industry which had been in the shadows of my vacations. Three of my friends owned timeshare in different systems. I had quizzed them on their experiences. One loved his relationship. The other two had mixed feelings about whether the process was worth it.
I began to google the names of timeshare operators along with keywords – problems, complaints, regrets, and lawsuits. Come to find out, there were a lot of people who bought timeshares that either didn’t want them or felt they had been duped into buying them. As mentioned, many are satisfied with their purchase, but it appeared many families had been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare.
I have spent five plus years spending an hour or two a day on sites like TUG, RedWeek, Inside Timeshare, Inside the Gate, YouTube, and complaint sites. I developed a theory as to how the timeshare companies succeed in plying their trade.
Here are my simple conclusions:
First: It starts with a bribe. It may be money, food, gambling, discounts, shows, or trips. Prospects are offered something of value by an OPC (outside person contact) for attending a presentation. David Siegel, Jr. of Westgate timeshare fame, has termed prospects “mooches.”
Second: It is seldom the promised 90 minutes. The goal is to play a game of attrition. The longer the interview, the better the chance of capitulation – the customers will buy SOMETHING even when there may be an agreed upon pact not to buy. There is a good possibility that the prospects will break down and sign just to get their gifts and get out the door.
Third: There will be more than one presenter. First is the “greeter” who will become your friend. They need to see your driver’s license and credit card. The driver’s license is to verify the family relationship and the credit card is to run a credit check. The credit check may be an unwanted surprise. The first sales agent will extol all the virtues of membership. If there is no bite, he/she will get approval to lower the price. After the initial sales agent, comes the manager or “closer.” He/she is out to make sure a sale happens. The friendliness will have worn thin. Prices will be reviewed and maybe lowered again. The sale needs to be made. If no sale has ensues, then comes the “survey person.” He/she will review the presentation, the offers, and reasons for not buying. He/she will try one last attempt to sell an exit package. It may be a “discovery” “trial” or “sample” package. This will allow the prospects the chance to check out the resorts in the system, but requires another presentation. Trial packages are limited in scope and availability.
Fourth: The whole job of the sales team is to make a SALE and that sale needs to be made TODAY. They know no one comes back later to purchase a timeshare. The sales team is on commission. They don’t eat if they don’t sell.
Fifth: Truth may take a back door to the need for a sale. There is a clause in most, if not all timeshare contracts, that says the prospect did not rely on verbal representations to make their purchase. How many of us have relied on the ethics of the salesperson sitting across from us when buying a car, boat, condo or house? In Florida timeshare sales agents are licensed sales agents but they are exempted from the ethics requirement! It’s pretty scary if you can’t rely on ethics.
The terms of the contract are in the contract – not in the words of the salesman. The salesman may say that the company will buy back your timeshare. They won’t. He/she may say that the timeshare will go up in value. It will not. He/she may say that you can go anywhere at any time. Complaints about availability abound. Attorney Mike Finn called this verbal representation clause a “license to lie,” and the beleaguered buyer unwittingly signs voluminous documents containing this one toxic sentence timeshare companies over-rely on.
Sixth: Most timeshare contracts are perpetual. Once the three to ten day state contract rescission period is up, the buyer may have no other option but to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees if they cannot convince the timeshare company to break the agreement. It can be sold or given away, but the marketplace is almost non-existent. A default can have dramatic consequences on one’s credit score.
Seventh: Sales people will make sure that no hand-written notes leave the room. False promises are not in the contract. The contract is long and initialed in many places. There are three things to be especially aware of.
There is often a clause that says the company can change the terms and conditions of the contract whenever they want. Why even have contracts when benefits can be changed at any time?
Accommodations are subject to availability. There are many complaints about lack of availability. Actual availability often cannot be verified until the buyer has access to the booking site, conveniently after the rescission period has expired.
These days contracts are often signed electronically, meaning your initials are stored and then tapped, tapped, tapped on a cheap tablet even tech savvy buyers find hard to read.
Eighth: Timeshare contracts have a rescission period, which varies by state. It may be three to ten days. There are creative ways sales agents and their company can dodge the rescission period. A new program to be relieved of maintenance fees (that doesn’t exist) won’t be available until after the first of the year. While on vacation, sometimes with the kids, reviewing complex contracts can be a difficult chore. Sadly, even reading the contract doesn’t always disclose some of the pitfalls, like availability.
