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Mark Rowe

Timeshare: The Road to Being Scammed

Timeshare is probably the only product that is sold on lies, misinformation and pressure, but it doesn’t end there. Once you have purchased it you are now open to being “scammed” by those on the periphery, more often than not the very same salespeople who sold it in the first place. Today we take a quick look at the pitfalls of owning a timeshare and the never-ending demand for your hard-earned cash.

You have all attended a presentation, after all, you are owners of a timeshare or a member of a vacation club, although there are some who did go out with the intention of purchasing. These are usually timeshares on offer from resale companies or private individuals who advertise on eBay or similar sites. For this group, their first encounter with “timeshare sales reps” is likely to be on their first holiday using the timeshare.

The vast majority of purchasers’ first encounter with timeshare will be the “ticket touts”, that hang around on street corners usually near hotels and resorts, bus terminals and railway stations. with their tempting “scratch cards”. With these cards “everyone’s” a winner of the “star prize”, usually a holiday, well it is actually just free accommodation and you must also attend yet another presentation, known as the “tour”.

These “ticket touts” are known as OPCs, Off-Premises Canvassers, to the sales reps they are known as “Over Paid Crettins”, well, that is the polite form I have to use here. Their job is to entice you to attend a “90-minute” presentation and obviously, that is the only way you can collect your “star prize”. For this, they are very well paid, Inside Timeshare knows of many OPCs who have earned over 600€ a day, that is a lot of money I hear you say, but when each UP, (Unit Prospect), that is you the punter, is worth anything from 100€ to 200€, depending on the timeshare sales company, they only need to bring in one or two a day and they can live very well. Then they will usually get a “deal bonus” if you purchase.

This is where the first of the “misrepresentations” come into play, with the amount of money they can earn, anything goes. Over the years we have heard so many stories on what you the “UP” have been told, it would take several articles to list them all, so we will give you some of the most common.

The first lie is usually “no it’s not timeshare”, followed by “it’s a new hotel and they are holding an open day to get peoples opinions”. Sometimes the OPC will ask the question “would you like to know how you can holiday in 5-star luxury for the price of 3-star?” Well, that is very enticing and so off you go with the OPC, who you don’t know, get into a taxi and are driven somewhere you don’t know and all of this in a foreign country!

Now you arrive at the resort and are handed over to reception, here is where you are “qualified”, which means you will be questioned. The most important ones are, you have a credit card, preferably on your person, that you are married, in employment and at one time homeowners, council rentals were not desirable.

Then you are passed to one of the sales reps, if you fulfilled the criteria you will be a “qualified UP”, with those not fulfilling the criteria being labelled as a “courtesy tour”, often this “tour” is used for training purposes with new reps or those that didn’t meet their targets, this one is commonly known as “being put on the numbers”. The rep then has so many tours and must deal a certain number or they will be terminated. I know some of you wish the other meaning, but it is their continued employment.

During this “presentation”, which will usually last for more than 3 hours and not the original 90-minutes, you will be subtly “interrogated”. From the job you do, this gives them an indication of your earnings, how many holidays you take, how much you usually spend, where you tend to go, along with many other questions which will give the rep the tools to sell.

Now is where the real misinformation starts, we will mention only the most common here, because being timeshare owners you will more than likely have heard so many.

One which Inside Timeshare has heard from purchasers so often is they actually believed they were purchasing a “part ownership” of a property, that they were also “part owners” of the resort. In a way, when the old fixed week, fixed apartment system was the norm, this was almost true. Your purchase of the week and apartment would be registered in the land registry, not actually making you an “owner”, but it was in fact a way of monitoring the number of sales for each week and apartment. Legally they could only sell 51 weeks in each apartment.

With the advent of points and floating weeks, this pitch did not change, although you actually owned nothing apart from the right to use. You became a member of a vacation club just as you would by joining a golf club.

Then we have the standard, most commonly used is the “resort is a 5-star”, well, this is not strictly speaking true. The star system is for hotels, each star represents the quality and service that you can expect. Star ratings are given on the accommodation, facilities and the level of dining service among other things.

