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Mrs B

Friday’s Letter from America

For a long time now Inside Timeshare has reserved Friday for our Letter from America articles, which over the years has given consumers on both sides of the “Great Lake” or “The Pond”, depending on which side of it you are on, a glimpse to the similarities owners/members put up with. Even the scams are basically the same, from “Fake” law firms to “Resales”, even the Modus Operandi tend to be the same. Many of these have been highlighted on our pages, some of the emails and experiences have been hard to read, many have been words of thanks.

One of the main points which has been a subject for discussion on these pages are the “SALES” tactics used during the “Presentation”, this has become a thing to be dreaded by so many. The constant “upsell”, with all the false promises.

The tactics we have published in our Letter from America series are, to say the least disgusting, we dubbed them Nightmares on Timeshare Street

In most cases, the “victims” are elderly, vulnerable and sometimes with severe illness, in other stories we have heard how Veterans have been harmed, serving forces personnel have been at risk of losing their positions and security clearance. Others still, have been low-income families, we even had one story of a family losing their home.

But this is not unique to the US, in Europe, we have had our fair share of “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” stories.

One was the recurring story of Mrs B and her very long battle with MacDonald Resorts, a Scottish based company. Then there was the operation running out of Tenerife, which was once dubbed The Biggest Fraud in Timeshare History. That is one description Inside Timeshare totally agrees with.

Yes, we are talking about Silverpoint/Resort Properties, this one took timeshare to another level of fraud.

The Suites at Beverly Hills Heights, Tenerife. Sold by Silverpoint, managed by Excel. Both are part of the Limora Group.

They did not just sell one or two weeks, which is what most people actually need, no, they sold “packs” of weeks and apartments, usually around 6 to 8 in each sale. These were pitched as an “Investment” in “Property”, they would yield an income through rental, then after 2 or 3 years when they “went up” in value, they would then be sold by Silverpoint. You, making a tidy profit, NOT!

Again the smooth-talking, well-trained sales staff and managers loved to target the retired, just retired and about to retire, another group that can be added are those that were being made redundant/early retirement. It didn’t end there, as the court cases and investigations go on, more is coming to light.

In the US regulation is very complex, there are so many laws each dependent on individual states, there is no Federal Law to regulate the industry and protect consumers. The same was the case in Europe, it was a complete mish-mash, there was no Europe wide protection. Then in 1994, the first EU Directive on Timeshare was brought in. Over the years these have been augmented and updated, taking into account the lessons learnt from the past, such as increasing the cooling-off period in all EU Countries. It was also required that they were incorporated into domestic law, not just to regulate the industry but also to protect the consumer.

It’s not perfect, some countries watered them down, some strengthened them, Spain was at the forefront to enable what have become the strongest Timeshare Laws in Europe. These came into force on 5 January 1999, but, as we now know many of the timeshare companies failed to comply with Spanish Law and ignored them.

Would you accept watered-down wine?

The result is the legal cases being lost by them on a daily basis, they believed they were “untouchable”, all we can say is “It’s your own damn fault!”

Since Inside Timeshare began the US perspective, we have all learnt one thing, that you are not a lone voice, there are others out there who are going through the same thing. It is a fact, whatever practices are used across the pond, they will eventually be used this side of the great lake and vice versa.

The Fridays Letter from America slot will still be a part of Inside Timeshare, myself and Irene have learnt a great deal from these exchanges, we are also sure that all you readers have as well, we still have a lot to learn, as they say, timeshare never sleeps. The new format will not be weekly but a monthly slot, as Irene is involved in a great deal of important research work, but she will be dropping us an occasional letter. Obviously, if and when important news develops such as the Hilton acquisition of Diamond, that news will be fitted in.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot: Anfi Case Concluded plus MacDonald Resorts Update

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with Inside Timeshare, we begin today with the news of a final payout to a client by Anfi after an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court. The news of this appeal was published on 16 March along with another appeal to the Supreme Court by Diamond Resorts, which was also unsuccessful with the judges roundly rejecting the appeal.

