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El Diario

Start the Week: Anfi Make the News Again; A New Contributor Joins Inside Timeshare

Welcome to Start the Week, on 11 August El Diario published another article surrounding the controversy of the man made beach at Tauro, which is part of the Anfi Tauro Beach Project.

El Diario has had access to a report on the ecological impact of the importation of sand from the Western Sahara, which under UN and EU sanctions is illegal. El Diario gained access to this report under the freedom and transparency regulations.

The report is from a study by the Biodiversity and Conservation Group, which is part to the EcoAqua University Institute of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It looks at the impact of the Special Zone of Conservation (ZEP), Known as the Marina Strip of Mogan, an area about 300 meters offshore and covering an area of 30,000 hectares which extends along the southwest coast of Gran Canaria.

Due to the sedimentation caused by this sand, visibility is affected which will have an effect on the ecosystem as light is drastically reduced. This reduction is causing problems for the plant life as it affects their photosynthesis capabilities. There is also concern as to the introduction of minerals and other inorganic material which is also having consequences on the marine life of the Zone.

It was originally believed that the 70,000 tonnes of sand was actually coming from Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas, but as we know it was actually imported illegally from the Western Sahara, with work starting in May 2016. This work was also started without the necessary documentation, licences and permissions in place, these were then falsified by the then head of the Coastal Authority months after the work began.

José María Hernández de León, was then sacked and is now facing trial, which the State Prosecutor is demanding a minimum of 3 years jail. The investigation is also involving Anfi as it is that company who has the concessions to the beach and also is undertaking the work to build it.

No doubt we will be seeing more prosecutions and possibly some very heavy fines, once the investigation is complete. For the full story click on the link below, open in google and use the translate facility.

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/aportacion-Tauro-Franja-Marina-Mogan-playa_de_Tauro-arena_saharaui-Franja_Marina_de_Mogan_0_801419852.html

PDF file of the University of Las Palmas Report.

ANFITauro_EDIFIL20180809_0001

We have also had the following story from one of our Anfi readers, it transpires that the Anfi Charge Card which members can use at the various concessions at Anfi, is no longer being accepted by certain bars and restaurants.

This charge card allows Anfi members to pay for food and drink without the need to use cash or their own credit cards, they are then charged at the end of their stay and clear the card with Anfi.

This is not a bad idea, but it does seem as though the businesses concerned are not having their bills paid by Anfi immediately, according to our information, they are having to wait several months before they are paid. This is obviously not good for the businesses, especially if the majority of members are using the card, the businesses still have their own bills to pay such as stock and the high rents for the locals. As we get more information on this subject we will inform you.

Inside Timeshare would also like to welcome a new collaborator, Wayne C. Robinson, an Inspirational Speaker, Author and Film Producer, you can see more about him on his website:

https://waynerobinsonproductions.com

Wayne is a former timeshare sales executive with many years of experience in the industry, he is also publishing a book called The Red Week Timeshare Book, covering everything you need to know about timeshare before, during and after the sale. It will also cover how to be rid of your timeshare for free. We will certainly be looking forward to reading this.

He has also sent us a copy of his publication entitled 13 Shocking Secrets; The timeshare industry does not want you to know. We have added a PDF copy below for you to read.

13 Shocking Timeshare Secrets

Or to subscribe click on the link below

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwaynerobinsonproductions.us16.list-manage.com%2Fsubscribe%3Fu%3D44c27217e62190e8ab52dc418%26id%3Da30a1ab1e0&h=AT2iQOYhL4_-aX_VBWKlWNXUlQIPvzjm2gEf_WCUm7ybAqiH-bVPp6dJfyfJna2tGxYgIY9RWIfrsDAgPPqfz4zQdQYzwHbakLP8CvHDZXLHkGBoGs20SHZxCXoP2ol4xyKsL0wsY1jkcgFFVoJY5mCeu6o5ea7ic8c

We hope to be able to publish some of his insights on these pages in the near future, so once again welcome to Inside Timeshare and the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy facebook page.

Tomorrow we publish another new contributor Della Morris, an Americano Beach Resort owner in foreclosure, with the introduction by our very own Irene Parker, so join us tomorrow for more on the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome a new contributor Diane Creiger, with her article Elder Advocates, but first a quick update on the article published yesterday regarding Anfi Tauro Beach.

