Browse Tag

High Court

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we have another of our Secret Shopper Reports, coordinated by Pete Gibbes, these articles have proved to be very popular with our many readers. One thing they all comment on is how similar to their own experiences these reports show.

“Thank God It’s April 15 Day!”

For those in the US, the 15 April is the day when many members will receive a tax liability bill if a loan is cancelled. For us, in Europe, we find this very strange, especially for loans linked to timeshare purchases. At least our European members don’t get a tax bill when their loan is cancelled.

Inside Timeshare has directed many back to their CPA to dispute this tax bill for “phantom income” as the former has not been enriched by the cancellation of the loan as they have retained nothing of value.

Now before we go on with our Secret Shopper article, a little news on the legal front from the leading European law firm in timeshare litigation, Canarian Legal Alliance.

With the Easter Holidays now upon us, the lawyers at CLA are having a well-deserved break, especially after the past two weeks of court cases.

In the past five days alone, there have been 25 trial and 20 sentences issued, many of these were pre-trials, with the judges once again confirming that there was no need for the case to go to a full trial. The reason being, these cases are based on documentary proof, they are based on contracts which according to Spanish timeshare law contain illegalities. This is obviously very damaging for the timeshare companies but very good news for the clients.

So to recap, in the past 2 weeks, there has been a total of 26 victory sentences with 24 against Anfi del Mar, all heard in the Court of First Instance, San Bartelomé de Tirajana, Gran Canaria. With 2 High Court, Santa Cruz de Tenerife against Silverpoint. The total amount awarded is a staggering 931,229€ plus all contracts being declared null and void.

Now for our Secret Shopper Report.

How do you define a “Bad Apple” Sales Agent?

It’s in the Eye of the Beholder

By Secret Shopper

Tuesday, April 16

We have all heard stories of outright deception and deceit employed by timeshare salespeople. Many complaints are from those who were convinced to give up their deeded timeshare week and convert to the points-based timeshare.

Fixed week timeshares may lack the flexibility of points, but if you like knowing what you own, a guaranteed stay may mean more to you than flexibility. With a points program, you can stay more or less than a week and book other resorts at other times of the year. However, many have complained that after giving up their deed, they were not able to access even the resort they had vacationed at for years.

Timeshare companies will say that salespeople who use scare tactics represent only a few “Bad Apples” so are not typical. Timeshare Accountability Group has heard from more than a few members that were frightened into giving up their deed, told their children will be burdened because of their parent’s decision to buy a timeshare. We’re not lawyers, so we defer to timeshare attorney Mike Finn to fill us in on what happens when you inherit an unwanted timeshare. It’s a topic many are interested in, especially as baby boomers age.

Some of the tactics sales agents use to coerce an “owner” to give up a deeded timeshare week to become a “member” are downright predatory and constitute practicing law without a license. This is what happened to Phyllis, age 67, in her own words (unedited):

I am a victim of fraud. I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I own. I was told it would last only 55 minutes. 4 highly pressured sales people took turns on me and held me for 7 hours, bouncing me into 3 different rooms. I told them I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare over and over again. They said I have to buy into the new and I own my timeshare forever, and that I could never get out of it. They said my timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with them (the new company) or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. I was tired and hungry.  I was tired. In order to get out of there, I signed under dearest. I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BARCLAYS BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018, to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. DRI sent a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure and I am out of the contract. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.

(Submitted to Inside Timeshare)

Our Secret Shopper Experience        

In mid-summer 2018, we went on a “mandatory” update after attending a Diamond Resorts event in Virginia Beach. We are well versed in timeshare methods and had our “ears up” to catch any of the standard tactics they might use to persuade us to convert our two deeded weeks into points.

Despite being ready for the worst, I will openly admit that our salesperson never told us any OVERT lies during our two-hour presentation. He was friendly, polite, and had a long history with Diamond Resorts at various locations throughout the country. He told us where he lived in Virginia Beach (a very expensive waterfront area).  He did not lie to us.

That being said, his words were very carefully chosen, and of course, what he didn’t tell us was even more carefully chosen. At a minimum, his pitch was misleading, confusing, full of half-truths, and in my opinion quite diabolical.  When someone commits a “material omission” is it a lie? That sounds like a question for attorney Mike Finn.

Let’s see how the game is played

Our salesperson pushed two major discussion points:

1 – Vacation Options:

Our sales agent demonstrated what would happen if we gave up our deeded weeks and purchased 5,000 points. He showed us a world of amazing Diamond Resorts locations on his computer screen. He explained these resorts would be available to us with the 15,000 points in total we would have if we gave up both deeds.

He showed us availability on HIS computer. He said things like “Here, let me show you on MY account” and “the system shows ME availability for these vacations for only 3,000 points… look at all of them!” Yes, many were available on many different dates. Wow, the world would be our Oyster.

Now, all that is technically true, but he presented it in a manner to imply that if we converted to 15,000 non-deeded points, we would see the same availability and options we were shown… but he never actually said that. His online Diamond account is a “Special Sales Double Platinum Account” (a descriptive term as there is no such thing as a Double Platinum loyalty level). It shows everything in the system and probably quite a bit more, but did not display what we would have access to using the proposed 15,000 points (for two weeks).

If the buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the contract has been executed, you would not see actual availability at your loyalty level until after the rescission period had passed.

If you knew what to listen for, the agent chose his words incredibly carefully to sidestep the issue. This would have misled us if we were not informed shoppers. In my opinion, it was a shameful sales tactic that almost anyone would likely fall for.

I know that none of the locations available under his sales account would be available to someone with only 15,000 points, especially summer weeks in Virginia Beach, which he was asking us to give up. He repeatedly showed us that Turtle Cay was only 6,500 points for a week vacation in July… which is accurate… if you are one of the handfuls of people in the US with status and connections to get access to that level of availability. It is unlikely at the Silver loyalty level we would ever be able to stay there again even if we were to convert to points. He didn’t mention that.

He also gave us pamphlets describing Diamond Dream Vacations (DDV), also known as Holiday Vacations, which we could take advantage of anytime for 3,000, 7,500, or 15,000 points. Each DDV included two airfares at top-notch accommodations. One package included four days at Diamond’s Mystic Dunes resort along with a five day Caribbean cruise for only 7,500 points.

For those not familiar with points, maintenance fees for Silver level are about $.20 per point so if the Dream Vacation requires 7,500 points, the trip would cost $1,500. Multiply 7,500 points times $.20. Always do your timeshare math. Four nights at Mystic Dunes, two airfares and a five day Caribbean cruise for two for $1,500 is a GREAT deal! It even included rental car discounts.

After submitting this article, Pete explained that these great deals really do exist. I thought they were completely bogus. He said that since these packages are for the purposes of selling points, they are available to anyone who purchases as a “sweetener” or to existing members in an effort to sell more points.  

Apparently, tremendous bargains are always promotions. Our sales agent never said Dream Holidays were promotions that would require a sales session. He said “These packages are available anytime” to use his exact wording. Again, he didn’t lie… he just didn’t present an important fact.

2 – Financial Justification:

He presented a very complex 10-year financial analysis showing how it would cost us far less over ten years if we converted to points, even though he wanted us to drop more than $75,000 for 15,000 points, which would have included giving up our two deeded summer weeks. He did not know that I used to be a financial analyst with IBM. I worked on billion-dollar transactions. His spreadsheet was malarkey, and even I couldn’t follow it. Once again, he was not lying; his analysis was just crappy… which is quite common as financials go. Of course, we were not given a copy of any of his figures. When we tried to take it, he whisked it away.

