Recently Inside Timeshare published the article “Marriott Contracts Circumvent Spanish Laws”, today we reveal another example of this practice by one of the world’s major timeshare developers. Many operators have tried to get around the very strict timeshare laws which Spain enacted on 5 January 1999, by using various methods such as UK limited companies and the inclusion in the contracts of the clause that the contract is bound by and under the jurisdiction of UK laws and courts. This practice did work for a time as judges in the Courts of First Instance did not accept the case as they believed that UK jurisdiction did take precedence over Spanish Jurisdiction.
Last September Inside Timeshare published the ruling of the High Court of Malaga. This court ruled that although the contract did clearly state UK law and jurisdiction with the sales agents being a UK limited company, they ruled that Spanish Courts did indeed have jurisdiction. The fact the purchase was made in Spain brings the sale directly under Spanish timeshare law.
Inside Timeshare has now received information from yet another reader of Marriott using this practice of selling products from their sales office at Marbella Beach Club but showing the sale as being elsewhere.
Back in 2005, this reader was on holiday around Marbella and was invited to attend a presentation at the Marriott Beach Club Resort, which they duly attended. After a fairly lengthy presentation, which we all know is all too common, our reader signed up for membership.
The presentation was conducted by the sales staff of MVCI Holidays SL, a Spanish entity registered at Marbella Beach Club based in Marbella. The purchase was for membership to Marriott Vacation Club International with the home resort being the Phuket Beach Club in Thailand. Well, this is not really a problem, after all, there are the internal exchanges as well as membership to Interval International which did give them, in theory, plenty of choices worldwide.
It is now that the problems come to light, this readers circumstance have now changed, the timeshare is no longer needed or being used. They were then contacted by several “claims” companies with the promise of using the Spanish legal system to recoup the purchase price and have the contract declared null and void as it was illegal under Spanish timeshare law.
They were told they had a very good case and were asked for a sizable amount for legal fees, they decided to investigate further as the company they were talking to had not even asked to see their documents. The whole process was done over the phone.
It is a good job they did decide to look into this, after contacting Inside Timeshare they emailed copies of their documents. We checked the documents with a leading law firm who informed us that there was not a case which could be brought in Spain using Spanish timeshare laws.
Although the presentation was made in Marbella the documentation is signed by a representative of Mai Kao Development Limited a Thai registered company and not of MVCI SL (Marbella).
The only reference to Spain is the fact the presentation was made by MVCI SL, this according to the lawyers precluded any case from being filed in a Spanish court.
When we consider the last article where the purchaser who thought they had a membership with Marbella Beach Club but in fact with a resort in Virginia, this does now look like Marriott knew exactly what they were doing. We also have to remember that this is only 6 years after the enactment of the new timeshare laws which prohibited the sale of any timeshare in Spain with a contract of more than 50 years or which included points or floating weeks systems.
Was this a very deliberate and premeditated attempt to circumvent the laws of one country by using entities not associated or registered with it?
We leave you the reader to decide, Inside Timeshare believes it was.
Have you purchased your timeshare with Marriott, have you been contacted and told you do have a valid case?
Do you want to know if what you have been told is true?
If so, please use our contact page and get in touch, Inside Timeshare will get back to you and point you in the right direction.
Welcome to the end of another week, today Inside Timeshare reports on how clients purchasing Marriott timeshares in Europe have been duped and how Marriott has circumvented the strict Spanish laws on the sale of timeshare. This has recently come to light as many clients have contacted Inside Timeshare to see if they have a case in the Spanish Courts.
As we know any timeshare purchased in Spain or any of her territories are subject to the laws of Spain, a very disturbing fact has now emerged. It involves the sales of timeshare at the Son Antem Resort in Mallorca.
From the many reader’s enquiries, we focus on just one, it begins in summer of 2007 when our reader was on holiday in Mallorca and was “invited” to attend a presentation on the Marriott Vacation Club at Son Antem. He attended the presentation and was duly impressed with the standard of the resort and the “benefits” of owning a timeshare membership with Marriott.
Our reader eventually agreed to purchase a membership to MVC believing that his home resort was going to be Son Antem. This belief was reinforced by the salesperson conducting the presentation and eventually by the manager when they decided to purchase.
