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Irene Parker

More News From Across The Pond: Bob Massi The Property Man

Following on from some of the articles highlighting the problems timeshare owners have in the United States, Irene Parker sent Inside Timeshare the following link:

 

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/06/09/tired-your-timeshare-heres-how-to-unload-it-without-losing-money/

 

Bob Massi is a Las Vegas attorney known as The Property Man hosting a show aired by Fox News, who is a very determined advocate of the rights of consumers. In one case Irene points out a couple he helped resolve the issue of their bankruptcy, it took them five years to attempt to buy a house, then they found that the bank had not foreclosed in the first place.

 

He has also highlighted the problems in the timeshare world and as you can see from the video, gives the consumer some sound advice. He points out that unlike real estate, timeshare does not appreciate in value, that many owners if they are able to sell, only recoup a fraction of their original investment.

fox-news

So this is not just a problem we have in Europe, it affects timeshare owners in the US. In his article, he points out how to sell the timeshare or how to just get out, in the interviews with licenced resale brokers they explain how to safeguard yourself from the “scam artists” that promise the earth and deliver nothing. He also explains how one particular scam works, this is where you have listed your timeshare for sale on a marketing website, the next thing you know, a bogus company is in contact with you saying they have a buyer. (Think of the corporate buyer pitch or even the Russian market one, we have many buyers waiting!). Now in order to conclude this “deal” a closing fee is required upfront, guess what? You never hear from them again.

 

According to the video, timeshare is in the top 10 of scams in the US, this is probably the same for Europe. He also interviews the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, in this she states they worked with the timeshare industry to enact laws to curb this abuse. She points out that since the laws were put into place they have closed down numerous firms, around 41, in many cases they have also secured convictions.

 

In the US, as we have highlighted before timeshare is regulated by real estate laws, sales staff must be licensed, if not they can’t sell the product. For those in Europe who own timeshares across the pond, the problem of how to get out is even more difficult, mainly because of the differing state laws and the distance involved. There are some companies in Europe who can help to get out of the timeshare, but if you are looking to sell, this article will help. You could also contact The Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, (see link at bottom of the page), it consists of 64 members and works completely within the legal framework, all members must adhere to regulations and the codes of conduct set out by the association. But remember, as stated in the video many timeshares sell for only 10% of the original purchase price, contrary to what you were told at the initial presentation.

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Irene and her husband have also recorded an interview with Bob Massi, it is hoped that this will be broadcast in the Autumn (fall in American), when it is we will publish the links here. We also look forward to more articles in The Street by Irene, including one she is working on now.

The following link is an article about Bob Massi, it gives a very good insight into the man himself, the type of work he engages in and what it means to him, Hope you enjoy it.

 

http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/longtime-lawyer-sees-himself-advocate-underdogs

 

If you require any further information about this article, or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare. If we don´t know the answer we will find out for you.

More From Across The Pond.

As we all know trying to sell your timeshare or as they like to call it today “holiday ownership”, is a bit of a minefield. Who can you trust?

 

Our friends from across the Atlantic have the same problems, you think you have got rid of your timeshare, then suddenly you receive the annual maintenance bill. The resort does not recognise the transfer. This happened to many people who ended up buying into Designer Way Vacation Club several years ago.

 

With this particular scheme, you “sold” your timeshare to DWVC but had to pay many thousands of pounds to become a member of their club. The perks, well, you could stay in the same resorts for a fraction of the cost, discounts on flights, and off course no more maintenance bills. Oh yes, I almost forgot, you also were given a “cashback” certificate, this was for the value of your timeshare plus a bit extra for the cost of your membership. Then after registering it (which was a nightmare task), you had to wait around 5 years for it to mature. If you were lucky you may have got a few quid back, that’s if you claimed correctly.

 

Then after finding that the so called “discounts” were not what you were told at the presentation, (actually costing more), you suddenly received a maintenance bill for several years arrears. All this with the threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency. DWVC did not transfer your timeshare, or the resort did not recognise it.

 

This has also happened to one old lady who owned a MacDonalds timeshare, Yes, I am referring to Mrs B. Her timeshare has been sold for 1euro, (she actually paid the company around £7,500 to relinquish, not sell it). MacDonalds is now chasing for maintenance arrears because they do not recognise the transfer.