All told, I doubt other salespeople would consider our sales agent a “Bad Apple” as he didn’t tell any lies. He did not mention any bogus programs (e.g. “you can pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point”) or other false claims. In fact, our sales agent is probably a shining example held up for other salespeople to emulate: nice, amiable, well dressed, 6.5 feet tall with 12 extra teeth in his smile.

After we firmly said no and started to leave, we were sent to a manager to “check out.” This person was quite reprehensible. He showed us further discounts off the $75,000. He spoke about the “investment” we would be making, what our “Equity” would be out of the gate, and how our “Equity” would grow over time. Our “investment” would only go up in value.

I got quite angry and blew up at him at this point, calling him out directly on those misrepresentations. His eyes flew open wide as he backtracked, “When I say Equity I mean your equity in future vacation time and how your vacation time would become more valuable as you learn how to use the system wisely.”

He claimed he never said he was speaking about a financial investment and not to put words in his mouth but he actually said these things with no qualifiers until he was pressed to do so . My wife loudly told him off and we got up to walk out. He asked why she was being so rude. In a sick sort of way, it was funny, really.

As our experience shows, a “Bad Apple” is in the eye of the beholder.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a story to share. Our standard disclosure is that we know there are honest sales agents selling the product honestly. Deceptive agents harm honest sales agents too. Our concern is the number of agents “pitching heat” to sell points could lead to a decline in sales unless acknowledged and addressed.

Contact Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes through Inside Timeshare if you would like to become a Secret Shopper.

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.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you to our secret shopper and to Pete Gibbes the coordinator for this week’s report, these do help others to be aware and of what to expect when they attend any presentation. As the old saying goes,  “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

One thing is certain, purchasers of timeshare in Spain do have the full protection of the law, misrepresentation of the product is not tolerated. We also know that many other European countries are reviewing their own timeshare laws in accordance with EU Timeshare Directives designed to protect consumers, many are also looking to Spain and may just adopt their legislation. For too long the timeshare companies have had the upper hand, but the tide is turning.

If you have any comments or would like to share your experiences use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have a problem with your timeshare membership, or need to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found?

Again use our contact page and we will get back to you and point you in the right direction.

Thursday Update

Since publishing the news that Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultants Ltd and First Law Solutions Ltd had been wound-up by the High Court, further information has been coming to light.

The perpetrator behind this claims fraud, Stephen Paul Fairclough has seemed to have disappeared, his offices at Regus House are now empty. We do know that he does have links in Portugal and is believed to own a property and lives there. So he may just have fled the UK and is living his life of luxury on the money he has swindled from countless victims.

Apparently from information received by one source, who wishes not to be identified, it looks now like the Police in the UK will not be pursuing the matter against Stephen Fairclough. From the information received the reason is that they do not have sufficient evidence. As we know to secure a prosecution and ensure a conviction in any criminal trial, the evidence must be strong and be of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Inside Timeshare would love to see Fairclough prosecuted and convicted, so it is now up to you the readers and victims of his fraud to come forward. Inside Timeshare is in contact with one victim who would like to gather together all those affected and form an Action Group.

If you have lost money for services not provided by Fairclough, then use our contact page, send in your details and Inside Timeshare will pass them to the coordinator of the Action Group. It is only with your help that this person will ever be brought to justice.

As an update to the articles regarding Ali and Alex Farhoud and their involvement in the selling of the “Company Participations Scheme” on behalf of Silverpoint , Inside Timeshare has also been informed of “Criminal Denuncias” being filed against them (the Farhouds) with the Guardia Civil.

Our information is that two clients have begun legal proceedings against Silverpoint but they have also lodged the criminal complaints against the two Farhoud brothers who sold them the scheme in the first place. It is believed from our sources that more clients are also coming forward and more “Criminal Denuncias” are going to be made.

It must also be remembered that they are now contacting previous victims via their company Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, with the offer of taking legal action against Silverpoint (their former employer) and claiming back what their clients originally paid. They explain that what was sold to them was not legal, yet they are the ones who sold it in the first place, yet they claim they had no idea that it was “fraudulent”.

Now, we also know that they will be charging huge amounts for legal fees to carry out this “service”, so in reality they made large amounts in commission for selling it and are now set to make even more by offering a “legal service”!

If you have purchased these “Company Participations” or any other product peddled by Silverpoint, or have been contacted by Nordic Consulting, then use our contact page to get in touch. Inside Timeshare will then answer your questions and point you to the best solution for your situation.

We also have an update of court cases held in the Courts on Gran Canaria, all these involved Anfi and were brought on behalf of clients by Canarian Legal Alliance.

In total there were seven sentences issued, 3 by the High Court in Las Palmas and 4 by the Courts Of First Instance in Maspalomas. Again all contracts were declared null and void as the contained infringements of the Timeshare Laws as laid down by the Supreme Court. These ranged from floating weeks to perpetuity contracts, the courts awarded over 241,545€ to the clients along with legal fees and legal interest.

Then on Tuesday 5 March, another sentence was issued by the Court of First Instance of San Barlelomé De Tirajana, again this was against Anfi. This quite a significant case as the amount involved is huge.

The client in this instance is set to receive over 212,476€ plus legal interest, along with the contract being declared null and void. This will be one happy client.

The case was conducted on behalf of the clients by the Canarian Legal Alliance lawyer Adrián Diaz-Saavedra Morales, who is another of the young and dynamic team at CLA. So congratulations to them all, and keep up the good work.

Adrián Diaz-Saavedra Morales

If you need any advice with a timeshare problem or paid a company for services which you have not received, contact Inside Timeshare via our contact page. We will point you in the right direction.

Start the Week: Latest News

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin with some news being passed around various forums regarding Anfi. As we know Anfi is contacting members to change their contracts, but the latest is rather disturbing.

The change in contracts is to try and bring them within the law, the new contracts will be for a maximum of 50 years, with apartment numbers and week numbers being allocated to the floating week contracts, although they will remain “floating”.

According to information received, the new contracts will also penalise the members for “early termination” of their membership. Any early termination of the contract will be seen as a serious breach of contract on part of the member, Anfi will then apply a retrospective charge on the member for “hotel Costs” of around 350€ per night for all weeks used.

They have already used this threat to members who may be contemplating legal action in regard to illegal and missold contracts. This is also the subject of an ongoing legal argument, which has yet to be finally resolved.

Another point that has come to our attention is the number of members who have just ceased to pay their maintenance, especially with the new contracts. It is reported that around 100 members in 10 countries are about to have legal proceedings made against them for recovery of the maintenance fee arrears. Plus to have the mentioned “hotel costs” charged against them.

Another point which is irritating some of the members posting on the forums is the problem of resale. According to many posters, Anfi has the right to refuse the buyer of any timeshare sold privately. Again this is to ensure that all resales go through the resale programme, which we know is not very effective and will only command a very small resale price.

As with any timeshare advertised for sale, the price you see is what the owner believes they will get, remember, when purchased, many were under the impression they were investing in property. The sales staff openly told them it would go up in value, as we know this is definitely not the case.

So what do we make of this change in contracts and the other tactics being used?

Simple, by changing to the new contract, you lose all rights to take them to court, this is what Anfi want, after all it is costing them a fortune in payouts. (Which they will deny).

