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Irene Parker

Is this Timeshare Proposal merely Monopoly Money?

Many owners in Europe are also having some of the same problems as those in the US, that of constant upgrading when on holiday. One of the main tactics that has been used is the the price per point is about to go up, buy now and save money.

Many have been told the reason for the increase, is that it is to bring them in line with the price in the US. Some have even been told that today’s price will be frozen for them until their next holiday, or even they are entitled to last years price only if they buy today. All timeshare has in the past been sold on the “stack and drop” model, it gave the impression of the purchaser getting a bargain.

It must be said that in Europe things are changing, although there are some who still use the old methods. Unfortunately, the lack of a resale market is one of the biggest concerns, especially when clients are told they can sell, usually for more than they paid. The following article explains the problems in the US, many readers in Europe may have come across this here as well.

Is this Timeshare Proposal merely Monopoly Money?

You decide based on facts

By Irene Parker – February 22, 2017

Monopoly money

From Wikipedia

Monopoly money is a type of play money used in the board game Monopoly. It is different from most currencies, including the American currency or British currency upon which it is based,

Diamond Resorts points, according to Diamond Resorts sales agents, should be looked upon as “currency” in that Diamond vacation points can be used for a variety of uses – just like real money.  But does a Diamond point equate real currency?

Diamond Resort owners rarely can even give their vacation points away should the need to sell arise. Seeking to sell our Diamond vacation points due to overly aggressive sales presentations, rising maintenance fees, and availability falling far short of what was promised, I contacted David Cortese of Magical Realty.

David Cortese is one of 64 Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers who will buy and sell any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts non-deeded points, as the LTRBA members feel the  restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary market points is so onerous, it renders the points worthless on resale.

My husband and I paid $3.06 per point for 6,000 Diamond points in 2012.

Imagine the dismay of a consumer presented with the following figures during a sales presentation – after they learn the points they purchased are worthless when they try to sell. Is the buyer informed of the lack of a secondary market? The prices below are easily the cost of a nice home. Who would buy a $400,000 home that became worthless on resale the moment the contract was signed?

What difference does the inflated price make to anyone but the selling agent and the company?

  • 2013 Price per point $5.06 to $7.50
  • 2014 Price per point $7.70 to $7.95
  • 2015 Price per point $8.11 to $8.20
  • 2016 Price per point $8.28 to $8.51

The following chart was also presented:

  • 8,500 points @ $72,420 ($8.52 per point)
  • 17,000 points @ $144,840
  • 25,500 points @ $217,260
  • 34,000 points @ $289,680
  • 42,500 points @ $362,100
  • 51,000 points @ $434,520 ($8.52 per point)

Our existing owner was told, if they buy today, and with approval from above, they can buy points today for $4.80.

What benefit is this to a consumer if the points have no secondary market?

In addition to our personal price history, Roddy Boyd of Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation included a price per point history in a price chart included in his article “Diamond Resorts and Its Perpetual Mortgage Machine”  showing the price per point trending down to the $2 to $4 point range until 2014. Diamond did review the article pre-publishing.

Diamond Resorts and Its Perpetual Mortgage Machine

The Chart obtained from owner lawsuits:

http://98zo02bh3v9r369dtffl01cj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/DRII_points_lawsuits.pdf

The Kroll Bond Rating Agency, as reported by National Mortgage News, offered the following warning, concerned with Diamond’s default rate:

dollar graph

http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/secondary/newly-private-diamond-resorts-tests-securitization-market-1090005-1.html

Since the timeshare operator (Diamond Resorts) completing its previous offering, in November 2015, losses on the loans it makes to customers have been rising, primarily because more borrowers are seeking legal representation, according to KBRA. (Kroll Bond Rating Agency)

The ratings agency’s pre sale report attributes this to “a handful of [law] firms, targeting certain timeshare borrowers” and to borrowers’ use of “cease and desist” letters. The presale report does not elaborate, but TheStreet and The New York Times have reported that the company is battling two lawsuits over its business practices.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13702895/1/diamond-resorts-international-s-second-quarter-earnings-reversal-is-worrisome.html

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

These reportedly include pressuring owners to upgrade their membership in order to obtain benefits that do not materialize or are not as represented.

According to KBRA, the legal actions have dropped from their peak in the first half of 2016, but remain high compared with historical levels.

The ratings agency has the subordinate tranche of notes issued by a deal completed in July 2015 are under review for a possible downgrade.

Defaults reported by the deal, Diamond Resorts Owner Trust 2015-1, are zero, but only because the sponsor has been exercising its right to repurchase defaulted loans or substitute them with new loans. The company has the right to do this for up to 15% of the defaulted loans. However, it is not obliged to do so, and KBRA does not assume it will do so when it rates the bonds.

Diamond has also undergone a change in ownership. In September, the company was taken private by Apollo Global Management, which acquired it in a deal valued at $2.2 billion.

KBRA notes that, while other timeshare operators, including Wyndham, are experienced higher losses as the result of legal actions, “Diamond seems to be most affected.”

The presale report also notes that Diamond has made several changes designed to address the issue, including communicating with borrowers and attorneys on loans when possible and revising its sales and marketing training.

Bottom line: KBRA has increased its default expectation for the latest transaction considerably. Its base case is for gross losses of 17.9%-19.9%, compared with 13.05%-14.05% for the November 2015 transaction.

Roughly 99% of obligors are domestic and the weighted average FICO score is 732. However, the weighted average seasoning of seven months is approximately three months higher than in the previous transaction. The average loan balance remains high, at just over $25,000, which KBRA attributes to Diamond targeting obligors with higher FICO scores and incentivizing existing customers to upgrade into higher points programs.

Wells Fargo Bank will act as the “warm” back-up servicer in this transaction should the company experience deterioration in performance and be terminated as servicer.

At the very least, a timeshare buyer’s greatest advice:

group   Stay Informed and Seek Support

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

Buyers should also beware a Diamond point at $8.52 is worth only pennies used for travel awards.

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

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for the article, it has certainly shed some light on these practises. As we said in the opening, Europe is changing the way timeshare and points are sold, it still has a long way to go, but it is heading in the right direction.

Your comments and stories are always welcome, just contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

 

Owners Coming Together to Help Each Other.

Following on from previous articles from Irene Parker and the problems owners have, today’s article focuses on the setting up of a forum for owners with legitimate concerns. Many of these forums do not encourage those with problems who need true help and advice, they seem to be pro timeshare and actively discourage people with complaints and problems from posting.

Owners need to be able to get proper advice, not the opinion of a pro-resort owner, who only promotes that fact, labeling others as negative. Timeshare does have a positive aspect, but unfortunately the negative is much more the norm. We hope this article gives some of you hope.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocate Facebook

Launched to Help Timeshare Owners who do not know Where to Turn

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

By Irene Parker

February 14, 2017

your voice advocacy

Aristotle Onassis, husband of Jackie O, famously said, “Some of the most money I ever made came from ideas that were very simple, but no one ever thought of them before.”

Timeshare owners are not trying to make money – far from it. They only want to be treated fairly. Several Diamond Resort members Facebook pages are feverishly trying to maintain an equal number of happy/disgruntled owners. Rather than worry about Diamond owners like Mr. Ralph Marble, tilting the balance towards unhappy – why not refer owners like Mr. Marble to a Facebook page designed to help owners with legitimate concerns? Mr. Marble’s case was resolved after eight years only because a television reporter called Diamond asking that Mr. Marble be released from his contract.

