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Maui Hill

FOX NEWS Bi Polar Timeshare Reporting

Inside Timeshare has been publishing many articles from our friends across the “Great Lake”, only a couple of weeks ago we published the story of Irene and her husband Don being interviewed on the Property Man Show with Bob Massi. Since then the following has occurred, this does seem to be stirring up some controversy among owners on that side of the Atlantic.

FOX NEWS Bi Polar Timeshare Reporting

A treatise on propaganda and media spin

weasel

By Irene Parker

May 3, 2017

Okay FOX News – Which is it?

First we have Fox Celebrity Dave Ramsey telling us timeshare has a 98% dissatisfaction rate and that people should run as far away from the timeshare product as they can get.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stGj6hB2rTo

As Inside Timeshare previously reported, FOX celebrities Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham are paid to endorse timeshare transfer agents Property Man host Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi warns timeshare owners to stay away from.

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

Next, we have FOX Property Man and our interview with Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi about Diamond Resorts that was pulled from replay immediately after it was aired. Worse, what was intended to be a warning to consumers that Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, was turned into an advertisement for the timeshare developer’s lobby, ARDA.

In our interview and on Bob Massi’s prior interview with members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, Mr. Massi recommended timeshare members or owners contact a LTRBA member if they need to sell a timeshare. You can do that with any timeshare except Diamond Resorts due to restrictions Diamond has placed on the use of points purchased on the secondary market more onerous than any of Diamond’s competitors. The LTRBA members feel Diamond points are worthless on resale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHCdcS2Ds-U

Our interview will no longer be aired but what will be broadcasted in perpetuity is Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s interview with Maria Bartiromo, aired one week later on FOX after our interview, explaining that Diamond Resorts will be taken to a new level.

https://twitter.com/thevacationdr?lang=en

Our timeshare Advocates are there for timeshare members or owners who feel they were sold by deceit, concealment or “bait and switch” as defined by the FBI as White Collar Crime. Lawmakers and regulatory agencies have, for the most part, turned their back on an industry virtually unregulated, as expressed by Diamond member Nancy Callahan, one of six Diamond platinum members complaining about the same Las Vegas sales center.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

 Inside Timeshare has a number of upcoming articles submitted by new contributors, angry due to being held hostage by their vacation plan. Diamond’s contract states, “You can sell your shares, we just won’t assist you.” Anyone who has had any experience with real estate would take that to mean you can pick up the phone and talk to a licensed real estate agent. You can do that with any major timeshare but Diamond Resorts. As a former licensed stockbroker, I would have never signed a contract for a product that could not be sold through a licensed broker.

If you or anyone you know has a timeshare experience, good or bad, you would like to share, contract Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

How sad that something that is supposed to be a means to rest and relaxation has turned into a battlefield between timeshare members and developers. My husband and I used and enjoyed or Maui Hill, Port Elsewhere and ILX timeshares for over 25 years without a question, comment or post until we learned we can’t sell our timeshare.

alamo

Mr. Massi tried. He really did. But he, like me, is on the losing end of a massive amount of power that will do anything to silence the voices of those who feel they have been victimized by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents.

After retiring from the stock brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, Court Appointed Special Advocate on behalf of children in foster care. CASA is known as a voice for the voiceless. I would be voiceless too if I had accepted Diamond’s offer to refund our money. I would have been just another timeshare member silenced by a CNDA or Confidential Non-Disclosure Agreement.

We were offered our money back after signing a contract based on the availability of New York properties as our daughter lives in New York City, only to learn NYC properties are affiliated so never discounted. It would take approximately $10,000 in Diamond maintenance fee dollars to stay one week in the same hotel if booked online for approximately $2600. The same holds true for Great Wolf lodge, San Francisco and other big city destinations. Ours is one of four complaints forewarned to our Advocacy group about oversold availability. Having signed a perpetual contract, consumers fall victim to the oral representation clause, often described by timeshare attorney Mike Finn as a “License to Lie”. It must stop.

support group

It would appear that Diamond are on the offensive, or are they just running a “damage limitation exercise”?

