Today Inside Timeshare highlights some of the latest news from the courts in Spain, courtesy of Canarian Legal Alliance. As we know they are the leading law firm in timeshare law and litigation with many victories to their credit including now 130 rulings from the Supreme Court.
After a lengthy process of appeals by Diamond, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the client, with their contract being declared null and void and the return of over 19,000€ plus double the deposit which was taken within the statutory cooling-off period. The court also awarded the client back their legal fees and legal interest.
In another case against Diamond at the Court of First Instance Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife, the Judge has decided not to proceed with a full trial, he will issue his sentence in due course. This will be based on the documents and the contracts which as we know clearly show that the sale was made in breach of the timeshare laws.
We have seen many of the judges in the courts of Gran Canaria foregoing the full trial and issuing judgements at the pre-trial stage for some time now, with many more judges at the courts of Arona, Tenerife are following suit in cases involving Silverpoint.
It is obviously good news for the clients as it has the effect of cutting down the time it takes to bring a case to a conclusion and also saves the clients from having to travel to attend the hearings. Hopefully, more courts will be following this lead as the cases are purely based on the contracts which are in breach of the law.
We now move to the Costa del Sol and the latest victory coming from the Court of First Instance Number 6 in Estepona.
This case involves Marriott Vacation Club with the judge declaring the contract null and void, citing the 130 Supreme Court rulings the judge ruled that the principal cause to nullify the contract was the “lack of an end date” on the contract. As we had stated previously, contracts under Spanish law should be for a maximum of 50 years.
The ex-timeshare owners were also awarded over £24,000 including the return of their legal fees plus legal interest.
In July last year Inside Timeshare published the fact that Marriott admitted they were losing in the Spanish courts and set aside around $16.3 million to cover the litigation expenses.
Going back now to the beginning of the month, Canarian Legal Alliance had a total of six rulings in favour of their clients, these were against Anfi, Silverpoint and Diamond Resorts. Once again the common denominator is that both the First Instance Courts and the High Courts are using the rulings made by the Supreme Court.
All contracts were declared null and void and the total awarded to clients is in excess of 204,000€.
If you purchased a timeshare after 5 January 1999 and would like to know if your contract is illegal and if you have a valid and viable claim, or you purchased from any of the companies featured on Inside Timeshare, then please use our contact page. Inside Timeshare will then get back to you and explain what options are open to you.
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.
If you are a timeshare member, owner, prospective buyer, or just someone interested in seeing an improvement in timeshare sales and marketing practices, join TARDA today to join your voice with ours. Your donation of $10 or more will automatically enroll you as a member of TARDA. A complete explanation of TARDA can be found on our website linked above.
The time has come to have the timeshare consumer’s voice speak for the timeshare consumer, as opposed to timeshare executives speaking to lawmakers on our behalf. We know there are millions who use and enjoy their timeshare weeks or points, but we also know thousands have reported how they have been harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales and marketing practices.
Our initial legislative goal is twofold:
Allow the timeshare buyer 24 hours to consider their decision to buy a timeshare product
If the signing session is recorded, allow the buyer the opportunity to record the sales session
By their own admission, in testimony provided at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), acknowledged in their statistics that reports of verbal representations are dismissed.
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’sDepartment of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.
What is a 501c4?
Nonprofit organizations typically classified under 501c4 include:
Volunteer fire departments
And other groups that promote social well-being
Restrictions of a 501c4
Similar to a 501c3, no profits of the 501c4 can be used to directly benefit any of its individuals. The 501c4 organization cannot stand in support of or against any politician, whether done indirectly or directly.
However, the 501c4 is allowed to partake in minimal political activity, but those activities cannot become the focus of the organization. Also, when engaging in political activities, the 501c4 risks that any expenses incurred may be taxed.
Lobbying is allowed only for the sake of achieving its social well-being goal. If the 501c4 engages in lobbying, it may have to disclose how much of its members’ dues are going toward lobbying. https://www.upcounsel.com/501c3-vs-501c4
Hundreds of timeshare member complaints have been sent to the timeshare lobby ARDA and to ARDA-ROC, a political action committee. Complaints have been ignored. ARDA-ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics.
Not one in over 1,000 timeshare members have been able to tell me what ARDA even stands for, yet ARDA ROC collects approximately $5 million a year in “voluntary” donations. At some resorts contributions are opt-out. When I attempted to opt-out my $7, the $7 was moved to another account and reported as delinquency. It took a while on hold until the matter could be researched and resolved. ARDA and ARDA ROC’s boards consist of timeshare executives with one exception. There are no timeshare owners on the board.