After publishing it became apparent that this news was still breaking in the Spanish press, with the publishing of more information regarding the demolition of the shacks and the company employed by Anfi to carry this out. Canarias Seminal published

“UN COMANDO DE BOXEADORES PENINSULARES VIAJA A GRAN CANARIA PARA DERRIBAR CHABOLAS (VÍDEO)”

(A COMMAND OF PENINSULAR BOXERS TRAVELS TO GRAN CANARIA TO DEMOLISH SHANTIES (VIDEO))

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

This follows from the El Diario article “Violento derribo de chabolas en Tauro”

(Violent felling of shanties in Tauro)

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/Violento-derribo-chabolas-Tauro_2_794790515.html

With following photo posted on facebook:

(These are the sicarios and godosjediondos of the business  DESOKUPA traids by Santana Cazorla and the government of the Canary Islands from Spain to curb the Canaries with their corrupt laws of eviction and appropriate the public domain ¡¡¡Espabilate Canario that you eat the jediondo godo!!!) (Apologies for the translations)

I just wonder how all the members at Anfi feel that their “club” is a party to this type of behaviour?

Now on with today’s article.

“They told us if we did not give up our deeded timeshare, our children would be sued and their credit would be ruined. I recorded the presentation.”

A frequent timeshare member complaint, reported by our readers, concerns faulty estate planning advice given to members concerned about passing on a timeshare liability to their children and heirs. Members say they are told their children will be responsible for the timeshare unless they give up their deeded timeshare and buy timeshare points. Timeshare members should receive estate planning advice from their estate planning lawyer, not from timeshare sales agents. Irene Parker  

By Diane Creiger

July 24, 2018

I am writing to let seniors know how financially devastating a timeshare decision can be. I am 74 years old and my husband Tom is 77. We bought Diamond points only because we were repeatedly told our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees if we did not give up our deeded timeshare. We have learned this was not true. We were given false estate planning advice.

In Branson, June of 2014, our sales agent Kimberly told us three times, “Your children will have to take this timeshare whether they want it or not.” I had asked what would happen if our children could not pay the maintenance fees. Kimberly said our children would be sued and their credit ruined. I recorded this in-person presentation in Missouri on June 18, 2014. In Missouri one party recording is allowed. Kimberly was very threatening.

On the recording, DRI sales agent Kimberly states, “The HOA companies want their maintenance fees and they say this will go to your kids whether they want it or not.” I asked, “what if they can’t pay it?” Kimberly replied, “Then the HOA has the right to sue your children and ruin their credit. If you have a deed, which you own, that’s what we are looking at here today. That’s the difference between Diamond and what you have.” She repeated, “If your kids don’t want this, they still have to pay the maintenance fees on it, regardless. This will be willed to them whether or not they want it. Your kids do not have a choice.” That sounded pretty threatening to us.

We did not buy then, but worried about the liability we would pass on to our children, we purchased 4,000 vacation points later in Florida, only for this reason. The Florida sales agent told us the same thing.

I learned this was in no way true in our situation, but now made worse because we used a credit card to charge the purchase. This debt could complicate our estate settlement. In other words, we had no estate problem, UNTIL we gave up our deed. With a credit card liability, the settlement of our estate could be jeopardized by this outstanding debt.

I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy, Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, Diamond’s PR Firm Prosek, Barclays President’s office, the National Timeshare Owners Association, the Better Business Bureau, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Florida Attorney General’s Senior vs Crime Project, and AARP. The Senior Sleuths never responded. There seems to be no timeshare enforcement. We feel trapped. Everyone responds, “You signed a contract.”

After numerous attempts to resolve our dispute, I received an unusual call from a Mr. Edward Florez. Mr. Florez stated his department was recently set up, and his job recently created, because Apollo Global Management wanted their customers to have the best customer service available and that is why they created his office. Mr. Florez said he had been a police officer for 20 years. He said he wanted to help me. I was informed our account is now a corporate account and we are to deal only with him. Mr. Florez allowed me to record our call, which is a first. He was very explicit that we should not go to any more timeshare updates, unless we wanted some particular gift. He said there was no reason for us to experience so much pressure.

I told Mr. Florez that six different salesperson had told us about the problems our heirs would experience inheriting the deeded timeshare we owned before Diamond acquired our resort. Mr. Florez agreed this was not correct. He said that there may have been a few sales people who needed to be brought up to their (Apollo’s) level of customer service.

I asked Mr. Florez why our maintenance fees had increased $500. He said this was an “impact” fee that occurs when a deeded owner gives up their deed. I said that would mean our maintenance fees should not go up because of this being a one time fee. He laughed and said “I will never say that.”