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Following is an article written by Tom Tubbs, an advisory member of The National Timeshare Owners Association, the American equivalent of TATOC. In this article he clearly shows how some companies in the US operate and how it affects the resorts and owners. This was sent to me by my American colleague Irene Parker.

 

By Tom Tubbs

Island Consulting Realty – NTOA Advisory Board Member

 

We’ve all heard the radio commercials, received the postcards in the mail, seen the TV ads, seen the web sites:

 

“Get out of your timeshare now! Call us today. Guaranteed or your money back!”

 

“You own a timeshare you can’t sell? We guarantee to get you out”.

 

“Dear friends. This is ‘Mr/Ms. Celebrity’. I trust these people”.

 

Now, think back. Remember the similar ads we heard from different companies years ago? Where are those companies now? What happened to them? Are these just new companies who rose up to fill in the gap? Hmmm…..

 

So, how is it that you could sell your timeshare but continue to be on the hook for the maintenance fees? What I’m going to share with you is a real story that is taking place right this minute. The names are changed, obviously. The way it’s being handled is not brand new, but relatively so and it’s happening more and more and more. Read the story and make sure you don’t fall victim to this.

 

So we’ve told you in the past about “transfer companies”. You pay them $3500 or so and they take your time share from you and they promise that your days of owning a timeshare and paying the maintenance fees are done. Many of these are perfectly good timeshares that could be sold and money put into the pockets of the owner, but if you’re a reader of this newsletter you know the stories the transfer companies tell you to convince you to give up your money. These companies for the most part have no real estate license so that they don’t have to worry about a state agency looking over their shoulder. Many of them come and go quickly…..with your money.

 

But there’s a new sheriff in town. A company called Timeshare Transfer Registry (real name) monitors timeshare transfers. They are especially suspicious about transfers going into the name of an LLC or Trust. Suspicions go up when they see 10, 20, 50, 100 or more timeshares being transferred into the same name. Resorts can register with TTR to try to protect themselves from being deceived by the transfer company.

 

So here’s what happened. “ABC Resort” (names are changed now) gets a copy of a recorded deed showing one of their owners sold their timeshare to “Whoopie Doo, LLC”. The resort contacted Timeshare Transfer Registry and learned that Whoopie Doo owns a LOT of timeshares. It’s looking pretty obvious that the LLC will never pay the resort a maintenance fee and the resort at some point will have to foreclose (that’s what happened to your timeshare). You don’t care, right? You’ve sold your timeshare and the deed is out of your name, right? Wrong……to an extent. You’re definitely going to care. Here’s why.

 

The resort notified the LLC that they noticed the LLC has purchased a LOT of timeshares and it looks like an obvious case of a transfer company about to dump the timeshares on the resort; costing the resort a ton of money. The resort refused to acknowledge the transfer.

 

In an interesting twist, the LLC contacted the resort and swore up and down they were not the same “Whoopie Doo, LLC” that owns so many time shares. Seriously? Really? The resort contacted National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA, http://www.NationalTimeshareOwnersAssoc.com/) asking for advice. (Now in the interest of full disclosure I want to mention I am on the advisory board of NTOA. Before I became a member of the board, however, I was singing the praises about this organization for a long time. Becoming a member [talking about you, dear reader] is not a bad thing. You know I would never steer you wrong). I was asked my opinion about this. I advised that the resort tell Whoopie Doo to go pound sand. Whoopie will probably threaten legal action but the resort should stand firm. The last thing con artists like Whoopie Doo want to do (hey! That rhymes!) is walk into a court of law.

 

So now here is an interesting situation. You’ve paid a company $3500 to take your time share. You have signed the deed over to this LLC. You actually no longer own the timeshare, this is technically true. But the resort is refusing to acknowledge the transfer which means you are still on their books as the owner and you’re going to get a maintenance fee bill each year! Congratulations! Now, you won’t find this out until you get your bill next year. By that time, good luck on finding those nice folks who took your $3500. You now no longer own a timeshare and you’re on the hook for the yearly maintenance fees.

 

“Wait”, you say, “How can the resort refuse to acknowledge a lawfully recorded transfer of a deed”. (we heard you thinking this). Well, there’s this little thing called fraud. It was a fraudulent transfer designed to make money by bringing harm to the resort. (As a side note: Some resort who have been burned by this are now suing not only the folks behind the LLC but also the original owner [that would be……you] claiming fraud).