We leave it to you the readers to decide, your comment on either Inside Timeshare or the advocacy facebook pages are always welcome.

Friday Letter from The US: Part II: What is our Timeshare Advocacy Group Doing Today?

Here we are again, another Friday and another letter from America, courtesy of Irene, following on from last week’s article.

Firstly the similarities between ARDA ROC and the RDO TATOC, both are industry trade bodies and owners organisations funded by the industry. Both require their members to abide by a code of ethics, but neither will arbitrate or investigate their own members. One difference is that ARDA ROC will not recommend any resale company, but RDO and TATOC will recommend any company that is one of its members.

Both bodies also actively focus on chasing scam and bogus companies, the RDO has employed kwikchex to head their Timeshare Taskforce. This company runs Timeshare Business Check, who contact businesses and question them for transparency, they list those who are not RDO or TATOC members, basically saying if they are not members or submit to their questions don’t touch them. They have no legal mandate and the owner has what can only be described as a very poor track record as a director. (see following link).

http://insidetimeshare.com/kwikchex-chris-emmins/

Only last week we announced and published the news that ARDA have donated $30,000 to TATOC and their Consumer Helpline, which received charitable status after initially being rejected. This donation was given because it is said they help and advise European Owners of US timeshares.

This is obviously a saving grace for TATOC as many of their members are withdrawing their membership or reducing their membership status, as was seen by Silverpoint dropping from Platinum to Silver.

Harry Taylor himself has been somewhat discredited over the Lakeview debacle, which has been going on for sometime. He has also been a very vociferous supporter of MacDonald Resorts and their forcing owners from fixed weeks into points. There is a class action ongoing by members who do not want the change as it then gives MacDonald’s “ownership” of the resorts and reduces members to “right of use only”.

This is happening in Spanish resorts, where we know that the points system is illegal, yet is still going ahead. MacDonald Resorts have a very bad reputation for the way they deal with members including the elderly. Yet they are main contributors to Harry Taylor and TATOC. Even the RDO have had nothing to do with them since 2005.

So we now move on to Irene’s article.

Part II: What is our Timeshare Advocacy Group Doing Today?

Part I: What is ARDA ROC Doing Today?  

By Irene Parker

March 31, 2017

Boss

“What is ARDA ROC Doing Today?”

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

ARDA, the American Resort Development Association, is the national organization representing the timeshare industry. The ROC in ARDA ROC is the Resort Owners’ Coalition looking out for timeshare owners’ or members’ interest. Critics argue ARDA ROC works against timeshare owners when the interest of the owner and the developer diverge. It should be noted that non-deeded point members don’t “own” anything as they are right-to-use programs.

 FAQ Timeshare Resale Questions found on ARDA ROC website

Can ARDA-ROC or ARDA help me?

ARDA provides professional and educational development for its members provides industry research and data and advocates for policies that promote the vitality and continued growth of the industry. Based in Washington, DC, ARDA is comprised of nearly 1,000 corporate members and one million timeshare owner members.

Question: How many readers knew they were a member? Donations range from $3 to $10 as an opt-in or opt-out donation. That adds up to approximately $5 million a year in voluntary donations.  How many timeshare members even know what the letters stand for?  I didn’t. I was told it was an organization that helps timeshare owners. Foreign buyers who buy a US timeshare are also charged. How much do you think they know about ARDA ROC?

More from ARDA ROC FAQ

Neither ARDA-ROC nor ARDA provide information about complaints they receive.  ARDA-ROC and ARDA do not mediate, arbitrate or otherwise resolve individual disputes between a consumer and an ARDA member or non-member business. They don’t buy or sell timeshares OR recommend companies with whom you should do business. Neither can tell you if a company is “legitimate.”

ARDA does not have any regulatory authority, although they do require member companies to agree to abide by their Code of Ethics. Failure to do so may result in expulsion of the company from membership.

http://www.ardaroc.org/roc/resource-library/default.aspx?id=2771

Timeshare owners, often unaware they have signed a perpetual contract without a secondary market, consider the lack of a secondary their primary concern. ARDA has focused their efforts on chasing timeshare transfer agent scams, but little is mentioned about the cause of the scams, which is the lack of or limited secondary market.

