Inside Timeshare has received information about another Cold Calling company Sim Legal Services, this in itself is not a problem provided that Data Protection laws are adhered to, the problem is the nature of the calls.
The company is owned by Jeroen Martijn Brussel, there does not seem to be a website attached and any searches bring up warnings to Dutch speaking owners on two different websites:
Unfortunately so far we have not had a chance to have these translated, but there do seem to be some very serious concerns about Sim Legal Services, with the mention of several other companies they appear to be linked with. JB Legal and Timeshare Reclaim Consulting.
As for JB Legal, again a search of the internet finds no website, although there are several companies with a similar name including a genuine law firm in the United States. This makes it very difficult for any potential client to do the necessary due diligence checks.
Timeshare Reclaim Consulting do have a website and are known to Inside Timeshare, although we have never had any concern or reason to mention them in any article.
The problem is with Sim Legal and what they are telling potential clients, one of our readers spoke with them and was very disturbed by what they were told. In the phone call they tell clients that they used to work for CLA, (Inside Timeshare has no knowledge of this), but since CLA are not doing what they promise, they are now working with a better company called TRC, all to give themselves a semblance of credibility.
The question is, are the management of TRC aware of the tactics of Sim Legal Services, the fact that they are making accusations against a competitor who is in the same vicinity and happens to be the leading law firm in timeshare litigation, in order to talk clients into signing up with them and then passing them to TRC?
If not, they will be now, as far as we are concerned, for any caller to make assertions about another company in order to “sign up” a client is to say the least a sign that they themselves cannot be trusted.
Also are they aware of how much Sim Legal are charging clients before sending passing them to TRC, according to the two Dutch websites Sim Legal are charging extortionate amounts.
All we can say is TRC need to be aware that firms such as Sim Legal Services will not do their business any favours, it will in the end come back to haunt them, they will be tarred with the same brush.
In another strange enquiry, we have been asked what is mindtimeshare doing now?
It appears that they have moved on from being a consumer association to something else. Our enquirer has told us that mindtimeshare is actively emailing those who have contacted them and recommending a firm for taking out litigation against clients timeshare companies. Apparently it appears that this company is TRC, mentioned above.
Just to recap, at one time, mindtimeshare was funded by the industry, the Resorts Development Organisation, this was under the tenure of the now discredited Alberto Garcia. Under his direction, mindtimeshare attacked any company which threatened the industry. He eventually got his comeuppance, and the RDO withdrew funding.
Since then Mindtimeshare has had to find its own way and began to change how it wrote their blogs, to be honest, they became more factual and evidence based, giving a more balance view. But obviously funds must have been a problem.
There is no problem with making a recommendation, but if what our reader has told us is true, making a deal to use your own client database to secure clients for one firm, does not appear to be conducive to the ideals of an independent consumer association. This subject was also a question that we posed in the article below.
Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Wayne Robinson explains why it is often very difficult to cancel after purchasing a timeshare, but first a quick look at Europe.
Earlier this week it came to our attention that one of the largest tour operators TUI had been advertising weeks at Anfi Emerald for 1000€ p.p.p week, this was for a 1 bed deluxe apartment and included flights, transfers and breakfast. Now when we consider that members have paid thousands for their floating weeks along with the annual maintenance fees, yet we constantly hear from them that there is no availability, it makes you wonder what is going on?
This is not just a problem with Anfi, we have heard from many timeshare members that they are constantly having trouble booking, yet they see their own resorts being advertised on the various booking websites. Is it fair that these people pay thousands for what they are told is exclusive to members and find they can in many cases book cheaper than their maintenance fees, without having to pay the initial purchase extortionate price.
It revolves around the liquidation of Enduria Travel, also known as the Travel Shop and was based in Gran Canaria, they were also affiliate members of the RDO. In their article, mindtimeshare explained that they actually expressed concerns to the RDO about this company, but the RDO still accepted their membership. All we can say is how things have changed.
Today is what everyone is calling Black Friday, but at the start of the week it was for Anfi BLACK MONDAY!
Canarian Legal Alliance received on that day alone 12, yes 12 sentences against Anfi in favour of their clients, with over 900,000€ awarded, plus all contracts were declared null and void. They also received another sentence from the High Court in Tenerife against Silverpoint. In all this year CLA have secured over 11 million euros in awarded claims.
Now for this weeks article.
5 Strategies Timeshare Resorts Use To Prevent Cancellations
By Wayne Robinson
Black Friday November 23, 2018
Today is Black Friday in America, celebrated by standing in long lines at shopping malls to be followed by Cyber Monday, when stay at home shoppers shop the internet. I hope you will add my book Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After the Sale onto your Cyber Monday shopping list.
Many timeshare buyers do not even think about the contract they signed until after the rescission period has passed. Given that buyers are often not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period, the product the consumer bought is for the most part bought sight unseen and untried. Anything we can do shed light on these important rescission days could save the timeshare buyer untold grief and money, should they come to regret their purchase.
The Rescission Period
The rescission period is the time allotted by local governments for consumers to review their purchase and legally cancel their timeshare. The length of time varies by state, but is typically three to ten days. In Aruba, and in some American states, there is no rescission period.
If the timeshare buyer cancels their purchase during the rescission period, the government requires timeshare companies to give purchasers a full refund of any monies they have received. There is nothing more frustrating for a sales team than to spend 6-8 hours making a sale that later cancels. Sales agents and their managers will do everything they can to prevent new owners from cancelling their timeshare purchase during the rescission period.
Here are 5 strategies that many timeshare resorts use to prevent new timeshare owners from cancelling during the rescission period.
Sales agents will avoid the rescission clause that is included in the documents.
Although the rescission clause is clearly written in the documents, many timeshare agents or Legal Verification Officers (VLO) will avoid mentioning this very important item. Many reps will discuss other matters to avoid the clause that outlines the rescission.
The resort’s management will not allow sales reps to mention the rescission period during the sale presentation. Mentioning it could lead to disciplinary action or being fired.
This is how many timeshare sales reps avoid having their sales cancelled.
Most timeshare buyers will not review the paperwork during the rescission period. After a 6-8 hour grueling sales presentation, the last thing the new owner wants to do is review all the legal jargon included in the documents. If the rescission period is not mentioned by the staff, too often the buyer is not even aware of it. In some states trial products have no rescission period.
Each state rescission period is listed in this chart provided by ARDA, the American Resort Development Association. There have been more than a few complaints from timeshare members who were denied release, despite being only a half day late. Instructions on how to rescind are buried deep within the contract, and sometimes instructions are vague.