Why ARDA does not represent the voice of the timeshare consumer
As described in the RedWeek article linked below, ARDA proposed and passed legislation in Florida in 2015 that makes it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts due to non-material errors.
In Arizona ARDA vigorously argued against offering the timeshare buyer a 24 hour “cooling off” period before signing a perpetual contract that likely has no secondary market. Shorter-term products have been developed, but even a ten-year product can wreak financial havoc. Clearly, any organization arguing against a 24 hour cooling off period is not on the side of the consumer.
ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved. DailyI receive requests from timeshare buyers seeking release. They do not know where to turn. Many are seniors who would never find their way to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. Most have owned their timeshare for 10 to 30 years, rarely used it, and have been paying maintenance fees for decades. An out of touch quote from an ARDA lobbyist:
“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.
According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:
But the bottom line said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.
According to an Arizona Senator who supported ARDA’s defeat of a pro-consumer bill that would have allowed 24 hours to consider a timeshare purchase:
“These people are adults. There was a meeting of the minds and they signed a contract. They should take responsibility.”
The first timeshare complaint I read on Tripadvisor in 2016 is reflective of the over 1,000 complaints received, one of the adults who “did not bother to understand the nature of the deal.” Since this complaint, I have heard from more than 1,000 others.
I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have an equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact, I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.
Thank you Irene, Inside Timeshare wishes TARDA all the best in their endeavours and hopes that the industry does take notice and change its ways. If they do not, then they will end up just they will end up just like the dinosaurs, EXTINCT!
A panel of the highest judges in Spain overruled a High Court decision of 22 December 2016 which supported the sentence of the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife of 4 April 2015, which found against the client and in favour of Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. Both courts had failed to enact the timeshare laws as laid down in previous Supreme Court judgements.
This is a clear signal to all the lower courts that the law is set and they must abide by it.
The case was brought on behalf of the client by Canarian Legal Alliance and brings the total of judgements in the Supreme Court in their favour to 130. This has also made Spanish legal history, 130 cases brought, 130 victories!
The client in question will now receive back 19,650€ plus double the deposit paid within the statutory 14 days cooling-off period and all their legal fees. The contract has also been declared null and void, leaving the happy client timeshare free.
Spain is in the forefront of protecting consumers of timeshare, but there is still a long way to go as the industry still tries to find loopholes and developing products to get around the laws.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor Wilma Miller with her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” and her Buyer Beware article. First we have a quick round up of European news.
October is now with us and in the next few months the annual maintenance bills will be arriving, this will also bring in many calls from “companies” offering cancellation of contracts and claims against timeshare resorts. The warning is beware the fantastic offers these will come out with, from the guaranteed cancellation and the promise of no win no fee claims.
As usual it is important to do your due diligence before engaging with any company, that means check and check again. There are many questions you should be asking yourself:
How long has this company been operating, can they actually have done what they state in the time they have been working?
If they are offering “no win no fee” claims, how are they going to claim?
In order to do the claim do they want money upfront to cancel the contract first?
Are they going to sell you another product?
What lawyers are they going to use if taking the case to a Spanish Court?
Can these lawyers be verified as genuine and registered with their relevant bar associations?
If you need help in answering any of these questions, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.
The Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas began the month with another ruling against Anfi, in his ruling the Judge of Court No 4 declared the contract null and void, this was on the basis that the contract was longer than the stipulated maximum of 50 years as required by Law 42/98. The judge also awarded double the deposit paid within the cooling off period as this is also in breach of the law, in this case the German client has been award over 66,000€ plus legal interest.
Last month ended with a bang for Canarian Legal Alliance with a total of 18 sentences being issued in various courts ranging from First Instance to High Courts, there were also 6 provisional executions of sentences whereby Anfi has been ordered to deposit over 184,000€ with the court. These provisional executions of sentences will speed up and ensure prompt payouts for the clients.
All contracts were declared null and void and the total awarded was over 286,000€
It would also appear that Abogados Lopez another fake law firm has become active again, with calls to existing CLA clients telling them that they have taken over their case from CLA. Beverley Pritchard is another new new name along with Ricardo Sanchez.
0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code, although when trying to call this number back a recording states the number does not exist.
If you are an existing client of Canarian Legal Alliance and receive a call from any of the names or numbers above including the original name of Hope Brugge, do not pay them or give them any information, they may sound credible, but are a complete scam.
Now for our Tuesday Slot.
A Buyer Beware Timeshare Experience
By Wilma Miller
October 2, 2018
We first encountered Diamond Resorts while on vacation June 2017. Their people knocked us off our feet with free tickets to a show, and switched us from the Stratosphere to Diamond’s Polo Towers Suites. They even picked us up in a limousine! All we had to do was attend a 90 minute presentation. It’s easy to catch people off guard while on vacation.