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Inside Timeshare has been inundated with emails from timeshare owners who are tired of the stories we write week after week describing the harm being done to hard-working families victimized by rogue timeshare sales agents. Even sales agents are coming forward reflecting on how they used to earn a decent living selling timeshare according to rules that, while not perfect, did not financially devastate the lives of people who signed off on a “Vacation Experience of a Lifetime” only to learn their experience was at the opposite end of a dream vacation. Vacation nightmare is not too strong a word.

Over time, several owners, former sales agents, attorneys and advocates have formed a timeshare think tank composed of some of the greatest minds in timeshare. Some are attorneys, but most are owners bringing a lifetime of expertise in management, finance, accounting, legislative and advocacy skills that can move a timeshare mountain.

Helpful websites and Facebook pages posting helpful comments don’t go far enough. The beleaguered timeshare owner still faces what can be the challenge of a lifetime, unaware of the army of attorneys working against them. There’s a reason why people facing legal battles require opposing counsel and one on one advice and support.

A case in point is the family we will call William and Mary. This married couple has two sons, one stationed in Germany at a US army base. A timeshare sales agent painted a dream vacation describing how the family of four could stay at exquisite resorts, including Germany, where they could vacation near their son. The couple bought 2500 points for approximately $10,000. Their real names have been withheld pending the outcome from Diamond Consumer Advocacy.

Armed with 2500 vacation points and their membership ID and location booklet received long after the contract recession period, the family later sadly learned their 2500 points fall far short of what it would take for a family of four to stay at a promised resort for a week to ten days in Germany. Not sure where to turn, they contacted Charles and Irene at Inside Timeshare.

I spent a career in finance, but still fell for the dream of being able to stay at a New York Diamond property to visit our daughter. Like William and Mary, my husband and I learned the 10,000 points we accumulated fell far short of the 40,000 to 60,000 points required to stay one week at a Diamond NYC hotel, not told affiliated properties are not Diamond owned so never discounted. In real dollars, it means it would cost from $5000 to $10000 in Diamond maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at the same hotel booked online for $2400, including tax.  I checked several times throughout the year. We do find value at other parts of the country, so have made do, but the reason we bought our points remains unfulfilled.

Travel awards also fall short. A point purchased for $2 to $4 is only worth $.07 if used for airfare. Understanding basic math, I later learned it would take all our points or approximately $2500 in maintenance fees to book one domestic US airline ticket. Unless you intend to travel first class next day, this makes no economic sense. A Diamond customer service representative later explained travel awards are offered for convenience, not value, helpful for owners who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them all.

Where do we go from here?

Our timeshare think tank Facebook members may just follow along, unless they have advice to add. Send your story and we will follow up – one timeshare owner by one timeshare owner.

united we stand

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ….  

 The Statue of Liberty, written by American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)  

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any article published on Inside Timeshare, please do contact us and we will answer them for you, failing that we will pass you to the appropriate place to have them addressed.

  

 

Chicken Soup for Timeshare´s Soul!

Chicken soup is used as a remedy whenever anyone is ill, I remember as a kid if I was under the weather mum or gran would ensure I had a bowl of hot chicken soup. Whether it did any medical good is not clear, but it did make me feel better.

The chicken soup for timeshare is a cacophony of abbreviated names, which many of us cannot work out what they stand for. I will not go for the ones on mainland Europe, for one simple reason, I don’t speak the myriad of languages we have. So here are the ones we have in the UK if you have a timeshare or consumer problem.

Firstly the timeshare ones: we have the RDO, Resorts Development Organisation, this is the trade body for the industry and represents only the industry not the consumer.

TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, this is supposed to represent you the owners, but as we know they are funded by the industry for the industry. Also they are in deep trouble as we saw in yesterday’s article.

Non timeshare organisations:

BIS, Business Innovation and Skills, this is a government department, in the past they are the ones who closed down several “dodgy” holiday clubs.

They also work very closely with TS, this is Trading Standards. Each county council has their own trading standards office, again they have been instrumental in closing down rogue companies.

CAB, this is the Citizens Advice Bureaux, this is an agency run mainly by volunteers who offer advice and information on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately when it comes to timeshare they will refer you to TATOC.

FCA, the Financial Conduct Authority, they deal with anything within the finance world, it is they who lay down the regulations for how businesses such as debt collecting agencies operate.

FOS, The Financial Ombudsman Service,this is a government body who is the last resort in any dispute on financial matters. For instance problems with loan agreement, credit card refunds, including complaints against debt collecting agencies.

There are plenty more but my soup pot is only small, so I cannot fit anymore in, Irene in the her article today explains the numerous ones in the US, this will be of specific interest to those in Europe who have bought in the US. You also have the right to lodge complaints there, even if you live in Europe.

 

A Survey of Administrative Remedies for the Timeshare Owner

Original by Attorney Mike Finn, Finn Law Group

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/surveying-administrative-remedies-for-timeshare-consumers-seeking-relief

Peasant Version: An Alphabet Soup of Regulators

Who are they? How can AGs, CFPB, FTC, or the BBB Help Us?

By Irene Parker – February 6, 2017

Board meet

Many timeshare owners have little or no understanding as to how to go about fostering change when business practices have degenerated to the point such practices become harmful to consumers. This article takes some of the mystery out of governmental and nongovernmental agencies offering a blueprint for consumers to follow.

Given recent actions taken by such agencies, and in light of today’s timeshare climate, we look at what’s happening and examine where we can go from here.

The Manhattan ClubNY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halts sales.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-court-order-barring-sales-manhattan-club-timeshare-hotel

Arizona Attorney General $800000 Diamond Resort Settlement and AOD

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia CoffmanHighland Resorts and Sedona Pines

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery IIIFestiva $3 million settlement

https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312

Diamond Resorts Billion dollar lawsuitAlbright Stoddard Warnick & Albright

http://insidetimeshare.com/1billion-law-suit-diamond-resorts-international/

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Westgate investigation

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.bqeQAdL7#.whk6BDr5

$20 Million Wyndham Whistleblower award to Trish Williams

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Three former Hyatt sales agents: Whistleblower lawsuit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

Clearly, timeshare needs to change, so I reached out to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group in an effort to understand how regulatory agencies work. Mr. Finn describes his writing style as “lawyerly”.  In order for me to understand an article found on the Finn Law Group “Learning Center”, I have to rewrite it. This serves as some source of consternation to Mr. Finn, but he on occasion graciously allows me to redact one of his papers so that my fellow peasants can understand the topic.

First: The Federal Trade Commission FTC

The Federal Trade Commission was created in 1914 to prevent unfair and deceptive acts or practices. The FTC does not resolve individual complaints, but provides information about the next steps a consumer may take to resolve an issue.

The FTC looks at fact patterns in an industry. Several (the key word is always several) complaints may indicate a pattern of fraud and abuse which may lead the FTC to investigate and eliminate those unfair practices.

We begin with the FTC, because many states have enacted a portion of this federal act into state law.

profit loss

The Timeshare Cycle

If a consumer encounters a rogue sales agent in the timeshare industry, the experience can be described as a vicious cycle or circle that begins with the oral representation clause used and abused by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. Consumer complaints beginning with “the salesman said” are sadly told the timeshare developer is protected by the oral representation clause.

In some cases, as in the case of Ralph Marble, maintenance fees escalate so fast the timeshare owner can no longer afford the fee. Mr. Marble was never able to use his vacation plan because of being diagnosed with a medical condition shortly after purchase. His maintenance fees increased from $200 to $684 over eight years.

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Voluntary Surrenders are on a case by case basis. If a timeshare owner is denied a voluntary surrender, they are often driven into the nets of timeshare “listing” or transfer agents. Some transfer agents are bogus which means the owner thinks they have unloaded their timeshare but have not. If the transfer agent is “legitimate”, the surrendered contracts are bundled 50 to 100 contracts and sold back to the timeshare developer, who in turn resells for full price. Thus the circle is complete.