I then became a little forceful and told him I was thinking about writing some articles, and writing letters to AARP, DoJ, and Consumer Affairs. I told him that the senior community needed to be warned and the Department of Justice needs to look into the timeshare industry. There was a lot of stuttering on the other end of the line.

Diamond’s CLARITY program is about Diamond members receiving clear, concise, accountable, transparent information. We received the opposite of accountable and transparent information.

As a last resort, I reached out to Apollo Global Management. After contacting Apollo, I received a call from Diamond corporate within an hour. I was encouraged, only to be told no one will talk to me anymore. I was informed I must send my complaint snail mail to Diamond’s corporate office from now on. I feel like I have been sent to the Principal’s office.

We feel our Diamond Orlando sales agent Randy used deceptive tactics to coerce us into giving up our deeded timeshare by telling us the following:

  1.  Randy said if we did not give up our ILX (Arizona) deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees. We had heard sales agents at five prior sales presentations make this same claim.
  2. Randy told us that once we had completed and paid for our Diamond purchase we could walk away from Diamond at any time with no repercussions. No misunderstanding here. I asked this question pointedly.
  3. Randy said our current maintenance fees were much too high. He said our maintenance fees may not go up if we converted to points. Randy explained that this was because our deeded week was in a small pool. He said points are in a much larger pool which serves to dilute the fees. After we converted to points our maintenance fees went from $2,000 to $2,500.
  4. When I asked Randy about the $500 increase in maintenance fees, he just said we could deduct the fees on our income taxes. When I told him the IRS doesn’t allow maintenance fees to be deduction, he replied, “Well, many people do it.”   
  5. After signing a few papers, we were directed to the office of a DRI QA agent. She had us sign numerous documents electronically which we could not entirely read. We signed in a master block, and then were told to tap the blank blocks. One of the blank blocks stated that Diamond could not raise our maintenance fees more than 25% per year. We could not read this until we reviewed the hard copy after we returned home. We would never have signed a document that allows maintenance fees to be raised by 25%.
  6. The initials on the documents are not mine. My initials are DMC, but the contract shows DMN.
  7. When we told Randy and the QA agent that we were electronically inept, they suggested we attend a training class on the use of the Notepad. We received a letter stating we were to attend a “New Member Orientation” at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. We incurred the expense of the airfare to Las Vegas, in addition to other expenses. When we showed up for our orientation we were told there was no such thing as a New Member Orientation. We were furious. All they did was try to sell us more points.  

We have not used any of the Diamond points we purchased. We have asked Diamond to return our $16,000 that we paid for 4,000 points. We are even willing to forfeit our ILX deed for which we paid $19,000 to get out of this nightmare.

When Diamond calls us, they record the call, but when I ask if I can record the call, I have repeatedly been told no. This is very intimidating, especially to seniors who feel they have been victimized. They say it is against company policy.

I had the opportunity to sit on a federal grand jury from January of 1999 until June of 2000. I understand the patience and determination it takes to get to the bottom of a situation and to seek justice. I will not give up. I have learned we are one of many seniors who bought Diamond points and were told if we didn’t give up our deeded timeshare our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees.  I have joined our Diamond member sponsored Facebook.  

In my complaint I included:

If the decedent left a will and named you as a beneficiary and you decline the bequest, most states treat the event the same as if you had predeceased him. The executor must probate the will as if you had died and were no longer available to accept your inheritance. Your bequest will then revert back to the estate. info.legalzoom.com/happens-someone-refuses-accept-inheritance-21217.html

We also had a terrible experience in Sedona at Los Abrigados. They put us in a handicap unit, which we didn’t need. The room was dirty with the contents of a broken colostomy bag that had dripped 15 feet across the carpet. We took pictures. They would not accommodate us with other lodging. We had our children and grandchildren with us. All they did was put rugs or runners over the carpet until the next day when they cleaned the carpet. They only refunded our points after we complained.

Florida’s Seniors vs Crime project, Senior Sleuths never responded.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-8/

Thank you to Diane for sharing her experience and becoming our own Senior Timeshare Sleuth, volunteering her time to assist other seniors who feel they have been victimized by timeshare sales agents. We look forward to future articles.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/report-fraud/

Thank you Diane, we hope to read many more from you, but I am sure that this will hit home to many of our readers.

Tomorrow we will be publishing the article about Marriott and their report to shareholders, which also highlights the fact that they are facing a plethora of lawsuits in Spain with a substantial amount set aside to cover the costs of this.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article published, or just need information on a company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday, so time for another Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a look today’s major news in Europe.