Looking back, I believe the presentation room was designed to be noisy and crowded. The 90 minutes turned into hours. I am 78 and my husband James, a Vietnam Army veteran, is 75. As the hours wore on we became more tired and more confused. The presentation began about 11 a.m. and lasted all day.
James has health issues. He was not feeling well after several hours had passed, but the sales agents just kept on. It did not even register when we mentioned his health issues. Sales agents Ninmar N and Diana C were vague on how the program worked. They were vague on the cancellation procedure, and the payment procedure. We felt pressured into signing and we were not allowed enough time to read the documents. They showed us the documents as they explained what was in them, but did not give us a chance to actually hold or read them before we signed. They hurried us through the signing process by placing papers in front of us, telling us what it said, asking us to sign. We later received a copy.
They had said we were eligible for a senior package. We’ve learned there is no such thing called a senior package. We did not know the maintenance fees would be so high. We did not even know we had purchased a timeshare. Jim kept asking if this was a timeshare. They never admitted it was.
We bought 3000 points. They charged $14,000 to two Diamond’s Barclaycard. We were not aware we had opened the cards, much less that the cards had been charged. We repeatedly told the sales agents we were not interested, but they kept insisting we sign the contract.
After the signing process, they placed the Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Public Offering Statement in our packet. We were not given an opportunity to even see what it was, much less read it. They said no one ever reads it. When we looked at it later it said right on the front – THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER SHOULD READ THIS REPORT BEFORE SIGNING ANY PAPERS!
In our opinion, the biggest deception of all was when they told us the payment would be $80 per month with no interest and Diamond Resorts would invoice us for the payment. This is in complete contrast to what has since transpired. Instead of one payment of $80, there are two payments, making it double the price they told us.
We received two Diamond Barclays Bank Credit Cards in the mail. As I mentioned, we were not even aware the cards had been opened. One Barclaycard was in my name and the other in James’ name. Neither agent mentioned credit cards during the presentation. They said we had to fill out an application to see if we would qualify. We never received a copy of the application.
To add insult to injury, the credit cards had no interest charges until now. Now the two payments are too much for us to afford.
After we received the high maintenance fee bill and credit cards, we went back for our orientation August 2017. We told them several times that we wanted to cancel or sell the timeshare. We said we wanted out. When we told one person, they would get another person to talk to us. They tried to sell us an upgrade even when we said we could not afford what we bought! We talked to several sales people, but they ignored our concerns. It was obvious to us they did not care. We never saw our original sales agents. Despite being told it was an orientation, we received no training or explanations.
We complained to Diamond Resorts directly. They dismissed our claims out of hand. They expect us to pay for something based on being told:
This was a great financial investment that would increase in value,
There were tax benefits as owners,
We could easily sell it,
Diamond had a buy-back program but recommended we never use it because we would lose all our points,
We would have a personal representative or coordinator assigned to us. They said this several times. We never heard from anyone, much less a personal representative or coordinator.
They did not tell us:
How much vacation time we would get. We kept asking the sales agents but never received an answer. They bypassed every question.
We received 3000 points, but when we asked how we could use them, they gave us a confusing run around.
When we asked about maintenance fees and other fees, they avoided answering our questions by changing the subject.
We have sent a letter saying we cannot and will not make payments. We received a lot of collection calls. We sent a letter asking that the calls be stopped. They did stop. We had a high credit score before this. We stopped making payments around March. We received a form saying they would settle for a lower amount. They were talking about the Barclaycard.
James has been diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard enough growing older without having to go through this. How many seniors will be harmed and harassed before lawmakers and Nevada regulators do something to stop this? We fear it will never stop, so the best we can do is write about our experience, hoping it will help others.
When I submitted this article to Inside Timeshare, I was told about this member sponsored Diamond Resorts Members’ Facebook page. I wish I knew about this Facebook before we got ourselves into this. It’s been a disaster.
This article was written and submitted by Wilma Miller. We invite Diamond Resorts and Barclays to respond. We publish member accounts, good and bad, in an effort to warn the general public to know what they are signing and what they are buying.
That’s it for today, remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet. It must also be pointed out that just because a company advertises in a prestigious publication, the radio or the TV, this does not mean they are genuine, these are sold advertising spaces, the marketing companies that sell them do not check on the authenticity of the company advertising. They will also publish a disclaimer, that they are not responsible for the content or authenticity of the advertiser.
If in doubt, use our contact page and we will be pleased to help you with your checks.