RCI, one of the major exchange companies, uses the following system. This is taken from the RCI website:


Gold Crown Resort® Award: Select RCI® affiliated resorts are recognized as RCI Gold Crown Resort properties – the highest of the three RCI Award Designations. The RCI Gold Crown Resort award designates resorts that have met or exceeded specific standards in the areas of unit housekeeping, unit maintenance, hospitality and check-in/check-out procedures, and an evaluation of resort facilities, amenities and services.


RCI Silver Crown Resort® Award: Resorts that have achieved excellence in providing outstanding vacation experiences for RCI subscribing members receive the RCI Silver Crown Resort award. This award designates resorts that have met or exceeded specific standards in the areas of unit housekeeping, unit maintenance, resort maintenance, hospitality and check-in/check-out procedures.


RCI Hospitality Award: The RCI Hospitality Award is presented for consistently high ratings in the check-in/check-out and hospitality categories.

A totally different rating system, after all the vast majority of timeshare resorts, are self-catering, so would not achieve the 4 or 5-star ratings of hotels.

This in itself may not be a major issue, but it is misinformation, to say the least.

Quite often the “UP”, may ask about a change in circumstances, where they no longer want the timeshare. The stock answer is that the timeshare company will “buy it back”. This will be followed by “for the price you paid”, sometimes more, which then links it with the original lie that you “own” property or real estate.

Unfortunately, this particular “lie” will not be known for many years when you decide that you no longer need it and want to get out.

After many hours of “pressure sales”, you end up signing the contract, pay for it and off you jolly well go. Now is where the after-sales problems start.

Not only are you then required to attend meetings with the “in-house” reps, where you will be pressured into “upgrading”, either more weeks, points and or, bigger apartments, your details will end up being sold to others.

“We want your Timeshare” sign near Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands

In the past, the most common of these was resale, companies, quite often set up by sales reps. There were many of these around, one of the most prolific operators was based on the Costa del Sol. This was Tony Muldoon, who had a string of companies one of which was Platinum Properties.

It began with a cold call, with the sales pitch that your timeshare is the most sought after and has increased in value considerably, working on the pitch from the original sale, perpetuating the “owning of property” myth.

You will be promised and given a very good price, usually a few thousand more than you paid, you may also be told that sales go through very quickly. Just in case this does not happen, the “deposit” you pay, yes there is an advanced payment to sign up, this will be refunded in full at the end of 12 months. So what have you got to lose and so you pay.

At the end of the 12 months, your timeshare has not been sold, you try to get your refund, only to find that you are unable to contact the company, phone numbers have changed or they have just simply disappeared and now come under a new name. You now realise you have been scammed.

Then came the resale with a “corporate” buyer, who really wants your timeshare, as many of you will already know, there would be the requirement to attend a “presentation”.

This presentation will involve another “sales pitch” this time for a “discount holiday club. There were many of these in varying guises, from Designer Way Vacation Club to Monster Credits, a Mark Rowe invention.

At this “presentation” they explain that they will take over your timeshare, leaving you maintenance-free, but in order to do this, you must first purchase their product. You will be promised the same standard of accommodation, usually in timeshare resorts, along with an annual “admin or membership charge”. DWVC was originally £75 per year.

For so many people who went for this option, it was not until a few years later that they found out they also still owned the timeshare and were now several years in arrears on maintenance. This then brought threats of legal action to recover the debt.

Today we have “exit & claims” companies, all promising the same thing, termination of your contract and a claim for “compensation” once it is terminated.

The proliferation of these types of companies has increased over the past few years, mainly due to the success of genuine law firms in the courts. Again many have been started by ex-timeshare sales reps and sales managers, mostly due to the redundancies from the closure of the sales decks.

These companies present themselves as “legal consultants”, “paralegals”, “notaries” and even “law firms”. They employ many techniques, some more sophisticated than others, such as the bogus law firms dubbed The Litigious Abogados Family. They use fake court documents which to the untrained eye look genuine, some even claim to be working on behalf of the courts or National Banks such as Banco de España.