It is important for the timeshare sales staff to keep in touch with their new clients shortly after the sale to prevent them from cancelling. Most clients will have buyer’s remorse and reconsider their purchase after the buyer has taken the time to think about their purchase, research the company that they just spent $21,000 on (on average), to ensure that they did the right thing. For this reason, sales reps need to be available just in case the client wants to cancel. After all, it might have been a very expensive and unexpected purchase that was sold on emotion
According to aRedweek article, Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at theUniversity of Florida has been studying the impact of buyer regret and remorse and rescission decisions. She says that most timeshare buyers regret their decisions.
“A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).”
Dr. Gregory’s findings are as follows:
The average rescission rate is 15% – essentially identical to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.
41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision.
95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days, seeking more information about maintenance fees, resale options, and pricing alternatives.
Some sales reps will treat their new owners out for a nice dinner to help “bond the relationship.” This tactic works well as the new owners are getting to know the sales agent on a personal basis rather than as a sales person. After all, the salesperson used their own money and time to take the new owners out for dinner. Why would they consider canceling with “their new friend?”
They will follow-up by phone.
If the new timeshare owners are on vacation some resorts will require the sale staff that made the sale to meet with the new clients the next day, or call them within 24 hours. This is to overcome buyer’s remorse, and to answer any questions or provide clarifications. Often, the new owners forget the verbiage made during the presentation.
The resort may reduce the sales price.
If the new timeshare owners decide that they want to cancel, the resort can offer to reduce the price. Often this “second round” rendezvous could require another 2-3 hours of negotiations. Many take the bait and purchase at the lower price, or some keep the original agreement. Unfortunately, the timeshare company may not change the original rescission period, and the new owners now have less time to reconsider their purchase.
Consumers need to be aware that the “today only” price will always be available the next day, week, month or maybe even years later.
The resort may offer more gifts.
If the resort offered gifts, there are hundreds or thousands of additional monies that was left on the table because the sale did not exceed their “bottom line” price.
If the new owners want to cancel, the management can offer more gifts to “sweeten the deal.” These free gifts might include free accommodations, free meals, free activities, free or discounted RCI weeks or other options.
New owners must be aware of the new terms that might have entered the contract. These terms could include paying rack rates for the free accommodations or paying the highest advertised prices for any gifts just in case they decide to cancel the deal. This action could add into the thousands of dollars if they decide to cancel.
Timeshare resorts will use every strategy that they can, including embarrassment and condescendence to keep the sale, but it’s the consumer’s final decision to end the relationship or move forward. Therefore, it is imperative to read all the documents thoroughly before signing, or present it to an attorney during the rescission period.
Wayne C. Robinson is the author of Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After The Sale. He is a former timeshare executive who is advocating with consumers to assist them their timeshares problems, and to help consumers better understand the timeshare business from an “insider’s” perspective.
Welcome to Start the Week, today we have a look at some of the items found while having a look at some of the forums, groups and blog sites on the internet about timeshare.
First we look at a discussion on the Diamond Resorts Advocacy page of Facebook, one of the members started a thread regarding an owner update meeting at their resort. During this meeting the sales agent was discussing transferring their deed week into points, part of the pitch was that there were no maintenance fee associated with points.
Well you can imagine the comments that abounded following that post.
So, if there are no maintenance fees attached, that has to be good, yes?
No, after the owners pushed and pushed the sales agent, they admitted there were fees associated but this wasn’t maintenance, so what is it?
As you can guess, just a change of name, it might be management fees, club dues or some other concoction of words, but in the end they are what they are, extortionately high fees!
To us in Europe especially the UK it is what we call PC or political correctness, I prefer to call it Newspeak from George Orwell’s 1984, change how you say it to confuse the masses. Some good examples are the cook, you are not a cook you are a nutrition technician, a garbage collector or what in England we call a binman or dustman, they are waste disposal engineers. It makes no difference what they change the name to it is the same thing.
We also received from a reader a post in the Anfi del Mar Contracts FB page, it was an advert for a timeshare for resale, it was far far less than what they probably paid for it. This is a subject we have published in the past, (see link below).
Many of those advertised are either for the derisory sum of £1 or even less, we have even seen them for £0.01, this particular one even showed the annual maintenance fee of £687!
There are many others such as Marriott, which are not cheap when originally purchased being advertised for over £2,000, this is the value the owners believe it is worth, having paid around £15,000 upwards for in the first place.
We all know that many owners believed the original sales pitch, it was property, it is an investment, it will go up in value. The only thing that is likely to go up is maintenance fees!
There is also another problem associated with resale, the “scam” companies that have been set up, taking upfront fees to list the timeshare for sale, knowing full well that it will never sell. As Lisa Ann Schreier asked in her “Open Letter to Timeshare Developers” published on Inside Timeshare, Why do you not buy back?
Another valid question to our readers is: What do you think your timeshare is worth, considering what you paid for it? We would love to hear from you.
Last Friday, Mindtimeshare published another warning of a cold calling company called Resort Management Direct or RMD, this is actually an old company offering bargain priced holidays at various resorts. The whole point is what is known as “flybuy”. Part of the deal is that you attend a presentation for a timeshare.
The Warning put out about this one though is very disturbing, the call from a lady called Angelina, states that she is calling from “Resort Management at Club la Costa”. So once again we have a company calling timeshare owners purporting to be from their resort.
So there we have it, from timeshare sales agents trying to bamboozle owners at update meetings to Owners believing they actually have a timeshare that is worth something, finishing with a “flybuy” company clearly stating they are from a legitimate timeshare resort. You really do have to be careful and not believe the first thing you are told.
Have you had an experience of sales agents giving you the runaround, have you tried to sell your timeshare and ended up losing money, or even had a call similar to those of RMD, if so Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today’s article is all about heirs inheriting your timeshare, with the introduction by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker, with contributions from Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty and Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. This article will not only be of interest to our American readers but also to our European contingent.
But first Europe, news came in late yesterday of another High Court ruling from Tenerife against Silverpoint. Following a ruling against them at The Court of First Instance, Silverpoint appealed to the High Court. This court reaffirmed the previous courts verdict, consequently the original verdict has been upheld. The clients contract has been declared null and void due to lack of tangibility (a previous judge described it as “a bag full of smoke”), the client has been awarded over 24,000€ plus legal interest.
Again this is a case brought on behalf the client by Canarian Legal Alliance, these lawyers are just going from strength to strength.
