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Irene Parker

TARDA: Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability

Back in October 2019, Inside Timeshare published the following story of a new organisation for timeshare owners in the US. Due to the number of emails being received by many US timeshare owners, Inside Timeshare decided the time was right to republish for your information. This was one of the last articles to be published by Irene Parker for Inside Timeshare.

Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc.

https://tarda.org/

We are an organization servicing North America timeshare buyers, prospective buyers, or those interested in timeshare reform. North America includes Canada and several other countries

https://www.countries-ofthe-world.com/countries-of-north-america.html

October 15, 2019

By Irene Parker

Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc is a 501c4 nonprofit incorporated in Delaware and domiciled in Washington D.C. Our mission:

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

If you are a timeshare member, owner, prospective buyer, or just someone interested in seeing an improvement in timeshare sales and marketing practices, join TARDA today to join your voice with ours. Your donation of $10 or more will automatically enroll you as a member of TARDA. A complete explanation of TARDA can be found on our website linked above.

The time has come to have the timeshare consumer’s voice speak for the timeshare consumer, as opposed to timeshare executives speaking to lawmakers on our behalf. We know there are millions who use and enjoy their timeshare weeks or points, but we also know thousands have reported how they have been harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales and marketing practices.

Our initial legislative goal is twofold:

  • Allow the timeshare buyer 24 hours to consider their decision to buy a timeshare product 
  • If the signing session is recorded, allow the buyer the opportunity to record the sales session

By their own admission, in testimony provided at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019, the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), acknowledged in their statistics that reports of verbal representations are dismissed.

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.   

What is a 501c4?

Nonprofit organizations typically classified under 501c4 include:

  • Volunteer fire departments
  • Civil leagues
  • And other groups that promote social well-being

Restrictions of a 501c4

Similar to a 501c3, no profits of the 501c4 can be used to directly benefit any of its individuals. The 501c4 organization cannot stand in support of or against any politician, whether done indirectly or directly.

However, the 501c4 is allowed to partake in minimal political activity, but those activities cannot become the focus of the organization. Also, when engaging in political activities, the 501c4 risks that any expenses incurred may be taxed.

Lobbying is allowed only for the sake of achieving its social well-being goal. If the 501c4 engages in lobbying, it may have to disclose how much of its members’ dues are going toward lobbying. https://www.upcounsel.com/501c3-vs-501c4

Hundreds of timeshare member complaints have been sent to the timeshare lobby ARDA and to ARDA-ROC, a political action committee. Complaints have been ignored. ARDA-ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics.     

Not one in over 1,000 timeshare members have been able to tell me what ARDA even stands for, yet ARDA ROC collects approximately $5 million a year in “voluntary” donations. At some resorts contributions are opt-out. When I attempted to opt-out my $7, the $7 was moved to another account and reported as delinquency. It took a while on hold until the matter could be researched and resolved. ARDA and ARDA ROC’s boards consist of timeshare executives with one exception. There are no timeshare owners on the board.   

https://www.arda.org/arda/government-affairs/default.aspx?id=1156&libID=1176

Why ARDA does not represent the voice of the timeshare consumer

  •  As described in the RedWeek article linked below, ARDA proposed and passed legislation in Florida in 2015 that makes it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts due to non-material errors.
  •  In Arizona ARDA vigorously argued against offering the timeshare buyer a 24 hour “cooling off” period before signing a perpetual contract that likely has no secondary market. Shorter-term products have been developed, but even a ten-year product can wreak financial havoc. Clearly, any organization arguing against a 24 hour cooling off period is not on the side of the consumer. 

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solvedDaily I receive requests from timeshare buyers seeking release. They do not know where to turn. Many are seniors who would never find their way to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. Most have owned their timeshare for 10 to 30 years, rarely used it, and have been paying maintenance fees for decades. An out of touch quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:

But the bottom line said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.

According to an Arizona Senator who supported ARDA’s defeat of a pro-consumer bill that would have allowed 24 hours to consider a timeshare purchase:

“These people are adults. There was a meeting of the minds and they signed a contract. They should take responsibility.”

The first timeshare complaint I read on Tripadvisor in 2016 is reflective of the over 1,000 complaints received, one of the adults who “did not bother to understand the nature of the deal.” Since this complaint, I have heard from more than 1,000 others. 

I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have an equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact, I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.

Member-sponsored timeshare resources:https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint  https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you Irene, Inside Timeshare wishes TARDA all the best in their endeavours and hopes that the industry does take notice and change its ways. If they do not, then they will end up just like the dinosaurs,

EXTINCT!