 

So how do you protect yourself? First, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to sell your timeshare, call us. It’s what we’ve done for folks for the past 30 years and we offer different programs depending on what you have and your particular situation. There’s not many folks we can’t help. And for the few we can’t help, we can refer you to the right person who can or offer free advice on what to do. Secondly, if you’re bound and determined that you trust that famous celebrity or the nice person across the table from you who wants you to pay them a lot of money, ask them for a copy of their real estate license. They should offer no excuses, no “this doesn’t apply to us” stories; they either have one or they don’t. If they don’t, well……..I’d hate to be writing a story about your situation in an up-coming newsletter.

 

At least in the US there is a company which tries to ensure this does not happen, The Timeshare Transfer Registry, but even with this in place the scam still goes on, not only losing thousands for the owners but also for the resorts.

 

So what can you do about not getting caught, unfortunately there is no straight answer. All you can really do is check the company and check again, ask your resort do they recognise the company you are dealing with. If you are undertaking a private sale, again check with your resort on how the transfer is done legally. Once the transfer is complete, again check with your timeshare company or resort that you are no longer registered as the owner and liable for maintenance.

 

The biggest problem is actually finding someone who wants to buy it in the first place, just look on ebay! There are alternatives to trying to sell, some resorts will take them back, for those that do not, then there is a legal process of relinquishment. Yes this will cost, the amount again depends on the company, but beware, as Mrs B found out she paid for a relinquishment but ended up with a transfer of ownership to another person and this is not recognised by the resort.

 

If you have any questions about this article or any other timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact through the comments section and will find the answer or point you in the right direction.

News From Across the Great Lake.

On many occasions Inside Timeshare publishes news as it comes in from the United States, much of this comes from my colleague Irene Parker. Irene is a long standing Diamond member, although she and her husband are happy with the holidays and membership over the years, she has highlighted the main problems in many articles. Irene also publishes articles in The Street, an online financial journal, in these articles she mainly highlights the stocks and shares side of the many timeshare companies. Whether they are a good investment or not and the reasons behind some of the falls in these share prices. (see link to her latest article in The Street at foot of the page).

 

In many of her articles she also highlights what they call in America as the secondary market, or to us in Europe the resale market. The fact that no secondary market exists for owners of Diamond Resorts International, is one of the biggest complaints owners have. Another that we are very familiar with in Europe is the difficulty in being able to exit your membership. In the US, the perpetuity contract is not illegal, unlike in Europe where the EU Directives on Timeshare have stated contracts should be for no longer than 50 years. As we have seen from the Supreme Court rulings in Spain, this is actually helping people to get out of their contracts and in many cases being paid back the full purchase price for being sold an illegal contract.

 

Many people in America are watching the events here in Europe, especially in Spain, taking stock of the way timeshare laws are being implemented. Some are even wondering if these laws can be brought into place for them in the USA.

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Following is the email she sent with a letter from Stephen J Cloobeck of Diamond, she also points out two complaints on Tripadvisor, then her own letter to Mr Cloobeck.

 

An Open Letter to Mr. Cloobeck from Irene Parker

 

A Message from Stephen J. Cloobeck

 

Dear Members and Owners, 

I am thrilled with the completion of the acquisition of Diamond Resorts by an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC (“Apollo”), and am confident that this transaction will only enhance your vacation experience at Diamond resorts worldwide. 

Diamond Resorts was founded on the platform of The Meaning of Yes®, a customer-centric ideology that elevates the hospitality experience above all else. The company goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional vacations to its members, owners and guests so that you can enjoy a lifetime of memories and experiences that can be passed down from generation to generation. Over the years this platform has transformed into a core belief and our philosophy of We Love to Say Yes®. 

 

Recent complaint posted on Trip Advisor:

 

  1. Re: Diamond Resorts International (Trip Advisor)

Sep 01, 2016, 10:10 PM

To Glenvine32 – my husband and I got caught in this scam to our incredible embarrassment. We thought we were smarter and I should have read reviews before we went to their presentation in May in Sedona, AZ. It was a 4 hour ordeal and we bought a worthless 2500 points which we have not used nor plan to. We have since heard from their own reps that we should have never been offered so few points, that those were add on points to be purchased by owners – not prospective buyers. We are retired and will never get value out of these points even if we buy more which we absolutely have no plans to do.