It is another “FAKE” compensation claim against Diamond, Grand Vacation Club and Sunterra, the Procurator fee was to be paid to one Ramon Juanca Comez in Tenerife who is also a “fake”. They also confirmed that a successful claim had been awarded amounting to 18,348€ plus 703€, obviously a “tax” of 20% would need to be paid before the court would release the money. Below are the bank details for the client to pay the procurator:
Are Timeshare Developers the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?
The Heir Scare – The Same Scare Provided by a Timeshare Sales Agent and a Timeshare Exit Company Sales Agent!
A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give
By Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty
Following Phyllis and Marcy’s report
Introduction by Irene Parker
October 26, 2018
If Tom Tubbs Island Consulting Realty’s second warning wasn’t so sad it would be amusing. The most common complaint Timeshare Advocacy Group™receives is:
“The sales agent said we had to give up our deeded week and buy points.”
The member, especially if a senior, is browbeat, told they have to give up their timeshare deed or they will be the last man standing, left holding the maintenance fee bag. Often the mostly bogus reason provided is that your heirs will be responsible for a deeded timeshare but not for non-deeded timeshare points.
The deed is usually paid in full, so by buy buying points via a loan, or charged to a credit card, the sales agent has created a liability when none existed. I’m not an estate planning lawyer, but I found this RedWeek post from a practicing estates lawyer:
To all those inquiring about your heirs being saddled with this albatross: I have been a practicing estates lawyer in NY for nearly 50 years. The information given to you by Laura (I believe her name was) was basically correct: your beneficiary cannot be “forced” to inherit (and therefore have to pay for maintenance etc.) for the timeshare. The legal route is to execute a disclaimer within 9 months after death, and make sure that you do NOT accept the timeshare by using it or otherwise indicating acceptance (e.g., trying to sell it as if you own it). However, each state has its own laws as to how one disclaims. ……Note though: the (resort) can then also disclaim it, so there are some further fine points legal steps that must be implemented in your Will or trust to deal with that possibility. But most definitely your heirs are NOT bound to accept the timeshare and make the payments if a proper disclaimer strategy is included in your estate planning documents.
stevenw on May 02, 2017 06:01 PM.
This is a complaint I read perpetrated by a timeshare sales agent falsely telling a deeded owner that she had to give up her deed or her heirs would suffer. Inside Timeshare previously published this account by Phyllis, age 67. She ended up representing herself in court and negotiated a lesser amount with the credit card company arbitrator. Following this scare offered by a timeshare sales agent, is the identical scare offered by a timeshare exit company sales agent.
What a timeshare sales agent told Phyllis (Unedited)
I feel I am a victim of fraud. I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I own. I was told it would last only 55 minutes. 4 highly pressured sales people took turns on me and held me for 7 hours, bouncing me into 3 different rooms. I told them I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare over and over again. They said I have to buy into the new and I own my timeshare for ever, and that I could never get out of it. They said my Monarch timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with them or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. I was tired and hungry. I was tired. In order to get out of there I signed under dearest. I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018 to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. I received a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.
A pitch from U.S. Consumer Attorneys that Marcy submitted to Inside Timeshare which we previously published. Marcy called me the same day Phyllis did; both said they were having a panic attack over the result of their timeshare debacle. The timeshare exit company US Consumer Attorneys threatened Marcy as follows:
Louis S called me and said he was with US Consumer Attorneys Group and that he was calling about my timeshare. He was aware that I was a Diamond owner and that I owned at Ka’anapali Resort. He sent me a copy of their contract and said I needed to pay him $2900 to get out of the contract. He said he is an attorney with US Consumer Attorneys Group. He said Diamond was going to take my house and my children would be responsible for paying all Diamond debts and that they would even attach my wages. He said Diamond would also take my Social Security payments and my retirement.
I have not paid my Diamond maintenance fees for about three years. I wanted to deed it back to Diamond but they would not take it back when I was not behind on maintenance fees. I tried to sell it but no one wanted it.
Given the fact that many exit scam artists are former timeshare sales agents, it’s no surprise they will take the deception with them when they leave their timeshare sales job and make the move to an exit scam. Not all exit companies are scams, but this Federal Trade Commission link listing scams cannot be posted to often:
Thank you once again Tom Tubbs for this important year end warning.
From Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty:
A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give
Hi Folks. So last week we warned you about “Exit” companies and this week we’re giving you a little bit of a different take on them. Why? We don’t want to beat a dead horse but it’s important that you do not fall victim to this. This time of year is when these companies get more aggressive in that they know your maintenance fee will be due soon and it’s a prime opportunity for them to pick your pocket. But first….Just what is an “Exit” company?
Well, these are the folks who “create” a problem that does not exist. This is a very common sales tactic with just about anything out there for sale or service. With timeshares, these companies create the VERY false impression that your timeshare is actually a burden instead of an asset. They give you the VERY false impression that you can’t sell it (although that’s what we’ve been doing for folks for the past 33 years….) and that when you die your kids will then be strapped with it (also false). Then they have a solution! (Of course!). Give them $3500 plus the deed to your timeshare and they’ll get you out of it. What great guys!
So in a nutshell what you have here is a company creating a problem for you that minutes earlier you did not know you had, and then solving that problem for you by you giving away your timeshare and your money! Problem is, for many of these companies it’s all one big fat lie; as the following story will tell….
Orlando woman says timeshare exit plan was all a lie
American Consumer LLC charged thousands then filed
Chapter 11 bankruptcy
ORLANDO, Fla. – Lisa Eller, a timeshare resort customer for 18 years, is convinced American Consumer LLC never intended to negotiate an exit from her resort contract despite promises from then Chief Operations Officer Cory “Hubb” Hubbell, that he could get it done.
“He’s a smooth salesman; he seemed like he knew what he was doing,” Eller said. “He said, ‘It takes us about 12 months to work the program.'”
Eller and her husband agreed to pay $2,350 for the program but just this week discovered no one from the company, aka A Consumer LLC, ever contacted her resort.
“They present themselves as people who have contacts at these resorts,” Eller said. “Our contract was paid in full; we were just paying maintenance.”
The last time Hubbell spoke to Eller was in March, according to Hubbell’s Facebook account, he left the company in May. Eller’s attorney, Jennifer Beaman Clark, told News 6 that when she advised the resort representative that her clients had been trying to resolve this for a year she was told, “It was the first time they had been contacted about the account.”