El Diario a prominent Spanish daily newspaper published the following article today (see link for full story).

The article reports on the current legal actions against Anfi and tells of the 1.35 million Euros they have had to repay to consumers, in the execution of around fifty judgements. It also goes on to say that there are over 395 live cases at court with a value of over 27 million Euros, with over 100 having had decisions in favour of the consumers. Some of these are firm decisions with the sentences yet to be executed, others are awaiting confirmation.

With even the Spanish press publishing articles such this, it does make the claim by Anfi that they have not lost or the Supreme Court has got it wrong rather flimsy!

In fact on Tuesday yet another sentence was announced by the Court of First Instance against Anfi, again the clients contract was declared null and void with the judge ordering Anfi to return over £20,000 plus legal interest

(if using google. Right click on the article for a translation to English)

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Grupo_Anfi-condenas-negocio-timesharing_0_739477033.html

The same article has also been published in Canarias7, one of the major Canary Islands Newspapers.

https://www.canarias7.es/economia/turismo/anfi-paga-ya-1-35-millones-por-condenas-YK3590405

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

 

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (first published in three parts)

Timeshare Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund, Foreclosure

Magnify

By Irene Parker

February 16, 2018

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare, but rising maintenance fees, high interest rate loans and higher interest rate developer issued credit cards can spell financial disaster, especially when an individual or family is hit with an unexpected life crisis. Not one of the more than 300 Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us realized the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract (in the US), or that their timeshare had little or no secondary market. It is not uncommon for a family to have spent $100,000 or more on a timeshare.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone, or any firm, money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, like being in the middle of buying a house, may result in a referral to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help the individual or family.   

Our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because we don’t win them all. No one does, not even lawyers. “We can guarantee you release!” boasts the exit timeshare ad. We have had reports of people paying scammers large sums of money for a guaranteed release, only to learn the guarantee came about because of foreclosure or non-payment.

Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

The goal:  Convert from angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused into empowered. Timeshare Advocacy Group™   has 44 core advocates and 10 technical support advocates to help you. All of our Advocates are unpaid.

The First R: Relinquishment

dont like

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees. It is difficult to determine how many surrenders requests are granted, compared to the number of surrenders requested.

There is nothing wrong with deeding back a timeshare if you have used and enjoyed the timeshare for several years. However, if you find out just days or weeks after purchase that you bought a timeshare not matching what you were promised, walking away from even $5,000 doesn’t seem right.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their 64 members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:

refund

A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund can be achieved.  Inside Timeshare has heard from so many members alleging fraud, we can sometimes guess the name of the repeat offender sales agent before we are told. The fact that some of the same agents are committing the same “fraud for profit” over a period of years is telling.

The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort. Anticipate a knee jerk “you signed a contract’ reaction. Next, begins the filing of regulatory and law enforcement agency complaints. This is where our advocates are ready to assist because just figuring out online forms can be daunting. Check our complaint form for the list of appropriate agencies to contact.

Eron Grant has become our resident ARDA Code of Ethics analyst. In all likelihood, timeshare members are not even aware they are collectively giving $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opts-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member.

Despite our advocates and members forwarding a volume of complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response. Inside Timeshare has learned two of the worst alleged offenders each give $1 million a year to ARDA ROC, surely a disincentive to enforcement.   

Here’s Eron’s article: Why Does ARDA Have a Code of Ethics?

red dress

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-14/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including 19 Attorneys General like Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, as reported by Chris Parker.  

“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”

“Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private,” writes Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause. However, as we have stated in several previous articles, according to the FBI and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind the fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points.      

The most common deceit and bait and switch complaints

  • The agent said I could sell my points.
  • The agent said my points were an investment, so easily sold, at a profit.
  • I can turn in points to pay maintenance fees but no such program exists
  • The value of airline and other travel awards is zilch. A common complaint is being told you can use a credit card to offset or pay maintenance fees in their entirety, when a member would have to charge $200,000 to pay an annual $2,000 maintenance fee.
  • The interest rate is 18%. They said I could get better financing but I can’t.

The Third R

resolved

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

One amusing complaint was a buyer whose complaint was that they bought a trial program, but they were promised a lifetime membership. I explained, in the case of the timeshare company they bought into, the last thing they wanted was a lifetime membership. I encouraged them to become a Secret Shopper since they were not locked into perpetual maintenance fees.

 foreclosure  Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. Timeshare Advocacy Group has a foreclosure support group, with members offering each other tips on how to withstand the grueling up to 180 days or more of collection calls. Calls are relentless and members have reported many violations of debt collection consumer protection laws.  