After a four to seven hour timeshare sales presentation, the beleaguered buyer is poorly equipped to read the mile high stack of documents they are about to sign.

man list

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The CFPB is one of the newest government agencies created in July 2010 partly in response to the mortgage crisis in the late 2000s. The goal of the CFPB is to watch out for American consumers in the market for consumer financial products and services. The timeshare industry utilizes various financing tools in its sales practices and presentations.

The CFPB told me consumers should choose the mortgage option when filing a timeshare complaint, even if there is no mortgage. Timeshare is somewhat new to the CFPB. If the owner does not want to file a formal complaint, there is an option to “Tell Your Story”. I tell the CFPB stories almost every week.

The CFPB does publish the subject and data of the complaint, feeding its Consumer Complaint Database. Most importantly, the CFPB will report to Congress with the purpose of enforcing federal consumer financial laws and writing better rules and regulations.

As more credit card transactions involving timeshare purchases are generated, the credit card financing aspect should not be overlooked for consumers seeking a monetary resolution to their timeshare purchase issues, assuming a credit card was utilized. Diamond Resorts offers a six month 0% interest rate “Barclaycard” offer if the credit card is used to purchase a timeshare. More and more timeshare developers are acting as new credit card originators for third party financial provides such as Bill Me Later (a division of PayPal) Barclay Bank, Bank of America, and a couple of credit unions.

Unlike other regulatory agencies, companies must reply to the CFPB’s complaints or inquiries. Consumers should file their complaints with the CFPB, but expect only a modest resolution and an opportunity to be heard. However, the more complaints the CFPB receives regarding a company, practice, or industry – the more likely those complaints will be presented to Congress. Congress has the power to create new rules and regulations that can improve the market for consumers when Congress reviews and enacts new laws.

Attorneys General or State’s Attorney

An Attorney General (AG) is a publicly elected position. Every state in the US has one. The AG is charged as the chief legal officer for their respective state. The AG’s Office proclaims to protect “timeshare owners by investigating business practices” relating to the sale and resale of timeshare interests.

The AG’s Consumer Protection Division has the civil enforcement authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The Division is additionally responsible for the enforcement of the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act,(“RICO”), which punishes businesses and “enterprises” conducting patterns of illegal activities within a state.

Notably, the AG by law cannot represent private citizens in legal disputes. When a complaint is filed by a consumer, and the AG investigates the alleged misconduct, the AG does not represent the consumer on an individualized basis, but rather the interest of consumers in their state as a whole.

As in the case of the $800000 settlement the Arizona AG reached with Diamond Resorts, if the Division investigates and is successful in prosecuting or settling the action, there is a potential for recovery.

Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) state regulatory agency – Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes (“Timeshares Division”)

Florida is a timeshare mecca center. The DBPR is an extension of the executive branch of the Governor, and is charged with licensing and regulating all businesses and professionals within the state. The DBPR subdivision relating to timeshares is known as the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes (“Timeshares Division”). The Florida Timeshares Division licenses and regulates timeshares through education, complaint resolution, mediation and arbitration, and developer disclosure.

The Office of the General Counsel (“OGC”) of this division represents the interests of Florida residents and does not represent individual complainants. In most cases the Department, even with successful prosecution, does not typically recover money that a consumer has lost. Many consumers rightfully wonder what the likelihood of success would be if they take the time to file a complaint.

Statistically speaking, from April, 2014 through April, 2016, the Florida Timeshares Division received 2,360 complaints. Of those complaints, only 110 resulted in action by the Florida Timeshare Division – less than 5%!

The Better Business Bureau BBB

The Better Business Bureau is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues.

National Timeshare Owners Association

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

The National Timeshare Owners Association is a social purpose organization dedicated to educating, advocating and protecting ownership interests. For nearly 20 years, the NTOA has worked to ensure owners have access to resources available to them. As the oldest and largest member based association, NTOA works closely with other industry associations and stakeholders such as CRDA, TBMA, TATOC, CARE and FTOG. NTOA’s extended relationships include 12 domestic and international developers, HOA‘s and management companies. The NTOA seeks to find solutions to some of the industry’s most complex issues.

Summary and Conclusion

What avenues, if any, exist for the unwary consumer who gets pressured into purchasing a $25,000 to $100,000 or more timeshare interest with credit at a 14% to 19% annual interest rate accompanied by a lifetime and beyond maintenance fee obligation? A thriving resale scam industry exists due to the limited and sometimes nonexistent secondary market.  

It’s not until long after the contract is signed, or if the family experiences a life crisis, they learn that the purchase contract often contains no way out. In all likelihood, the perpetual contract was signed in a same day sale, after a sales presentation that lasted for hours. The elderly are targeted, according to several lawsuit allegations.

success

Given recent regulatory decisions and legal actions, a highway of hope is under construction.  

GET INVOLVED!

To perhaps state the obvious, the timeshare industry is a well-organized and wealthy industry that has the ability to lobby for favorable laws and treatment.  Contrast this with the average consumer who is economically stretching to afford a $25,000 timeshare interest.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to learn more about organized efforts to reform an industry badly in need of reform. Thank you to timeshare companies working towards a safer and owner friendly timeshare industry.

We would like to thank all contributors to this article especially Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group.

Inside Timeshare is here to bring you the latest news on what is happening in the world of timeshare, at present we are very much focused on Europe and the US. We are however working on collaborating with writers in Australia, this will bring you the news on a worldwide scale. We would also like to hear from any owners in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. You can contact Inside Timeshare through our comments section or email direct to [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you.

Globe flags

$1billion Law Suit against Diamond Resorts International!

Spain has been at the forefront of enforcing timeshare laws in Europe, so far the Supreme Court has made 42 judgements in favour of the consumer, these are now part of law and all courts must abide by them.

It has cost the industry millions of euros in payouts with many more in the pipeline. All this because for years they have ignored the laws put into place in 1999, which are there to protect the consumer.

But this now pales into insignificance with the latest lawsuit in America.

In a class action filed in Las Vegas, Diamond are being sued for $1billion. Yes, that is correct a whopping $1billion!

Irene Parker has sent in this report on what this lawsuit is all about.  According to this document a trial by jury has been demanded, along with the law firm leading the action who have a very good reputation, it has the hallmarks of a long and fierce battle.

According to our sources this lawsuit is not just for those in the US, but it could possibly be left open for Europeans who purchased in the US to join the action, especially any purchaser who was 60 years or over when signing. We are waiting confirmation of this as there may just be statute of limitations in place.

But this could be good news for many.

Billion Dollar Lawsuit Filed against Diamond Resorts International

Law Firm: Albright Stoddard Warnick & Albright

Case No. 2:17-CV-00248

Filed in Las Vegas Federal District Court

By Irene Parker:  February 1, 2017

Lawsuit

 The law firm of Stoddard Warnick & Albright filed a billion dollar lawsuit against Diamond Resorts International January 29, 2017. The lawsuit alleges Diamond Resorts (DRI) ensnared thousands of elderly consumers in its deceptive and fraudulent scheme to sell points-based timeshare memberships.

According to the complaint, which was filed on behalf of lead plaintiffs Ilona and Lester Harding, along with thousands of other elderly consumers, buyers typically spent tens of thousands of dollars or more for upfront Membership fees and upsold Membership levels. Memberships were accompanied by hefty annual assessments that continue in perpetuity.

Several plaintiffs were named in the lawsuit. Among those named:

Of particular note to Diamond Resort Owners is the absence of any “collection” except the US collection. Other Diamond Resort collections not named in the lawsuit include Hawaii, Premier Vacation Club, California and Monarch Grand Vacations Collections.