According to records obtained by News 6, American filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 9. The registered agent, Brevard County Attorney Michael Sarocco, said he would try to help consumers who wanted to get their money back but that he had no official ties to the company. In an email to News 6, Sarocco wrote, “I no longer represent the company and do not have authorization to make any statements on their behalf.”
A review of state records shows Saracco was the registered agent for American Consumer Credit LLC along with another 12 companies all linked to the same manager: Dana Micallef. Micallef started the company in 2011 and, according to state records, lives in Daytona Beach. Still, it appears he has been calling customers from a New York area code.
Rebekah Nelson hired the company last September and agreed to pay $2,800 to get a release from a timeshare in Vista, California. Nelson told News 6 a man she believes to be Micallef, asked her to wire $700 to continue the contract. “They block the consumer from talking to the timeshare so you don’t know (American) is not doing their job,” she said.
Nelson is convinced there are dozens of victims who fell for the same scheme.
News 6 found a website that explained how the company claimed to complete the exit:
“When you enter into the contract termination process with Aconsumercredit™, we start to permanently remove your timeshare contract burden. No more fees. No more payments.” Nelson said she was told to stop paying her timeshare fees and that is when her credit was ruined.
If you believe you are a victim of this company, contact Mike Holfeld at [email protected]
Thank you to Irene, Tom and Mike for your contribution this weeks, we are sure this will be of great interest to all timeshare owners on both side of the “Great Lake”.
If you have any questions or comments on any article published, please use our contact page and get in touch, we welcome your input. If you need to find out about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet then get in touch and we will help you find out if they are genuine and trustworthy.
Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, we hope that you all have a great one and just relax, join us again next week for more on the murky world that is timeshare.
As if things couldn’t get any stranger, the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife Litigacion Abogados which is one incarnation of the “FAKE” lawyers we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados family has now surpassed themselves with the lengths they will go to dupe timeshare owners.
The blog sight Mindtimeshare is now the victim, timeshare owners are now receiving calls from one Joyce Adams, who claims she is calling from a “law firm” called Mindtimeshare, from the following number:
As well as the Mindtimeshare name they are also using their logo, if you look at it carefully is not the same typeface as the original.
The story is the same as always, the consumers timeshare company is being taken to court and you can be part of the case. All you need to do to “benefit” from this is to pay the Procurators fee into an Escrow Account with the court in Tenerife.
One snag here, the account is in the name of the “Fake” Procurator Alexander Bowross. If you were paying money into a court I very much doubt that it would be into the account of a named individual!
For those of you who are aware of mindtimeshare you will know they are not a law firm, but a consumer advice blog site which also issues warnings of rogue and bogus operations, just like Inside Timeshare. Over the past year or so, Inside Timeshare has been sharing information on this “fake” lawyers in all their incarnations, we shall continue to do so which is why we are publishing this article today.
Inside Timeshare will continue to publish articles on these “FAKE, BOGUS and DUBIOUS” companies to warn you the reader and help you to save your hard earned cash.
If you have been contacted by any company or found one on the internet and want to find out if they are who they say they are, contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you to find out if they and what they say is genuine.
Remember the golden rule
CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK AGAIN, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Tomorrow in Friday’s Letter from America the article is entitled
Are Timeshare Developers the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?
The Heir Scare – The Same Scare Provided by a Timeshare Sales Agent and a Timeshare Exit Company Sales Agent!
Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we have another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, involving another serving member of the armed forces, USAF First Sergeant John Kim, on his experience with Bluegreen. John is not the first serving member or veteran of the armed force or law enforcement that have been in contact with Inside Timeshare, all their stories are the same, with some likely to lose their security clearance and therefore their jobs. This “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” must end, not just for these people but also the elderly we have highlighted, but all consumers. The industry needs to get their act together and reign in the lies and untruths of their sales agents.
At the end of today’s article is a report and a link to the breaking news that Bluegreen have had their stock downgraded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Apparently this is due to underperforming in the sales sector, well, what do they expect, the truth is getting out, new purchasers have heard the horror stories and are voting with their wallets. Yes folks, the timeshare industry really does need a severe shakeup or it will collapse!
The website shows very little information regarding timeshare, the about section is to say the least, looking a little far fetched. It was registered only in September 2017, yet some of the testimonials go back to February 2017?
According to the callers named as Lisa Reid and Emma Newton, a court case has already taken place against a bogus company the timeshare owner has had business with in the past (scammed). The court has awarded them a huge amount in compensation, even though the owner did not even know they had a case in court. As usual, to release this money a huge percentage needs to be paid by bank transfer to APS Bank in the name of Universal Consulting.
This is obviously another “scam”, there is no company with this name registered at company house, there are no court cases where consumers haven’t instigated the proceedings and the courts do not operate in the way this company suggests. So beware these type of calls, if in doubt contact Inside Timeshare for further information on any company that makes contact with such claims.
Why Military Lending Oversight should not be Weakened and why Timeshare Lending Practices can Pose a National Security Risk
Air Force First Sergeant John Kim’s Bluegreen Experience
August 21, 2018
The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, according to internal agency documents.
If an active duty member of the military falls for a deceptive timeshare sales presentation, the after effects can include the loss of his or her security clearance. This is due to a foreclosure being reported on their credit report. Sometimes this can also lead to the loss of a career. One Marine lost his security clearance and his air unit command due to a timeshare foreclosure. It is not uncommon for a timeshare foreclosure to involve amounts of $100,000 or more.
Air Force First Sergeant John Kim made this YouTube hoping to warn others not to fall victim to high pressure same day timeshare sales and to encourage readers to become involved with others who face foreclosure.
Travel, vacation and timeshare fraud reported losing the highest individual loss amount and the report also stated the median fraud loss reported by members of the military were more than 44 percent higher than the general population, a median loss of $619 compared to $429 for the general population.
Unfair and deceptive trade practices are defined by Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Predatory and deceptive timeshare sales practices include:
High-pressure and aggressive sales,
Unaffordable loans, after being told it would be easy to refinance,
Unauthorized opening of credit card accounts,
Unauthorized credit card charges,
A perpetual contract,
Little or no secondary market
If a timeshare is sold properly, it is of great benefit to a family, but if the timeshare is grossly oversold in terms of being an investment, or being easy to sell, the decision to buy can spell financial disaster. Accompanied by annual maintenance fees and the lack of a secondary market, the buyer can find himself stuck with a timeshare they don’t want or can’t afford, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life. No one can guarantee a release from a timeshare contract. The foreclosure process is demoralizing and stressful. Scams abound, so do not pay anyone upfront money to get out of a timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below.