Having read so many negative reviews now I am concerned we will have little recourse. It’s bad enough losing the 13k but to be held to annual fees for at the rest of our lives? Have contacted them by phone and have drafted a letter to send by registered mail. Probably won’t get a reply. I don’t want to resign myself to the loss of the money but what’s worse is how it will affect my credit. Any thoughts? How did you do?

Complaint #2

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 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.

September 5, 2016

Dear Mr. Cloobeck,

If I were you, I would be thrilled with the millions you and other insiders made on the Apollo leveraged buyout; along with the millions paid out in executive compensation.  For Diamond owners who are widowed, elderly, ill, unemployed or victims of high pressure sales, slogans like “Stay Vacationed!” and “The Meaning of Yes” feel like a cruel taunt.

According to a Kroll Bond report, Diamond employs 90 full time collectors making over 100,000 calls per week via a dealer. These calls originate because of being told no. All firms have a few bad apples and complaints on the internet, but complaint sites are flooded with Diamond Resort and Westgate complaints.

Please explain to me how the contract I signed is different from a junk bond in that it became worthless the moment I signed it if I could no longer travel and needed to sell. In the subprime mortgage debacle, even properties foreclosed could be sold.

My husband and I have used and enjoyed timeshare for over 25 years without a question or complaint until Diamond purchased ILX. We signed a contract that said we could sell points. We also asked several times if we would be able to sell points if we could no longer travel and were told we could.

The first person who told me Diamond points cannot be sold was attorney Bob Massi of the FOX show Property Man. After Property Man aired a segment explaining how to unload a timeshare, I contacted David Cortese of Magical Realty. Mr. Cortese was featured on a Property Man segment stressing the importance of using a licensed resale broker to sell a timeshare, rather than listing or transfer agents that come with a minefield of scams.

I wrote to Mr. Massi after enduring a pathetically aggressive sales presentation at Grand Beach in Orlando last July. We were promised three times we would not be paired with a commissioned agent. We were greeted and tortured by three commissioned sales agents.  

In a timeshare presentation, an agent gleefully explains how Diamond has many affiliated resorts. Our daughter lives in New York City. In searching for a Diamond location, I found a Diamond affiliated resort. It required 63,000 points. It was the least expensive offered. This equates to over $10,000 in our maintenance fee dollars. Booked through the hotel, the cost including taxes is $2,693.  I will be sending a copy of this letter to NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the few AGs actually on the side of the consumer. I doubt there is a sales agent in the Diamond organization that would explain affiliated properties are not discounted. A Diamond representative explained that these Diamond offers are for platinum owners who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them. They are probably short on math skills.

Never imagining I would earn a response from Mr. Massi, I was contacted and learned the show received a multitude of timeshare complaints after airing “The Queen of Versailles”. The producer told me I was the only person selected for an interview because I was the only person that said I would like to talk about timeshares positives in addition to the negatives.

It is my understanding that not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will buy or sell Diamond’s non-deeded points or Westgate weeks due to restrictions placed on the use of points purchased on the secondary market and other tactics designed to restrict the secondary market.  I also leaned members of the LTRBA will buy and sell all Diamond’s competitor programs except Westgate. I sent a survey to all the members and received 16 responses. These I compiled and forwarded to the Attorney General of Arizona and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

The Trip Advisor complaint I included with this letter has convinced me that Diamond has become so brazen; the company is confident it can get away with anything indefinitely and unchallenged. Unless an owner is fortunate to live in a state like New York or Tennessee, Attorney Generals do not seem to consider timeshare abuse a cause worth pursuing.

Many of the complaints are about availability and maintenance fees. The 15% pure profit Mr. Palmer bragged about to shareholders, added on to maintenance fees, is excessive. In a Latticework article written in cooperation with ADW Capital, the lack of a secondary market is mentioned as a reason to buy Diamond stock. From my research, I have determined Diamond and Westgate are the only two timeshare companies that have restricted the secondary market to the extent it does not exist.

I have written an article entitled Sometimes a Diamond Resort Dream Vacation Turns into a Nightmare. Diamond’s in-house council, Ben La Luzerne, said he hoped he could help the Saldana family devastated by Diamond’s rising maintenance fees and victim of high pressure sales. They were told to get a home equity loan to reduce Diamond’s high interest rate.  I am still waiting to hear back from the family before publishing the article, hoping for a positive outcome.