Former CEO David Palmer served as President and/or Director (and sometimes as both) for at least six of the Defendant entities; Jared Finkelstein serves as Secretary and/or Director (and often both) for at least six of the Defendant entities; and Lilian Luu serves as Treasurer and/or Director (and sometimes both) for at least six of the Defendant entities.

The law firm Albright Stoddard Warnick & Albright is one of the oldest law firms in Nevada, in existence for 40 years. According to the firm’s website, they have represented clients in many high profile and complex bench and jury trials in Southern Nevada, in both state and federal court, representing contractors, lenders, and owners on large commercial projects. The firm successfully defended a general contractor in a bench trial, which lasted intermittently for well over a year, arising out of the construction of a major Strip hotel. At the time, it was the longest bench trial in Clark County history. Included among the firm’s numerous institutional clients are American Express, Wells Fargo and Hard Rock Café International.

According to the complaint, the lawsuit alleges the elderly were targeted because of their vulnerability and time available to travel. Elderly is defined as anyone 60 years or older at the time of purchase. The elderly were induced to purchase vacation memberships in a same day sale without being advised as to the lack of a secondary market by intentional design. Memberships were accompanied by, at times, dramatically escalating maintenance fees.

Inside Timeshare has written numerous articles supporting such claims.

cartoon IreneCartoon Charles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mr. Ralph Marbles, an elderly buyer diagnosed with a medical condition shortly after purchase, but denied a surrender until the television reporter contacted the company. Mr. Marbles’ maintenance fees increased from $200 a year to $684.

While Diamond Resorts boasts that 70% of sales come from existing owners, there are thousands of complaints filed by existing owners, as detailed in previous Inside Timeshare articles. In addition, existing owners are often encouraged to purchase additional points as a way to reduce maintenance fees through a non-existent buy-back program and are not told points are worth only pennies on the dollar when used to pay maintenance fees. The Saldana and Olds families are cases in point.

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/#more-1397

I have intervened on behalf of several families whose financial lives and retirement savings were decimated by their Diamond Resorts vacation plan. The Hurleys are a retired Canadian army family currently working with Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy in the hope of saving 40 years of retirement savings representing their entire life savings.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

As a result of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800000 settlement and “Assurance of Discontinuance”, Diamond is rolling out a new Clarity (™) program that seeks to address deceptive and fraudulent business practices that the Arizona Attorney General alleges violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

http://insidetimeshare.com/opcs-europe-usa/#more-1518

It’s not all doom and gloom though!

fourmen

I have recruited, well drafted, several of those I have helped to pay it forward by becoming Appointed Special Timeshare Advocates (™) as a bridge between their vacation nightmare and resolution. We are working with the newly formed Diamond employed Consumer Advocates. Already, we have achieved positive outcomes, or at least provided straight answers, for what an owner can and cannot expect.

Not resolved are the plight of high volume owners whose accounts have been suspended or issued a “cease and desist”. For years these owners were encouraged to buy upwards of 100000 to 200000 vacation points in order to be able to rent out enough points to cover maintenance fees. In recent years points have sold from $2 to $4 per point. Changing rules and regulations and acknowledgement forms signed in an upsell have eliminated rights contained in their original contracts. Irina tells of her vacation nightmare:

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

That about covers the first 20 pages of the 55 page complaint. There’s only so much vacation burden a writer and reader can handle at once.

“Diamond Resorts is still looking into the facts surrounding the lawsuit; therefore, it has no comment at this time,” according to DRI Public Relations spokesperson Maya Pogoda.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you’ve had a positive or negative vacation experience you would like to share.

Would love to hear from you!   telephoneman

 

So there we have it, a huge battle is about to take place in the world of timeshare. This is one story we will be keeping a very close watch on, although it may be some time before the trial actually takes place. The wheels of justice are slow to turn.

NEWS JUST IN!!!

CLA Logo

Canarian Legal Alliance has just informed Inside Timeshare of yet another Supreme Court judgement, this is against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. That makes 5, yes 5 rulings in against this company in under 2 weeks.

The British client has been awarded over £62,000 including legal fees and legal interest. We believe this ruling covers lack of information in the contract, perpetuity and once again the client is recognised as a consumer not an investor.

If you have any questions regarding any article published or about any company you may not be sure about, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be please help.

 

Latest News from Europe and the US.

Before we go on with today’s article from Irene, there has been some breaking news over the past week. The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued three rulings against Silverpoint, on behalf of three clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, all three came within days of each other.

In the first was the British Client who purchase at Club Paradiso, the court ruled that this was indeed timeshare and not a club affiliation as Silverpoint claimed. This case has taken around five years to get to this stage, with appeal following appeal.

The second case was that of a CLA client from Belgium, the court declared once again the illegality of contracts over 50 years.

Another British client of CLA who purchased the Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation Package. Again this ruling was around the “club affiliation” scheme, the court once again ruled that this did indeed fall under the scope of Spanish timeshare law, (Ley 42/98) as in the first ruling.

So far since March 2015 CLA have achieved remarkable results, with around 42 rulings from the Supreme Court, involving numerous timeshare companies, with Anfi being the most prominent. (Follow the link to The Northern Echo article on the first case).

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2

In the article by Irene today, she looks at the Diamond Resorts Clarity (™) programme, it would seem that Diamond are trying to change the way they operate amid growing protests from owners, especially the elderly.

This programme at present will not be rolled out in Europe, Although Diamond Resorts in Europe have already begun to make considerable changes in their approach to owners / members. They have set in place a programme where members can surrender their timeshare under what Diamond call “exceptional circumstances”, with this there is no charge.

One reader has Steve has taken advantage of this, with Diamond accepting his surrender, but there is a twist in this story. Diamond are investigating how he was sold and how he also ended up with a finance package, they obviously believe that there is something wrong. Once this is completed, Inside Timeshare will bring you the results.

Contained within the article is an interview Irene had with Maya Pogoda the Diamond Public Relations Officer. She has welcomed the chance to speak with Inside Timeshare and has supplied numerous comments and answers to our questions. So on with Irene´s article.

Diamond Resorts Clarity (™) – The Good, the Bad and the Critical

Diamond Owners are Hopeful but Skeptical

By Irene Parker January 29, 2017

Skeptical Method

DIAMOND CLARITY(™) is the offspring of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance” resulting from allegations that Diamond Resorts International violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

http://insidetimeshare.com/opcs-europe-usa/#more-1518

Maya Pogoda, Diamond Public Relations spokesperson, talked to me about the new national program consisting of a series of operational procedures and enhancements, new training and compliance procedures and protocols, and other customer-friendly changes to the sales process.

Press Release excerpts:

Missing from press release: “We recognize the need for Diamond Resorts and all timeshare companies to change or improve timeshare business practices that have led to predatory lending and deceptive sales techniques, resulting in harm to timeshare owners,” suggests Irene.

I took issue with several statements made in the press release:

“At Diamond Resorts, we already excel in customer satisfaction, but we are constantly looking for ways to do even better,” said Executive Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Flaskey.

I spoke with a few timeshare attorneys. One paralegal who works for a timeshare attorney asked not to be identified. Their firm has released 10,000 owners from timeshare contracts and said Diamond is their biggest “customer”.  Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group carries approximately 500 timeshare cases with 20% to 25% against Diamond Resorts. Mr. Finn said he’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

There are also several angry Diamond owner groups:

DRIP Diamond Resort International Protestors launched by over 1000 angry British owners trying to be released from contracts.

Intrawest Embarc Diamond Facebook page has over 2500 Intrawest members. An administrator of this group recently suggested I post our last Inside Timeshare article on their Facebook page after being banned by a Diamond Influenced Member Supported 7000 member Facebook group.