When they first began their membership everything appeared to be going well, they didn’t have any problems with booking their holidays and do admit they were very impressed with the standards. But over the years things began to go wrong, maintenance fees began to rise and they now found they were having a great deal of difficulty in making any reservations for the times and resort they wanted. The excuse, as usual, was “no availability”.
Our reader had heard about other owners taking their timeshare companies to court and having their contracts declared null & void with the return of all their money. Making his enquiries he found that his membership was contrary to the laws of Spain and it looked as though he had a valid claim. His membership is a points-based system with a contract that runs in perpetuity. This contravenes Law 42/98 which makes points and floating weeks systems illegal and also limits the duration of a contract to a maximum of 50 years.
This particular reader was directed to Inside Timeshare and duly contacted us to see if he had a valid and viable claim. Unfortunately for him, the news was not good.
Emailing copies of his contract and maintenance bills Inside Timeshare found that his contract was not covered by Spanish law. All the paperwork was processed at Marriott in the USA and shows no Spanish entity. All the documents were stamped by a US notary and the deposit and payments were made through the US in dollars.
His annual maintenance bill was sent from the US and paid directly to Marriott in the US. Now we do know that many timeshares in Spain were sold with the timeshare companies using UK or BVI Limited entities. But the courts have ruled that as the timeshare was purchased in Spain and are based in Spain then Spanish law has jurisdiction and this was just an attempt to get around the law.
But this was not all, our reader actually believed (as he was told this by the sales department) that his home resort was Son Antem in Mallorca, but as Inside Timeshare pointed out all his paperwork shows that his purchase was with Marriott Vacation Club International with his home resort listed as The Manor at Ford’s Colony in Virginia.
Needless to say, he was very taken aback at this news, it also appears to explain why he was having difficulty in making his reservations at Son Antem.
This now leaves this particular client without a legal leg to stand on, his only option now is to relinquish and lose over $18,000 for a timeshare that has become a burden and is virtually unusable.
We do know that when on a presentation and then deciding to purchase, clients have very little time to fully read and comprehend the paperwork and contracts. It is also a fact that very few will ever read them in full even after returning home from their vacation, as with this particular reader it is not until problems arise and they seek advice that they found out they do not own what they thought. Had he known that his timeshare home resort was in the US and not at Son Antem, Mallorca, he would not have purchased it.
This story does show the need to go through documents thoroughly and to do so within the 14 days cooling-off period. If you find during this time that you have purchased something that you were not aware of then at least you will have the legal right to cancel.
Once again we see the timeshare industry finding ways to flout the laws of the countries that they are operating in, leaving purchasers with no legal rights and recourse.
If you own any timeshare interest with Marriott it is important that you check your documents thoroughly, if you are not sure what to look for then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will help you check.
That is all for this week, we wish you all a very good weekend and please join us again next week for more on the murky world of timeshare.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker tells the story of Joseph, a Welk Resorts Owner, unlike many of the stories in the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series, this one does have a happy ending. Joseph is now free of his timeshare and has saved a small fortune in “exit” fees, so commendations to Welk Resorts for their effort in helping to free Joseph. Just a shame others do not take a leaf out of Welk’s response.
A Real Responsible Exit for Joseph, a Welk Resort Owner
Volunteers Needed! Apply Within
Why Volunteers Do What They Do – Brittany Garvin
Hurricane Relief for the Bahamas
Brittany Garvin spends most of her time (14 hours a day) in front of her computer or on her cellphone. Garvin is connecting family members with their loved ones in the Bahamas. She is a volunteer with the nonprofit organization CrowdSource Rescue.
A firestorm of emails was prompted by our August 9th article concerning the lack of responsible exit for six Legacy resort owners. Out of six resorts, only one resort told the owner they would take back the timeshare. While some developers maintain a sales office, the glut of unwanted timeshares, especially among the baby boomer population, continues to flood the market. Since publishing the August 9th article, several more resorts have been added to the list.
Some resorts are willing to work with Legacy owners who no longer want their timeshare. Navy veteran Joseph, age 89, was able to deed his timeshare back to Welk Resorts. After two attempts to reach someone at Welk, in frustration, Joseph gave up and reached out to timeshare exit companies. One quoted him a price of $4,500. Joseph said he attended their presentation at a chicken dinner at Disney. “Something didn’t feel right so I left,” Joseph explained. Ultimately, Joseph was referred to me. I reached out to Welk on Joseph’s behalf, putting him in touch with the right person. A representative from Welk contacted Joseph immediately.