Air Force First Sergeant John Kim and his wife Glory, of South Carolina describe their battle with Bluegreen Vacations. John has joined TAG as a volunteer to advocate on behalf of other active duty service members, and to help guide disgruntled buyers through the regulatory filing process.
“My wife Glory and I realized our mistake when we filed our 2017 taxes. We purchased about $60,000 worth of Bluegreen vacation points financed at 16.99%. The first purchase was in April 2017 at The Fountains in Orlando, and the second purchase June, 2017. We had been told the June meeting would be an orientation meeting, but it was just an attempt to sell us more points. We were told at both meetings we could go to our bank and refinance as you would any mortgage. We have learned banks don’t finance timeshares,” explained John. In addition, John reports being told,
Bluegreen points are an investment, like a mortgage. It was emphasized that we were purchasing deeded property (which it is not), so an investment. We have learned Bluegreen vacation points are a right-to-use product, like joining a fitness club. Managers assured us we were making a sound “financial investment” and in years to come, we would be able to sell our portion of Bluegreen for a profit because we would have a deed to Bluegreen Vacations properties.
We could deduct the interest from the loan on our taxes, as you could with any mortgage. This was not true.
Bluegreen previously reported nonpayment of timeshare loans as foreclosures, but no longer does so. Bluegreen and credit reporting agencies Equifax and Experian entered into a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by the Finn Law Group on behalf of Bluegreen owners that resulted in 11,000 former Bluegreen members’ negative accounts being deleted from their credit reports. Bluegreen, Equifax, and Experian also agreed not to report foreclosures in the future for Bluegreen members. Some timeshare companies do report a loan default as a foreclosure.
“We bought in Florida. I understand the Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, will in all likelihood, echo Bluegreen’s defense with, ‘You need proof and verbal representations are hard to prove.’ With no real regulation, we want our voice heard. Don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. I filed complaints with the Attorney General for the States of South Carolina and Florida, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, the Fraud Officer of Orlando Florida Police Department, Department of Defense investigative services for the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard and the AARP Fraud Watch Organization. Nothing happened. Our message – buyer beware.”
If you, or anyone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or a self-help group.
We seek to provide timeshare 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.
Bluegreen Vacations Corp (NYSE: BXG) reported second-quarter earnings Aug. 2 that fell short of analyst expectations. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Shaun Kelley downgraded Bluegreen Vacations from Buy to Underperform and decreased the price target from $26 to $19.
Total Q2 revenue of $195 million was beneath Kelley’s forecast of $208 million. Bluegreen reported 8-percent lower tours, while vacation ownership interest sales were up only 3.4 percent year-over-year when the analyst was expecting a 10.4-percent increase.
Once again a very hard hitting story, it is obvious to everyone, except that is the timeshare industry, that change is needed, no longer should sales agents get rich by telling lies to gain a sale. The companies that employ them should be held accountable, it is no longer acceptable for companies to use the phrase “WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OUR SALES AGENTS SAY”, they are responsible, they are the employers, it is their product that these agents are selling!
If you have any comments or questions regarding this article or any other published, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes your input.
Been contacted by a resale, cancelation or claims company, found one on the internet and you are not sure if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker looks at what Canada is doing to protect consumers of timeshare, are the events in Spain shaping the Canadian legislators views?
If so this can only be good thing for consumers, change is necessary, Spain leads the way in this field and the more countries that use their model the better off consumers will be. The industry needs to change, if they will not do voluntarily, then it is up to the legislators to make them change.
While doing our usual browsing of the many timeshare related websites and blogs this morning, we came across this rather interesting piece in Mindtimeshare, regarding a new cold calling company and timeshare claims.
Reclaims Yard, with a caller going by the name of Bob Cosgrove, who calls those who were taken in by bogus holiday clubs and resale companies. According to Cosgrove there is money set aside and waiting for them in respect of what they paid out. That even if the consumer doesn’t have any paperwork, that is not a problem.
According to Cosgrove, they do not expect any money from the consumer (no doubt that will come later to cover “TAXES”), but the consumer will be paid out by cheque, being paid out directly from some fund or other.
The telephone number they use is 0115 8242 356 which is a Nottingham code, they also use the email address [email protected]which as we already know is just another of those free email providers and is not linked to any website.
This company has nothing to do with timeshare, they are in fact specialist in reclaiming, restoring a selling “interesting and unusual” pieces of the past, reclaiming building materials and architectural salvage.
They have also published on their website a warning regarding the fraudulent use of their name regarding the timeshare claims:
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SPANISH PROPERTIES, TIMESHARING OR ANY OTHER TYPES OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS OR RECLAIMING FUNDS.
THIS IS A SCAM!
OUR ADVICE IS TO NOTIFY THE POLICE IF YOU RECEIVE ANY COMMUNICATIONS REGARDING THIS.
WE ONLY TRADE IN RECLAIMED (PREVIOUSLY USED) BUILDING MATERIALS AND NOTHING ELSE.
PLEASE SEE OUR NEWS PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…….
Once again, we see a fraudulent operation using the name of a genuine company to give themselves credilbility when the consumer does a quick internet check. We cannot emphasise that when making these checks it is not just to see if they are registered but to actually look at the company name that is being used.
Now for today’s article
Quebec Canada Bill 178: An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection
187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.
Once again the nature of the perpetual timeshare contract comes under the legislative microscope, this time in Quebec. Perpetual contracts are not harmful in the case of your home or car, but with little to no secondary market for unwanted timeshares, the consequences of signing a perpetual timeshare contract has financially devastated many of the 515 families that have contacted Inside Timeshare seeking release. Many members have been scammed by timeshare exit companies and listing agents promising, but not delivering results.
Among other provisions, Quebec Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract as a service contract. This could have lasting consequences for Canadian timeshare buyers who have felt trapped by the perpetual timeshare product. Many timeshare members are saddled with high interest rate loans and some with higher interest rate credit cards issued by timeshare companies. Under Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions. The profound implication boils down to the ability to cancel the timeshare contract if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership. According to those familiar with the legislation, not getting benefits could be due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons. This is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to this 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property. On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada. Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now rebranded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club. The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations. The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time. All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada. http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/
Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts. Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks and points, have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court. To date, Spain has ruled in favor of the consumer in a whopping 129 Supreme Court victories. Marriott Vacation Club (VAC U.S.: NYSE stock symbol) filed an 8-K Other Events, as reported by Market Exclusive July 19, 2018. One of the events was mention of Spain’s Supreme Court rulings invalidating timeshare contracts. A series of Spanish court rulings over the past several years invalidating timeshare contracts have increased our exposure to litigation and such litigation may materially adversely affect our business and financial condition. https://marketexclusive.com/marriott-vacations-worldwide-corporation-nysevac-files-an-8-k-other-events-4/2018/07/
Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly
Passed 6 June 2018 Excerpts from the bill: Bill 178 defines a timeshare contract is a service contract and not a purchase agreement involving a property transfer.