The threat of the “hotel costs” with legal action against maintenance arrears and making it more difficult to sell privately, is again to stem the tide of a significant loss of membership. This loss hits them in the pocket with reduced income of maintenance fees. After all, they are not selling like they used too, people are very wary of purchasing timeshare today.

Canarian Legal Alliance has issued some figures for the last week of January and the first week of February.

At the Court of First Instance, in Maspalomas, they had 19 (nineteen) victories against Anfi del Mar alone.

There were also 2 High Court wins in Las Palmas, again against Anfi del Mar.

Again at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Palm Oasis lost 3 cases.

Over in Tenerife, The Court of First Instance again found against Silverpoint in 2 cases.

In another First Instance hearing, Club la Costa were the ones on the receiving end of a judgement.

In all a massive 27 victories against the biggest names in European timeshare, the total amount claimed on behalf of clients is over 648,000€ with all contracts being declared null and void.

CLA have also issued this video, which shows their impressive record so far, it was made at the end of 2018.

That’s it for today, join us tomorrow for a very special article, this was received by another timeshare insider after we published the article on the Florida Bill 435, tomorrow we publish Part 1.

If you need any help or advice regarding your timeshare, about any company that has contacted you or you have found either on the internet or advert in any publication, then use our contact page. We will be pleased to help.

Also if you have any comments, views or information you would like to share with other timeshare owners, then again use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America of February, this week we hear another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from the Wheat family and their experience with Wyndham, edited by our very own Irene Parker. First a little news from Europe.

Yesterday, Thursday 31 January, at Birmingham Crown Court , Dominic O’Reilly, Stephanie O’Reilly and Eze Europe Limited, appeared for sentencing. As we know they had faced many charges of unfair trading practices, misleading consumers and many more. On checking the courts website this morning, nothing has yet been posted, but Inside Timeshare has emailed the court for confirmation of sentences and we are waiting for a reply. As soon as this comes in we will be publishing on these pages.

News came in this morning regarding another case involving Diamond Resorts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance originally had a case in which the Court of First Instance found in favour of Diamond. They instantly appealed this decision to the High Court

The High Court reviewed the case and ruled that the First Instance Courts decision was flawed, they immediately overruled the first court’s ruling, as per the Supreme Court rulings. They deemed that all 5 contracts were illegal and declared them null and void, they also awarded the client 100% of the purchase price, plus double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period, all legal fees and legal interest. This client will now be receiving over 25,000€ and can now enjoy a timeshare free life.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

The ‘Take Away Timeshare Close’

By a Wyndham buyer

February 1

By the Wheat Family

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has heard from 671 families. Like a broken record, the member reports being told “I can’t believe that last salesperson sold you this!” You should have never bought:

 

  • So few points!
  • The wrong package!

 

Understand that this is a tried and true sales technique. I spent 30 years in sales selling in a number of industries, but can’t recall using this technique unless I felt the sales agent really did sell the buyer a wrong product. For example, as a stockbroker I would run into a young person’s 401K funded with a fixed income product. In timeshare, it’s used as a ploy. If both sides of the supposedly wrong/right product sell against each other, it means no consumer should buy the product. It’s not unusual to hear, on the same day, from two different members, Sales agent A said I should not have bought Product 1 while sales agent B said I should have bought Product 1. It’s called the Take Away Close:

The Take Away Close really takes some time to master. Though it sounds simple at first, the real secret is learning when to use it. The danger is always using the take away close and having a customer agree to purchase a lesser product when they were close to committing to a larger sale. From The Balance Careers

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-take-away-closing-technique-2918597

The Wheat Family Explains

The motive behind the ‘Take Away Close’ is to make the customer/prospect feel like they are missing out on something they should have been entitled to and then make them spend the money so they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

We experienced this sales ploy. I wonder how many other people fell for it too.

We bought a Discovery package (200,000 points) for $1,944 at Wyndham’s Great Smoky Lodge at the beginning of 2017. A credit card was opened and the purchase charged. When we tried to use the Discovery package for Florida in July 2017 it did not work. There were restrictions on when we could reserve. In August 2017 we tried to reserve in Myrtle Beach. We tried a third time at the beginning of 2018 for the Smoky Lodge. We were told it was full so we paid for two days ourselves. That is when another salesperson, JR Renteria, said they had 64 vacant rooms so we should have been able to reserve one. He said the problem was because of the Discovery package we purchased. Although Wyndham would not be able to reimburse us, they could give us a free week certificate (which turned out not to be free). Mr. Renteria advised us to upgrade so we would not have this lack of availability problem again.

With an upgrade we were told we would be VIP members and that the original credit card that was opened for our first purchase would be upgraded to a Gold credit card which we could use to reserve when and where we want to go, any day.  They said we could get 50% off cruises and restaurants. Other family members could make reservations in their names. Mr. Renteria said if we upgraded they would roll the original 200,000 Discovery package points over for the next year. Renteria gave us our documents after we signed the new contract, but told us to wait for the Gold Card and the Silver VIP card before we tried to book anything. This effectively dodged the contract rescission period. He told us we should receive the new cards in about a week. It took around three to four weeks before we received the VIP card. We still have not received the upgraded Gold Card. We were told we had six months to pay in full with no interest.

We bit and got bitten for $18,000.

Another strange thing was that Renteria said he wanted us to write a note saying the first reps, Carol Finch and Cyndy Vdaw, did not cover everything properly for the Discovery package. Maybe this was part of a scam, maybe Wyndham actually kept a copy. Either way, we wrote a note saying we did not understand everything on the Discovery package deal.

After the upgrade we tried to reserve a room to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Wyndham told us we would have to reserve two months in advance in order to use our points. (Renteria had said we could book on the day with our new Silver member status.) Wyndham told us that they could reserve a room for $188 on the day we needed it. The sad thing is we could book the same room for the same dates for $108 online.  You would think being a Silver member (VIP) we should have been able to get a better price than a non-member.

Renteria told us we could call him if we ever had any problems getting reservations and he would take care of it.  We tried to contact him but NEVER got a reply to any of our calls or texts.

We called Carol Finch at the Discovery timeshare when Renteria did not return our calls. I told Carol we were not happy and that nothing we were told was true. She said we should not have had to wait two months to reserve a room and Renteria should have combined the two timeshares. She said she would let him know and would call us back that afternoon. We have not heard back. That was the final straw. In this day and age of Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com, don’t buy a timeshare. That’s my takeaway close.

But that’s not all!

To make things worse, after looking over the credit card application we found that the application had been doctored. There is an annual income noted under both of our names for $100,000 each.  However, $100,000 is what we may make combined, not individually. I have a copy of the credit card application as proof. My writing is very distinctive. I filled out the whole form, yet the only place that was left blank was filled in by someone with a much scruffier handwriting than mine and he wrote another $100,000 to double our annual income. We sent this obviously doctored form to Wyndham, but they did not even acknowledge it. They chose to focus on the parts of our complaint that they could reasonably deny because the lies were verbal and can’t be verified. Wyndham conducted an ‘investigation’ into our allegations of concealment and omission. We were informed, somewhat predictably, that their investigation had found that our allegations were baseless and the contract was properly executed and legally binding. I suppose I’ll go and ask the drunks to guard the bar for my next trick.

Other representations we feel were unfair and deceptive:

  • They did not say we were actually buying a timeshare. They called it a vacation ownership or something like that.
  • They said they would help us rent so we could earn a profit.
  • They said maintenance fees would never increase.
  • They said we could call every six months to continue our interest free rate.
  • They told us our purchase would give us more reservation rights than it actually did.