Anfi lost the original case at the Court of First Instance where the contract was declared null and void and they were ordered to repay the client over 45,000€. As we have seen in all these cases Anfi launched another appeal to the High Court of Las Palmas, the court rejected and dismissed the appeal confirming the original judgement and sentence.

Anfi, true to form, decided to waste the court’s valuable time and launched an appeal with Spain’s Highest Court, The Supreme Court in Madrid. This court has made 130 rulings on Spanish Timeshare Law and set them in stone or what is known as jurisprudence.

The Anfi appeal to the court was based on their request “for clarity” on previous rulings, we have to ask what clarity?

It appears that this “clarity” was a suggestion by Anfi that there was an element of “contradiction” in some of the previous rulings made by the High Court of Las Palmas. As we have seen with previous appeals the High Court has been following all the rulings of the Supreme Court to the letter and upholding sentences from the Court of First Instance. In many cases, the High Court has also improved the original sentence such as the lower court failing to take into consideration the illegal taking of deposits and not awarding double the amount taken.

This is a precedent made by the Supreme Court and has been enforced in all cases.

Obviously, Anfi lost their appeal and the case was returned for the execution of the sentence.

As we have previously reported, Anfi uses this ploy to delay any payments which also gives them time to “spirit away” funds from the relevant accounts in order to avoid payment. Unfortunately for them this is not working and is also being investigated by the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Gran Canaria. This may just result in criminal charges being brought against the directors and the board which is in the control of the Cazorla Group. We also know that they are themselves in severe financial difficulty.

The lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance who represented the English client throughout these proceedings had already placed provisional execution of sentence proceeding with the court. This has become standard procedure for the lawyers at CLA and also helps to save time.

They managed to get a partial settlement but were still 13,345€ short of the awarded amount of 45,825€. With all their procedures in place and the threat of embargoes, the final amount has now been secured with the client already receiving this money into their own personal bank account.

Another successful case has now reached a conclusion and we expect to see more of the same in the coming months. No doubt Anfi will continue to waste time and cause the courts more work with their appeals, a ploy which in the end will cause them more financial problems.

This month, Inside Timeshare, has published two articles on MacDonald Resorts, the first MacDonald Resorts Still Preying on the Elderly and Vulnerable published on 17 March and Start the Week: MacDonalds Using the Courts to Extort Money; News from the Spanish Courts published on 22 March.

These are truly Nightmare on Timeshare Street stories and are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Inside Timeshare has been in touch with Julia Paul, who is the Assistant Producer of the BBC Radio 4 program You and Yours about these stories. For those of you who have followed the Mrs B story, her case was highlighted on this program in November 2020. The article we published was Mrs B v MacDonald Resorts: The Battle Is Won But The War Continues

We have been informed that the program You and Yours will be highlighting these stories on Friday 26 March, the program goes on air at 12:20 pm, please find the time to tune in and listen, we are sure that it will be very interesting. If there is any change in scheduling Inside Timeshare will let you know.

That is all for today, if you have any questions or comments on any article published, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

MacDonald Resorts Still Preying on the Elderly and Vulnerable

For those of you who have been following Inside Timeshare for a few years, you will remember the long-running battle between Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts, although this dispute did eventually end with a satisfactory conclusion. Inside Timeshare has nonetheless still been receiving emails from owners desperate to end their association with them, along with the threats of legal action through the County Courts against mainly elderly members who can no longer afford the high maintenance fees. Today we highlight yet another case in which this disgusting behaviour is still being pursued.

The Mark of Shame!

With the permission of this lady’s son who is overseeing her affairs and has a power of attorney, we publish her story.

Over the last few years, his Mothers health has been deteriorating and she is now in a nursing home with acute dementia. He is now at his wits end after trying to end her contract with MacDonald Resorts.

The purchase was made in 1987, so is one of the very early timeshare sales and for many years was enjoyed. Each and every year the annual maintenance was paid right up to her hospitalisation in late 2019. In May of 2020, she entered the nursing home so was then unable to use it, plus with the restrictions of the pandemic, no one else could use it either.