Bill 178 (2018, Chapter 14) An Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning consumer protection The Act proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act to introduce a protection regime governing contracts relating to timeshare accommodation rights.
The Act introduces rules specific to the making of that type of contract and sets out the compulsory information such a contract must include. It grants consumers the right to resolve the contract without charge or penalty within 10 days of signing it and specifies the circumstances in which that right is extended to one year.
The Act imposes on merchants who enter into a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights the obligation to establish a payment schedule for each year covered by the contract…..Furthermore, the Act introduces a disclosure obligation related to promotion made by merchants engaged in the business of such contract, prohibits certain stipulations and provides that such contracts may not be automatically renewed. Division V.3
Contract Relating to Timeshare accommodation rights 187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract 187.14 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights must be evidenced in writing. In addition to the information that may be required by regulation, it must contain or state the following, presented in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation:
(h) the term and expiry date of the contract;
(j) the fees to obtain an accommodation right, their amount on an annual basis if they are calculated on a basis other than annual, and the total of such amounts for the entire term of the contract.
(t) a statement that the merchant may not collect payment from the consumer before beginning to perform his obligation;
(u) the right granted to the consumer to resolve the contract at his sole discretion within 10 days after that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract; and
(v) the other circumstances in which the consumer may resolve or resiliate the contract, any applicable conditions and the time within which the merchant must refund the consumer. 187.15 Any stipulation that results in the automatic renewal of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is prohibited. 187.16 The merchant may not make the entering into or the performance of a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights dependent upon the entering into of a credit contract. 187.21 The contract may be resolved at the discretion of the consumer within 10 days following that on which each of the parties is in possession of a duplicate of the contract. That period is, however, extended to one year from the date on which the contract is made in either of the following cases:
the contract is inconsistent with any of the rules set out in section 25 to 28 for the making of contracts, or one of the particulars required under section 187.14 does not appear in the contract; or
a Statement of consumer resolution and resiliation rights and a resolution and resiliation form that are in conformity with the model prescribed by regulation were not attached to the contract at the time the contract was made.
187.24 Any contract entered into by a consumer, even with a third-party merchant, on the making of or in relation to a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights and that results from an offer, representation, or other action by the merchant who is party to the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights forms a whole with the latter contract and is resolved or resiliated by operation of law at the time the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is resolved or resiliated. In addition, the consumer may, with respect to a contract entered into with a third-party merchant and contemplated in the first paragraph, exercise directly against the merchant a recourse based on the non-performance of the contract or on the provision of this Act. 187.25 Within 15 days after resolution or resiliation, for the reason set out in section 187.26, of the contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, the merchant must refund all sums paid by the consumer under the contract and under any other contract contemplated in section 187.24, including sums paid to a third-party merchant. 229.1 No person may, when making or promoting a contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights, make representations implying that the contract is an investment, unless the person gives the consumer a document showing the truthfulness of the representations. A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.
What’s next on the timeshare horizon? The key word in 229.1 is “may” because in the U.S., the language in one state regulator’s ruling states “should” not make representations implying that the contract is an investment. What a difference one word can make. Thank you Irene for this very interesting piece of news, we do hope that others will follow in the footsteps of Spain and now Canada to put into place laws and regulations to protect consumers from the excesses of the timeshare industry. We can only wait wait and see.
From our warning of another fraudulent timeshare reclaims caller, this does really hit home that you must always do thorough company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet. Doing your homework is vital to protect yourself from scammers and fraudsters.
If you need help in checking if a company is indeed genuine, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare will help you find the truth and point you in the right direction.
Remember DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND KEEP YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY SAFE!
It’s Monday and the start of another week, today we highlight some more new names that have been cropping up over the weekend, we start first with Davies and Howell Associates a new cold calling claims company.
The director is registered as David Alan Taylor, with the correspondence address as above, according to company records this is his first appointment. Chances are he is not the owner but just a front name.
According to their website they have a wealth of experience and knowledge spanning over 40 years in the holiday ownership and financial services markets. They claim they are able to extricate you from your timeshare contract and claim compensation. Reading between the lines with their mention of finance agreements and credit cards, this claim looks very much like a Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974.
As we have said before, if you have used your timeshare then a refund under Section 75 is unlikely, the timeshare company will rightly say that you have used it therefore you have received the goods or services paid for. If your timeshare company has gone into liquidation, then you may have a chance. Section 75 is unlikely to cover breaches of the Spanish Timeshare Laws, for this you would need to employ the services of a Spanish lawyer with extensive knowledge and experience of the timeshare laws in Spain. Also you must still be a member, once a contract has been cancelled you cannot take any case to court.
The website itself is very basic, having only one page and very little information, it looks like the classic information collection site. These are designed to collect as much information about you and your timeshare as possible, the chances are this is then used to pass on to other companies. So the moral of this story is beware.
We now move on to another new company that was found during our usual search on the internet, this company was highlighted by Mindtimeshare on 6 June. This is called Ashton Group, with the following address and telephone number:
We did a search on the name of the company Ashton Group but found nothing relating to timeshare, there are however plenty of other companies with very similar names, including one in the USA which is a financial services company.
So there we have it what looks like another resale scam on the way, remember not all is as it seems, do your homework, check, check and check again, then double check. If you are unsure on any company that contacts you, or even one that you have found while searching for a way out of your timeshare, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, the last one for January, hard to believe that the first month of the year is almost over.
We started the week with a report about disgruntled members being unable to book weeks they want, even 10 months in advance, despite just having paid the maintenance / management fees for 2018!
In this case the culprit is Anfi, but we have also heard from other “points and floating week” members that they also have trouble booking, Diamond owners from both side of the Great Lake are having the same problem. Well we all know what the reason is, more members than weeks available.
Sticking with Diamond for a moment, they are in the process of sending a letter out to their members, (just like Anfi has) regarding making claims against them for illegal contracts. In their letter however they point to a website to get information on companies that their members have had contact with. This is timeshare business check, an arm of Kiwkchex alon with Timeshare Taskforce and financed by the RDO and the industry in place of mindtimeshare and the enforcement program.