Unfortunately, many timeshare owners are so desperate to get out, they believe the “pitch” and lose thousands in the process.

Unlike purchasing any other product, let’s say a car, with timeshare you actually don’t know anything about it until it is too late. With a car, all the specifications are there to see, provided by the manufacturer, you can actually make an informed decision.

So with knowing what you know now about timeshare, would you have made the decision to buy!

Somehow I don’t think so.

For further information on this subject or any of the articles published, please use our contact page. If you would like to find out what your legal rights are in respect of making a claim or just terminating your contract, please get in touch and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

The Tuesday Slot: The Timeshare Industry and Scams Work Hand in Hand

Timeshare has been with us for many years now, the original concept was one that certainly sparked great interest, the quality of the resorts and the guarantee of that quality no matter where you booked. But over the years many timeshare owners have been the victims of some very unscrupulous entities, from resale companies to discount holiday clubs and now exit companies, all promising the timeshare owner a way out of their commitment. So we have to ask the question, is the timeshare industry responsible for the proliferation of the many scams involved around timeshare?

In a way, the industry is responsible, the way it has been sold and the difficulties many owners have on getting out of their contracts when they no longer require the membership has made it very easy for the scammers to take hold and make even more money out of the unsuspecting timeshare owners.

In the early days, timeshare was sold as though it was property, the pitch at sales events was very simple, you could not afford to purchase an apartment abroad just for holidays, the cost was too great. So how about purchasing a “share” in an apartment, along with other “owners” you would split the cost of maintaining the apartment and the resort, these were the annual maintenance or management fees.

At first glance this looks like a win-win situation, you get to “own” a share in a luxury apartment in the sun, a place you could call a home from home. You actually believed that you “owned” the apartment and that according to the sales pitch it would increase in value, just as though you owned it outright as real estate.

This then gave rise to the resale industry, with promises of very inflated prices, but this came at a cost. In order to place your “apartment” for sale, a fee was required to “list” your timeshare on their website. Many of these companies operated by way of cold calls, they enticed the “victim” with promises of quick sales and in most cases for more than you originally paid for the timeshare. Remember, you were conditioned at the original sale that you were purchasing property and it would increase in value.

These companies would also make the promise that if they did not sell within the year of the contract, the initial payment would be returned. Great promise until they disappeared after that year and reemerged under a different name. Thousands have been lost in this way.

Eventually, these began to be replaced by the “holiday clubs”, these were basically discounted clubs where you purchased a membership, it was also a way out of your annual maintenance costs. The “holiday club” when you purchased membership would then take your timeshare, in some cases with the cashback system which supposedly paid for the membership and your timeshare after a specific period.

This particular scheme became infamous through its use by Incentive Leisure Group, selling the Designer Way Vacation Club. This whole scheme was eventually shut down and the cashback scheme was shown for what it really was, a total fraud and in many cases, the “member” still owned the timeshare.

Eventually, these clubs have frittered away, one of the last was the Monster Travel, Monster Credits and Monster Rewards dreamed up by Mark Rowe, who was also well known as a sales rep and sales manager for Resort Properties/Silverpoint. As we know this timeshare company has been shown to be one of the most fraudulent in the history of timeshare.

Rowe even took this one step further, he set up “law firms” who would not only exit you from your timeshare contract but also get you compensation. The only problem here is that to do this you also had to “join” his “club” either Monster or the replacement Jive Hippo.

So this now brings us to the present day, the “exit & claims” companies.

Although there are many cases going through the Spanish courts all brought by genuine law firms, there is on the periphery a growing number of operations that are less than legitimate.

These claim that they will “exit” you from your timeshare contract then claim compensation once the contract is cancelled. There is however a fee that needs to be paid to “exit” you from your contract, in many cases, this can be around £3000 or more.

The vast majority of these “exits” never actually happen, we have over the years seen many companies come and go with “victims” losing thousands and finding they are now in arrears for maintenance fees of around 3 years or more. Their contracts were never cancelled despite what the company told them.

