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MacDonald Resorts

Maintenance Fees: To Pay or Not To Pay

One question Inside Timeshare receives on a regular basis is in regards to maintenance fees, “should we just stop paying them?”. Looking at many of the timeshare forums the general answer from posters is “yes, just ignore the bills, that is what I did, they won’t take you to court”.

It is also one of the main points that the so called relinquishment / cancellation / exit companies tell their clients, “once you sign up with us, don’t pay”.

Unfortunately, that is not quite true.

Many of the timeshare companies will chase for unpaid maintenance, at first through their own collections departments, but eventually they will pass these arrears to a debt collecting agency. Diamond along with other companies tend to use one of the biggest agencies in the UK, Daniels Silverman, based in Liverpool. MacDonald Resorts use Network Credit Services, based in Hamilton, Scotland.

The Ona Group based in Barcelona, Spain, actively chase unpaid maintenance fees, even for resorts they have taken over and the owner ended the contract with the original resort over 10 years ago. Ona Group say they have no record of the contract being cancelled and are taking those people through the Spanish Courts for upto 15 years unpaid fees. They use a law firm based in Barcelona called Punt Blau, who say they are are expert lawyers in the field of timeshare. The worst part of this will be the cost to the “debtor”, once the Spanish court has issued the judgement, it will be passed to a UK law firm and go through the County Courts for execution.

Once the debt has been passed to these agencies, you will be dealing with them not the resort, they will also incur huge amounts of interest and legal fees. You also then risk being issued with a County Court Judgement, commonly known as a CCJ. This will also have a very negative affect on your credit rating, preventing you from getting loans and even a mortgage.

Another question that arises from these enquiries is, “has anyone ever been taken to court, if so can you show us the judgements?”

Nobody has posted on any forum that they have been taken to court and lost”.

Well that is not surprising, would you publicise the fact that you have had a county court judgement made against you?

Agreed, it is not always taken to court, in most of the cases the person will give in to the threats of the debt collectors and pay. After all many of these owners are getting on in years and just want out, but they also have old views on debt, the stigma of being taken to court is a definite NO.

For the past few years Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the case of an elderly lady, now 90 years old, we called her Mrs B. She paid a company over £5000 to get her out of her MacDonalds timeshare at Dona Lola, this was in 2015. She was told the timeshare was no longer her responsibility and not to pay any further maintenance.

Her “debt” has been passed to Network Credit Services, this has now been handed over to a law firm Shepherd Wedderburn based in Edinburgh.

This firm is threatening to take her to court over the “debt”.

In their correspondence they even sent her copies of court judgements of MacDonald Resorts members who have been taken to court and had CCJs issued against them. They literally boast about it, which to an old lady is in our opinion a very serious threat.

They even place in their letter headed “Claims already issued in England and Scotland”, 4 cases along with which courts, case numbers and the names of the people involved, where MRL has won the claim.

  • Manchester County Court, Mr & Mrs S, case number C8QZ5392
  • Elgin Sheriff Court Scotland, Mr & Mrs C, case number ELG-SG24-18
  • Airdrie Sheriff Court Scotland, Mr & Mrs F, case number AIR-SG76-18
  • Gloucester & Cheltenham County Court, Mr & Mrs C, Case number E8QZ399H

These are genuine cases, these people have been ordered to pay and now have the dreaded CCJ on their credit files. All because they believed what they were told or read on various forums by idiots who have nothing better to do than give out bogus information on subjects they know nothing about.

There are ways of being rid of your timeshare, not paying your maintenance fees is not one of them. It may have been in the past when non-payment after 3 years the timeshare was repossessed, it may still hold true for the smaller independents, but for most of the big timeshare companies that is no longer the case.

If you have any questions on this subject and would like to know what your options are for relinquishing your timeshare, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from a new contributor James McConnell, a Veterans Administration Chaplain. But first we look at another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for around 3 years. Many of our older readers will remember the story of Mrs B and her sister, the last update was in January 2018, well the story has just resurfaced.

To recap, Mrs B, purchased a timeshare at the Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, Spain in 2000, at the time they were 72 and 65 respectively. Their purchase at what can only be described as a high pressure lengthy presentation, was for 2 weeks in a 3 bed apartment, the cost at that time was £7000. (This has since been transferred to their points club).

At the time of the purchase, new legislation had been in force for about 1 year, this made the taking of any payments within the 14 day cooling off period illegal along with the length of the contract being over 50 years in duration, what is known as perpetuity. Mr B and her sister were not made aware of this fact at the time.

