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Oasis Lanz

Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom Part 3 MacDonald Resorts and Mrs B

Following on from our series Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom, we today look at a case that Inside Timeshare has been following and reporting since April 2016. The story of the ongoing battle of two elderly sisters and MacDonald Resorts is one of the most disgusting cases that Inside Timeshare has seen in the past 10 years. MacDonald Resorts have now employed the service of a law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, based in Scotland to pursue the sisters through the courts for arrears in maintenance for a timeshare that was as far as they are concerned legally transferred to another person. Here we publish the story of the case and the “bullying tactics” being used by MacDonald Resorts and their “legal
rottweilers” Shepherd and Wedderburn.

The sisters, Mrs Price and Mrs Flavell are now both in their 90’s, they are also housebound due to medical issues and not just because of the current pandemic, this is their story.

In February 2000 Mrs Price and her sisters were on holiday on the Costa del Sol, staying at the Dona Lola Club in Calahonda, Mijas Costa, then a Barrett owned resort. They attended a presentation which for timeshare owners is nothing unusual when exchanging.

At this presentation which lasted in excess of 4 hours, they eventually purchased 2 weeks in a 3 bedroom apartment, the cost was £7000. At that time they already owned a timeshare at Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote and they were both around 72 and 65 years old.

Mrs Price stated that the presentation itself was high pressure and they felt that the pressure to purchase was very strong, they then parted with £7000. This in itself was totally illegal, as the new timeshare laws had already been in existence since January 1999, the law states the taking of any money within the statutory cooling-off period is forbidden, even by a third party. Mrs Price and her sister were not informed of this fact by the sales staff, so there is a breach of disclosure as well.

So we have the sales department at Dona Lola blatantly flouting the law which was put into place to protect consumers but it does not end there. In her statement, Mrs Price explains about the other lies and misrepresentations being given by the sale staff, all in contravention of timeshare regulations.

  1. They were told that their purchase was an investment. (It has now become just a liability).
  2. The salesperson told them that the resort would buy back the timeshare for the same price they paid when they no longer wanted it. (This has never materialised).
  3. They were not made aware that the contract was in perpetuity and would last forever. (Contracts are for a maximum duration of 50 years).
  4. Mrs Price and her sister were told that maintenance fees would only increase with the rate of inflation. They were also not informed of the historical or current rate of increase over the past 5 years prior to signing the contract.
  5. They were led to believe that they were purchasing into an exclusive club, that only members and their guests could use. They then discovered that non-members were using the resort at less than the maintenance fees paid by members.
  6. By becoming timeshare owners they were told they would be entitled to various discounts. These were for car rental; travelling; airport transfers and other holiday products. Yet they found out these discounts were also generally available to the public.

Mrs Price has also stated that had they been honestly informed of the true position and not pressured into purchasing there and then, they would never have purchased.

To make matters worse, in the time they have owned this timeshare at Dona Lola, they have never used it due to illness and being unable to travel. Yet they continued to pay the annual maintenance fees as requested and have paid diligently since the year 2000.

After many years, Mrs Price has attempted to sell their timeshare, but to no avail, there were no takers including through MacDonald Resorts who had taken over from Barrett. They also tried to surrender their timeshare even willing to give it back for free with no recompense, the resort refused.

The original timeshare they purchased was for 2 fixed weeks in a specified and fixed apartment, since then thanks to the efforts of Harry Taylor the then CEO of the discredited TATOC, they were forced to transfer their fixed weeks into a point system. This was pushed and endorsed personally by Harry Taylor as “the best move for owners” (MacDonald Resorts was one of the biggest contributors to TATOC, this does make you wonder why Taylor endorsed it). Again this is also in breach of Spanish timeshare law, which has made illegal the use of points or floating week systems. The reason they contain nothing of substance, you own nothing just the ability to use subject to availability.

We now move to 2014, they were contacted by ITRA with an offer to terminate both contracts, obviously, after years of trying to sell or hand back they duly signed up in May of that year. The contract was the termination of the timeshare membership and a possible claim. The cost for this was £5695 to terminate both Dona Lola and Oasis Lanz. This was paid on 26 May 2014.

On 25 February 2015, a UK notary visited their home, (remember they are housebound), they signed a power of attorney and the transfer documents for the timeshare. On 10 April the same year, Mrs Price received notification that she no longer owned or was responsible for the 2 timeshares. According to the paperwork (Signed Notary documents giving details of the new owner), she received both had been sold to the same person for £1 each.