Do yourselves a favor and stay away from Wyndham. I imagine Wyndham is not alone, so the best advice is to stay away from timeshare altogether.

Thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experience. Timeshare companies should want their buyers to feel good about their decision to buy a timeshare. Timeshare is not for everyone and we hope by sharing experiences, buyers will be better informed as to whether the timeshare product is right for their family.

Related articles:

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Kleen family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Althage family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

Self Help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for your editing efforts and a very big thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experiences with us. These real life stories that we publish do show how the industry is in dire need of reform, especially in the tactics employed by their sales agents. As we know when high commissions are the motivation, these agent will say and do anything to get the sale.

If the industry does not do anything themselves to curb these practices, then maybe like Spain, the law needs to take control in order to protect consumers. We do know that many other countries in Europe with a large timeshare presence have been watching Spain very closely and are also now in the process of enacting similar legislation.

If you have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story that you would like to share then contact Inside Timeshare, it is through your own experiences that we hope we can make the industry listen and change.

Have you been contacted by any company with a story that sounds too good to be true?

Are you looking to do business with any company you have found on the internet or advertising in the press or magazines?

Do you want to know if they are genuine and will do what they say?

Are you able to find out for yourself or do you need help?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you not only money but also a whole lot of stress.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Mid Week Report: Diamond Resorts Receive Second Supreme Court Sentence

The Supreme Court, Spain’s highest judicial body has again found against Diamond Resorts as per their previous 129 rulings. This week alone Diamond have lost 2 cases at the highest court in Spain, it all centers on their points system which has been declared an illegal product due to lack of tangibility and the length of the contract.

In the past three years, the Supreme Court has ruled on 131 cases involving the sales of timeshare, each time it has upheld its previous rulings, on many occasions it has added further rulings on the interpretation of the Spanish Timeshare Laws 42/98 & 4/12.

The latest case started with a trial at the Court of First Instance No 24 in Tenerife, the judge in this instance found for the clients as dictated by the previous ruling of the Supreme Court and the Spanish Timeshare laws.

The infractions were the contract had no end date, which is in contravention of the law as laid down and reinforced by previous rulings, the law clearly states that a timeshare contract should be a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years in duration. The second was the points system, which shows no tangible product, this being a fixed week number and fixed apartment number, which guarantees the purchaser the period and accommodation each year.

The Judge ruled in favour of the client, declaring the contract null and void plus the return of all money paid. However, Diamond did not agree and promptly appealed the decision to the High Court.

During this appeal, Diamond pleaded that what they had sold was not timeshare, that just like Silverpoint, these were “investors” and not consumers of timeshare. For some reason the judges at the High Court agreed and overturned the decision of the Court of First Instance.

The lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance representing the clients, placed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had already previously ruled on the point of “investors as opposed to consumers”, ruling that they are consumers.

On 13 December 2018, the judges of the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Tenerife High Court upholding and reaffirming the ruling of the Court of First Instance, in favour of the client and in accordance to their previous rulings.

The court along with the original decision declared the contract null and void, awarded over 11,000€ plus they ordered the return of all legal fees for the original case and the appeal, sending it back to the original court for execution of sentence.

The full sentence can be seen in the PDF below.

Supreme Court 2nd Diamond sentence data protected

Over the past 3 or so years the Supreme Court has been consistent in reaffirming their previous rulings, which all courts must abide by. The basic rulings are that deposits or any payment made within the cooling off period are illegal, including those made to a third party. The points and floating weeks systems are not permitted as they do not guarantee anything to the consumer. The duration of the contract is another aspect they have consistently ruled upon, that any contract with a period of more than 50 years is not permitted.

As with the Silverpoint rulings on the “investment packs” which Silverpoint argued made the purchaser an “investor” not a “consumer”, the court has ruled these are indeed timeshares and the law applies. This is also being used in the case of fractional ownership and more recently the Silverpoint Company Participations, the courts have ruled that they are timeshare and that the consumer has the full protection of the timeshare law.

On the point of “investing”, timeshare is not an investment in property, it is a right of use and enjoyment of accommodation for specific periods of time, therefore it should never be marketed or sold as an investment. This is actually borne out by First National Trust in 2012, they are the trustees for the Club la Costa Fractional Owners Club, they informed CLC that fractional should never be marketed as an investment. (See link below).

http://clcmembers.blogspot.com/

Over the years we have seen many timeshare companies change the product, giving it new names, in many cases it has been a blatant attempt to bypass the timeshare laws, but thanks to the courts and especially the Supreme Court, this has been thwarted.

As with any new law, it has taken a long time and many test cases to clarify the interpretation of the law, there is still a long way to go as timeshare companies try to evade the strict laws which now govern the sale of any timeshare product in Spain.

  • Have you purchased a timeshare in Spain or upgraded since 5 January 1999?
  • Is the contract over 50 years in duration?
  • Is it a floating weeks or points system?
  • Have you purchased fractional?
  • Did you purchase the Silverpoint “Investment Weeks”?
  • Are you a participant in the Silverpoint “Company Participation” scheme?
  • Have you paid any money within the cooling off period?

If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you may have the right to have your contract declared null and void, along with the return of at least your purchase price, double whatever paid within the cooling off period.

If you require any information on what your rights are and whether you do have a valid and viable claim, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

You should also bare in mind that these claims must go through a Spanish court using a genuine Spanish registered lawyer, your contract must also still be running. Once you have cancelled any ownership / membership, then you lose your right to file with the courts.

Remember, before you do anything, do your due diligence and check who you are dealing with, do not take at face value some of the claims many companies will make. If you require any help in determining the validity of any company that contacts you, that you find on the internet or through adverts in magazines or newspapers, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice possible.

Stay safe and do your homework.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, the original article which was going to be published today has been replaced, this is due to the timeshare company reaching out to the members. As always, Inside Timeshare sends a draft copy to the timeshare company for comment, we do not always get a response, but on this occasion the company did respond. It may have been at the eleventh hour, but we congratulate the timeshare company concerned for their reaching out and we hope that they are able to resolve the matter.

As a last minute replacement we publish a revised version of The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles, by Irene Parker, originally published in November 2016.

This week has been a rather quiet one as far as the courts are concerned, there have been many cases going before the judges, but the sentences are unlikely to be announced until the New Year. Although we did get news of two sentences issued this week.

The first was from the Court of First Instance No4 in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, the judge in this case declared the contract with Anfi null and void. The reason was the length of the contract which exceeded that allowed by Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that perpetuity contracts or contracts with no end date and exceed the 50 years maximum are illegal. The client in this case has been refunded over 61,000€ plus legal Interest.

At the High Court No4 in Tenerife, Silverpoint was on the receiving end. The contract was declared null and void as it did not include any tangible product. Again under Law 42/98, a timeshare must include specific information such as a set apartment or an exact time of year. The client in this case has been refunded over 10,000€ plus legal interest.

Once again these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, contrary to what some forums run by some very dubious characters will tell you, these are genuine cases and are a matter of public record.

     

Now for this week’s replacement article.

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles Revisited

    Jackie Siegel, Queen of Versailles  

By Irene Parker

December 14, 2018

“The Peasant of Venice and Queen of Versailles” article was first published November 6, 2016. I wrote the article because I wanted to explain how I went from being a 30 plus year timeshare owner without a timeshare complaint, question or post, to a full time volunteer whistleblower.

