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My Thoughts Today: End of January

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

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

LIT

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

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

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

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

arizona-ag-seal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

plagiarism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLA Logo

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

great quote

 

BBC Scotland Investigates the Problems of Timeshare Contracts.

On Monday 24 October BBC Scotland broadcast an investigation into the problems people have in getting out of their timeshare, especially the elderly.

It highlighted an elderly retired couple from Scotland who purchased their timeshares from a company that is now owned by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels. The company is now owned 50% by HBOS Group (Bank of Scotland and Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group) and 50% by Donald MacDonald. They originally purchased at the Dona Lola Club in Spain, when their children were young. But as we have seen on many occasions, ill health prevents them from travelling, especially abroad, because of the problem of the increasing cost of travel insurance.

mcdonald logohbos

They have been trying to “relinquish” their contract for around two years, but the resort management, MacDonalds, want them to pay over £3000 to relinquish their two weeks. Even after they have paid their maintenance every year since purchasing. They are still trying to negotiate with MacDonalds, but are still paying £1600 maintenance each year.

This is not a new story to Inside Timeshare, we have the story of Mrs B, who used another company to “get rid” of her timeshare at Dona Lola, she is 83 and also in ill health and unable to travel. Like many others she paid her maintenance every year without fail, even though for the past ten years has never used it, Mrs B and her sister could not even travel to any of the UK resorts.

When she eventually paid another company to get rid of it for her the trouble started. Inside Timeshare has copies of the documents that show her timeshare has been transferred to another person, but MacDonalds refuse to accept this and say she owes maintenance. They have even instructed a debt collection agency, Network Credit Services, to chase for the the £1412.54 they say she owes. She has already received a final demand to pay within 7 days or face court action.

Inside Timeshare has helped her to formulate an official complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service to try and resolve the matter. This is still underway, yet it is that time of year when new maintenance bills will be falling on the door mat.

old-lady
How much!

MacDonalds stated in the programme:  “We’ve been widely praised for pioneering the introduction of a practical exit mechanism for owners. In fact, 90% of resort owners voted in favour of amending their resorts’ constitutions to formally adopt these fair and reasonable proposals”.

Well the proposal to be able to get out was not what you could call fair, it required at least 4 years payment of maintenance and was limited to every 2 years with first come first served.

In the next comment MacDonalds also stated: “However, it would clearly be detrimental to the upkeep of the resorts and unfair on the remaining resort owners if people were allowed to walk away from their contractual and legal obligations without some form of reasonable recompense which allows for the quality of facilities at the resorts to be maintained for future generations”.

This last statement clearly shows that MacDonalds are not interested in the owners apart from the continued collection of fees. So what is the reason for this statement?

It is quite simple, MacDonalds are a management company employed by the resorts, to run, maintain and collect the management fees. They actually own no property, like most of these large companies, i.e Diamond and Diversified. In the past MacDonalds with the backing of TATOC, changed the members from fixed weeks to a points system, when doing this they effectively took control of the resorts. By taking over the fixed weeks, MacDonalds become responsible for the maintenance fees on those weeks, with you the points owners paying a hefty increase in your charges.

By allowing people to hand back their ownership, with no prospect of new clients purchasing what is now a very expensive way to holiday, it will cost them. After all MacDonalds does not want to use their own money.

Another point to the broadcast was the problem of using other companies with their promises of “resale”. One company interviewed was one Inside Timeshare has highlighted in past articles, Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster.

The BBC sent an undercover reporter, Fergus Muirhead, he contacted Sellmytimeshare.tv about getting rid of his mothers timeshare. Over the phone he was given a valuation of £9,400 with an invitation to meet with the company face to face.

undercover

He stated that it was obvious that they had no intention of paying him that amount from the outset of the meeting, with Sellmytimeshare telling him “We can’t sell the timeshare because no one’s buying them so we certainly can’t get that money back for her.”

He was then given by the advisor a series of figures, which had to be paid upfront on the day, this was for thousands of pounds. He was told he would be given “credits” which could be used as part payment for goods or even be sold.

Fergus stated that if he held them for 14 months, he could sell these credits for £17,216, which covered the £9,400 and the £6,700 he was going to pay upfront. It was also not clear as to how the timeshare would be disposed of.

The programme also interviews Stephen Boyd a lawyer with experience of timeshare law, he is also a partner at Athena Law. He said he had around 300 clients and was in the process of instigating a legal action against Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster Travel Group, the parent company.

He stated: “My clients were told by this company that they could get rid of their timeshare, but when they went to a meeting they had to buy another product and they were promised a financial return.

“They’ve also found that the promised financial return never materialised and in many cases they’re still liable for the maintenance fees of their timeshare.”

When asked for a reply the spokesperson for Monster said:  “Customers seeking advice from us about relinquishing their timeshares are informed of the options available through us and are free to choose what they consider best suits them”.

“One of those options includes the purchase of a Monster Rewards Bundle, which can be redeemed against an increasingly wide range of goods and services, including travel”.

Follow the link to the full article on BBC News.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-37690840

Recent Inside Timeshare articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

One thing is clear from all this, it is the owners of the timeshares who are suffering, not just from the timeshare companies but those who say they will sell them for you, only to sell you another product. Remember the Club Class and DWVC pitch, we will take your timeshare from you if you join our club, we will then give you a “Cashback” certificate for the value of the timeshare and the cost of joining. This was to last either 3 or 5 years, at which point you claimed from the cashback company supposedly the value on the certificate. Guess what, no one ever did and in most cases they still were liable for the maintenance fees.

Timeshares are not worth anything, they lose value the moment you purchase, even in the USA as we have seen from recent articles, they sell only for a fraction of the original cost if at all. So the warning here is do not believe it when you are told you timeshare is worth thousands, check out ebay, they can’t even give them away.

If you require any further information about this or any other matter, or need any help in finding out about any company you may be thinking of doing business with, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help. Remember being forewarned is being forearmed.

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