What I am asking, is for Diamond to reach out to a few members of the LTRBA to see what would be needed to create a secondary market. Unlike most internet complainers, I can live with the maintenance fees and the problems with availability. I would like to enjoy my retirement instead of researching, on a daily basis, how Diamond is ruining the financial lives of so many, especially the elderly.

I look forward to hearing how we can work together to stop the harm Diamond is placing on the ill, the widowed, the elderly, the unemployed and the victims of the oral representation clause protecting Diamond and be able to say YES! to the people .

Sincerely,

Irene Parker

The Peasant of Venice (Florida)    

As you can see, our cousins across the pond are not very happy with how Diamond Resorts International operate. They too are locked into contracts which are almost impossible to extricate yourself from. The fact that their so-called investments in Vacation ownership Interests (US term for holiday ownership) are virtually worthless. Lets hope that they take stock of what is happening in Europe and use it to help the many owners in the US to get some protection.

Inside Timeshare thanks Irene and the many others who have contributed to the information we share with you, we also thank the many readers in the US for their support of this publication.

If you have any questions about this article or any other matter, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to answer them. If you are looking for advice on who to go to for cancellation of contracts or possible claims, Inside Timeshare will help point you in the right direction.

Link to The Street article by Irene Parker

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13653117/1/the-timeshare-industry-has-improved-its-reputation-but-still-faces-scrutiny.html

 

Diamond 2nd Quarter Financial Results Announced.

Last week on the 2 August 2016, Inside Timeshare published an article on Diamond Resorts postponing the announcement of their 2nd quarter results.

 

They were finally published yesterday 8 August 2016, it looks like they haven’t done as well as the 2nd quarter of 2015. Irene Parker emailed some of the report as follows:

 

  • Total revenue for the second quarter increased $14.2 million, or 6.1%, to $245.7 million.
  • Net income for the second quarter decreased $10.1 million, or 28.5%, to $25.5 million.
  • Pre-tax income for the second quarter of 2016 was $43.8 million compared to $62.4 million in the second quarter of 2015 and included non-cash charges of $4.1 million and $4.4 million, respectively, related to stock-based compensation. Excluding these amounts, pre-tax income in the second quarter of 2016 would have been $47.9 million, a decrease of $18.9 million from $66.8 million in second quarter of 2015.

 

This is despite the number of reported “Tours” increasing by 11,791 in the 3 months to the end of June, with the number of sales transactions also increasing by 7.3%. They also announced that the average transaction price also increased by around 3.1%, yet they reported that there was a lower closing average for these three months.

 

This is not an area that I am familiar with, so for more detailed information follow the link to the full report at The Street.

 

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13667717/1/diamond-resorts-international-inc-reports-second-quarter-2016-financial-results.html

 

For those of you who are interested in this side of the industry Inside Timeshare will publish as and when the news comes in.

 

Diamond Resorts International Hits the Headlines in the USA.

Diamond Resorts International is hitting the news again in the USA, yesterday, 1 August 2016 they announced that they were postponing the release of the second quarter 2016 earnings results. This also led to the halting of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, which also resulted in the price of stocks falling. Apparently the postponement is due to the independent accountants having expressed the view that the figures are not correct and need to be re-evaluated.

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News has also come from the States that Diamond is being investigated by several law firms representing shareholders, for possible breaches of fiduciary duty. It seems to focus on the deal between Diamond Resorts International and Apollo Global Management.

 

One report suggests that the Diamond Board of Directors did not market the company fairly, resulting in it being undervalued. Obviously the result of this is the shareholders have lost out, Apollo Global have paid around $30 a share, one analyst believes that this is undervalued by around $3 a share. This could be quite a substantial amount lost by many shareholders.

apollo global logo

So could this be the start of lawsuits being initiated by the shareholders, if so what would the impact on the company be? Further reduction in share price, higher management fees for its members? Well, we shall have to wait and see. For a more in depth look into this follow the link to The Street, this will take you to all the stories and latest news.

 

https://www.thestreet.com/quote/DRII.html

 

Inside Timeshare will be following this story along with Irene Parker, who also writes many articles for The Street, as she gets the information we will pass it on to you.

 

My Thought Today: End of July

Another month gone by and even more judgements from the Supreme Court, four within a week of each other, this means CLA have now achieved 15 judgements. CLA also announced a win at the courts in Barcelona, this was against Club Estela Dorada. Again it follows the Supreme Court rulings and the client was awarded over 29,000€ including legal fees and interest.  According to my sources there are around 100 waiting to be heard at the Supreme Court, so watch this space.