We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed on Better Business Bureau reports, Attorneys General Settlements, and Assurances of Discontinuance and lawsuits. There will be a hit to your credit score of course, but if you feel you are a victim of fraudulent timeshare sales practices, provide the rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan or credit card. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process for an article we published previously. Mike’s answers are worth repeating. Some common questions:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

Remember, “I can’t afford it,” is not a valid reason to cancel a loan for a timeshare any more than it is a reason to be able to cancel your home mortgage loan. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and ask them to cancel your home mortgage because, “I can’t afford it.”

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to evaluate and work together to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

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.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

fix prob

That’s it for another week, remember if you require any information about any article published or any company that contacts you, Contact Inside Timeshare and we will get the information for you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

Timeshare In the Press

Following on from some of the previous articles regarding court cases and the fact that many of the timeshare companies are denying they have taken place, El Diario, a Spanish newspaper has published an article which confirms these cases are genuine.

(Bring up the link below, right click on the article and choose translate)

eldiario

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/sentencias-Supremo-contratos-timesharing-Tenerife_0_677182619.html

In their article entitled “Eight Supreme Court rulings annul in one month `timesharing´ contracts in Tenerife for more than 400,000 euros”, they explain the cases against Silverpoint. El Diario explain that the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court issued in the space of 10 days, between Monday 10 July and Thursday 20 July, a total of eight judgements against Silverpoint.

They go on to state that since the start of the year Canarian Legal Alliance has accumulated 18 rulings from the Supreme Court against this one company alone. Many of these cases had been won at the Court of First Instance, were then taken to the High Court on appeal and eventually to the Supreme Court, which returns a verdict in favour of the customer.

Silverpoints contention that these consumers are “investors” has in the past been accepted by the High Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with the Supreme Court overturning that verdict. Silverpoint still contend that they sold a product which consumers eventually would sell and return a “profit”, making them “investors”.

What the Supreme Court has stated is these “consumers” for a substantial amount of money have purchased the right to use with annual maintenance fees, along with the addition of the possibility of resale. The court believes that this firmly brings the product into the scope of the law 42/98 on timeshare, and therefore they are afforded the full protection of the law as consumers.

The difference between what Silverpoint have been selling and that sold by other companies is quite simple, Silverpoint have on their presentations sold the product with the express promise of a sale in two years, in which the consumer will make at least a 15% profit. We all know that part of the sales pitch is “when you no longer want to use it you can sell it”, “that it will go up in value”. The fact is, according to the EU directives on timeshare it should not be sold as an investment.

Silverpoint have stated that they will take these cases to the High Court of Justice of the European Union and the Constitutional Court of Spain. From our understanding, the Constitutional Court only deals with matters regarding the constitution and not civil matters, which the timeshare law is. As for the EU High Court of Justice, will they not be bound to uphold the Timeshare Directives issued by the European Union?

Another publication to highlight the rulings of the Supreme Court, is the English language newspaper The Canary News. Last Friday 18 August, they published a translated version of the article in La Provincia, another Spanish newspaper.

the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

http://thecanarynews.com/supreme-court-ruling-continues-to-tempt-thousands-of-timeshare-clients-to-file-lawsuits-for-fraud/

It starts with a recap of the groundbreaking case of Mrs Tove Grimsbo against Anfi, brought by the CLA lawyer Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos. This case opened the door for thousands of timeshare owners to annul their contracts and seek justice, following years of flouting the law by the timeshare companies.

miguel1
Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos

So once again we have to ask the question “who is telling the truth, do you believe the timeshare companies who have for years misled consumers, or do you believe the news from the courts published in various journals”?

We know who we believe, the evidence is there in black and white, not just published in newspapers but by the courts themselves in the official bulletins which make the rulings public. The timeshare companies have only themselves to blame for their present predicament, for too long they have believed they were above the law, by continuing their denial of these facts they are just destroying for good a once decent product.

http://insidetimeshare.com/supreme-court-rules-silverpoint-twice-one-week/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

If you have any questions about this subject, or want to know if you have an illegal contract and are eligible to bring a case and how to do so, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Do you have a story about your experiences and would like to share, then we would like to hear from you. This is your forum to be heard, with your contributions we can publish the truth about what is going on in the world of timeshare.