So back to our question, is the timeshare industry responsible for these frauds?

In a way they are responsible, it has been their own greed that has allowed these scams to proliferate and continue. The being locked into contracts that are virtually impossible to get out of, the huge rise in annual maintenance fees and not to forget the biggest problem of all, availability.

All these are problems made by the timeshare industry, it is these problems that make owners/members vulnerable to those who see an opportunity to make huge amounts from scamming them. After all, any industry which basically holds its members to ransom making it almost impossible to “exit”, will always be a catalyst for the unscrupulous.

It is a problem that is not going away, as long as the timeshare industry continues to operate in the same old way, there are going to be those who will take advantage of people’s fears and offer them what looks like a simple solution to their problem. Unfortunately, all it will do is empty your bank account.

If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Anfi Lose Another Appeal & A Consumer Warning of Fake Information

In today’s short article we publish yet another Anfi appeal which the courts have rejected and a warning on some information being given by “cold callers” which is nothing but a fabrication. This is nothing unusual, we have highlighted this problem in the past, the tactics are to “scare” you the timeshare owner into signing up for a “claim or exit” with one of the very dodgy companies that have emerged.

We begin first with the news on Anfi.

Once again the High Court of Las Palmas has rejected an appeal by Anfi on the sentence passed by the Court of First Instance. This has become a very familiar occurrence, every time Anfi lose their case they automatically appeal to the High Court. The stupid thing is they lose in every appeal yet continue to do use this legal procedure in order to delay the inevitable, having to pay out to the client.

The case was conducted on behalf of the Swedish client by the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Eva Gutierrez with the client being assisted by the Claims Consultant Michael Gadman.

The High Court confirmed the original sentence and once again ordered that Anfi repay the client 54,137€ plus legal interest. The High Court also agreed that in calculating the award, the Court of First Instance was correct in demanding that the deposit which was illegally taken within the statutory cooling-off period must be paid back in double.

It is quite clear from all the recent appeals that Anfi has made that their game of delaying the inevitable is not doing them any good, in fact, it is costing them more in legal fees and in some cases, the High Court is actually increasing the award. One day they may just decide to accept the verdicts of the lower courts and payout. Well, we can live in hope!

Over the years that Inside Timeshare has been publishing we have come across some very wild stories from our readers about the information they have been given by “cold calling claims & exit” companies.

Recently we published several of these wild claims such as Mark Rowe of Monster Rewards, ABC Lawyers and sell my timeshare infamy was arrested, tried and convicted in a Malaga court. That over 40 million Euros had been seized and he had been sent to jail.

Then we had a series of emails where our readers who own Anfi, have been told that Anfi is in liquidation and will be closing, that unless they moved quickly and signed up they would lose everything. Well, we do know that one half of the Anfi partnership, the Cazorla Group, have their own financial difficulties, Anfi itself is pretty sound, after all, they do have IFA Lopesan as the other 50% owner.

The latest to come through from our readers, but unfortunately, they have not yet been able to provide a company name, is the story that Club la Costa and Marriott are going into liquidation.

In fact, one reader has even been told a date when this is happening, this Friday 16 October 2020.

As far as we have been able to ascertain, neither are going into liquidation, this has also been confirmed by our enquiries with law firms handling cases against both the timeshare companies.

These tactics are designed for one thing and one thing only, to scare you the owner/member into signing up with these scam companies, paying their high fees because they have managed to convince you that you are about to lose everything. Well, you just have, you paid them!

It may be a fact that one of the subsidiary companies might be folding, after all these timeshare companies do tend to have many of them, but that doesn’t mean the whole of Club la Costa or Marriott are going under.

Once again this goes to show how vigilant you must be when dealing with many of these “cold calls”, never believe them, do your own research first. Make checks on the company that contacted you and told you the information, check the internet for any other news on what they have told you. If you are not sure how to do these checks, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Don’t believe what you are told, do your homework first, it will save you money.