Browse Tag

Irene Parker

The Tuesday Slot

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 solved. Daily 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 Facebook

https://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 they will end up just like the dinosaurs, EXTINCT!

Yesterday it was announced that the Supreme Court of Spain issued a resounding sentence against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, this is a subsidiary of Diamond Resorts International.

A panel of the highest judges in Spain overruled a High Court decision of 22 December 2016 which supported the sentence of the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife of 4 April 2015, which found against the client and in favour of Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. Both courts had failed to enact the timeshare laws as laid down in previous Supreme Court judgements.

This is a clear signal to all the lower courts that the law is set and they must abide by it.

The case was brought on behalf of the client by Canarian Legal Alliance and brings the total of judgements in the Supreme Court in their favour to 130. This has also made Spanish legal history, 130 cases brought, 130 victories!

The client in question will now receive back 19,650€ plus double the deposit paid within the statutory 14 days cooling-off period and all their legal fees. The contract has also been declared null and void, leaving the happy client timeshare free.

Spain is in the forefront of protecting consumers of timeshare, but there is still a long way to go as the industry still tries to find loopholes and developing products to get around the laws.  

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, the supporters of Irene Parker have raised over $7,000 in less than two weeks for her Legal Defense against Diamond Resorts Fund. There have been 109 Donors and 172 Shares. The goal is $25,000. Please donate whatever you can. It’s not easy asking those who have been financially harmed for money. Most donors are struggling because they bought timeshare points they later learned were unnecessary. It is with our deepest appreciation, Irene and I both thank you for your support and donations. The faster our goal is met, the stronger the message. Any excess funds will be donated to a timeshare consumer advocacy organization TBA Friday, October 11. 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/irene-parker-diamond-resort-legal-defense-fund?fbclid=IwAR1wj_cAkvvWXcUHXrC1zkDJtSZrlx9j_3RJKE5L7J0bUW7SM1rSwCFvFHY

On a lighter note, we are honoured and pleased to announce the formal launch of Koala, a new Platform for Timeshare Exchanges.

Koala 

Bringing Transparency and Technology to Timeshare Exchanges

 Visit our KOALA website:

https://www.go-koala.com/guest/owners/

 October 8, 2019

 Press Release

 Koala is live! Koala is the first online timeshare rental marketplace that is 100% secure, free to list, and open to everyone in the world. Koala secures every transaction with a simplified 3-EasySteplisting process that takes only minutes.  

Owners around the world have already started listing their timeshares on Koala, applauding the site’s ease-of-use and absence of upfront fees. 

Dave Julien, admin of the 11,200 member Club Wyndham Owners Facebook Group says, What’s different about this, and what I like, is there will NOT be any listing or delisting fees. You are in control of what you want to rent.”

Timeshare owner Ron F: “I like what I see and I like its ease of use. When I put listings on other sites, I feel like I have to write a sales blurb. Not on Koala” Ron added that the speed with which he can upload listings on Koala is a major advantage.

Transparency

Koala sets the standard for transparency in an industry rife with scams. Koala charges no upfront fees and has zero hidden costs. Owners pay an 8% fee only upon successful booking. Koala only gets paid if you do. 

Technology

Every resort listed on Koala comes with customized descriptions and photos, so all the work is done for you. With our platform, specialized for timeshares, Koala’s 3-EasyStep™ listing takes only minutes.   

Security

Koala verifies every resort listing, protecting travellers. Unlike our competitors, Koala secures every transaction, protecting both owners and their guests from scams. Say goodbye to mailing paper checks to strangers!

Our KOALA Team

Koala was founded by Mike Kennedy, a former employee at Hilton Club New York. Mike has over ten years’ vacation ownership experience. Mike set out to solve a problem for timeshare owners who struggle to use or sell what they purchased.

James Burbridge is a web solutions leader with over twenty years’ experience, delivering solutions in the travel, retail and hospitality sectors.

Koala – The first secure, hassle-free and transparent platform for timeshare rentals. With zero upfront fees and our simple 3-EasyStep™ listing process, getting your timeshare rented has never been easier.

 Check with your resort to determine if there are any restrictions on renting.

Then start packing! Koala offers the solution – connecting timeshare owners with travellers looking for space, security and the certainty our property listings provide.  https://www.go-koala.com/

Thank you Koala, Inside Timeshare wishes you all the best and success in your new venture, I’m sure you will have many happy clients.

Inside Timeshare would also like to thank all those who have donated and pledged support for Irene, please do keep the donations coming in.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of the Inside Timeshare Letter from America, today we publish Part 3 of the GoFundMe Campaign for Irene Parker and her Legal Defense Fund. As we know she has now become the focal point of attention in the lawsuit filed by Diamond Resorts against Finn Law Group, so far over $5,000 has been raised. In this weeks article, Irene explains how the VOLUNTARY work she does in helping others has taken control of her life and is actually costing her money. Your contributions will not only help Irene but will also send a message to Diamond that she does have our support!

How Diamond Resorts Thwarted my Dream to Teach Piano Lessons 

Pictured above a Diamond Member who visited my house on vacation from England

Please donate $10 (or more) to my GoFundMe to let your voice be heard or contribute anonymously

GoFundMe Launched: September 26, 2019

Link to my GoFundMe: Over $5,500 donated in one week towards $25,000 goal!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/irene-parker-diamond-resort-legal-defense-fund?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product&utm_campaign=p_email%2B2300-co-team-welcome

October 4, 2019 

By Irene Parker

The reason for my GoFundMe Legal Defense Fund is because I have become the central focus of a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Finn Law Group in 2015. At a six-hour deposition, conducted at the law office of Baker Hostetler in Orlando, Diamond’s outside counsel attorney ran out of “no” answers to questions about receiving or paying money to the law firm. Seemingly at a loss, the two attorneys left the conference room to confer. When they returned, they took a new direction.