Legalised Extortion?

As her son began to take control of her affairs he came across a letter from a debt recovery firm, one that we have highlighted before with Mrs B, Network Credit Services based in Scotland. There was a bill for £500 for the “holiday club”, he went through all her correspondence and found no other reference to this bill.

He then contacted MacDonald Resorts for clarification that the bill was genuine and if so what it related to. After a very lengthy delay, it was explained that it was for the 2020 maintenance fees. Since then the bill for 2021 has also become due and obviously if this is not paid it will be passed to the MacDonald “bloodhounds” Network Credit Services.

He explained his Mothers condition asking how this could be cancelled along with her membership. The reply he received was:

They said that giving up membership can be done at specific times and requires payment of all outstanding management fees plus 4 years management fees in lieu of 4 years’ notice (So £2100 + £1000 management fees). They say that the membership can be sold or passed on to a family member.

Well, obviously he doesn’t want it nor does any other member of the family and as for selling it, well, who is going to buy it?

Also, the only way to “sell it” is through MacDonald Resorts, they will not accept any transfer to any other party unless it is through them. The other point to this is the maintenance fees must also be paid in full, any arrears and no sale will ever go through.

In his own words:

“I feel that 3 aspects of this are unfair and possibly may not be legally enforceable”:

  1. “The management fees of £1,000 when no one can have been using the facilities due to lockdown.   They will also be charging interest on this.
  2. The termination fee of 4 years’ worth of fees is extortionate.
  3. No means of getting out of this due to my mum’s health. I am not even sure what would happen if she were to die. They would probably try to pass the membership on to me.”

“As my mum’s attorney, I have to seek out the best value for money for her so cannot sanction paying over £3000 to cancel this arrangement as all her funds are going towards her Nursing Home fees of £4k a month”.

It is also a fact that MacDonald Resorts only allow terminations every 2 years and this is done on a first-come-first-served basis. Plus the arrears and the 4 years “termination fee” are to be paid upfront.

Then there is no guarantee that your contract will be terminated, we also have to ask the question: If this fee is paid in advance and you are not successful in being “selected” will you get the 4 years maintenance fees back?

Somehow I don’t think that will happen.

So once again, we see a timeshare company that has made millions over the years from sales and annual maintenance fees treating its “members” with nothing but CONTEMPT.

Even the RDO, the industry trade body, removed MacDonald Resorts from membership due to their behaviour, that in itself was a miracle!

MacDonald’s Legal Bloodhounds

We also know that the next stage from MacDonalds will be more “threats” from their “bloodhounds” Network Credit Services and then the legal threats from their “legal bloodhounds” Shepherd and Wedderburn. This will eventually culminate in a County Court action to enforce payment.

This is nothing new, Tony Hetherington published the story “The timeshare contract that even death will not save you from”, way back in 2014 and they are still doing the same thing.

When will the authorities get off their fat backsides and do something about companies such as MacDonald Resorts that use dubious legalities in their contracts to tie people in FOREVER?

Somehow I believe it may have something to do with the “old boys network” and “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine”.

This is disgusting behaviour, to say the least, and Inside Timeshare will once again take up the cause and highlight MacDonald Resorts and the owner Donald MacDonald for what they are, money-grabbing crooks with no conscience!

This is not the last you will hear from Inside Timeshare MacDonald Resorts, we will publish and bring this to everyone’s attention. The ball is in your court, you can resolve this, although I have kept the identity of our reader anonymous you can make an offer to this publication and it will be passed on.

Somehow I don’t think they will even acknowledge this and will just continue down the path of destroying the lives and life savings of the elderly.

Have you had or are going through a similar experience with MacDonald Resorts?

If so Inside Timeshare would like to hear your story, we will also publish your experiences for all the world to see, negative publicity against MacDonald Resorts will be the only way to defeat them.

Please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

One link to a similar story published last year.

The Tony Hetherington Article of 2014