More News on the Latest Scams

Welcome to the new Friday page which now replaces our old Letter from America which was supplied by Irene Parker. We will say that we are very sorry to see this slot go as it provided a great link between owners of timeshare on the two continents, unfortunately, Irene no longer has the time to work on her articles for Inside Timeshare due to her commitment with the new organisation Tarda which we urge all US owners to join. You can find more information on the following link.

https://tarda.org/

Over the past few weeks, we have been highlighting the link between Solutions SL and CUC Abogados, today we publish some more interesting information sent in by one of our readers who has been contacted by this scam outfit. Once again this reader decided to do their homework and due diligence before parting with their hard-earned cash.

They received the following email which explains that they have been awarded 32,000€ which just happens to be the same figure for every “client” who has been contacted by them. This email has been sent from this email address [email protected] which we know has been used for quite a few years.

Dear Sir(s).      15th October 2019

As you are aware the recent hearing went ahead as planned on Wednesday 25th September.

Although you chose not to appoint a collection agency to represent you, it would seem that a favourable outcome was also reached in your case, however payment of subordinate claims is postponed until preferential and unsecured claims have been paid out first.

The original award of 32,000 Euros per claimant still stands.

A managed payment plan of 12 – 32 months has been set by the court, meaning that the defendants must compensate all members of the action group within this time period.

The plan includes the following stipulations:

  • All compensation must be paid out no later than 32 months from the date of the sentencing.
  • The court is to review the progress of the pay-outs every 3 months, with the defendants and their representatives appearing in person to testify to the progress made thus far.
  • Failure to adhere to the payment plan or any attempts to stall it will be met with a strict prison sentence.
  • Due to the total amount of compensation owed exceeding the amount of 1 million Euros, a prison term of no less than 7 years has been set.
  • Should this prison sentence be enforced, all remaining assets will be distributed evenly by the court at that point.

To clarify, you may be paid out at any point during the set time frame of 12 – 32 months.

It is important to note that you will have to submit a request to the court to query the state of your pay-out. This can be done in person every 3 months, following the courts review of the proceedings.

To accomplish the above you may wish to employ the services of a para-legal for a nominal fee, who can attend the courts on your behalf a maximum of 4 times per year to submit the appropriate requests.

Should you require any assistance in doing so we would be happy to facilitate this for you. Please feel free to contact me to discuss this option further and request a quote.

Kind regards,

Julia García

Solutions.

Now we do actually wonder how the defendants will be able to appear in court every 3 months as the companies involved in this “case” Incentive Leisure Group, Designer Way Vacation Club and Personal Travel Group were all owned by the late Gary Peter Lee. So unless he has mastered the art of resurrection who will be appearing?

Now the cost for this service is £425.18 and has to be paid into the account of a named person a P Hall and not a company account, that in itself should always set the alarm bells ringing. If this company and service were legitimate why is the payment not made to a company account? (see PDF for payment details)

We now move to another new scam that our readers have alerted us to, this time it appears to be based on the Costa del Sol and the “company” is called Sanchez Services. The address they give on the email is:

4-7 Calle Cononel Ripollet 296405 Malaga

They also give details that they are a registered company with the CIF Number 8064689968

Now the address is fake, there is a street in Fuengirola called Calle Coronel Ripollet but the postcode is also wrong it should be 29640. The CIF Number is also fake, all CIF number begins with a letter consists of 8 figures For example B67313000.

It begins: My name is James D Souza from the compliance dept of Sanchez Services. He goes on to explain that to proceed with the claim the amount the client will receive is £5,950, this will be paid by cheque and delivered by courier or if they prefer it can be paid directly into a bank account, but obviously Sanches Services will need the client’s bank details.

Now obviously there is going to be a fee involved to pursue this “claim” but their advisors are not allowed to take the payment details over the phone. So they ask the client to “kindly” make the payment online or by visiting the bank. They then give the details of the “Escrow Account” for the payment of £595.

The account details are:

Pay: Peter Smith

Account Number: 01706758

Sort Code: 24-63-08

Reference: Name of the client

“IMPORTANT PLEASE CHECK THESE DETAILS WITH ADMIN DEPT BEFORE PAYING”

Now once again this account is in the name of a named individual although we must admit that Peter Smith is a very strange name to use and unfortunately we have been unable to identify which bank it is. We do know that the sort code does not appear to belong to a UK bank as we have checked using the sort code checker but have not been able to identify if it is a Spanish bank. So we do have to ask why do the details need to be checked with admin before making a payment?