I had sent the article to an Intrawest administrators individually. She receives a link to all my articles. Unfortunately, one of the administrators from the 7000 member group voiced a warning to one of the other Intrawest administrators urging a word of caution concerning the dangerous piano teacher, Irene Parker.

https://www.facebook.com/Club-Intrawest-Owners-Group-921012087982547/

The 7200 member Facebook group consists of about 50% happy/angry owners. Members who are 100% negative on Diamond Resorts are privately and quietly urged to join DRIP, according to one member who asked not to be identified. Ironically, the same administrator was banned from the DRIP website accused of being too positive.

Charles Thomas was banished within days of joining the 7000 member Facebook accused of supporting the Canarian Legal Alliance. Charles can better explain the success CLA has had fighting timeshare abuse.

Owner infighting is strongly encouraged by Diamond Resorts because United we Stand and Divided we Fall. There is a lot of that going on in the world today.

Inside Timeshare allows political commentary to enter into our articles. In fact, given the fact the Trump family is launching a timeshare in Scotland, it is even encouraged. One of President Trump’s closest friends of 20 years is David Siegel of Westgate. Westgate has been under Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation for the last few years.

Continuing the litany of unhappy Diamond owners:

Monarch Website of angry owners owning fixed weeks could not gain access after converting to points, resulting in a class action lawsuit.

http://www.monarchowner.com/p/our-story.html

Poipu Angry Owner website:  Assessments resulting in a class action lawsuit.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Point-of-Poipu-Angry-Owners/148027451960608

Thousands of complaints have been voiced on Redweek, BBB and other internet complaint sites. Just yesterday a Redweek member reached out to me. I sadly informed her she made my list of top two percent timeshare horror stories. The subject of Diamond timeshare sales agent Rick Casper of Polo Towers Las Vegas will be the subject of my next article

Of course, people can always contact me directly.

Irene Card

RedWeek continues to allow me to post.  I was asked to provide a link to the article that caused me to be banned. Controversy generated by an article is a writer’s best friend.

My Facebook page has no quota on happy/angry comments. I deny I am 100% negative on Diamond. We still enjoy Diamond Resorts and find good value at times. I am encouraged by the meaningful conversations I have had with diplomat and PR spokesperson Maya Pogoda.

I find relatively few complaints on the internet about Hyatt, Hilton or Disney.

Back to the Clarity Press Release:

“It will increase transparency”

Keep Reading

Timeshare Advocacy

On Monday 23 January we published “And So It Begins”, it was about freedom of speech and the press. This was in response to Irene Parker being banned from the Diamond Resorts Members Facebook Page, which is a members page for Diamond owners. Irene is a long standing Diamond owner. She campaigns for greater clarity in the sales process and for the secondary market, also for those who wish to surrender their ownership. In this she has engaged with Diamond in meaningful dialogue and has achieved some results.

Irene did managed to sneak in one Diamond owner’s testimony before she was banned from her Diamond Members Facebook page.

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

Irene caused an escalation in negative comments so was banned from the Diamond Members Facebook page, although the charge was because she posted our Inside Timeshare article about Attorneys General in the US working for timeshare owners, compared to Attorneys General who seem to be on the side of the timeshare developers. She was told she had been warned. When she posted her previous article on this topic, the article had been removed, but protest resulted in the article being re-posted. Irene erroneously  interpreted this as an approval of free speech.

The article banned and reposted was about timeshare dividing down party lines with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halting sales at The Manhattan Club for a “bait and switch” scheme, compared to Attorney General Pam Bondi seeming to be on the side of the timeshare developers.

President Trump has a golf resort in Belmedie in Scotland with plans for around 900 timeshare apartments, which is set to double under new plans. In America this was reported to be only a golf course, they had no idea of the plans for timeshare to be built along with a 450 room hotel and 500 homes. Not to forget a second 18 hole course. We will of course be closely following developments in Belmedie and President Trump’s new golf and  timeshare resort.

Irene was accused of being political. Most timeshare owners don’t know that their voluntary $7 donation to ARDA ROC goes toward the timeshare developer’s lobby efforts. Lobby efforts in 2015 resulted in a law being passed making it more difficult for timeshare owners to be released from contracts due to “immaterial errors” as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Is this not “political”? We reported on this in the October article “More News from Across the Pond”.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617-post.html

For today, free speech still exists in Spain, Europe and in America. Free speech will always exist at Inside Timeshare or we will die trying. Without it you a will not know what is happening.

Today Irene´s article is about “Advocacy”, even Diamond agree this is needed and they have created a “Consumer Advocacy Department” to resolve consumer problems.

How Timeshare Advocacy Works

Update on Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance”.

 Retired Canadian Army Family’s Diamond Resorts Advocacy Experience.

By Irene Parker January 24, 2017

Support

For years timeshare owners and prospective owners have been clogging the complaint sites, complaining about what the Arizona Attorney General’sAssurance of Discontinuance” or AOD describes as Diamond Resorts:

Deception, deceptive or unfair acts or practices, fraud, false pretenses, false promises, misrepresentations or concealment, suppression or omission or material facts violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has issued Diamond Resorts an Assurance of Discontinuance and announced an $800,000 settlement.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Diamond Resorts, while not admitting wrongdoing, despite hundreds of complaints filed, takes owners concerns seriously. The company has announced a new Clarity program. Next week we will publish an article on Clarity offering owner feedback as to how they feel about the new program. At least it’s a step in the right direction.

Diamond has also created a Consumer Advocacy Department. It is my belief that owners need an advocate not employed by Diamond, interacting with Diamond’s Advocate until the owner’s concern is resolved or the decision is made to seek legal recourse.

In today’s article we examine one family’s advocacy experience. Terry and Roxanne Hurley were prepared to sign their Diamond relinquishment papers until they got to the part about not being able to say anything negative about Diamond.

“We put everything we had for our retirement into this, and we are gutted to know our many years in the Canadian Military (Army), planning and saving for our retirement over 40 years, is most likely lost,” said Roxanne.

Not knowing where to turn, the Hurleys contacted me and asked if there was any way they could recover any of their life savings. Most people would have contacted an attorney, but we contacted Diamond’s Advocacy Department. The reason they invested all their savings was because the Diamond sales agent (Vacation Counselor) said buying Diamond vacation points was like buying a second home. He neglected to tell the family it was like buying a second home without a secondary market.

The Hurleys chief complaint was availability. “Ash painted a beautiful picture of Diamond and even gave us a beautiful book and said these were all the places we could go. He said we would have access to over 2500 resorts through Interval International,” Roxanne explained. “We were getting ready to retire from the Canadian Army and we thought what a wonderful way to spend our retirement! He showed us a beautiful suite we would be able to get if we wanted to stay at Mystic Dunes.”

Terry and Roxanne Hurley recently retired from the Canadian army.

Hurley

Terry and Roxanne twice bought Diamond vacation points from DRI sales agent Ash Hanting at Mystic Dunes in Orlando. They bought points a second time when they discovered they did not have enough points to book the following year after their first purchase. The Hurleys have spent 50,000 Canadian for 15,000 points.

Armed with 15,000 points, they tried to book Myrtle Beach but it was not available so they had to book through Expedia. Booking one year out they were able to book Arizona.

 Terry and Roxanne approached Ash on a third visit to Mystic Dunes asking how they would go about selling their points because the vacation plan they bought was not turning out to be what they had been promised. Ash told them they would need to get a broker.