The five of six resorts that would not take back a timeshare:
The Seasons in Vermont
Eagle Crest in Oregon
Broadway Plantation in Myrtle Beach
Lehigh Resorts (from a BBB complaint: We were offered a deed back option, but it was $3000 to cover fees and a title search. This amount seemed absolutely excessive.)
Remarkably, Melissa received an emailed response (unedited) from a Sugarbush manager at The Seasons Resort stating:
Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand.
If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments.
The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand).
We have also published several articles submitted by frustrated Americano ARC Resort owners. For many seniors, what the developer may consider a responsible exit is not. ARC is demanding those seeking exit purchase a Freedom 365 Travel Club. I think I speak on behalf of my generation when I say the last thing a senior seeking release from a timeshare needs is a $5,000 travel club.
When a member or owner contacts me, the first thing I do is tell the member to reach out to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. They report back their findings. https://responsibleexit.com/
Joseph was referred to me because Joseph does not have a computer. When I called Welk Resort, it did take a try or two. I waited on hold as caller #1 for 15 minutes before reaching a company representative. I explained that one of their owners had been quoted $4,500 to be released from his timeshare, so I was checking to see if they might work with Joseph. She referred me to the department that takes care of deed-backs. The person I spoke with said they would forward the message to a representative. I explained that I am not an attorney, so don’t represent anyone, but I was researching timeshare’s secondary market and would like to know Welk’s dissolution policy. That same day I was contacted by a Welk representative who explained they would work with Joseph and quoted me the reasonable fee they charge to deed-back, in the case of someone like Joseph.
Exit companies would argue that they would be justified in charging Joseph $4,500 because they have to pay for the leads. I don’t agree. With a little persistence and detective work, finding the right department and the right person, members or owners can save themselves thousands of dollars by doing their own research and making their own contacts.
We are looking for volunteers to assist those who do not have a computer or computer skills due to a variety of reasons. In the last 24 hours, I have been contacted by two owners battling cancer and one with MS. It’s not fair for them to have to battle their timeshare too, given the lack of a secondary market.
Inside Timeshare can simply refer the owner inquiring to you, and you can assist and follow along with owners who need this type of assistance. You would help only those with fully paid for timeshares, those seeking release, by helping to point the member or owner in the right direction. We have many members helping members resolve disputes, but we could use a few more good soldiers. This is a way we can serve those who served us, like Calvin.
On Friday we will publish Calvin’s story about how Nationwide Transfer strung Calvin along for two years, demanding over $20,000 from him. Calvin was part of a military police unit that managed a prison camp of 27,000 Iraq soldiers. Nationwide, instead of asking Calvin for medical documentation concerning his PTSD, that required a two-month hospital stay, wrote Vacation Village a letter telling them Calvin has Parkinson’s disease. Calvin does not have Parkinson’s.
I reached out to Vacation Village and put them in touch with Calvin. Calvin paid $6,000 for the Vacation Village timeshare ten years ago. When his health deteriorated, he spoke with a sales agent who advised Calving to convert to points to reduce maintenance fees. Instead, maintenance fees increased. With the unnecessary upgrade, Calvin paid approximately $12,500 for the timeshare and over $20,000 to Nationwide Transfer.
Elder Veteran Fraud is one of the most despicable forms of fraud.
On a side note, I highly recommend Welk Resort. It was one of the first exchanges we made many years ago. For our younger readers, you can learn something about Hollywood memorabilia at Welk Resorts. Our generation grew up listening to Welshman Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Orchestra.
Timeshare provided my family and countless others, generations of wonderful memories. For others, it has caused financial ruin, bankruptcy and the loss of security clearances for active duty service members. “Pitching Heat” is what the industry itself calls the employment of unfair and deceptive sales practices. There have been many lawsuits filed describing the practice.
I listened to an interview with Brittany Garvin on the Weather Channel over the weekend. She was asked what made her volunteer so much of her time. “With my skills, I could not just sit back and do nothing,” Brittany explained. Timeshare has deceived many who possess valuable skills, including a detective who works economic crimes undercover. If you have skills, or just time, to aid with our self-advocacy efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Join our growing networks of volunteers. As happened for Joseph, one person can make a difference.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Irene for all the help you gave Joseph, it is great when we can publish a story with a happy ending and a timeshare company willing to help, so we must say a very big thank you to Welk Resorts.