For years they paid the annual maintenance fees, even though they had not used the timeshare due to illness. In 2014 they decided to get rid of the Dona Lola timeshare along with another that they owned at Oasis Lanz Club in Lanzarote. They paid a company £5,695 to dispose of both timeshares.

In 2015 the paperwork arrived showing that both timeshare had been sold to a gentleman in the UK, this is where the problems began.

The timeshare at Oasis Lanz was successfully transfered to the gentleman, (Inside Timeshare has his name, address and passport details), the problem is with the Dona Lola Club operated by none other than probably the worst timeshare company in Europe, MacDonald Resorts.

MacDonald Resorts refuse to recognise the transfer of ownership, they say that they do not recognise the company that carried it out, but at no time warned Mrs B and her sister that they would not accept the transfer of ownership.

MacDonald Resorts then employed Network Credit Services Limited of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, a debt collecting agency who have over the past 3 years constantly threatened legal action if the debt of now over £3,500 is not paid. Network Credit Services have been told repeatedly that this debt is in dispute and therefore they should return it to MacDonald Resorts. They are still harassing her.

The latest in this sorry saga are new threats, these include copies of court orders they claim to have won against debtors of MacDonald Resorts, if that isn’t a blatant use of threats and scare tactics we don’t know what is.

Inside Timeshare has told Mrs B to fill in one of the forms stating that the debt is in dispute and send it back, Inside Timeshare will also travel to the UK and help her when the case comes to the County Court, along with legal help and all the documents that show the timeshare has been transferred.

We will keep you posted on this story as it unfolds over the next few months, now for this weeks article.

We Lost $24,695 to Allied Solutions Group plus $3,200 to Help4TSO

Trying to get rid of our Bluegreen and Silverleaf Timeshares

Research Travel Clubs before Buying

https://www.patientcare.va.gov/chaplain/index.asp

Our Story

By James McConnell, a Veterans Administration Chaplain

October 9, 2018

My wife Donna and I are 76 and 80 years old. I am a Baptist Chaplain at the VA Medical Center in Las Vegas. I spent 20 years in the Army. I was eight years an enlisted soldier and twelve years a chaplain. As an enlisted man, I was stationed in Korea for a year in 1969, stationed three years in Germany and the rest in the states. I served as Chaplain at Fort Dix, NJ from 1983 until retirement in 1994. I also served at Field Station Kunia and the 4th of the 87th Infantry Battalion as their Chaplain in Hawaii. I was stationed in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and assigned to the 1st of the 17th Field Artillery Battalion as their Chaplain during the war.   

We are aware that many seniors are going through what we are going through, stuck with timeshares we can’t get rid of, and then losing even more money to companies promising you that they can get you out of your timeshare but don’t.  Allied Solutions Group told us they could get rid of our timeshares if we pay them more money for a travel club.

We attended the Allied Solutions Group presentation over a year ago at a Joe’s Crab Shack for the purpose of getting out of our two timeshares. We paid Midwest Transfer $27,895 May 17, 2017 for a Travel Club package. The purchase price included a credit of $3,200 ($1,600 each for the Bluegreen and Silverleaf timeshares), but now we are stuck with a travel club we don’t need or want and the two timeshares. It’s a nightmare. They didn’t even give us information about the travel club.  

I contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare. Irene contacted Help4TSO and spoke with a representative. Irene said the representative was very nice. She said he looked up our records and said they refunded us $3,200 because they did not get us out of our timeshare. We never received a check for $3,200.

Irene also contacted Allied Solutions Group for us. They would not talk to her. Irene asked if they could tell her what services Allied Solutions Group provided. The representative Irene spoke with said she would not describe their services. Irene thought this odd a company would not explain the services their company provided.    

We understood that what Allied Solution Group proposed was a travel club. It was supposed to be a replacement for what we had hoped to lose. Getting out of timeshare was the only reason we attended. We had no interest in spending money for another vacation since we were trying to get rid of what we owned. Allied Solution Group told us the program we signed up with would replace our timeshares. The Allied Solutions Group wrote three dispute letters which we were to correct and send to the timeshare people. We did that but didn’t hear anything of consequence back.  

We have a $37,000 loan. We owned two Silverleaf weeks and are still paying. If you own a house, you can sell your house if you have a loan. We did not know that timeshares are worthless. This is devastating for seniors who have always paid their bills on time. What can you do if you bought something that can’t be sold?

Allied Solution Group/Midwest Transfer described their services as a Mortgage Relief Advocacy Process. They said an advocacy firm is retained by Help4TSO,

Helping Timeshare Owners, LLC, Orlando, Florida.