Since then they have had no contact or maintenance demands from Oasis Lanz, but have had constant demands for maintenance from MacDonald Resorts. They also had many calls and letters from a debt collection agency employed by MacDonald’s, Network Credit Services based in Lanarkshire.

After making several enquiries with Network Credit Services, as MacDonalds refuse to discuss the matter even though Mrs Price has given her consent for Inside Timeshare to work on her behalf, it transpires that MacDonald Resorts do not recognise the transfer made by ITRA. Had Mrs Price been aware that MacDonald’s did not recognise ITRA brokered transfers they would never have signed up with them. This is also the fault of MacDonald Resorts for not having a clear and easy relinquishment policy or informing “members” of companies they do not recognise.

Well, we do know the reason why MacDonald Resorts have a policy of allowing “selected” members to relinquish every two years, but this is also very costly and greedy. The requirements are that you must apply and also pay in advance 4 years maintenance fees and also legal fees, plus be fully paid to date with your maintenance. But, that is no guarantee they will end your membership, numbers are limited.

So we are now at the stage today where MacDonald Resorts have employed the service of a “law” firm Shepherd and Wedderburn to harass these two old ladies, now in their 90’s for almost £10,000. In their tactics to force payment this “law” firm is pushing to take the case to court and have the County Court issue a CCJ and enforce payment.

To back this up, along with the letter of intent to take the case to court they also sent 6 court documents of the case they have won on behalf of MacDonald Resorts in the county court. Having read these they are nothing like this case and are totally irrelevant apart from attempting to scare Mrs Price and her sister into paying. Obviously, this is having serious consequences on their mental health.

According to Shepherd and Wedderburn, they claim that the contracts are subject to Scottish law and that the timeshare laws and Spanish courts do not have jurisdiction. In fact, this is incorrect, in 2016 MacDonalds lost a case over this very point in the Spanish courts. The Spanish courts have also made the same ruling against other timeshare companies recently. As far as the Spanish courts are concerned, the purchase and contract was signed in Spain, the payment was made in Spain and the resort itself is in Spain. In the letter sent by Inside Timeshare (published below) to Shepherd and Wedderburn, this is explained, you will also find links to these cases.

Dear Mr MacFarlane,

In your letter dated 15 October, you state that Spanish Law does not have any jurisdiction on the contact with MacDonald Resorts. They along with other timeshare developers have attempted to circumvent Spanish Timeshare law by the use of UK Ltd companies and the clause that UK Law and UK courts have jurisdiction. The High Court of Malaga has ruled on many occasions that timeshare developers cannot choose the jurisdiction of their contracts. The courts have ruled that the contracts were purchased in Spain, the contracts were signed in Spain, the deposits were taken in Spain and the fact is the resort is based in Spain. Therefore the courts have ruled that Spanish law will apply and have jurisdiction on these contracts.

In fact, I have been trying to find the reference to a case held in Spain against MacDonald Resorts in 2016, in this case, the courts ruled that they do have jurisdiction over the contracts and MacDonald Resort lost the case. Unfortunately, without the actual case number, it is difficult to find the court rulings.

Below are just four recent rulings on the matter of jurisdiction. These cases have been brought by the leading law firm in this field Canarian Legal Alliance. Even though these cases show Club la Costa and Diamond Resorts, the ruling is quite clear that Spanish law and courts do have jurisdiction.

Spanish law is quite clear,

  • Contracts should be a duration of a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. If there is no end date on the contract that means it is in perpetuity.
  • Timeshare is to be sold as fixed weeks and fixed apartments, points system and floating weeks are illegal as they contain nothing of substance just the right of use subject to availability.
  • The taking of any payments within the statutory 14 days cooling off-period is forbidden including by a third party.

The law regarding timeshare in Spain is Law 42/98 with Law 4/12 updating. (pdfs attached English and Spanish).

On point 2 above, this ruling regarding points and floating weeks has been made by the Supreme Court in Madrid, this is Spain’s highest court.