Breaking news: Tauro Beach Project.

News has just come in from El Diario Canarias Ahora that the prosecutor’s office have requested three and half years imprisonment for the former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority, José María Hernández de León.

eldiario

The prosecution allege that the former Head of Costas illegally authorised the construction of the artificial beach at Tauro without the promoter of the project (Anfi) having fulfilled the condition required by law.

These works were to build an artificial beach using 70,000 tonnes of imported sand from Western Sahara. It was the first works of its kind that the Coastal Authority, part of the Environment Ministry had authorised in 25 years.

The indictment presented to the Court of Instruction number 3 of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, denounces that the then head of the Costas José María Hernández de León, allowed these works to begin knowing that Anfi had not complied with the conditions demanded, then falsified the documents so that it appeared everything was legal and they had complied with the ministry.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

The Public Prosecutor demands that Hernández de Léon should be tried as a perpetrator for the crime of prevarication (being intentionally dishonest) with forgery of an official document. Along with the sentence of three and a half years in prison, they are also calling for ten years of disqualification for public employment and a fine of 18,750 euros.

It certainly looks like the Public Prosecutor is calling for a severe punishment, it now remains to be seen if the ex chief of the Costas puts forward any evidence which could implicate Anfi in any wrongdoing. With such a sentence hanging over him he may just want to mitigate this by plea bargaining and save himself.

prison

As usual only time will tell, Inside Timeshare will bring you the news as and when it comes in. This story is by no means over.

Link to the El Diario article.

http://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Fiscalia-exjefe-Costas-Canarias-Tauro_0_625388159.html

Search for Anfi Tauro in the search box for all previous articles on this story.

End of the Week Review.

We started this week with Irene’s article on Consumer Protection Week in the US, we end with another.

While in Europe and especially Spain, we have seen more news coming from the Supreme Court. At the start of the week it was announced that Silverpoint formerly Resort Properties, have been ordered to pay back 169,000€. This was announced in the Spanish newspaper El Diario (see link), the Spanish press have been very fast to publicise these rulings, which have gone virtually unnoticed in the UK press.

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Varapalo-Supremo-timesharing-comercializado-Canarias_0_619088490.html

In another case, the Supreme Court ruled against the same company for infringements of the timeshare laws for a German client. In this particular case the court again stated that the client was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint had claimed. The client’s contract was declared null and void and awarded over 30,000€.

These cases have been brought by the Canarian law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, who so far since the first Supreme Court ruling 2 years ago, have secured over 3 million euros for their clients, with over 1.2 million euros already in the accounts of the clients.

CLA Logo

To celebrate the 2nd birthday of the first ruling, the Norwegian lady who made legal history visited the lawyers who fought her case. Mrs Tove Grimsbo, had an epic battle which lasted several years, her case was highlighted extensively in the Scandinavian press, but through the perseverance of her lawyers she eventually won through.

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/meredith-pritchard-new-exit-claims-company/

So on to Irene Parker’s End of Consumer Protection Week article.
End of Consumer Protection Week March 5 – 11

By Irene Parker

satisfied

Consumer Protection Week ends today. Here are some tips on purchasing and owning a timeshare. Timeshare is a good product for some but it does not work for everyone.

“Buyer Beware!”  The psychological methods used by some timeshare companies and agents are designed to wear the consumer down – difficult to overcome even by the strongest individual. “My personal opinion, working as a sales agent for Diamond Resorts and Hyatt, convinced me that greed and making the sale at any cost is the corporate culture. I saw manipulation, threats, deceit and fraud used to make sales. When you have a good product, these methods are not necessary to make the sale,” reported one former timeshare sales agent.

Do your homework. Few will buy a house or car without some comparison shopping. Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to compare developer versus secondary market prices and benefit or lack of benefits when buying a “used” timeshare.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Ask yourself if the “FREE GIFT” is really worth signing a perpetual contract, accompanied by perpetual maintenance fees, in a same day sale, with little or no secondary market.  Most timeshare companies do not offer buy-back programs and voluntary surrenders are not guaranteed.

If you are a timeshare owner who feels you were lied to or deceived in your timeshare purchase, and if resolution is not achieved after contacting your resort:

File a complaint with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed your contract, where you live, and where the resort is domiciled.

http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php

File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage).

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

In some states the standard of fraud is as simple as dealing honestly and fairly. In such states, if you were lied to, the contract is fraudulent.