Unfortunately, not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will market Diamond points because they feel Diamond points are worthless on the resale market due to restrictions Diamond places on points purchased resale. LTRBA members will buy and sell any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts; although I’m told only one of the members will market Westgate.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

The Hurleys told Ash the level of quality of their current accommodation was nowhere near the standard of what they were showed when they were sold their initial points. Their complaints were ignored. Roxanne wrote to Founder Stephen Cloobeck and Victor McElroy about what they felt were deceptive business practices, but no one responded.

The Hurleys are coping with Roxanne’s mother who is very ill and who lives about 2000 miles from them in Ontario. “It is very difficult to scrimp up the money to get to her. And my husband is dealing with medical issues as well,” Roxanne added.

I contacted Maya Pogoda, Diamond’s Public Relations Representative helping to launch Diamond Advocacy and Clarity. While the Hurley’s concerns about availability and the burden of rising maintenance fees, exacerbated by the Canadian exchange rate, have not been resolved; Diamond’s Advocate was able to offer the Hurleys a little “time out” in the midst of the family’s medical crisis in order to allow the family some time to weigh their options. I had suggested someone from Diamond contact the Hurleys to see if someone could help them find better availability. That is not the role of the Vacation Counselor, so Mr. Hanting cannot be of help.

Timeshare Needs a CASA,  

CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates, (CASA) is a national association in the United States that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children in order to provide children with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.[1]

The CASA is a volunteer who need not be an attorney, whose role is to gather information and make recommendations to the judge.[3]

Judge Soukup in 1977 formulated the idea that volunteers could be dedicated to a case and speak for children’s best interests.[5]

Fifty volunteers responded to his idea, which started a movement.[7]

A Proposal for our Attorneys General

Appointed Special Advocate for Timeshare Owners (™)

Here to help

CASA provides a voice for the voiceless. The Hurleys are not alone. I have talked to dozens of owners who don’t know where to turn or who to talk to.

Other advocates pictured above include Sylvia Saldana. The Saldana family is left with a $33,000 home equity loan and no vacation points.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

Kathie Olds and her husband were told to buy more points because Apollo would be coming up with a new program that would allow them to “cash in” points at $.50 a point to pay for maintenance fees. Points sell for about $2 to $4 a point.

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/#more-1397

BL, Our Devil’s Advocate saying positive things about Diamond having signed a non-disclosure statement.

Roxanne Hurley

Irina Allen (featured in last week’s article)

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

As a former CASA supervisor, I wrote court reports and attended hearings and trials on behalf of foster children and teens aging out. Victimized timeshare owners need a voice for the voiceless. Just like foster care, there is a need for advocates who understand the system. The Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance” is 37 pages long. It’s a lot for me to plow through.

Here is one reason why the Arizona AOD has encouraged DRI agents to stick to the script rather than make oral representations offering benefits not in existence. DRI Sales agent Wajdi’s promise below wandered far afield:

We (C and P) purchased an additional 60,000 points from Wajdi at Cancun Resort on July 25, 2016 based on our ability to sell half of our points back to DRI to pay maintenance fees. We have contacted Wajdi a few times, but still do not know how to pay our MF with points.

Through advocacy, C & P’s concerns were resolved. They will remain Diamond Platinum members because of their positive outcome. They ceased legal action.  

A lot is happening in Timeshare.

get-involved

This is what freedom of speech really means, without it nothing will change, Inside Timeshare will report what it finds, whether it is good, bad or ugly. We will continue to publish Irene´s articles on what is going on in the timeshare world in America. We also hope to start publishing news from timeshare owners in Australia in the very near future. The problems facing timeshare are not confined to Europe or America, they are worldwide.

Inside Timeshare welcomes those with news and views on timeshare worldwide, we will endeavour to publish and keep all informed on events and news which affect you the owners.

 

Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

Today’s article just happens to coincide with a rather important day in the USA, it is the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, so what has this to do with timeshare?

Well it is actually quite simple for those in Scotland, back in 2008 there were some very heated debates over Mr Trump’s plan to build an 18 hole golf course and resort in Balmedie Aberdeenshire. This met with considerable resistance from the local people, but eventually Trump won through.

The original plan was to build a 450-room hotel, a second golf course, 500 luxury homes and 900 timeshare apartments along with a second 18 hole golf course. In a recent article in The Guardian newspaper these plans now intend to double the number of homes and timeshare apartments.

According to The Independent Newspaper there appears to be a conflict of interest, although Mr Trump or should we say President Trump, has stated that his company will do “no new foreign deals” during his presidency. But as The Independent puts it he has left this “new” and “deals” open to interpretation.

The Independent article goes even further, it also brings in the fact this proposed expansion coincides with the need for the UK to negotiate a trade deal with the US after the Brexit vote. As The Independent puts it “who would deny a permit to the President of the United States?”

Well, we in the UK and especially those people in Aberdeenshire will just have to wait and see.

In Irene Parker´s article she explains the US side to the question what will happen under the Trump Presidency and the effect to owners.

Links to the Independent and The Guardian articles.

https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-organization-golf-links-resort-scotland-aberdeen-conflict-interest-a7534596.html%253Famp&ved=0ahUKEwjEiL656M7RAhUGQBQKHVZkDe8QFghQMAY&usg=AFQjCNEGkuZV4A3k8BIvt65PzkVLNLQbHQ&sig2=oX4Sg73mYZ_Gfsi1hw9UJw

https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/planners-reject-donald-trump-revised-plans-scottish-golf-resort&ved=0ahUKEwjSkM6q6c7RAhWCxRQKHVVfCfEQFghZMAc&usg=AFQjCNGSyvxRBMaAVBigvOxsbSyrpCkAKQ&sig2=sSbmK7N4TgzLUVG1YI-PHQ

Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

By Irene Parker

January 17, 2017

Presidetial seal

There are a couple of movements under way in America, so why should Timeshare be different? Timeshare owners who have been victimized by rogue sales agents are as far apart from the actions of timeshare developers and lobbyists as Trump is from Bernie. Through covert action, timeshare owners have circumvented laws developers supported to jokingly protect our privacy, and began to contact each other. What we have learned from each other’s experiences is shocking.  

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

Four Attorneys General have taken action to protect timeshare consumers and prospective buyers.  Noticeably absent from this list is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, considering Florida is a timeshare mecca center. The timeshare developer lobby organization ARDA will be quick to point out Bondi’s effort to shut down fraudulent timeshare resale scams – vibrant due to little or no secondary market for owners seeking to sell their timeshare. Bondi explains on a FOX Bob Massi Property Man segment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6bZDA6pL0o

Resale scam artists are like squirrels. Take out two and four more will arise tomorrow. I received two calls just this week. Of course shutting down 41 fraudulent resellers is a good thing, but did this just clear out the clutter for developers to have a clear path to “legitimate” transfer agents.

When a timeshare company refuses a request to surrender a timeshare contract, never fear! The beleaguered owner can go to a transfer agency with good names but questionable business practices like Redemption and Release and Resort Release. For sometimes as much as $5000 or more, transfer agents will offer a guaranteed “deed-back”, if legitimate, then bundle 25 to 50 contracts and sell back to the developer. Sound similar to the sub-prime mortgage business? It is.

On the other side of the FOX Celebrity fence are Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham endorsing Resort Release. In a FOX news interview Dave Ramsey said timeshare has a 98% dissatisfaction rate.

Lisa Ann Schreier, author of Timeshare for Dummies, offers her opinion in her Open Letter to Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham:

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com/2016/11/an-open-letter-to-dave-ramsey-and-laura.html

lecturnSo what does this have to do with Politics?

Pam Bondi made headlines with her handling of the Trump University investigation after asking and receiving a $25,000 donation.

