Welcome to day 5 of the Spanish lockdown or “house arrest” as we prefer to call it, with plenty of videos being posted on social media of the main tourist areas with not a soul about. At least now the tourists who were ignoring the lockdown have finally realised that the police are not messing about and are staying in their hotels. In one video a woman who defied the rules and used the hotel pool (which was cordoned off) was arrested by National Police, she even had the audacity to ignore their orders to vacate the pool. But enough of that, today we report on a couple of news items that have filtered down from the courts, more comments and complaints from Anfi members.
Even with the courts suspending trials there still is some news filtering through, the latest was against Anfi. The case involving British clients was held at the Court of First Instance of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, where their contract was declared null and void. They were also awarded over £8,000 further details to be released.
Moving on to the Court of First Instance of Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, this court has just rejected a “declinatoria” by Diamond Resorts.
The Declinatoria is a legal writ in which the resort petitions the court to reject the case on the basis that the court does not have jurisdiction to try the case as the contract does not fall within the jurisdiction of Spanish law.
In this case, the court in Fuengirola ruled that the Diamond contracts did, in fact, fall under Spanish jurisdiction and therefore are subject to the terms of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.
This particular move by Diamond and many other resorts is a common one with the sole intention of avoiding litigation under Spanish law. This ruling sends the message that the courts are now taking this matter seriously.
Yesterday we published a report regarding Anfi and the policy of charging extortionate amounts per night for those members whose holidays are over, yet are stranded in Gran Canaria due to the “State of Alarm” which is in place. The latest are regarding the cancellation of bookings.
Today we publish some more comments and complaints from members on this subject.
The first is not so much a full-blown complaint but shows the concern this situation is causing to members. This reader has seen information that Anfi is to close yet there is no information or help from them forthcoming.
They are that concerned as they do not know what this means for them, they do not know what to do, even to the point of asking if they will end up “on the street”!
The next two complaints are very similar in nature, they are regarding the cancellation of bookings during the current crisis.
One reader asks “why do they have to pay 80€ to cancel their booking”, considering the situation and the fact that they may not even be able to get a flight, Inside Timeshare has to agree with them.
The second is what one reader has been told by Anfi regarding the cancellation of their booking, they will have to pay a cancellation fee, which is not given, plus they would be able to deposit their week for future use. This must be done by email before September 2020.
They are told that there is no charge to deposit the week, but, there is always a but, they will have to pay a fee of 91€ to re-book that deposited week. Although it will be valid until the end of 2021.
So even with the current situation of lockdown and the termination of many flights, Anfi seems determined to screw their members for every cent they can, this is not what people who have spent thousands to purchase this “exclusive” club membership deserve. At least in the current situation, these charges should be wavered and the costs per night should be reduced dramatically or even no charge at all.
As for the views of Inside Timeshare, this is what we have come to expect from Anfi so it is no surprise to us, customer and members service and care is obviously non-existent at Anfi.
In the end, they have screwed the members with the selling of illegal contracts over the years, they go out of their way to avoid paying what the courts have ordered and done all they can to prolong the legal process. So the question Inside Timeshare asks is do you really want to be members of this club knowing that they have no respect or regard for their members?
For further information on your legal rights and options please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
Due to unforeseen circumstances Inside Timeshare was not able to complete the article for publishing yesterday, this has been postponed for another day. We have also been hearing from various readers regarding their Marriott ownerships and the news they have been given that Marriott Timeshare is in imminent danger of collapse. Well, things couldn’t be further from the truth, as you will see with the latest developments from the courts regarding Marriott.
We don’t see a problem with this but it is what these owners are being told is what makes it worrying. In the call, the member is told that due to the number of cases that Marriott are losing in the Spanish courts the collapse of MarriottTimeshare is imminent.
So one of the largest timeshare and vacation companies in the world is in danger of “collapse”!
Marriott has many interests including the ownership of one of the largest timeshare exchange companies in the world Interval International, they are also a public listed company and as such have a duty to shareholders. So it is very strange indeed that none of this has been made public!
We suspect that this is yet another ploy to scare owners into taking up a legal service.
It is a fact that in July 2018, Inside Timeshare published the article “Marriott Admit Losing in Spanish Courts”, this article explained that in their public statement to shareholders they did admit they were losing but they also set aside $16.3 million to cover these cases. No doubt with more cases entering court they will set aside even more.
The twist in this story is that they then immediately paid voluntarily the original amount awarded to the court. It is believed that they have also retracted the appeal. Obviously they have realised that they really do not stand a chance of overturning the original ruling and have bowed out “gracefully”. This can only be good news for Clients with cases already underway and for those contemplating taking out legal action.
In this case, the court declared the contract null and void as it contained floating weeks and the contract was over 50 years in duration, the German client of Canarian Legal Alliance is now set to receive over 48,000€ and is also timeshare free.
That is it for today, but please remember to check for yourself any information that you are given regarding your timeshare, much of it is scaremongering to make you sign up for a service that is unlikely to ever happen. As we always say:
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.