This company is directed by Chris Emmins, who is what can only be described as a serial failed director. (See the link below). This company purports to be a leading investigation and verification service which provides “accurate” information about online businesses. They contact businesses and ask questions, these businesses have no legal obligation to respond, as Kwikchex and timeshare business check have no legal mandate to demand any answers.
Obviously if a business fails to respond an inference is then made on the website which is negative, especially if the business in not a member of the RDO! We leave it for you to decide how accurate they are.
This then brings us on to Thursday’s article, regarding “Trade Bodies”, although it started with a little bit of a “mickey take”, it was however a very serious article with information timeshare consumers need to know. Timeshare is built on deceit, just think of what you were told when on the presentation, being bamboozled for several hours with promises which in the end never materialised. So is it any wonder the industry is still trying to pull the wool over your eyes?
No one is disputing there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. It’s true those that do are not the timeshare members that contact us. However, the number of timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received is alarming and the nature of most allegations criminal. Of the 32 complaints received as of January 25, six would be eligible to be a Nightmare on Timeshare Street article.
On a positive note, those working in law enforcement, especially those who have timeshare complaints, have been helpful. One member of the military was able to record their fraudulent sales presentation. This past Tuesday’s article described nine Timeshare Advocacy Group™ teams and those teams have been hard at work.
One of the teams is working on technological support, as I am technologically challenged, and the other is our timeshare exit scams team that has been in overdrive as they learned two out of five “let us get you out of your timeshare” entities reported this week exhibit criminal tendencies. Two others are suspect, but the team could find no concrete evidence of criminality.
32 Reader Complaints received
Complaints #1, #3, #10, #12, #15, and #20 were against the same sales center. This makes 40 complaints received against the sales center,
Five are active duty military, retired or served in the military,
Four are disabled,
Three are in, or were, in law enforcement,
#6 is the fourth member to direct a complaint against the same sales agent.
#1, #2, #3, #6, #10, and #11 meet the criteria for Nightmares on Timeshare Street.
Due to the increasing number of complaints, we request you schedule a call at either: 1, 2, 3, or 4 PM EST rather than just call between the hours of 1 to 4 EST if you have questions about our complaint form.
The Cliff Notes version of the complaint process.
Write out your complaint and send to the timeshare company.
If you are denied, write a rebuttal and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau if you feel services provided were not as described, or have a complaint about sales and marketing practices.
File complaints with the Attorneys General of the state where you live, where you signed, and the headquarter state of the timeshare company.
Although weakened, complaints can still be filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you feel you meet the definition of white-collar crime defined as “deceit concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch”, file with the FBI orally by calling your local field office through the FBI public access line, and with IC3.gov online. “They promised me a cruise but it cost $1000” is not enough of a crime to report to the FBI. Any of our Nightmares on Timeshare Street members would qualify. Scroll through those articles for examples.
File a complaint with the state real estate division against the agent, if you complaint is directed against an individual agent.
Thank you to our 46 core advocates (two more have been added since we published Tuesday) as we stick together and work together to be made whole again. Too many families contacting us are financially devastated, some taken advantage of because of their disability, as in the case of parents caring for a three year old diagnosed with cerebral palsy, on a feeding tube, a little guy that earned the privilege to be a case study at Stanford.
There is no federal enforcement, state enforcement is spotty, and so the hamster wheel of recycled inventory, as one former sales agent describes it, rolls on. Sometimes it does feel hopeless, but like #metoo, also silenced and isolated by non-disclosure agreements, we will fight around it and we will not stop. Thank you to the members of the armed forces and law enforcement who have my back.
Charles Thomas, also a veteran, over a beer with one of our readers, said Irene sounds angry. While the soon to reach 300 complaints I have heard doesn’t seem to bother customer service representatives, our advocates and I are astonished at the frequency and level of deceit. Repeat offenders continue to flourish. Pay the fine and move on. I haven’t been quite the same since I learned of a Marine who lost not only his security clearance, but his air unit command as the result of a timeshare foreclosure due to his allegations of fraud.
As always, contact Inside Timeshare or a member of a member sponsored US support group, if you have a question or concern about your timeshare.
We seek to provide timeshare 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.
Thank you Irene for that report, it is actually quite staggering that we are only at the start of the year and yet there have been that many complaints received. It certainly prove a point that the industry does need a major shake up.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your timeshare or need information on any company that you may intend doing business with, Inside Timeshare is here to help.
Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, the last one for 2017, this week Irene looks at the past year from across “The Great Lake”, while we look at the past year in Europe.
Our first article of 2017 was about the family of fake lawyers from Tenerife, Litigious Abogados, it highlighted a new firm called Abogacia Española, which happens to be the name of the official website to check the validity of lawyers registrations. This was a very good move on the part of this well planned out fraud, as it did give an air of legitimacy when you did a web search.
Since then, we have seen many incarnations of this fake law firm, although the names have changed, one thing hasn’t, that is the nature of the fraud. They are still duping consumers into believing that they have a case at court, then to be part of it you need to pay the Procurator fees. That is only the start, it get even more sophisticated. Search Litigious Abogados for the full story.
This was a great blow to the RDO, as Silverpoint was also a major contributor. Funds this organisation could ill afford to lose. It has since come to our attention that the RDO is to form a partnership with ARDA (American Resorts Development Association). This particular organisation is well endowed with contributions and is very strong in the world of lobbying for its members. So it begs the question is the RDO going to be taking on board the tactics of ARDA?
Staying on the subject of Silverpoint, January was a momentous time on the legal front, with the Supreme Court making their first ruling against this company. This was the case of Mrs Shirley Wilson and her long battle against the selling tactics of Silverpoint.
Within a week the highest court in Spain ruled three times against Silverpoint, opening the doors for many more cases against them. Since then the rulings have been coming in thick and fast, leaving no doubt that what they had been selling was illegal.
February brought the news that Alberto Garcia had “stepped down” from Mindtimeshare and that the RDO would not be renewing the contract with that “Consumer Association”. Alberto Garcia for many years had been running the RDO’s“Enforcement Programme”, attacking any company which threatened the timeshare industry. This has now been given to Kwikchex and the “Timeshare Taskforce”, run by Chris Emmins.
Throughout the year, Inside Timeshare has been following the Anfi “Tauro Beach Project”, this has been a story that has now seen the former head of the Coastal Authority being charged with falsifying official documents and wrong doing in public office. No doubt we will see his trial sometime in the new year.