Trump U victims are eerily similar to timeshare victims. CNN reporter Drew Griffin interviews top Trump U sales agent Dave Harris:

https://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/cnn-reporter-hammers-trump-u-instructor-is-that-called-ripping-off-an-old-couple/

There has been a noticeable shift in lobby efforts. Extravagant events designed to curry favor for legislative efforts used to be directed towards politicians and lawmakers. That’s changed. More and more, campaign contributions, lobby sponsored conferences and events are aimed at Attorneys General like Pam Bondi, as pictured, and reported by the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

However, efforts to influence politicians have not gone unrewarded. Timeshare owners and advocates were outraged over timeshare laws passed in 2015 making it more difficult for timeshare owners to be released from contracts.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617-post.html

Attorneys General working for us:

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance following a probe of Diamond Resorts. A settlement of $800,000 has been awarded for restitution:

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Other Attorneys General have come down on the side of timeshare owners, including:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman, as reported by Business Den reporter Amy DiPierro, concerning Highlands Resorts in Colorado and Sedona Pines in Arizona:

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermann halted sales at The Manhattan Club in 2014 and is still engaged in an ongoing legal battle:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III settled with Festiva timeshare for $3 million:

https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312

Alongside AGs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau conducts an ongoing investigation of Westgate timeshare as reported by Matthew Zeitlin at BuzzFeed:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.dwoQKVw3QQ#.doJ0ka1K00

Diamond Resorts default rate is the highest in the industry. The rate has increased to 19% over 13% from the prior year, according to National Mortgage News. Diamond credits this to lawyers targeting owners. I like to think of it being caused by owners talking to other owners.

http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/secondary/newly-private-diamond-resorts-tests-securitization-market-1090005-1.html

So what side of the political fence stands the timeshare developer? Pictured to the left of our new President, the King of Versailles and owner of Westgate timeshare David Siegel:

Trump

Thank you to Inside Timeshare for providing a forum that now reaches from England to Australia and to our Diamond member sponsored Facebook page:

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

Globe flags

Inside Timeshare hope that this article has explained to our European readers the problems that US timeshare owners face, and what it may mean to them in the future. Your comments to this article are more than welcome.

If you have any questions about any company that you may be thinking of dealing with or have been contacted by, contact Inside Timeshare and we will find the answers for you.

 

Wyndham´s “Ovation” Surrender Program: Latest News

On 2 November 2016, Inside Timeshare published the article News From America: “Wyndham Launches New Surrender Program”, by Irene Parker. (See the original article via the link at the end). It focused on the new initiative by Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which is one of the largest timeshare concerns in the USA.

The new initiative is called “Ovation”, it is designed to give timeshare owners a secure and legal way out of their timeshares, without fees, hidden costs or the need to make additional purchases in order to participate. Irene even managed to get a response from their media contact Lori Ford, in her statement she said “Our goal is to help owners transition to the next phase of their life and reach as many owners as possible, before they are contacted by fraudulent companies,” it certainly looked promising for owners.

wyndham logo

Inside Timeshare was contacted by a reader Steve Lloyd, he had several enquiries about various timeshares he owns and how to get out of them. He explained what he owned and asked what were his options to either claim back, sell or just relinquish. Well we all know that the resale market is virtually non-existent, so that left the claims or relinquishment option the only course.

It turned out there was no possibility of claiming, so we looked at the only course for him to take, relinquishment. It was explained to Steve that two possibilities existed, hire a reputable law firm to do it for him or contact his resorts. Inside Timeshare advised to contact the resorts first and see what they had to say.

Then came the news about the Wyndham programme, we contacted Steve with this news and he duly got in touch with Wyndham. That was on the same day as we published.

Yesterday 16 January 2017, Steve sent an email with some great news, he received an answer from Wyndham. His timeshare has now been surrendered through the Ovation Program. This is his email:

“The attached was received this morning and signals the successful completion of our exit from WorldMark via their Ovation programme.  A very successful and satisfactory process, I feel.  All through the process, WM/Wyndham staff have been friendly, courteous and helpful, and the final letter shows a nice human touch that doesn’t cost them anything.  Please use the contents of the letter for the good of all as you see fit”.

Worldmark Exit Contract closure letter Jan 2017redacted

As you can see, he is very pleased with the result, praising the way he was treated and how courteous they were, this is truly a good sign for the timeshare industry. He is still waiting for a response from Diamond Resorts (Europe).

Irene Parker received this brief statement from Lori Ford, the Wyndham media contact:

Thanks so much for the opportunity to provide a response. Please feel free to incorporate the following statement.

“According to Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), “We are pleased to hear of Mr. Lloyd’s positive experience with the Ovation program. We remain committed to tailoring simple, safe and secure exit strategies for owners who have fulfilled their vacation goals.” With the introduction of Ovation by Wyndham in early 2015, WVO has received over 55,000 inquiries and helped more than 20,000 owners exit their ownership with peace of mind, and without any additional costs”.

“With its portfolio of customized exit options, Ovation by Wyndham acts as the first layer of defense against unscrupulous third-party exit and resale companies who may aim to mislead owners. The program is continually evolving to suit our owners’ needs, and we encourage owners to call Wyndham first if they are interested in exploring potential exit options”.

Best,

Lori

Irene also provided the following from a past press release:

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Wins ACE Innovator Award for Ovation by Wyndham

According to Wyndham’s Press Release

Program First of its Kind in the Industry to Provide Exit Path for Timeshare Owners

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 9, 2016)Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies (NYSE: WYN), won the ACE Innovator Award, along with 12 other prestigious industry awards, at the annual American Resort Development Association (ARDA) Awards Gala at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

The ACE Innovator Award recognizes the company’s development of a groundbreaking product, service or concept. In 2015, WVO became the first developer in timeshare history to launch a comprehensive, proactive, and uniquely positive approach to help longtime owners seeking to exit their timeshare. Ovation by Wyndham offers simple, safe and secure options for owners in situations where lifestyle or vacation preferences have changed. There are no fees, hidden costs or additional purchases required to participate in the program.

Irene´s comment:

“While we applaud Wyndham for leading the industry in an owner friendly timeshare exit program, we hope efforts emerge to boost the price of a timeshare’s secondary market value. In the US, an owner is fortunate if they are able to recoup 10% to 15% their initial investment. The problem can be devastating if an owner buys a timeshare and suffers a life crisis shortly after purchase. A few timeshare companies have virtually no secondary market”.

As you can see there is still a long way to go, one of the main points that keeps coming up in these articles from America is the lack of a secondary market. The same can be said in Europe, throughout all sales presentations consumers are told that they can always sell their timeshare if no longer required.  Or they are told the developer / resort will buy it back, as we know that is not the case.

Inside Timeshare leaves it to you the reader to make up your own minds, your comments on this subject are welcome.

If you require any information regarding this or any other article, or just need advice on any company you may be thinking of dealing with, contact Inside Timeshare. We will do our best to help you.

Link to original Wyndham article:
http://insidetimeshare.com/news-america-wyndham-launches-new-surrender-program/

 

Are TCA Using Others Work as Their Own?

plagiarism

ˈpleɪdʒərɪz(ə)m/

noun

  1. the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
  2. “there were accusations of plagiarism”
  1. synonyms:
  • copying, infringement of copyright, piracy, theft, stealing, poaching, appropriation;
  • informalcribbing
  • “there were accusations of plagiarism”

It has not gone unnoticed that the so-called  “Independent Voice” of the timeshare consumer, the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) is using other people’s work, writings and court victories, then making it look as if it is their own.

Inside Timeshare for some time has been researching and reporting on one particular enterprise, Litigious Abogados. Although we applaud the fact this story is being published to inform consumers of this “Fraud”, we do however find that by not citing their source or even acknowledging where it came from downright reprehensible.