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One of my American colleagues Irene Parker sent me a link to a comment on TrustPilot, a review website. It was from a customer who had a great Customer Service Experience (although it does not state if he is a Diamond owner or just a non owner booking):

 

I must be the luckiest person in the world if you are to believe the other reviews on this site as my experience has been the complete opposite.

The agent I have been dealing with Lisa Whincap is probably the nicest and most helpful person I have ever had the pleasure to deal with.

I booked a Holiday then later found there was going to be some building work going on during part of our stay so I called and asked if I could change or cancel my holiday and Lisa could not have been more helpful and went well above and beyond to make sure I was entirely happy. Therefore, as far as I am concerned the customer service in their Spanish office is second to none and I would not hesitate hand on heart to recommend them to anyone I know as I got exemplary service.

Thank You (Shane)”.

 

https://www.trustpilot.com/reviews/577158160000ff00096a4000

 

Irene has been writing for quite sometime on the difficulties of getting out of Diamond contracts she sent me this rebuttal:

 

People don’t get it. That’s great that Shane had a positive customer service experience, but if he spent $25,000 dollars or euros and had a heart attack or stroke tomorrow and could no longer travel, in all likelihood his only option would be to voluntary surrender his points (if accepted), despite many other timeshare resorts providing a secondary market. Who in their right mind would spend so much money on something with increasing annual fees and no exit.  Diamond then takes surrendered points and resells them for full value as part of their industry recapture program. When I called today on behalf of an 83 year old owner, the first thing I was told was a voluntary surrender is not guaranteed.

 

She points out that the problem is not one of customer service while on holiday at the resorts, it is a case of needing to be rid of the timeshare/membership when no longer needed. It is not only owners in Europe that have this problem, our cousins across the great lake have the same dilema. The only consolation as Irene put it to me in one conversation, is the way Spain is on the side of the consumer. Those in the US are now looking to see if they can bring in the same legislation on a Federal level. I suppose this does depend on who wins the presidential election!

floating house

On another matter of how the law works, it has been pointed out that some resorts / companies think they have found a new way around the floating week’s ruling. It appears they are now assigning a fixed week number (from the weeks that can´t sell) and calling them “Flexi weeks”. Although there is a week number assigned the owner is not tied to it, and uses it in the same way as the floating. So it looks like the legal eagles are going to be busy with this one in the future.

 

On the point of Mrs B and the Debt Collectors, the Financial Ombudsman has now taken on the case, so hopefully it will be resolved once and for all, without the need to go to court. Once again thank you for the support received by various legal eagles in the UK.

 

For those of you about to embark on your summer holidays, have a safe journey and enjoy yourselves, but do remember to watch out for the latest innovative idea from your resorts.

 

If you have any questions about any articles published or just want to know how to make the relevant checks on any company, Inside Timeshare is here to help. If you have any information about any article or company you have spoken to and want others to be warned, please let us know and we will publish it. Happy Holidays.

Basic RGB

One Foot In The Grave!

“I don’t believe it, I just don’t bloody believe it!” said Victor Meldrew. But yes it is true, the Supreme Court has just issued their fourteenth and fifteenth judgements.

 

Canarian Legal Alliance just keeps them coming in, they announced this news late yesterday 13 July 2016. On Tuesday the court awarded 18,500€ to a UK family and declared their contract null & void because it was longer than the 50 years stipulated by law. The following day Wednesday another UK family had their contract declared null & void and awarded 13,000€, including double the deposit back for payment within the 14 day cooling off period. They had also been sold floating weeks, again in contravention of the laws laid down.

 

The Supreme Court has now consistently ruled that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and points along with the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, are contravening the laws on the selling of timeshare in Spain. It now has to be asked when other countries are going to enforce these rules which were laid out by EU Timeshare Directives?

 

Spain is obviously leading the field in this area, with these judgements all lower courts must now abide by them.

anfi logo

So, just in the past week Anfi have been penalised for considerable sums, the question now is how long can they sustain this? There are more cases waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court, all because Anfi have taken the decision to appeal rulings by those lower courts. If they had any sense, I would have thought they would pull out of those appeals and just admit defeat.