 Thank you to Disney because Disney does allow a secondary market. “Disney is known for exercising their first right of refusal. When a timeshare company exercises their first right of refusal, the effect supports the resale price,” explained Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty. Check out those Disney resale prices. Is your timeshare on the resale list below?

http://www.timesharestogo.com/listings/index.phtml

Deeded weeks can almost always be listed. If a resort has converted from weeks to points, non-deeded points with no secondary market will not be listed as the members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association feel such points are worthless on the secondary market. If denied a voluntary surrender, a seller in this situation has nowhere to turn but foreclosure or the well reported transfer agencies that may or may not get you out of your timeshare.

Tom is a LTRBA member. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the members and respect what they do to work with what little secondary market they’ve got.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Tom cautioned against making a blanket statement accusing ARDA ROC of not doing anything for members. A good example is the Virgin Islands. They are trying to slap an extra $300 onto an exchange. “If that happens, Aruba and other locations may try to follow suit,” warned Tom. In Hawaii, our two bedroom timeshare at Maui Hill slipped in a $6.90 a night Hawaii some kind of tax.

However, when the interests of the timeshare developer are at odds with the timeshare owner, the result is controversy. Issues like:

Owner access to membership lists. Timeshare owners receive endless calls offering vacation giveaways due to a mysterious $1800 credit on our maintenance fees, yet the developers work to pass laws or put up obstacles preventing owners from contacting other owners. No one on our Advocacy Facebook group will question why developers don’t want that!

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

The lack of a secondary market.

Back to my $7 ARDA ROC “Voluntary” Donation

accountability

This “voluntary donation” can be difficult to remove from your account.  

What is this voluntary ARDA-ROC fee doing in my maintenance fee bill? – RedWeek.com

I asked timeshare Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group why it has been impossible to have my voluntary $7 removed from my timeshare maintenance fee invoice?

“Indeed you are quite correct that several other resorts include a line item in their maintenance fee statement for an ARDA-ROC contribution. I guess they get away with it because it’s allegedly voluntary. However subsequent maintenance billing beyond the first one incorporates that so called voluntary contribution and lumps it in with the subsequent maintenance fee total billing. If you don’t pay your bill after you receive the initial bill and you pay it after you receive a subsequent bill, you’ll probably be inadvertently including that voluntary contribution into your maintenance fee,” Mike explained.

Our Advocacy Group will begin having monthly conference calls to:

  • Target legislators that might be willing to consider owner concerns;
  • Educate the general public about what questions to ask before buying a timeshare. We wish someone gave us that advice!
  • Get updates on current legislation;
  • Get updates on legal and regulatory matters;
  • An update on the measurable success of our Advocacy Group.

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

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

Happy group

So there we have it the end of another week in the murky world of timeshare, Irene and myself thank those who have contributed to all the articles we publish, hoping it gives you the owners and readers an insight into what is going on. We have had many people contact us for advice and help, and through the contributions from readers, we have highlighted many dubious companies.

It remains for Irene and myself to wish you a very happy weekend, have fun.

weekend

 

OPC´s in Europe and the USA.

Today’s article begins with a recent press release from the Arizona Attorney General, it then goes on with an article on OPC´s or Off Premises Canvassers. We begin with how they are regulated in most of Europe, then Irene´s article, where she has interviewed an Ex- Diamond OPC.

arizona-ag-seal

Arizona Attorney General Brnovich Announces $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts – Forewarned by a Diamond OPC

For Immediate Release: December 23, 2016
Contact: [email protected]

Attorney General Brnovich Announces $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts
Settlement Agreement Resolves Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations

Follow the link for the press release.

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

Diamond’s Response

The following response is from Maya Pogoda, DRI Public Relations Spokesperson

By Irene Parker

Diamond Resorts seeks to put its members first and provide the best customer experience possible and already has – and had – policies, procedures, training and a quality assurance program in place to provide a positive sales experience.  Nevertheless, anytime a member believes we fall short of that goal, we take that concern seriously and try to remedy the situation and do better going forward.