In July of 2015 I experienced a pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation in Florida. We had previously purchased points in Virginia because the company said they were adding New York properties, only to learn it would take about $10,000 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars to stay at the same hotel, same week that could be booked online for $1,000 plus tax. When I checked December 1, 2018, it would have cost $12,000 using our timeshare points. I don’t blame the sales agent. He may not have known about the poor value. It was the response from the company to the Attorney General listing all the times we had used our points prior to that purchase that bothered me. Eventually I was offered our money back for that purchase, but could not bring myself to sign the non-disclosure agreement.       

Rosa Parks said, “I was just trying to get home from work.” In my case, we were trying to get to our new home, moving from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. It was my intention to return to my first love – teaching piano lessons. That all changed after the revolting timeshare presentation we experienced in Florida.  Disgusted, I returned to our unit, turned on the television and witnessed the jaw dropping house pictured above, being built by Westgate timeshare owners Jackie and David Siegel. I could not resist.

It was a hot July summer day in Orlando when my retirement turned upside down.

We entered the hospitality area where we were invited to attend a 55 minute “information only” presentation for existing owners. “Will we be paired with a commissioned sales agent?” I asked three times. “No”, Julie replied, “Only if you have questions in the last ten minutes. I attended and I learned a lot! We have group presentations now because we had so many complaints about high pressure aggressive sales sessions.” We did not sign the form agreeing to the 55 minute meeting because the fine print said we would be robo-called if we did. We were robo-called anyway. There was no form to be signed for the three hours that followed the 55 minutes.

A Diamond Resorts member recently sent me this comment from a former Diamond concierge describing an unfair and deceptive practice:

Concierge (Former Employee) – Virginia Beach, VA 23451 – December 3, 2018

A typical day of work consisted of misleading current owners and their guests in order to persuade and entice them to attend a timeshare meeting that could last well over what was initially disclosed….The hardest part of this job was knowing I was intentionally misleading owners/guests of the length of time for their timeshare meeting, as well as not disclosing it as a timeshare meeting as instead it was mandatory we refer to it as simply an “update on their current status” or “ways you can stay here and affiliated businesses in the future”. The most enjoyable part of this job was the interaction with varying people and the connections I gained therein.

https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Diamond-Resorts-International/reviews

Our Nightmare on Timeshare Street begins:

The next day we entered the reception area to be greeted by an attractive young lady. “Hello,” Donna greeted us. “Are you a commissioned agent?” I asked.  Puzzled, she took us by the arm and escorted us to the 55 minute presentation, retrieved us immediately after, and led us to her den.

I told Donna, “My husband is 77 years old. We do not want to invest in vacation plans because we need to investigate long term care plans.” “Why, we have many in their 90’s who come and enjoy our resorts!” she cried. “But we are in the middle of building a house and have no permanent residence at this time,” I countered. Kneeling and looking up, she gazed into my eyes and confessed she was a single mother and had to resort to her Diamond points when she divorced. “I know you didn’t put all your money in that house though,” she added. I kept saying over and over, “We don’t want to travel. We like our new house.” Frustrated, the manager ended by advising me to go to the website if I want to find out what’s new. Three hours and three sales agents and managers later, we returned to our unit.

I checked my email and learned the 4,500 points we had been promised for our Port Elsewhere Ozark timeshare deposit was credited only 3,000 points. Sure enough, I learned later the 4,500 points promised could be changed at any time for any reason. It’s all in the fine print.

I then decided to take my mind off this disturbing revelation by watching television. I turned on the FOX news show Property Man show hosted by Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi, and there she was – The Queen! The King and Queen of Westgate timeshare were building a 90,000 square foot home that defied the imagination. Jackie’s clothes closet is 5,500 square feet!

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/queen-of-versailles-q-and-a/

Thinking about the pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation we were deceived into attending, and the worthless points specifically purchased to stay in New York City, I wrote to Mr. Massi at Property Man never dreaming I would earn a response. Copying the letter to Diamond customer service, they credited the correct amount promised for our Port Elsewhere week.

A few months later a FOX producer called. I was asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. The producer told me the Queen of Versailles show wasn’t even about timeshares. It was about their house, but FOX had been flooded with timeshare complaints. She said I was the only viewer they asked to interview because I was the only respondent who said I wanted to talk about the positives in addition to the negatives of timeshare. I told her I was sorry, but I had just accepted a position as interim music director for a large church and could not participate, but I offered to research timeshare to help them with their talking points.

I started digging. The deeper I dug, the more alarmed I became. Wyndham, Westgate, Bluegreen and Diamond seemed to have the most complaints, with Disney, Hilton and Marriott far fewer. I submitted my research to FOX and returned to the choir. Six months later, after arranging a flight to Phoenix to stay at  a Diamond resort in Sedona, I received a call from the FOX producer, asking if we would agree to be interviewed by Mr. Massi in Phoenix as they had interviews scheduled that weekend. Some things are meant to happen.

The FOX producer told me David Cortese of Magical Realty had also been interviewed by Mr. Massi about timeshare resales. David is a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association (LTRBA). After viewing David’s segment, I contacted him to see if he would sell our Diamond points. I was told their company would not accept a listing to sell Diamond points. I surveyed all 64 LTRBA members and 22 responded also saying they felt Diamond points were worthless on the secondary market. “We feel Diamond has placed too many restrictions on the use of secondary points to be of any value to a buyer,” they sadly explained.

One of the LTRBA members asked if I would speak with a Hispanic family. Since this first October 2016 complaint, the calls and emails have not stopped. I have heard from 646 timeshare members.

Timeshare members want straight answers but straight answers are in short supply at some timeshare customer service desks. Callers or emailers explain how a sales agent lied to them, but when they contacted the timeshare company they were told, “You signed a contract.” Some described how the rescission period was dodged. Some things, like over promised availability, can’t be determined by reading the contract. I feel I was deceived by reading the contract which stated, “You can sell your points but we will not assist you.” They left out the part about no buyers.

From the October 2016 article describing what happened to the Hispanic family:

Maintenance fees increased to the point where they could no longer afford to own their points. The family soon found that they had to charge maintenance fees to their credit card in order to pay them. The family had already taken out a $33,000 home equity loan from their credit union to reduce the high loan interest rate, typically 14% to 18%.

In August 2015, when they complained about maintenance fees, they said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve Platinum level. He said that by being Platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only Platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees. Then and now Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, so if all 50,000 points were tendered, it would pay $2,000 towards a 2018 $8,631 maintenance fee bill.

If the family had agreed to the additional 10,000 points, they would have gone further into debt with little recourse. Based on hundreds of reported responses, if they had purchased the points, they would have been told, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” They have a daughter who just graduated from high school and has started college.

I spoke to the family not long ago. They relinquished their $60,000 worth of points that they had accumulated. They are still paying off the home equity loan.

Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has resale value.