According to the Help4TSO website:

Orlando Ventures, LLC dba Helping Timeshare Owners will fight to recover any and all monies paid to the developer. If not successful, Orlando Ventures, LLC will refund 100% of your monies back. Orlando Ventures will receive a 10% commission on monies recovered not to exceed $500.

We signed the agreement May 18, 2017

$1,600 charged to be released from Silverleaf

$1,600 charged to be released from Bluegreen

Also known as The Midwest Transfer, a mortgage relief and travel plan

May 25, 2017 agreements were signed by Bill Howell.

$6,300

$9,595.

$8,800.

$24,695 + $3,200 = $27,895

Why are regulators not interested? There seems to be no one to talk to and no one seems to care. It is shameful and we don’t understand why there is so little regulation. It seems the only way to protect consumers is to write about what is happening to warn others. DON’T BUY A TIMESHARE YOU CANNOT GET RID OF and don’t pay anyone you don’t know money to get out of a timeshare.

One of Allied Group Solution’s BBB complaints and the company response followed by what happened to us

Allied Solution Group

https://www.bbb.org/us/mo/springfield/profile/timeshare-transfer/allied-solution-group-0734-43288/complaints

On June 6, 2017 we signed a contract to remove our name from 3 timeshares and purchased a replacement vacation company. We paid a total of $15,142. Of this, 3 charges of $1,569 were for the timeshare transfers. They have completed one transfer, but refuse to either complete the other 2 or refund the $1,569 each for those 2. They were notified in August that one of the timeshare companies would not work with them and they should have made a refund at that time. The other timeshare was carried on their books as 3 contracts. They then asked for us to sign and pay for 3 more transfers at $1,569 each. We would not and they sent a letter the file was on “freeze”. Letters requesting the refunds of $1,569 for each of the 2 incomplete transfers were sent 11-15 & 12-27-2017 no response from either.

Allied Solution Group Response

03/16/2018

Mr. and Mrs. **** entered into a contract with Allied Solution Group (ASG) on June 6, 2017 requesting us to get them out of three ownership’s. ***** ******** ****, ****** *****, and *** ***** ****** at Tahoe. On June 13, 2017 we spoke with the client and verified the full contract and also discussed that we were doing three transfers and getting them enrolled in to ******* ********* ***** ****. At that time, there were no concerns from the client and we charged the client outside of their rescission period. On June 27, 2017 we called the client again to discuss to the need of some signed documentation in order to proceed. We followed up on July 10, 13, 25, 26, 31st and within those times we either spoke to the client or left a message stating their ******* ******** ****** **** was on hold until we received that paperwork. On August 4, 2017 we received the requested documentation, but the needed signatures were still not on the documents. We spoke with the client on August 7, 2017 and discussed the need for signatures again, and mailed an additional copy to client. On August 14, 2017 the client called with tracking information for the signed documents.  Upon the receipt of these documents we still needed the deeds and documents for the ownership with Shell, ****** *****, and *** *****. We sent a second notice to the client for needed deeds on August 29, 2017. On September 18, 2017 the client called and said the deed for ***** could take up to 60 days to get back due to flooding in Florida. On September 19, 2017 the enrollment into ******* ******** ****** **** was completed. On October 12, 2017 we sent a third and final notice for deeds on their ownership’s for transfer. On October 17, 2017 we received the deeds for ownership, and it was brought to our attention that there were six ownership instead of the three that were discussed at the point of sale. At the point of sale and on our Welcome Call we reconfirmed that there were three ownership’s. As with any service that is provided if there is more work than what was originally presented, there will be an additional cost. We sent additional documentation on October 20, 2016 if the client chose to have us do all six transfers versus the original three, but told them it was their choice. October 27, 2017 we put the ***** transfer on hold until we heard back from the client and sent them documentation to show the freeze as well, to which, we have not heard back. We have completed the the ****** ***** transfer and *** ***** ****** is processing. *** ***** ****** transfer did not begin until August of 2017 when we received the needed deed in office. Within the contract it states we have 12 to 18 months to transfer this ownership. We currently are well within that window. We have done exactly as the client requested, and cannot help that the facts presented to us at point of sale were not accurate. We are happy to finish our contracted work, but will not work on the ***** property until the client communicates their wishes with us. There are no grounds for a cancellation. We will discuss this further with the client if needed.

Thank you James for your contribution, this article along with today’s lead, really does show that timeshare is truly a nightmare.

If you have a story which you would like to share and make others aware of, then use our contact page and get in touch, we would love to hear from you. Inside Timeshare is also asking for any lawyer who has experience of UK debt legislation and County Courts to get in touch to offer advice in the case of Mrs B. In advance thank you.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.