As part of our continual effort to improve, we have been working on a new national program that we will be rolling out later this month. This program, called Diamond Clarity, goes beyond the requirements of the AOD and includes policies and procedures that will create greater transparency for the consumer and accountability for sales agents and quality assurance officers nationwide.  Diamond Clarity will enhance our policies and procedures and improve the overall customer experience when purchasing vacation ownership.”

According to the Assurance of Discontinuance agreement,

“The provisions of this Assurance shall be limited to Diamond’s Business with Consumers at Sales Centers in Arizona and with Arizona-domiciled Consumers who attend Sales Presentations with Diamond outside of Arizona.” 

However, certain provisions regarding sales presentation should be applied throughout the organization and the industry like:

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

The latter has been described by timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group as “a license to lie”. Even this one change would radically improve the seedy side of timeshare. Read the document for complete terms. 

The Guys on the Street.

opc

In Europe the OPC´s or Off Premises Canvasser are in most cases subject to certain controls, the extent of this depends on the country.

On the Canary Islands the OPC must be badged and licenced, working from booths set up with the resort name for which they are working. According to the authorities they are not allowed to wander more than a few meters away from that booth and any attempt to coerce people who have made it obvious they are not interested, can be viewed as harassment. There can be some severe penalties from fines and the removal of the badge and licence.

On mainland Spain many do not adhere to the regulations and on many occasions you can see them dodging the Local Police. The Costa del Sol is particularly bad for the heavy handed approach and over the years there have been many complaints.

 

Malta has recently instituted some very strict regulations regarding OPC´s, this has resulted from the huge number of complaints made to the Malta Tourist Authority. Many of the comments made by people on holiday regarding the continual harassment from the street touts, have included that they love the island but would never return because of them.

The MTA has seen the damage that this is doing to the tourist industry and decided to act, this is not surprising as tourism accounts for a very large part of their economy.

They have instituted licences and are planning to outsource security patrols to police the timeshare touts. In a very clever move the MTA is requiring the timeshare companies to pay a 3000€ bond for each one they employ, allowing them to work in a regulated way. In the event of any breach of the regulations, rather than have the trouble of going through the courts, the companies will be fined direct from the bond. They will then have to make this up immediately. In another move, for very serious breaches, large fines will be given with licences removed and the culprits deported.

https://www.captchasolutions.com/article/89668/malta—tackling-the-timeshare-reps/

Back to Spain, many of the OPC´s are not directly employed by the resorts sales and marketing team, but work for a marketing company contracted by the resort. In this way the resort can deny any responsibility for the actions and pitch of the OPC. Diamond is one company who does not directly employ OPC´s and have done so for many years.

The tactics used to get you into the resort for a presentation are the same wherever you go, the lure of prizes and the promise that it will only last a short while. It has also been known for the OPC to pay the “UP” 50€ to attend the presentation as the pay per couple can be very good, in most cases around 150€ with a bonus if they actually purchase.

As you will see from the following, there is little difference between Europe and the U.S. in respect to the “scratch card touts”.

By Irene Parker, January 5, 2017

puzzle-pieces-and-people
Timeshare is a puzzle built by relationships between consumers, timeshare developers, timeshare sales agent and solicitors known as “scratch card” agents or OPCs. One OPC recently contacted Inside Timeshare concerned he might be leading people into – a Timeshare Trap.

The timeshare sale begins as a circle that starts with the prospects strolling down the street and a person greeting them with a bright smile and good news! We don’t often think about the important role the OPC plays at the beginning of the cycle that will end with happy vacations or a desperate attempt to get out of something the consumer did not understand due to high pressure, deception, lack of due diligence and vacation brain.

animated-questWho and what is an OPC

OPC stands for “Off Premises Contact” and here’s what they do and how they do it. It’s not an easy job, but it can be fun and exciting.

According to Simple Sales and Marketing Solution:

http://www.simplesalesandmarketing.com/2008/02/opcs-you-either-love-them-or-hate-them_12.html

Keep Reading

What’s Right about Timeshare?