Property Man was preempted due to the 2016 election coverage, so our segment aired April of 2017. The Florida DBPR timeshare division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014, so ignore Pam Bondi.  Bob Massi and his advice on timeshare resales:

https://www.facebook.com/RealBobMassi/videos/1041694629230338/

From FOX I stumbled onto Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service TheStreet, where remarkable editors, possessing the patience of Job, provided a crash course in editing.

https://www.thestreet.com/author/1684637/irene-parker/all.html

A member who submitted an article to Inside Timeshare introduced me to Whistleblowers of America https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/. Accepting an invitation to attend a Whistleblowers Summit in Washington DC this year, I was introduced to OpEd News:

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Witness-to-Las-Vegas-Octo-by-Irene-Parker-America-181030-359.html

And of course, there’s Charles Thomas at Inside Timeshare in Spain and Wayne Robinson in Malaysia and Wayne’s book.  I was honored to edit and write the Forward. Everything About Timeshare, Before. During and After the Sale

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

So all in all, I’m getting great value from my timeshare points measured in the people I’ve met, readers who read my articles, and the gratitude from members who are grateful for straight answers. We especially appreciate our Facebook administrators and our growing team of members helping other members. I do believe we are a disruptor and hope our efforts will benefit sales agents who sell the product honestly, as well as forestalling new buyers and existing members from making a decision that has financially devastated more than a few families. When sold honestly, timeshare provides years of fun for friends and family.

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for getting this article out to us so quickly, it is difficult to replace an article at such short notice, but at least the timeshare company did respond and for that Inside Timeshare was happy to replace the original one.

That’s it for this week, join us again next week our last one before Christmas.

To all our readers have a great weekend and remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Wayne Robinson explains why it is often very difficult to cancel after purchasing a timeshare, but first a quick look at Europe.

Earlier this week it came to our attention that one of the largest tour operators TUI had been advertising weeks at Anfi Emerald for 1000€ p.p.p week, this was for a 1 bed deluxe apartment and included flights, transfers and breakfast. Now when we consider that members have paid thousands for their floating weeks along with the annual maintenance fees, yet we constantly hear from them that there is no availability, it makes you wonder what is going on?

This is not just a problem with Anfi, we have heard from many timeshare members that they are constantly having trouble booking, yet they see their own resorts being advertised on the various booking websites. Is it fair that these people pay thousands for what they are told is exclusive to members and find they can in many cases book cheaper than their maintenance fees, without having to pay the initial purchase extortionate price.

In another twist, mindtimeshare which formerly under the now discredited Alberto Garcia, was funded by the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), has just published what can only be described as a rebuke of their former paymasters.

It revolves around the liquidation of Enduria Travel, also known as the Travel Shop and was based in Gran Canaria, they were also affiliate members of the RDO. In their article, mindtimeshare explained that they actually expressed concerns to the RDO about this company, but the RDO still accepted their membership. All we can say is how things have changed.

Today is what everyone is calling Black Friday, but at the start of the week it was for Anfi BLACK MONDAY!

Canarian Legal Alliance received on that day alone 12, yes 12 sentences against Anfi in favour of their clients, with over 900,000€ awarded, plus all contracts were declared null and void. They also received another sentence from the High Court in Tenerife against Silverpoint. In all this year CLA have secured over 11 million euros in awarded claims.

Now for this weeks article.

5 Strategies Timeshare Resorts Use To Prevent Cancellations

By Wayne Robinson

Black Friday November 23, 2018

Today is Black Friday in America, celebrated by standing in long lines at shopping malls to be followed by Cyber Monday, when stay at home shoppers shop the internet. I hope you will add my book Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After the Sale onto your Cyber Monday shopping list.

Available through Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Many timeshare buyers do not even think about the contract they signed until after the rescission period has passed. Given that buyers are often not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period, the product the consumer bought is for the most part bought sight unseen and untried. Anything we can do shed light on these important rescission days could save the timeshare buyer untold grief and money, should they come to regret their purchase.

The Rescission Period     

The rescission period is the time allotted by local governments for consumers to review their purchase and legally cancel their timeshare. The length of time varies by state, but is typically three to ten days. In Aruba, and in some American states, there is no rescission period.

If the timeshare buyer cancels their purchase during the rescission period, the government requires timeshare companies to give purchasers a full refund of any monies they have received. There is nothing more frustrating for a sales team than to spend 6-8 hours making a sale that later cancels. Sales agents and their managers will do everything they can to prevent new owners from cancelling their timeshare purchase during the rescission period.

Here are 5 strategies that many timeshare resorts use to prevent new timeshare owners from cancelling during the rescission period.

  1.      Sales agents will avoid the rescission clause that is included in the documents.

Although the rescission clause is clearly written in the documents, many timeshare agents or Legal Verification Officers (VLO) will avoid mentioning this very important item. Many reps will discuss other matters to avoid the clause that outlines the rescission.

The resort’s management will not allow sales reps to mention the rescission period during the sale presentation.  Mentioning it could lead to disciplinary action or being fired.

This is how many timeshare sales reps avoid having their sales cancelled.

Most timeshare buyers will not review the paperwork during the rescission period. After a 6-8 hour grueling sales presentation, the last thing the new owner wants to do is review all the legal jargon included in the documents.  If the rescission period is not mentioned by the staff, too often the buyer is not even aware of it. In some states trial products have no rescission period.

Each state rescission period is listed in this chart provided by ARDA, the American Resort Development Association.  There have been more than a few complaints from timeshare members who were denied release, despite being only a half day late. Instructions on how to rescind are buried deep within the contract, and sometimes instructions are vague.

http://arda.org/uploadedFiles/ARDA/Government_Affairs/Government_Affairs_Call_Out_Boxes/RescissionPeriodsDec2012.pdf

  1.      They will follow-up to overcome Buyer’s Remorse

Photo by Samantha Hurley by Burst

It is important for the timeshare sales staff to keep in touch with their new clients shortly after the sale to prevent them from cancelling.  Most clients will have buyer’s remorse and reconsider their purchase after the buyer has taken the time to think about their purchase, research the company that they just spent $21,000 on (on average), to ensure that they did the right thing. For this reason, sales reps need to be available just in case the client wants to cancel. After all, it might have been a very expensive and unexpected purchase that was sold on emotion

According to a Redweek article, Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at the University of Florida has been studying the impact of buyer regret and remorse and rescission decisions. She says that most timeshare buyers regret their decisions.

A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).”

Dr. Gregory’s findings are as follows:

  • The average rescission rate is 15% – essentially identical to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
  • 85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.
  • 41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision.
  • 95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days, seeking more information about maintenance fees, resale options, and pricing alternatives.

Some sales reps will treat their new owners out for a nice dinner to help “bond the relationship.”  This tactic works well as the new owners are getting to know the sales agent on a personal basis rather than as a sales person.  After all, the salesperson used their own money and time to take the new owners out for dinner. Why would they consider canceling with “their new friend?”

  1.      They will follow-up by phone.

If the new timeshare owners are on vacation some resorts will require the sale staff that made the sale to meet with the new clients the next day, or call them within 24 hours. This is to overcome buyer’s remorse, and to answer any questions or provide clarifications.  Often, the new owners forget the verbiage made during the presentation.

  1.      The resort may reduce the sales price.

If the new timeshare owners decide that they want to cancel, the resort can offer to reduce the price. Often this “second round” rendezvous could require another 2-3 hours of negotiations. Many take the bait and purchase at the lower price, or some keep the original agreement.  Unfortunately, the timeshare company may not change the original rescission period, and the new owners now have less time to reconsider their purchase.

Consumers need to be aware that the “today only” price will always be available the next day, week, month or maybe even years later.

  1.      The resort may offer more gifts.

If the resort offered gifts, there are hundreds or thousands of additional monies that was left on the table because the sale did not exceed their “bottom line” price.

If the new owners want to cancel, the management can offer more gifts to “sweeten the deal.”  These free gifts might include free accommodations, free meals, free activities, free or discounted RCI weeks or other options.