We should begin now planning for Consumer Protection Week 2018. Consumer Protection Week should provide a benchmark as we set goals today that can be measured next year. Goals that can determine where and how timeshare business practices have improved.

As Irene said, do your homework, anything to do with timeshare is a minefield, from first purchase, to resale companies and then to all the so-called legal and claims companies that are now proliferating, especially in Europe following the rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court.

There are so many companies jumping on that particular band wagon, some are very sophisticated operations, such as Litigious Abogados (see link for the last article, or search Litigious Abogados in the search box for all articles).

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

Another facebook group has also got off to a flying start (see link below), it is a closed group but welcomes new members. It is a forum for dialogue and debate, taking a different approach to many of these groups that use social media, by encouraging opposing views. They have even welcomed a Diamond sales agent, who has even agreed with some of the owners views on sales practices. This is what is needed if timeshare is to change.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

So there we have it, thank you to Irene and all the contributors in the US, also to the readers who have supplied information on some of the companies we have researched. It is your information that is helping others to negotiate this murky world of timeshare. Have a good weekend.

friday-again

Twenty Five Supreme Court Rulings and Rising.

Last week ended with another ruling from the Supreme Court, this week has seen yet another, bringing the total to 25. This is unprecedented in the Spanish Legal system, the latest is once again against Anfi, bringing the total against this one timeshare operator to 20 rulings in favour of the purchasers of their product.

 

The latest victory for the clients of Canarian Legal Alliance have had their contract declared “null & void”, with Anfi being ordered to repay 29,544€ including legal fees and interest.

CLA Logo

Then at the High Court number 2 of Las Palmas, another CLA client will receive back over 25,460€ including interest and legal fees. In this instance the court made its decision on the basis of the Supreme Court rulings declaring that “floating” weeks are illegal. This is yet another bow for the resort Anfi.

 

These cases and the previous ones have been highlighted in 2 Spanish newspapers, El Diario and Maspalomas Ahora. They explain that since the start of this year, Anfi have had to repay 1.5 million euros to purchaser of their products, with 1 million having been paid out so far. This is for just 50 cases brought this year and that figure is estimated to be around the 8 million euro mark with the 200 active cases CLA have in the courts. With 300 claims waiting to be filed this sum will be around 20 million Euros

So far Canarian Legal Alliance has won around 120 cases against Anfi, with many more against other timeshare operators. So the question must again be asked why do Anfi the RDO and other companies still maintain that the decisions by the judges at the Supreme Court are in error?

 

Anfi themselves are still trying to deceive their own members by telling them that there are no cases against them, that they have not lost and that the buyout of the 50% Lyng share by Lopesan has not happened. Not only do they deny selling illegal products and peddling lies to their customers, but they are also insinuating that the news media are also telling lies. It is unfortunate that some owners are actually believing this, not realising it is a continuation of the misinformation they received when purchasing originally.

 

Along with all the investigations into the Tauro Beach project, which has taken another twist, with the Mayor of Mogan now under investigation for granting a licence which had apparently expired, (new article on this coming soon), these court rulings are certainly eating into the reputation of Anfi.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Anfi-condenas-Supremo-contratos-timesharing_0_566594345.html

 

http://maspalomasahora.com/not/38882/el-grupo-anfi-acumula-en-2016-condenas-por-valor-de-1-5-millones-de-euros-por-irregularidades-en-el-timesharing-/

 

Once again it is congratulations to the clients and the whole CLA team for these results, the champagne corks will certainly be pooping. If you require any information about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

More News from the Supreme Court.

The latest news from those intrepid lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance is again hitting the papers. El Diario has published the news of two Supreme Court sentences, these are against Puerto Calma Holiday Club Finland and Tasolan SL at Palm Oasis.

 

The ruling against Puerto Calma was made for breaches in the selling of fractional ownership, the court ruled that this was not property as indicated by the sales division, but was indeed timeshare. It also upheld previous rulings that contracts over 50 years are illegal. In this case the client received a tremendous award, £235,542 plus legal fees and interest.

 

As for the Palm Oasis ruling, again it was the over 50 years contract, as yet no indication of amounts awarded have been published. These ruling are becoming a regular almost weekly event, going to show that the laws will be enforced, and the decisions made by the Supreme Court will stand.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/sentencias-Supremo-timesharing-Gran-Canaria_0_562744176.html

 

In another article on their website, CLA have told the story of Mr & Mrs Grant. Their case went to the Supreme Court in July, their Anfi contract was declared null & void as per the over 50 years ruling. Mr & Mrs Grant took time out from their holiday to visit the CLA offices and personally thanked the team for all their hard work and efforts. This must have been appreciated by the members of the CLA team, who must have also had great big smiles like the Grants in the photograph.