Ninth: Roughly 50% of the cost of a timeshare purchase is the marketing, promotion, and commission costs. Think about it. If you list your house for sale, you pay 6% or 7% commission. What would happen to your home price if you had to pay a 50% commission to buy? Add that to the false promise that your timeshare is easy sell and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Sellers are lucky to get 10% of their initial investment back, thanks to the lack of an adequate secondary market. Timeshare developers don’t even want the timeshare back. You may even have to pay the developer a fee to take the timeshare back.
Ten: Timeshares can be purchased on the resale market for pennies on the dollar. Sites like Tug2.net, Ebay, and Redweek have real people selling real timeshares for bargain prices. You can check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has a secondary market value. They can explain the pros and cons of buying from the secondary market compared to buying directly from a timeshare sales center. Plus LTRBA members have knowledge of all timeshares.
Don’t jump. Don’t believe you have to buy TODAY. Research the company. Research the industry. Social Media is here to stay. Chances are there is a member Facebook page out there for the timeshare you are considering, with members reporting positive and negative experiences you can evaluate. Do your timeshare math to calculate the purchase price, borrowing costs, and annual fees, not to mention special assessments. Check the resale market.
Thank you to our Industry Observer for his observations. Here are a few member sponsored sites to check with to determine if you are jumping into your vacation dream so that you don’t end up one of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street authors:
We seek to provide timeshare 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.
Thank you Irene for the introduction and a very big thank you to our industry observer for this article and all your information over the past two years.
If you have any comments on this or any other article, please use our contact page, we welcome your insights.
If you need any information about any company that has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or from an advert in a publication, then again use our contact page and we will help you do your credibility checks. Remember, doing your homework is one of the most important ways of saving you from losing your hard earned cash.
Welcome to Start the Week, today we have a look at some of the items found while having a look at some of the forums, groups and blog sites on the internet about timeshare.
First we look at a discussion on the Diamond Resorts Advocacy page of Facebook, one of the members started a thread regarding an owner update meeting at their resort. During this meeting the sales agent was discussing transferring their deed week into points, part of the pitch was that there were no maintenance fee associated with points.
Well you can imagine the comments that abounded following that post.
So, if there are no maintenance fees attached, that has to be good, yes?
No, after the owners pushed and pushed the sales agent, they admitted there were fees associated but this wasn’t maintenance, so what is it?
As you can guess, just a change of name, it might be management fees, club dues or some other concoction of words, but in the end they are what they are, extortionately high fees!
To us in Europe especially the UK it is what we call PC or political correctness, I prefer to call it Newspeak from George Orwell’s 1984, change how you say it to confuse the masses. Some good examples are the cook, you are not a cook you are a nutrition technician, a garbage collector or what in England we call a binman or dustman, they are waste disposal engineers. It makes no difference what they change the name to it is the same thing.
We also received from a reader a post in the Anfi del Mar Contracts FB page, it was an advert for a timeshare for resale, it was far far less than what they probably paid for it. This is a subject we have published in the past, (see link below).
Many of those advertised are either for the derisory sum of £1 or even less, we have even seen them for £0.01, this particular one even showed the annual maintenance fee of £687!
There are many others such as Marriott, which are not cheap when originally purchased being advertised for over £2,000, this is the value the owners believe it is worth, having paid around £15,000 upwards for in the first place.
We all know that many owners believed the original sales pitch, it was property, it is an investment, it will go up in value. The only thing that is likely to go up is maintenance fees!
There is also another problem associated with resale, the “scam” companies that have been set up, taking upfront fees to list the timeshare for sale, knowing full well that it will never sell. As Lisa Ann Schreier asked in her “Open Letter to Timeshare Developers” published on Inside Timeshare, Why do you not buy back?
Another valid question to our readers is: What do you think your timeshare is worth, considering what you paid for it? We would love to hear from you.
Last Friday, Mindtimeshare published another warning of a cold calling company called Resort Management Direct or RMD, this is actually an old company offering bargain priced holidays at various resorts. The whole point is what is known as “flybuy”. Part of the deal is that you attend a presentation for a timeshare.
The Warning put out about this one though is very disturbing, the call from a lady called Angelina, states that she is calling from “Resort Management at Club la Costa”. So once again we have a company calling timeshare owners purporting to be from their resort.
So there we have it, from timeshare sales agents trying to bamboozle owners at update meetings to Owners believing they actually have a timeshare that is worth something, finishing with a “flybuy” company clearly stating they are from a legitimate timeshare resort. You really do have to be careful and not believe the first thing you are told.
Have you had an experience of sales agents giving you the runaround, have you tried to sell your timeshare and ended up losing money, or even had a call similar to those of RMD, if so Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.
Over the past few weeks, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries from readers regarding cancellation of their timeshare contracts, known as relinquishment and making a claim. Today we give you some very basic information on these subjects.