New owners must be aware of the new terms that might have entered the contract.  These terms could include paying rack rates for the free accommodations or paying the highest advertised prices for any gifts just in case they decide to cancel the deal. This action could add into the thousands of dollars if they decide to cancel.

Timeshare resorts will use every strategy that they can, including embarrassment and condescendence to keep the sale, but it’s the consumer’s final decision to end the relationship or move forward. Therefore, it is imperative to read all the documents thoroughly before signing, or present it to an attorney during the rescission period.

Wayne C. Robinson is the author of Everything About Timeshares:  Before, During and After The Sale. He is a former timeshare executive who is advocating with consumers to assist them their timeshares problems, and to help consumers better understand the timeshare business from an “insider’s” perspective.

For more information, visit his website at www.everythingabouttimeshares.com

Related article: About Wayne Robinson

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-21/

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you Wayne for your contribution this week, it is certainly an eye opener.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, then Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. We hope that you have a great weekend and join us again next week.

News from the Courts

Inside Timeshare has received the following information from Canarian Legal Alliance, going by this news they are certainly having a very busy time.

By the end of last week, 9 November they had 31 pre-trials or full trial in the Spanish Courts, these were on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. They also filed 44 new cases with the courts, so the judges are going to be busy for a long time yet.

They also last week received sentences in for the following:

  • 4 against Anfi Del Mar at the Courts of First Instance
  • 1 at the High Court, again against Anfi Del Mar
  • 1 against Silverpoint in Tenerife

In total they recouped over 206,000€ for their clients plus all the contracts were declared null and void, leaving the clients timeshare free.

Court of First Instance, Maspalomas

It is also becoming more common for the judges at the courts in Gran Canaria of not sending the the cases to a full trial, but issuing their sentences after the pre-trial. It was also announced that one judge in Tenerife has also followed suit and will not be sending the case for a full trial, but will issue his judgement in due course. This is obviously speeding up the process and is good news for the clients.

This week has also started on a good note with judgements issued on the following dates:

12 November

In the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas there were two against Anfi, again no trial but issued after the preliminary hearings, the first was issued 1 month after and the second was issued in just 7 days. The clients are to receive over 112,000€ and 31,000€ respectively.

In the High Court in Tenerife, Silverpoint were on the receiving end with the order to return over 15,000€ to the client and the contract being declared null and void.

On 13 November, again after a pre-trial the judge ordered the return of over 23,000€ and a German client will receive back over 103,000€, both Anfi contracts have also been declared null and void.

Anfi once again have been on the receiving end of 2 more judgements at the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, the infringements of the timeshare laws were perpetuity and floating weeks. The first client has been awarded 0ver 53,000€ plus legal interest. In the second this client has been awarded over 45,000€ which includes double the deposit paid, plus legal fees and interest.

Another timeshare company was also ordered to repay over 36,000€ plus legal interest for a perpetuity contract. This contract with Puerto Calma was also declared null and void.

So there are some very happy ex-timeshare owners, who will be celebrating this week.

Canarian Legal Alliance also announced this week they have broken another record, they have received their 300th sentence against various timeshare companies so far this year, with still just under two months left to go. This is double the number they achieved last year and equates to more than 1 a day. The total amount awarded in these sentences is a staggering 10.8 Million Euros.

This is just for timeshares sold in Spain that have infringed the now strict timeshare laws, for clients of timeshares purchased elsewhere in the world there is another branch to CLA, this company is called CLA International FZE and their head office is located at:

The Fairmont Dubai, Office 508, Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai, U.A.E.

+9714 311-6657

FAX:+971 4332 8810

[email protected]

https://clainternational.ae/

With branches spread around the world and a network of International Lawyers who specialise in timeshare litigation, they are opening the doors to many more timeshare owners who are in need of specialist help. Obviously with the success of the Spanish lawyers it will not be long before we start to see this spread to success in other parts of the world.

Friday’s Letter from America

Today Timeshare Advocacy Group Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes describes a remarkable Diamond sales presentation. Inside Timeshare is always ready to publish a good report. Pete has not yet heard back from the sales agents and managers who said they would look into the complaint that prompted Pete to become more involved with advocacy efforts. Inside Timeshare will follow along and report in as soon as Pete hears back.

On 17 October Inside Timeshare published an article warning about another new “fake” law firm in Tenerife called,  ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL, we have now had another reader send us information on the contact they have had with them. It seems that the Director of their timeshare resort The Harbour Club at Los Gigantes, Tenerife, has been charged with fraud. ADN have told our reader that many owners are getting together to cancel their membership, ADN would do this for them for 20% when the claim goes through.

Our reader then received another call informing them that a date has been set for a hearing on 20 November at 12.20pm. All they need to do is pay the “fake procurator” as soon as possible and they would be part of the case. This is very speedy indeed, but as we have said before this is all a FRAUD, there is no case, the director has not been charged with fraud and no trial date has been set. If you have had a similar call to this regardless of who you own with, then contact Inside Timeshare, your information is invaluable in helping others steer clear of this outfit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-warning-a-new-fake-law-firm-in-tenerife-part-of-the-litigious-abogados-family/

It has been a very busy week for the courts all over Spain, on Wednesday 7 November there were 15 cases being heard in various courts against a variety of timeshare companies and resorts.

In Tenerife another High Court has affirmed a First Court sentence and declared a Silverpoint contract null and void, with the return of their initial payments and double the deposit paid.

Continuing with Anfi, after yesterday’s article, it was announce that a further two sentences have been received from the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, both contracts have been declared null and void with the return to both the clients of over 43,933€ and 47,582€ respectively.

Court Sentences PDF’s

Anfi Sentence a

Anfi Sentence b

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Our Diamond Resorts Experience

A Not So Secret Shopper Reports

By Pete Gibbes, Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper Coordinator

November 9, 2018

We stayed at Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona Arizona October of this year. I was treated like royalty during a member update and sales presentation, neither of which would have lasted 15 minutes unless I had more concerns. Our sales promotion presenter, who said he had been with Diamond Resorts for 27 years, said that if we would like to buy more points we could talk about it. If not, was there anything else we wanted to ask? I asked if I was in an alternate universe.

They maintained that the company no longer employs hard sell because they found it to be counterproductive.

The internet is flooded with complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said….” only to be dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or, as we were told in 2016, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In my opinion, any company which does not take responsibility for their salesperson’s words and actions is implicitly incentivizing them to misrepresent the product in order to elicit a sale. When the sales agent is allowed to keep his or her commission, time after time, undisciplined or not terminated, that company is rewarding unfair and deceptive business practices.

To avoid being fleeced, I advise – don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. “You signed a contract” is a fair response for simple buyer’s remorse.  If companies refuse to reverse transactions when allegations of misrepresentations are detailed and credible, sales will ultimately be affected.

I hope our experience at Los Abrigados is representative of future updates to come.   We received “Priority Check-in”, i.e., whisked to their VIP accelerated check-in which, according to the Diamond Resort’s website, is reserved for ‘Gold‘ and ‘Platinum’ loyalty owners, but I’m just a ‘lil old Silver member’.

During the update I was asked to document my previous purchase elicited, I believe, by deception. They actually wanted me to put it all down in writing because they wanted to directly bring my case to Diamond. They said to specifically use the word ‘misrepresentation’, because that has been the term which phony sales presentations have been scrutinized over. They also said to be sure to put that I was pursuing legal remedies, because Diamond took that seriously.