 

News was also published on 22 September that another Supreme Court ruling had been made, once more this was against Anfi. The court again upheld previous rulings that contracts over 50 years are illegal. So another UK family have had their contract declared null & void, with an award of £31,548 including legal fees and interest being made.

 

Once again congratulations to the legal team and to all the families who have been victorious, to those waiting for their cases, be patient, the law and the courts are on your side.

 

If you have any questions about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-supreme-court-success-against-puerto-calma/

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/anfi-supreme-court-21/

 

My Thoughts for Today: End of August.

So here we are, the end of August and what a month it has been, we ended July with the breaking news about the Anfi Beach Project at Tauro. It was announced the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) had begun an investigation into irregularities in the permissions that were granted.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

This resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Coastal Authority, it appears the investigation which is ongoing may result in more dismissals and may even end in charges being brought. Inside Timeshare has been following the case as more information came to light, on 1 August Ben Magec of Ecologists in Action called for “the immediate shutdown and sealing” of the project, pointing out that it was having a detrimental effect on the nearby Special Area of Conservation.

 

Then on 5 August, Inside Timeshare published the story about the floods that occurred the day before, posting a video made by one of the local residents. At the time the flooding occurred it was a high tide, this would not have been a problem when the beach was in its original state. The rocks and pebble beach which was much higher than the sand beach, created a natural defence, with the rocks breaking up the waves. Without this natural defence the sea just rolled over the beach, flooding several homes.

 

August 8th, we published further videos of the flooding and photographs of some of the damage caused to homes of the local residents. The Bomberos (fire brigade) spent considerable time helping to pump out the water from these homes, but damage to many appliances such as fridges and washing machines was considerable. The local population then made denuncias (official complaints) to the Guardia Civil, who are now investigating. One comment from a resident was who was going to pay for the damage, they also felt they were being ignored that they were “desperate, nobody pays attention to us”.

CLA Logo

On 9 August it was announced that Canarian Legal Alliance had just won their 18th Supreme Court Victory, this took the rulings by the Supreme Court against Anfi to an incredible 17. In this particular case the court awarded over 45,000€ plus interest and legal fees to the client. Again the court stated that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and taking deposits within the 14 day cooling off period illegal. So another happy client of Canarian Legal Alliance.

 

Then on 15 August another win for a client of CLA, this time at the High Court in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. A staggering 66,907€ plus interest and legal fees were awarded to the client, also their contract was declared null & void. The High Court cited the Supreme Court rulings in making this judgement, showing that the judgements from Madrid are having a profound effect on how the lower courts rule.

 

The following day we published an article on the argument that is raging between TESS (Timeshare Exits & Support Services) and the Monster Travel Group. It highlighted two articles published on the TESS website on the same day, in this Tess pulled no punches in the accusations laid against Monster Travel. It also made a scathing attack on the sales staff, particularly what TESS called the “Taylor Twins”, again TESS pulled no punches.

eldiario

Then it was published in the Spanish press that the boss at Anfi (one of the part owners) Santana Cazorla was moving to Morocco for “retirement”. El Diario headlined it as Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. Inside Timeshare published this story on 17 August, in the article the questions asked are what had prompted this news. One only has to see the problems of Anfi with the court cases being brought by their members, then to cap it all the accusations and investigation into the Tauro Beach Project.

 

Just to move away from Anfi for once, Diamond Resorts announced that they had sold off their interests at the Garden Lago resort in Mallorca. The ONA Group now run Garden Lago, they also have interests at the  Cala de Mar and Cala Pi resorts, also in Mallorca. It also highlighted one member who bought because they loved it there, now Diamond have no interests there, the only way for them to use the points they own is to use them on exchange, or book direct with the resort. With this last option they would have to pay the going rate as their points would not be used.

 

19 August, CLA announced another victory at the High Court in Las Palmas, the British couple Mr & Mrs Hammond had their contract declared null & void. They were also awarded a full refund including interest and legal fees, it was not stated how much this was.

 

So in all, August has turned into quite an eventful month, it remains to be seen what September will bring.

 

If you have any questions relating to any of these articles please contact Inside Timeshare and we will do our best to answer them. It only remains for me to say have a great bank holiday weekend and I hope the weather is just as good for you to get the BBQ´s out.

bbq man

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