As I understand Diamond’s case against me, because it feels like a case against me, it is because they contend I am greatly enriched by receiving free legal advice from attorney Mike Finn in exchange for my soliciting Diamond members to sign up with Finn Law Group. I have never been compensated by any attorney, law firm, or timeshare member. I have listened to and responded to over 1,000 timeshare families. This link to the Orlando Sentinel article is about the lawsuit:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-orange-lake-timeshare-finn-20180404-story.html

Diamond’s accusations leave me infuriated, thankfully not beyond words. The volume of angry and mostly desperate timeshare members contacting me through Inside Timeshare, or through social media, has increased from one member on average every two weeks in 2016, to a current average of three members a day.

What this means is I can’t take piano students. In 2015 it was my intention to resurrect by first love career – teaching piano lessons. At ten students a week, I could have earned $100 a week at $10 per student. I could have charged more, but the five students I taught were mostly neighbours and friends. When you’re living on a fixed income, $400 a month is nothing to sneeze at. In the fall of 2015, we moved from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. We used our Diamond points while nomads in-between houses.         

Today’s article proves I really did intend to move to Florida to teach piano lessons before I attended the ill-fated timeshare presentation at Diamond Resort’s Grand Beach Resort. https://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

I’m hoping Maya P, formerly with Diamond’s PR firm Prosek, will be deposed because when Maya called me the first time in 2016, I was teaching a piano lesson. Our initial phone conversation went like this:

Maya: “Irene, this is Maya from Prosek, Diamond’s PR firm. Can we chat?”

Irene: “I’m in the middle of teaching a piano lesson. Can I call you back?”

Maya: “You’re a piano teacher???!!!”

Irene: “Yes, we’re ruthless. I’ll call you back as soon as we’re finished.”

Maya: “I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.” 

This student is five years old, playing from her John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course Book 1. This picture was taken on May 20, 2016, when I would only hear from a timeshare member about once every two weeks.

The pace of callers picked up after I started publishing articles for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money’s investment news service TheStreet. I was reaching out and unknowingly emailed TheStreet. One of the editors responded asking to arrange an interview to become a TheStreet contributor. My first TheStreet article was an editors’ pick. It was about how I made my worst enemy a fortune during the stock market crash beginning Black Monday, October 19, 1987. I’m hoping that is how all this turns out.

How I Made my Worst Enemy so much Money

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13576145/1/the-markets-crashed-my-first-day-as-a-stockbroker-and-here-s-what-i-did-next.html

Diamond ignored me until I published June 20, 2016, TheStreet article about how Apollo Global Management acquired Diamond in 2016. I have to admit I went berserk after I read the announcement. Apollo’s predecessor company was Drexel Burnham Lambert. DBL filed bankruptcy on a $650 million fine and Michael Milken was sent to jail for securities fraud. You can imagine my reaction when I learned – Drexel BOUGHT MY VACATION PLAN!!!?? My husband and I had been DBL clients.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

DBL banker Leon Black formed Apollo after the DBL bankruptcy. Mr. Black’s name is being circulated among the power brokers associated with the late Jeffery Epstein’s “Financial Black Book” concerning sex trafficking.

In order to find out how he (Jeffrey Epstein) amassed his fortune, it may take subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to Wall Street types in Epstein’s inner circle—people such as Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founder and CEO of L Brands, Glenn Dubin, the billionaire co-founder of the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management, and Leon Black, the billionaire founder of Apollo Global Management, the private-equity behemoth.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/jeffrey-epsteins-financial-black-book

In addition to traditional piano lessons, I teach jazz piano, having mastered 13th chords after studying for five years with St. Louis jazz great Herb Drury. Prior to studying with Herb, I majored in classical piano at Lindenwood Colleges in St. Charles, Missouri.

Student Brian is a former Sarasota police officer and certified alligator wrestler. Brian plays by ear. I taught him some music theory.

Finally, we have Robert, brother to the five year old pictured above, Robert is playing a Sarabande at The Springs skilled care facility. I wish I could take credit for Robert’s brilliant ability, age 9, but I was his interim piano teacher while his piano teacher recovered from surgery. Robert speaks Polish and English. His piano teacher speaks Russian. The Springs activity director, who arranged our venues, was at her wit’s end trying to get rid of her Westgate timeshare. 

Pictured above Robert playing a Handel Sarabande at The Springs

Thank you if you are still reading. It is my hope this narration may convince timeshare power brokers and potential donors that I am not the kind of person to hustle law clients in exchange for great financial gain.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think answering the phone and responding to emails from infuriated timeshare members would lead to this. Who would have thought referring to any law firm, when asked a legal question that I was not legally able to answer, or because the timeshare member did not have the time or temperament to self-advocate, would be described illegal or immoral?  

Thank you to all donors. It is painful to have to ask for money from timeshare members already financially distressed because they made the mistake of buying timeshare points that led to their insolvency. By directing the vast majority of over 700 Diamond members to Diamond, as opposed to an exit company provider, or to an attorney, I probably saved Diamond and the members a fortune in legal and arbitration fees. Another way of saying no good deed goes unpunished:   

My Inside Timeshare September 24, 2019 article explains the subpoena.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-49/

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://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 Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you, Irene and thanks to all who have donated so far, there is still a long way to go but with your help, the target will be reached. In the time I have known and worked with Irene she has selflessly put others first, I have on many occasions spoken with her and given her encouragement to lift her spirits. Inside Timeshare calls on all our readers to now help her in her hour of need. Thank you.

That is it for this week, join us again next week for more on news and information on the murky world of timeshare. Have a great weekend.