 

The next question is how long will it be before other companies such as Diamond and Club la Costa have more cases brought against them? Is it the death knell for timeshare in Europe?

 

How will this news affect Apollo Global Management after their takeover of Diamond Resorts International? There are already rumours across the great lake that Wyndham is looking to buy the shares, the price has already been put at around $36 to $39 a share. I hope to get some insight into this from my American colleague Irene Parker who writes for the financial journal The Street, ( see link for her article on Hilton). Inside Timeshare will keep you posted on this as and when the news comes in.

 

Once again Inside Timeshare congratulates these two families and the legal team of Canarian Legal Alliance for their splendid work. They certainly have paved the way for others to follow.

 

If you need any information or advice on any timeshare related matter, Inside Timeshare will do its best to provide you with the best answers.

 

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13636683/1/hilton-worldwide-and-spinoffs-are-good-investments-now-or-later.html

TWO MORE SUPREME COURT RULINGS FOR THIS WEEK

 

 

Shawbrook Bank Announce Irregularities in Timeshare Loans, Similar Activities in the USA.

For many people their Timeshare or Holiday Ownership was paid for on Finance, these loans were usually arranged on the day of signing the contract by the sales staff. One of these lenders is a bank called Shawbrook Bank, with their head office located in Brentwood Essex. The bank was founded in 2011 and according to their web site works closely with the holiday ownership industry to provide finance for their customers.

 

Unfortunately it was announced recently that the bank had set aside around £9 million to cover any defaults in these loans. This has come about due to the discovery of irregularities in the issuing of these loans.

shawbrook

Shawbrook Bank has admitted that it did not do its due diligence when approving the finance for holiday ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts, whose aggressive style of selling has resulted in many people being over stretched financially, then being lumbered with a product that they find is unworkable. They are also stuck with management fees that are continually rising, also being unable to get out of their contracts.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/28/shawbrook-banks-shares-plunge-on-9m-hit-from-dodgy-lending/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3663651/Shares-Shawbrook-drop-challenger-bank-reveals-loan-irregularities-cost-9m-finance-chief-quits.html

 

What did Shawbrook miss on its due diligence?

 

Quite simple, finance agreements made out by sales staff on the day of the sale have not had the usual credit checks made. Normally when a loan is applied for there are several checks that are made, we all know this as at some point we have had them. Firstly, does the applicant earn enough to qualify for the loan. Secondly, can the applicant actually afford the repayments, after other payments are taken into consideration, i.e. mortgage, living expenses etc. Lastly does the applicant have a good credit history, in other words have they defaulted on any other finance, be it loans or credit cards, or have they had county court judgements made against them

 

All these are the usual checks, being unable to fulfil any of these criteria would normally prevent the loan from going through.

 

Another aspect is how the applications are filled out, Many people spoken to over the years have said that the application had been filled out by the staff. It later transpired that the purpose of the loan had been made out as “home improvements” nothing to do with the purchase of holiday ownership. In some cases, even the income has been falsified. Unfortunately, for the applicant this could lead them to the possibility of criminal charges, after all they have signed the form.

edwincoe

This is not the first time a bank has hit the news in relation to holiday ownership, Barclays Partner Finance has been the subject to action in the High Court on this matter. Edwin Coe LLP, represented many clients of Resort Properties, who had been sold “investment packs” which were then financed by Barclays Partner Finance. On 16 August 2015, Edwin Coe LLP announced that the High Court had decided in favour of the consumer.

http://www.edwincoe.com/our-expertise/group-action-litigation/resort-properties-barclays-partner-finance/

http://www.edwincoe.com/high-court-decides-in-favour-of-the-consumer/

 

Many of these loans did not have the usual credit checks made, in fact Inside Timeshare is aware of an elderly couple who had been given one of these loans. They had been talked into one of the Resort Properties / Silverpointinvestment packs”, at the time he was 8o years old his wife 76, the loan was for £30,000, yet both are on pensions. When Inside Timeshare spoke with them, the question asked was, had you gone to your bank, do you think they would have provided the loan? Well we all know what the answer to that is. They are now taking legal action.

barclays

Unfortunately this is not just the case for Europe, in the United States the same controversy exists.