Two or three higher level people at the update were shocked and dismayed about how we had been treated in 2016. A senior manager appeared and commiserated with us. He sweetened the vouchers. They maintained that several years ago the abusive sales practices were addressed and things changed for the better. They were glad that I had let them know how I had been so shabbily treated before. They wanted to go to bat for me. (My account of what happened in 2016 follows this Secret Shopper report.)

At the sales presentation we were told that we could use our Diamond points to pay for nights at ANY 3 star rated hotel. I’d be reimbursed for 300 (or 400?) points per night. Now that’s not a bad deal, at least for many Diamond stays. At 400 points per night for 7 nights you’d be paying 2800 points for a very nice lodging, and it would be wherever you wanted to go, whether there was a Diamond resort available or not. I had not heard of such a benefit. This time around I will confirm if this is true. I have this sales agent’s contact information. He said to call him anytime about anything.

Also, there are supposed to be now 39 different ways for you to spend points, although he said points for flight miles wasn’t a very good use of points at $.07 to $.10 per point. It would take about $2,000 in maintenance dollars to book one domestic airline ticket. Typically, the best of use of points for any timeshare member is to use the points to stay at the resort’s properties. There are 39 different ways to use points? That may be a whopper.

I would like for someone familiar with alternative uses of points to refer me to where all these uses are detailed so we can calculate the actual value. I don’t see them listed on the Diamond website. Members need to do their timeshare math, as using the Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees is only at 1% per purchase, so it would take $200,000 charged in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee bill. When members are told, “You can pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a Barclaycard”, do the math to determine the actual value of this strategy.  

We were given all kinds of extra vouchers and discounts to attractions because I had had such a poor experience with the company. The concierge seemed amazed at the generosity of our discount/voucher amounts. He said he had never seen anything like it. Thought somebody must have made a mistake. This may have been a bit of luck, but our unit had what surely must have been the best view of the red rocks as anyone there.

The entire experience was far friendlier than I have ever experienced at a Diamond Resorts property. It was bizarre. Could they have been apprised that I am TAG’s Secret Shopper Coordinator? Or does Los Abrigados just happen to be a resort where members are treated particularly well? If my dispute over our 2016 purchase gets resolved, I will credit the sales team at Los Abrigados. I certainly would praise this particular resort, if my experience is typical, which I don’t know. I thought you would find my experience of interest. Maybe someone can even explain it to me.

All in all, I felt like Donald Trump must feel like when he stays at one of his properties. I do have to say that if the people I dealt with were ‘acting‘, they should be up for some awards, because even my highly tuned BS detector never flashed any warnings. Unfortunately it never did two years ago either. Proof is in the pudding, as they say.

It may be advisable to make all the people on our advocacy site Co-coordinator Secret Shoppers.

Here’s what happened to us at a Hyatt presentation in Charlottesville 11/18/2016.

My goal here goes well beyond getting this transaction reversed. I am hoping all those who feel that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices will come forward and file regulatory complaints and warn prospective buyers to be EXTREMELY skeptical of anything a timeshare sales agent says. This is not fair to those selling the product honestly, but the liars are so good, it is impossible to tell the difference.

We originally purchased 11,500 points in 2007 at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort. We were not unhappy with Diamond until the 2016 Virginia purchase.

We learned about six months after our purchase that a Diamond “buy-back” program described in great detail by our sales agent does not exist. The buy-back program was the only reason we purchased the additional 4000 points for $15,500.

We attended the member update only because we wanted to get out from under the Diamond points we had already purchased. It was then DRI sales agent Mark W offered us a “great new deal” whereby DRI members who bought enough points to become Silver loyalty members could sell back ALL Diamond points.

After multiple “no” responses to other reasons to buy additional points, Mark W brought up the non-existent program that was of great interest to us. He said that if we became Silver members, after three years, we would have the option to sell all our points back to Diamond for $108,000. He said Gold loyalty members would be able to sell points back in two years. He put this in writing (which I have), by writing down $108,000. He also wrote 2Y=G and 3Y=S.

I was extremely skeptical because I had never heard of a timeshare buying back points. However, after he repeated this ‘new deal’ about five times, we finally decided he must be telling the truth. We signed.

When we ultimately learned there was no buy-back program we repeatedly asked Diamond to cancel the contract. Diamond’s response inevitably was, “It doesn’t matter what the salesman said,” or even wrote down apparently. They said that we had signed the contract.

My oral and written requests to get our contract cancelled began around June 2017. When you buy additional points, obviously you are not thinking about selling. It is only until you inquire about selling you learn you were duped.

I am encouraged by the Sedona Diamond representatives and their willingness to look into our complaint. There is a lot more detail to our complaint, but no sense rehashing it here since the entire experience is well documented. I look forward to hearing what my new friends at Los Abrigados find out.   

Advocacy Facebook offer support groups for those who have had bad timeshare experiences like ours. Our Facebook has over 2,000 members.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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


Contact us at Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups if you or someone you know needs timeshare help.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

So that is all for this week, join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we start this week with a press release from Canarian Legal Alliance and their ongoing court cases against the timeshare industry on behalf of their clients, along with news released late on Friday.

The Spanish Courts around the country are going to be very busy this week, in total CLA have 31 cases appearing before the courts, these are a mixture of pre-trial and full trial cases, that is an average of 6 trials per day. It now remains to be seen how many of these pre-trial judges will follow other courts and decide to issue judgements rather than send them for the full trial. If so this will certainly speed up the legal process.

On Friday, the news came in from the courts that Anfi had lost another 4 cases, 3 at the Courts of First Instance and 1 at the High Court. All contracts have been declared null and void. In total Anfi have been ordered to pay out over 100,000€.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint have also been on the receiving end of a High Court judgement, in this case, High Court Number 3 has reaffirmed the sentence of the Court of First Instance, after Silverpoint appealed. The judgement is that Silverpoint must pay out over 24,000€ plus legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.

It was also announced that in the long running and ground breaking case at the Supreme Court, of Mrs Shirley Wilson versus Silverpoint, she finally has received her award into her bank account. You will remember from previous articles, her case was the first at Spain’s Highest Court against Silverpoint, it took many years of appeals and counter appeals to get this case heard. 

Making up the News?

Eventually the Supreme Court declared her contract with Silverpoint null and void on the basis she was a consumer and her contract did not meet the requirement of Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98. This long running case was due to Silverpoint insisting that she had not purchased timeshare, but had “invested” in apartments and weeks for resale. This is the basis for many of the cases against Silverpoint, many hundreds of clients were duped into purchasing several weeks and apartments, which would then be placed on the “resale program”.

As we know these “resales” never happened, the clients were told that what they had purchased was not selling, but to secure and save their “investment” they would need to upgrade to better quality apartments and weeks. This scheme went on for years, with many losing tens of thousands of pounds each. The vast majority of these clients were also given Barclay Partner Finance loans to pay for the purchases, all arranged by Silverpoint in conjunction with BPF, no doubt receiving huge commissions for the loan agreements.

Today we are seeing a similar scheme which is trying to circumvent the law, they call it Company Participations, in essence the purchaser buys “participations in a “company” which is actually an apartment registered as such. Again there is the promise of profits to be made. But having seen the contracts, they are stacked against the purchaser and in favour of Silverpoint.

Silverpoint: The Story Moves On

If you require any information on this ar any other timeshare matter, or just need to know if any company is genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Tomorrow in the Tuesday Slot, we will be publishing the article entitled “The Federal Trade Commission’s How to File a Complaint Form”, by our very own Irene Parker.