The email also goes on to say that the £595 will be held in the escrow account for 10 days if the client has not received their £5,950 within the 10 days the money will be returned. Then once the client has received the payment they must sign and return the attached forms so that the £595 can be paid to Sanchez.

Sound all very good and appears to be safe!

Well, we think not.

The email is then signed off in the following manner:

Have a wonderful day, Best Regards William D’Souza

I do think he may just have forgotten that his name, to begin with, was James!

Now if these two examples don’t warn you to be on your guard then I’m afraid you do deserve to lose your money.

As we always warn our readers

DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE PAYING ANY COMPANY MONEY NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT IS OR HOW MUCH THEY HAVE PROMISED YOU WILL RECEIVE!

Carriage Resorts Annual Meeting Report

Welcome to the last article for this week, as you know Irene Parker is now concentrating on her work with Tarda, so this slot will no longer be called Friday’s Letter from America as it was her one of her twice-weekly slots. Although Irene will continue to submit reports on the timeshare situation in the US when she is able to. For those wishing to follow Irene’s posts plus those from many timeshare owners’s/members, you can do so at the link below. Also please do join and donate to TARDA, they will be working in your interest and need your support.

www.TARDA.org

Carriage Resorts October 21 and 22 Annual Meetings

Will BDO Dunwoody Find Solutions to the Need for an Exit Strategy?

By Irene Parker

October 25, 2019

The Wyndham Carriage Hills annual meeting was almost held October 21 and the Carriage Ridge annual meeting was held October 22 in Ontario Canada. The Carriage Hills October 21 annual meeting was cancelled because the facility could only hold 500 while another 500 members waited outside. Owners were annoyed but felt the chaotic debacle was the best message they could have sent.

The reason for the robust attendance was because the Carriage Board of Directors had notified Owners that they had retained the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody to study the two-fold problem of no responsible exit from the timeshare and the resulting and escalating bad debt. Owners, even those with severe medical and financial hardship, have not been allowed a release from their fully paid for timeshares. They are liable for ongoing annual maintenance fees, as well as their heirs – there has been no responsible exit.

At the Carriage Ridge Oct 22 annual meeting, not much new news was provided other than a statement concerning early-stage negotiations between the two Carriage Boards of Directors and BDO Dunwoody. Board President Marti Ginsherman reported that information as to actual proposals and desired outcomes would not be made available until first quarter 2020.

The U.S. timeshare lobby ARDA does have a Coalition for Responsible Exit. Owners in good standing need only to look for their resort on the ARDA website. If the resort is not found, it doesn’t mean there is no exit. The resort may have a program, but not be a part of ARDA’s program. Usually, there is a charge to voluntarily deed back the timeshare points or deed. Some U.S. resorts are still resistant to any form of exit except foreclosure.

https://responsibleexit.com/

The Canadian counterpart to ARDA is CVOA. They are aware of the dilemma Carriage owners face, responding that a solution will require time and considerable resources. Those considerable resources include the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody which will work with a Transition Team to address problems and solutions.

At the October 22 Carriage Hills meeting, Carriage Ridge board secretary/treasurer Maureen Lee Ah Yen volunteered to head the Transition team and Carriage Ridge owners Lori Smith and Bruce Fleming volunteered to act as the liaison between owners and Transition Team board members.

The most glaring example of the need for a medical and hardship release concerns Stephanie’s grandparents, Gary, and his wife of 53 years Sandra. Gary resides in a nursing home and Sandra lives with her unemployed son. Gary’s entire pension must go towards his care. Sandra suffers from depression, and the worry over finances contributed towards a recent hospital stay.

Published marketing materials provided at the time of purchase stated:

  • Freeze costs of future vacations
  •  Equity $ position
  •  Worry-free vacations

 Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 over the years. Owners feel they do not have worry-free vacations as the absence of an exit strategy has caused significant stress for many. In addition, thousands of dollars have been lost to timeshare exit providers and timeshare listing services.

Carriage Resorts were acquired by Shell Vacation Club and subsequently, Wyndham acquired Shell. No doubt the argument will be that current owners are not responsible for the original developer’s marketing claims. That does not change the unfairness of owners finding themselves held timeshare hostage.

On Monday Carriage Hills Owner Karen Levins will offer her comments on the current situation and hope for the future.

Thank you, Irene, from all the previous articles on these two resorts and now this report of the Annual Meeting, it is very clear there is a very serious problem for our Canadian friends. In all the years that Inside Timeshare has been running and we include the original incarnation, we have never had a series of stories such as these. They are truly a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday with another story of why you need to be careful about who you do business with.

Have a great weekend.