It has always been the practice to give credit to the origin of any information, either by naming who and where it came from and providing a link to the original article. In the past Inside Timeshare has done this when using information from the “old” TCA, pre Mark Rowe ownership days. TESS has recently done the same for Inside Timeshare when they published further information from one of our articles.

The latest from the TCA is the story published on their website on 16 January 2017, titled Network of Cunning ‘Lawyers’ in Tenerife. In this article they mention their has been “correspondence” from a third party, who they say were involved. In this they imply that it is they who have received this correspondence. The fact of the matter is, the gentleman in question contacted Inside Timeshare about Litigious Abogados, after seeing one of our original articles. He sent us copies of all paperwork and emails, including a statement of events.

In this statement he explained how he was contacted, the dates of the case, how much he paid and how much he had to pay in “Tax”. This information has not been published in any other place, it is exclusive to Inside Timeshare who has documents and statements from several readers.

This is not the first time this has happened, it has also been noticed by our readers in the USA, who have seen very close similarities to the articles written by our American writer Irene Parker. Again much of the information included in these articles is exclusive to the writer and has not been published elsewhere.

Link to the original Inside Timeshare article published 3 January 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

Link to the TCA article published 16 January 1017

http://www.timeshareconsumerassociation.org.uk/2017/01/16/network-of-cunning-lawyers-in-tenerife/

We leave you to decide.

This is Irene´s reply to the TCA

From Irene: Timeshare has enough warring factions. It does not help timeshare when those who are supposed to be on the same side are at odds. We hope TCA readers read IT and IT reads TCA. Like Charles, we are  grateful for any dissemination of information. I am a Diamond owner and a member of the 7000 plus member Diamond Facebook page. Whenever I am asked about a TCA article posted, I note that two of my articles have been plagiarized. Following the conduct of responsible journalism raises both publications to a higher level of standard and accountability. I will pay closer attention to your articles and write on a similar theme crediting your work. As we say in America, United we Stand, Divided we Fall, but that is not working very well at the moment over here.

plagiarism

Another matter on this theme are two articles published on 20 December and 8 December 2016. These refer to rulings made by the Supreme Court in Spain, against various timeshare companies and resorts. At no point do they in any article refer to the law firm who brought these cases to a successful conclusion.

When Inside Timeshare publishes any article on this subject we will say who the law firm is, we have on many occasions congratulated Canarian Legal Alliance on these results and reported the court’s findings. This is true for any firm who has success and wishes it to be published. Obviously upon verification of the facts.

CLA links

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/court-victory-dinastia-sl/

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/puerto-calma-payout/

TCA link

http://www.timeshareconsumerassociation.org.uk/2016/12/20/more-compensation-wins/

The TCA articles urge anyone to contact them if they have a claim, again implying they are responsible for these victories. Fine they do not actually say it is them, but the way it is written with no credits or links to original articles, the implication is there.

We wonder what their motives are and who they are passing enquirers on to, after all the TCA is now part of the Mark Rowe group of companies?

Inside Timeshare also emailed the TCA with the following on 16 January 2017:

Dear Sirs,

Although I am pleased that you are using my articles on a regular basis to fill your pages, I do take a dim view that you are trying to take credit for the information.

It is a common courtesy and a fact in the world of journalism to acknowledge and give credit to where it came from. In this article you have used information supplied by one of my readers. This has not been published anywhere other than my site.

This is not the first time, many of the articles have been basically copied, with my writer in the US not very pleased that no credit was given to her or our site.

As for this company, I do agree that this information needs to get out.

But you do not do yourselves any good by this sort of action.

Charles Thomas

Research Journalist Inside Timeshare

All we received was an automated reply wishing us “Happy Holidays” and that their office will be closed until 3 January 2017.

This speaks volumes, to our mind they are not the association originally set up by the late Sandy Grey, or the new TCA set up after his passing.

Inside Timeshare leaves it to you the readers and consumers to decide who you can trust.

 

More Timeshare News from Across The Atlantic.

Following on from our previous article from Irene Parker about the Arizona Attorney General´s $800,000 settlement with Diamond, Irene has given her analysis of it.

One of the most contentious issues they have in the US is the perpetuity contract, this becomes part of the owner’s estate, thereby the children and then grand children etc, inherite the timeshare and with it the ongoing maintenance / management fees. Spain banned this concept in the timeshare Law 42/98, which came into force on 5 January 1999.

Any timeshare sold in Spanish territories since that date is limited to a maximum of 50 years, the reasoning behind this is quite clear. The powers that be believe that it is inherently unfair for the children of owners to be saddled with a contract and debt which they have not freely entered into.

There are other countries within Europe who have had this enshrined in their laws for years. Madeira, an Autonomous archipelago which is part of Portugal, situated in the Atlantic southwest of Portugal and 400 Km north of the Canary Islands, has never allowed perpetuity contracts. They have alway limited them to no more than 50 years, this was very popular with owners as they knew exactly when they would no longer be liable for the annual charges.

Malta, situated in the  Mediterranean 80 Km south of Sicily, also limited the length of the contract to 30 years. Speaking with many of those owners who purchased in the 1980´s, they are now elderly, some getting to the stage where they no longer travel, Their contracts are now ending or have ended, they also know they are not leaving a continuing debt for their children.

It just remains to be seen if other countries in Europe follow suit, ending the controversy of perpetuity contracts. Now to Irene´s article.

Spain has ended perpetual contracts and now Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is working on the front end to stop outrageous oral representations. Together we are changing the timeshare world.

An Analysis of the Arizona Attorney General’s Diamond Resorts $800,000 Settlement and One Reason Why It’s About Time

By Irene Parker

January 13, 2017

woman shoe

Irina Allen is a Diamond Resorts owner who was encouraged, over time, to buy 139,000 Diamond points.  The sales agent encouraged her to buy such a large amount of points in order to be able to rent to cover her maintenance fees.

Diamond has now changed their rental policy. Owners can only rent to friends or family. Owners are prohibited from using sites like RedWeek, VRBO or EBay, commonly used to rent vacation weeks and points.

Timeshare contracts are a developer based contract, according to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. “It basically states the timeshare company can change just about anything for any reason at any time.”

This new Diamond policy preventing renters from renting outside of friends and family may not sound significant in a new rule book, but for families, advised by sales agents to buy a high volume of points, it proves a disaster. Rising maintenance fees exacerbate the problem.

Owners told me earlier member guides stated travel agents could be used to rent points and the language in one signed contract states: “some or all Points can be rented outside of the immediate family.”

High Volume Diamond owners feel they are being targeted. If unable to pay maintenance fees without renting, they could be forced to surrender their points or foreclose. Surrenders are not guaranteed. When that happens, the timeshare company takes back the “inventory” and resells for full value.

Renting for the purpose of covering maintenance fees is still being proposed as a sales strategy, according to posts on our closed member based Diamond Resorts Facebook page. According to the post below, one Diamond timeshare sales agent did not get the memo:

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

“We attended a sales presentation at Kaanapali Beach Club and were encouraged to buy points to rent. The agent said his wife is renting out their units and made a profit last year.”

I contacted the owner who posted the above contract. She was able to provide:

The agent’s name, James Ziskend;

Date – January 5, 2017;

Location – Kaanapali Beach Club Maui

She posted the comment asking if anyone thought this was a good idea.

One owner was astounded the agent tried to sell them more points to rent AFTER the family had been issued a “Cease and Desist”. He said they could not launch a website, but renting on sites like RedWeek would be allowed. “Mega-renters” are high volume owners who do use websites to rent points for commercial purposes.

But back to Irina Business woman

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