 

Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation has been highlighting this, on 27 April 2016, he published an article on a Credit Union which has been supplying loans for Diamond Resorts clients. Quorum Federal Credit Union has been in operation for 82 years, as with all credit unions they are member based.

quorum

http://sirf-online.org/2016/04/27/the-enabler-and-the-lifeline-diamond-resorts-and-quorum-fcu/

 

Quorum, has been supplying loans for the holiday ownership industry for years, Diamond Resorts are their largest portfolio. Diamond tend to send the riskier applicants to the credit union, these are those in the lower credit ratings, what the Americans call “subprime”. In other words the banks would not touch them with the proverbial barge pole.

 

According to Roddy Boyd the deal provided around $40 million in loans for Diamond and in return these borrowers became members of Quorum. Sounds like a win win for both, (not the consumer).

 

At least Shawbrook Bank have admitted that it has seen a problem in this area, setting aside a substantial amount to cover any future problems. In the end a loan for a holiday product which will on average be around £10,000 or more, is a huge commitment, not one that should be signed and approved on the day. Especially by the sales staff who have a vested interest in getting the “deal”.

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene Parker of the The Street for supplying the link to Roddy Boyd´s article. Do read it in full yourself as we have only just touched the surface, also read the following link, again it makes interesting reading.

 

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

 

If you have any questions relating to this article or any others published contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answer for you.

News from across the Atlantic.

Recently Inside Timeshare has been collaborating with Irene Parker, who writes for the online Financial Journal The Street. Irene is a long time Diamond owner and has had many battles over the years, she has highlighted the way members are treated and the continual upgrading resulting in many people having financial difficulties.

 

She has written many articles on the subject of timeshare, mainly showing the financial side regarding the stocks and shares. Thanks to Irene and The Street, Inside Timeshare was able to break the news about the buyout of Diamond by Apollo Global Management. So it would seem that members of Diamond Resorts in Europe are not alone in how they are treated, they do have allies over “The Pond”.

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

collaboration

Scott Miller published an article in Latticework titled My Investment Case for Diamond Resorts International, this appeared to incense quite a few people, so Irene added her questions to it creating the Virtual Interview. This is it, hope you enjoy.

 

Is There a Disconnect Between Timeshare Owners and Venture Capitalists?

My apologies to John Bird and John “subprime” Fortune

 

By Irene Parker

July 7, 2016

I believe there is a bit of a “disconnect” between owners and venture capitalists.

http://latticework.com/my-investment-case-for-diamond-resorts-international/

Mr. Scott Miller, founder of Greenhaven Road Capital wrote the above article in defense of Diamond Resorts International.

The following are my responses to Mr. Scott Miller’s declarations about Diamond Resorts. His instructor was Adam Wyden of ADW Capital. Front Four Capital and ADW sent a letter to David Palmer last year urging a leveraged buyout – or in Wall Street lingo – exploring alternative ways of maximizing shareholder values……

 

My virtual interview with Mr. Miller:  

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Diamond Resorts or A Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

sunterradri logo

Diamond Resorts were unknown in Europe until the takeover of Sunterra in 2007, for many members, they believed it was going to be a new start. Sunterra formerly Grand Vacation Club had a reputation that was to say the least heavy handed, the sales side was aggressive and showed no quarter to those pulled in from the streets. Long standing members with fixed weeks refused to change as they had originally been sold their timeshares as “investments” in property. They also had the right to vote on maintenance fees and other matters which affected the resort they owned.

 

When Sunterra filed in the US for Chapter 11, which is the equivalent to filing for bankruptcy, many owners wondered what would happen to their “investment”. For those on holiday the talk around the pools and bars was what would happen next, rumours abounded. Information was non existent, the sales decks had been closed with all the reps being laid off. There were still a few of the in-house reps but they had no idea what was going on.

 

It was then announce that a new company from the States was looking at taking over from Sunterra. The takeover was announced in the Las Vegas Review Journal 28 April 2007. Steven Cloobeck´s privately owned Diamond Resorts paid around $700 million, and also took on responsibility of Sunterra´s debt of $375 million. Was this the new beginning the owners had been waiting for?

 

Unfortunately, as time has moved on, it has turned into a nightmare for many.

 

The points system was marketed very aggressively, more so than under Sunterra, owners were basically forced into converting. Around 2008 the first additional levy was introduced, Diamond claimed it was due to the state of the Euro to the Pound. This was only the start, in the first three years management fees increased by around 20-25% annually, for many owners this was a huge burden and they wanted out.


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