Many owners are now getting on in years, their circumstances have changed, for instance they have retired and no longer want the expense of the maintenance fees. For some it is how they holiday that has changed, no longer using the timeshare or the exchange programs available.
Getting out of the contract is a minefield, there are many companies out there who promise to do this for you, some are genuine some are not. But all have one thing in common, the cost!
Before you even think about engaging a company to do this for you, it is always advisable to contact your timeshare company or resort first, just to check if they have a system in place which allows you to surrender your timeshare. This may just save you a lot of money and also gives you the piece of mind it has been done correctly.
Beware the companies that use the “bait and switch” methods, either promising a sale or cancelation, only to attempt to sell you another product when you attend the meeting, these will either be a holiday club or lifestyle package, promising huge discounts. All you will be doing is swapping one product for another, at a very considerable cost.
Then we have the proliferation of “claims” companies, many of these will offer a “no win no fee” claim. This is to get you interested in attending a meeting, then you will be subjected to a lengthy pitch as to how the claim will be processed. Then comes the crunch, the only way you can do the “no win no fee” claim is to pay them considerable sums to “cancel”your timeshare first.
The claim itself may never materialise and in many cases the owner finds out that nothing has been done and they are still liable for maintenance fees. Their particular timeshare company or resort does not recognise the company and will not deal with them. They are only interested in getting your money!
Club la Costa has issued numerous warnings about this subject, they have categorically stated they will not deal with these third party claims companies, only with the member direct. In fact CLC has a program in place whereby they will let out members for free. Maybe this is a move to stem the tide of claims that are now going through the Spanish legal system. But at least they are offering a way out which will not cost their members a fortune.
If you are unable to do this yourself then using a reputable law firm may be the only answer, but first you should always do your due diligence.
As for making a claim, in Spain the law is very clear, if the timeshare was purchased or upgraded after January 1999 and it falls foul of the timeshare laws, then you have the right to take it to litigation. The main points for a claim are:
Contracts which are longer than 50 years, commonly known as perpetuity;
Points or floating week systems, in may cases this also includes fractional.
Deposits or any payments taken within the 14 day cooling off period, in many cases the courts have now extended this to any payments within 90 days of signing.
These are just the basics, there are many more points which a good lawyer will also use to bring the case to court, not just the timeshare laws, but also Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.
The process for making a claim is the Spanish Courts is not a quick procedure, it can take upto 18 months for a case to reach conclusion. Then this may be delayed due to the timeshare company lodging an appeal, this is all done to add frustration into the equation.
By taking a case to litigation through the Spanish legal system also requires the use of a competent registered lawyer, who also has the experience in this field. Not all lawyers will understand the complexities of timeshare contracts. A good example is one German client who decided to use a German lawyer registered to practice in Spain, just because he was German. This lawyer did not know timeshare laws, but because of the rulings by the Supreme Court he thought it would be easy.
This particular lawyer informed his client to stop paying the maintenance as soon as he took on the case. When the case eventually came up at the court in Maspalomas, he lost. The timeshare company argued before the court that the member was now in breach of contract as they had not paid the maintenance. The court agreed.
This particular client has now paid the original law firm which they rejected , to take proceeding against the lawyer for wrongful advice, plus to make an appeal using the relevant laws. A very costly experience for this client.
Over the past few years we have also highlighted several “fake” law firms, these tend to inform the owners that their timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be part of this. First they need an amount to file the case at court, using the “fake” procurador who has to be paid.
Then a few weeks later you get the good news that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Firstly, ask yourself this question, when is a director of a timeshare company going to plead guilty?
Now there is the matter of paying “tax” to get your money, this will usually be around 20% of the awarded amount, this is alway inflated to bait you in. Many of the documents we have received from readers who started to believe it, have been nearly three times what they originally paid.
If you believe that you have a claim and want to know more, then use our contact page, we will go through it with you and check if you do actually have a possible case. We will also let you know what the procedure is, the breakdown of the legal fees and what they are for. These do need to be paid to take a case to court, you will not find any Spanish law firm that will take these cases on without these costs.
Just want to cancel your timeshare, then again use our contact page, let us know what timeshare you own then we will be able to explain how you can do it yourself.
Remember, not all companies that contact you or you find on the internet are genuine, many have been set up with just one goal, to take your money and run. Do you homework, check, check and check again, not sure, then ask us. We will point you in the right direction.
In the Tuesday Slot tomorrow, we tell the story of US Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his experience with Bluegreen. It is another of those “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories involving either Veterans, serving military or law enforcement personnel.