This project was to build a man made beach at Tauro, with the building of hotels and a shopping center. This was given to Anfi to run for 50 years, the Government of Gran Canaria is now seeking in the courts to remove these concessions in the light of the evidence of malpractice. This story is not over yet.
Anfi have been on the receiving end of many Supreme Court rulings since March 2015, they however have continued to deny any wrongdoing and inform their members that they have not lost any cases. In fact they have embarked on a campaign to attack Canarian Legal Alliance, trying to sow seeds of doubt among their clients. Below is a link to a video showing the National Spanish TV news on TVE 1, in this clip, one of the CLA lawyers explains the Supreme Court rulings. For the National Television to broadcast this item shows that CLA is doing what they say and that Anfi is trying to divert attention from this.
Another story we have been following is that of Los Clavelesin Tenerife and the battle for control of the resort. Again this is an ongoing story which at present seems to be dragging on. It revolves around the selling of Wimpen to ONA Grup, who were the managing company of this resort. Their contract has been ended but they still seem to be trying to run the resort against the wishes of the Owners Committee.
There has been a lot of argument on this issue, with some very nasty consequences, it is clear that this issue is not going to be resolved in the near future. It may also end up being a rather costly one with only the lawyers benefiting.
In July we published a rather different article on the timeshare world, this was a positive one, featuring a company that we have not been able to find any adverse comments or complaints. It is off course Disney.
This is a shining example of how the timeshare industry should operate, fair, truthful and with the consumer in mind. There again, it is what we expect from an organisation which prides itself on putting people first.
After a long reign TATOC finally went into liquidation, with Harry Taylor and TATOC being totally discredited. For years this organisation has duped not only timeshare owners but also organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Any owner that went to CAB with a problem would be recommended TATOC as the place to go. Little did CAB know that this organisation was funded and basically run by the industry. All we can say is good riddance to a very bad and foul smelling egg!
There have been so many articles it is difficult to review them all, but Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of the most dodgy companies that have emerged over the course of the year. These articles have saved many readers considerable sums of money, we intend to continue with this.
But before we go on with Irene’s roundup of the year from the US, we finish with the news of yet three more sentences issued by the courts. On 27 December the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared yet another Anfi contract null and void with the client being awarded over 29,000€ plus legal interest.
On the same day the High Court in Tenerife announced another ruling against Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and the client in this case being awarded over £9,000 plus legal interest.
There then followed on the 28 December another Supreme Court ruling from Madrid, this was number 82! Again the company was Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and an award of over £23,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.
These cases were brought on behalf of clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, so this does show this law firm is doing what they say.
Now for the year from a US perspective.
What Timeshare Members Can Look Forward to in 2018 and what
I wrote looking forward to 2017 on December 26, 2016
Our Advocacy Group did not have a name one year ago, or a Facebook page. Our advocacy Facebook page was launched February 2017 and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ April 2017. As I write this, our advocacy Facebook page has 706 members. We encourage industry observers, as long as they are respectful.
Back in February, I remember scrolling down my Facebook feed, a pianist, waiting with nervous flute, oboe, trumpet, and bassoon middle school students for our competitions to begin, when I suddenly saw a post called “Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy” launched by an economics professor. This Facebook page was launched in response to a draft article I had written and distributed, requested by a few former timeshare sales agents who felt the practice of “pitching heat” to sell vacation points needed to be addressed and brought to the attention of the general public. Based on reader responses, only Disney Vacation Club seems to disavow this sordid selling technique.
Our professor also prepared this mission statement for our DRI advocacy group, but as our Inside Timeshare readers started to reach out to us asking for help with timeshare issues concerning other timeshare companies, I borrowed our DRI mission statement and generalized it to apply to all timeshare companies.
We seek to provide timeshare members and owners 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.
April 2017, a former Diamond sales agent contacted me, urging me to write a press release as she was worried Diamond members were not aware of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800,000 DRI settlement and the Assurance of Discontinuance announced December 23, 2016. There was a May deadline to file a complaint.
This former timeshare sales agent said we needed a Facebook page so that readers had somewhere to respond. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I got mad at timeshare July 2015, but I struggled through the establishment of a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ page, delighted to find a butterfly with a “Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens” quote by Jimi Hendrix. My first concert I attended in high school was Jimi Hendrix, second row, in front of the mic.
I expected my new creation to last for a month or two, until the press release ran its course, but it continues to receive views. We consider this Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebook a clearinghouse of articles written about all timeshare companies and are grateful to all our volunteer admins for both Facebook pages.
Now a look back to what I wrote December 26, 2016 with updates
Timeshare Lawsuits 2017
By Irene Parker, December 26, 2016
Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:
The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys General:
Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.
Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?
WestgateUpdate 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegelwas seen campaigning next to the candidate in 2016. That’s Mr. Siegel to the left of Trump. Charles Thomas reported on the timeshare the Trump family is launching in Scotland, reported as a golf course in the US during the campaign.
“Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016
Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.
The Manhattan Club Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneidermanmanaged to ban the owners of The Manhattan Club from working in the timeshare industry and achieved a $6.5 million settlement. Rarely is wrongdoing admitted. However, attorney Douglas Wasser, representing TMC owners, said “Hundreds of members will be helped, but there are over 14,000 members.” Even a settlement this size will do little to curtail predatory marketing and sales practices. The investigation took years.
Back in 2016
Attorney Douglas Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.
“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point. The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed. But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016
Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Update: Most disturbing of all, political and legislative maneuvering in Florida resulted in a change in the definition of timeshare, seemingly in an attempt to circumvent the merit of the case, according to attorneys involved with the case. That was not the end of it. We will hear more about this case in 2018.
“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.”Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.
Diamond Resorts Update:A judge ruled in favor of arbitration in the billion dollar lawsuit filed against the company, and Congress reversed the CFPB ruling that would allow class actions. Diamond Resorts is one of the only timeshare companies to have a class action ban in their contract, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is binding and private. Lawsuits filed are public record.
A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:
Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
I don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,
People are listening!
Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:
⦁ A legitimate secondary market
⦁ Less aggressive and deceptive selling
⦁ Less predatory lending
Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Since last year we have found a few more self-help groups we are confident are on the side of the timeshare member and are not industry influenced.
So that is 2017 in a nutshell, if this coming year is anything like the last we will be seeing many more stories like these.
Inside Timeshare thanks all those who have contributed to the articles and also to all the readers and those who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help and advice. If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of using but need to know about them, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
We wish you a prosperous New Year, enjoy your celebrations and we will be with you in 2018.