A Holiday Spirit Look at the Industry

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

December 19, 2016

car

In the Spirit of the Season, Charles Thomas and Irene Parker would like to thank all our readers. Charles is a former timeshare sales agent and I am a veteran timeshare owner. We each have our stories about timeshare to tell.

Charles:

We have both over the past few weeks written numerous articles about the woes timeshare owners have been facing, some have been out and out horror stories. The story of Mrs Price and MacDonald Resorts has featured prominently over the past few months, this has still not been concluded. Other stories have highlighted the minefield of resales or as they say in the States the secondary market, another aspect has been the bogus law firms and claims companies that prey on those who wish to get out of their timeshares. Another theme has been about the sales agents and the methods employed to secure “the sale”.

I have personally been involved in sales side of the industry, having worked for several companies in the past, I was aware of the pressure that many sales staff are under to get the sale. The misinformation they are forced to give, if they didn’t hit their targets, they lost their job. In some cases if they were in company accommodation that meant they were on the street and homeless, usually in a foreign country.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are some owners who are very happy with what they have, for them it works well, a case in point are friends of mine, Kim and Andy. They very kindly wrote their story on their timeshare experience for publication. There is also a Facebook page called International Timeshare Appreciation Day, which is held on 1 November. (see links)

There are also some very good timeshare companies out there, who do sell with ethics and morals. They also put their members first, with excellent customer service. These are the ones we never hear about. Two in Europe are Hapimag of Switzerland, whose members are predominantly Swiss and German, the other, is one that you tend not to associate with timeshare, Butlins, who have their Blue Skies membership. In all the research I have done, I have never come across a single complaint about either of them. Maybe others need to change to their model.

http://insidetimeshare.com/happy-owners/

https://www.facebook.com/InternationalTimeshareAppreciationDay/?fref=ts

Irene’s story:  One day, in 1984, my fiancée told me he bought a timeshare. Little did he know it was owned by the Mafia.  Timeshare owners always receive notices of annual meetings, but shortly after his purchase, we received an invitation to Holiday Shore’s annual meeting encouraging us to attend because our deeded fixed week timeshare was scheduled to be auctioned off on Tuesday at 3:30 PM on the step of the Sheriff’s office.

It was the first and last timeshare annual meeting we ever attended. Holiday Shores is located in the Missouri Ozarks and was a popular vacation spot for the Mafia.

There was not enough room for all of us at the scheduled location, so we all moved to the church where we managed to get a seat in the rafters. The resort’s timeshare attorney dramatically rolled out a scroll that flew out about 20 feet as he explained the Bennett family of New York was putting a lien on the property as the construction company had not been paid by their cousins who owned the resort property.

Fortunately for us, Jim Marshall of Marshall Missouri was an owner and a state representative.

The story has a happy ending because, thanks to Mr. Marshall, our timeshare was taken over by the owners and the resort lived happily ever after. It’s still there.

The moral of the story is that owners can make a difference.

Timeshares are not all bad. Twice we exchanged our timeshare through RCI and did not return home because we bought a house at the exchange location. We moved to Hawaii because of that every year trip to our Maui Hill timeshare and my stumbling onto a job opening the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island called Hawaii.

After nine years in Hawaii, we exchanged our Port Elsewhere week in the Ozarks for Petoskey Michigan and bought a house while on vacation. It worked until we realized moving from Honolulu to northern Michigan wasn’t all that smart, but the place is really pretty in August. Tired of white out roads, we exchanged Port Elsewhere for Cave City, Kentucky at Diamond Caverns (no relation) at Mammoth Cave. Again we bought a house.

This prompts our kids to pause when we tell them we are going on vacation and ask, “Are you coming back?” We’ve become known as the Prodigal Parents.

We look forward to continue our battle fighting for timeshare reform; a better secondary market, less deceptive and less aggressive sales practices, but for now we wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.

A Christmas Present Complement to Disney from Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn

He’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

The End

children

 

Both Myself and Irene wish all our readers in Europe, The United States and beyond and very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.