Clearly, had Mrs Price and Mrs Flavell still had their original paperwork, I am sure that Canarian Legal Alliance, M1 Legal or one of the other main law firms in this field would certainly take the case to court and have the contracts declared null and void with the full return of their purchase price plus double any amount taken with the statutory cooling-off period. Plus legal interest and legal fees. It may also be the case that the 90 days ruling would also be invoked by the courts and if so the entire purchase price would be awarded in double.

This is a totally pointless case taking 2 old ladies to court, I honestly think that MacDonald Resorts have outdone themselves in their behaviour in this matter, I also think that as a law firm you also share in the responsibility of acting in a totally disgusting and unprofessional manner in allowing yourselves to be used to harass these old ladies. After all, they continued to pay their annual maintenance fee for around 10 years even though they did not use it due to ill health.

If MacDonald Resorts do continue to pursue this course, Inside Timeshare will have no other recourse than to ensure the story gets out into the press, namely Tony Hetherington and Andrew Penman. I’m sure they would love the story, well, in fact, they already are following it. This will only result in even more bad publicity for a company that has already lost so much credibility that even the Resorts Development Organisation (European timeshare trade body) removed them from membership due to their unethical practices.

As the law firm acting on behalf of MacDonald Resorts I feel it is your duty to at least attempt to get them to see sense, harassing two old ladies in very bad health and in their 90’s is one of the most disgusting things I have ever had to deal with in the 10 years I have been running Inside Timeshare. This email along will be published as an open letter on Inside Timeshare on Monday, this is not going away and your reputation will be sullied and I make no apologies for that.

Regards

Charles Thomas

Inside Timeshare

Links to recent jurisdiction cases.

As you can see and for those who have been following this case for the past 4 years, MacDonald Resorts is nothing more than a bully, we also know that they are in dire financial difficulties and are attempting to sell-off resorts and hotels. Could this be the reason that they are harassing two old ladies?

Inside Timeshare leaves that answer to you the reader, we know what our answer is.

Have you been on the receiving end of disgusting, unprofessional and unethical behaviour from MacDonald Resorts or their “legal bloodhounds” Shepherd and Wedderburn, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you? If you would like your story published then please do say so.

Some previous articles on Mrs B, V’s MacDonald Resorts

https://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/more-disgusting-behaviour-from-macdonald-resorts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-macdonald-resorts/

https://insidetimeshare.com/macdonald-hotels-resorts-members-complaints/

End the Week: More Court News

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare and what a week it has been, with many enquiries from readers regarding “cold calls” and some of the wild claims being made such as the “fake” claims of Club la Costa and Marriott going into liquidation. This included an update on J Foster Associates who also claim that when the UK leaves the EU with “Brexit” UK clients will not be able to take cases to the Spanish Courts, a claim that is totally untrue. We also featured Part 2 of Timeshare Contracts: Held to Ransom. Plus there were some rather interesting results from the courts. We end this week with the latest court news.

At the High Court Number 11 of Barcelona, it was the turn of the Ona Group to be on the receiving end of an appeal being dismissed and the judgement of the Court of First Instance being upheld.

In the original judgement, the Court of First Instance declared the clients contract null and void, awarding the English client 112,724€ plus legal Interest. In this case, the client paid 70,000€ with the extra 42,724€ being made up of the illegally paid deposit taken within the statutory cooling-off period being awarded double.

It is a buyer’s right to withdraw from any contract without any financial penalty within the statutory cooling-off period, which is why it is illegal to take any payments as in the past this was used as a tool to ensure clients did not cancel.

The cooling-off period can be extended to 90 days, which will mean double the amount paid within that period if the purchaser has not been given the necessary information required by law.

The Lawyer conducting the case was Eva Gutierrez of Canarian Legal Alliance with Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser assisting the client.

In another case conducted by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of another English client, the High Court Number 3 of Las Palmas, GC, once again fully endorsed the judgement of the Court of First Instance which Silverpoint Vacations SL appealed.

In this case, the contract was declared null and void with the court ordering Silverpoint to repay 98,722€ plus legal fees and legal interest. Once again the court awarded double the amount paid as a deposit within the statutory cooling-off period.

This is just another nail in the coffin of Silverpoint, it also clearly shows that all the courts are now singing off the hymn sheet and applying the numerous rulings made by the Supreme Court which now number 130.

The case was conducted on behalf of the clients by Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez with Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser assisting the client.

No doubt before the end of the day there will be more news coming from the courts which we will bring you next week.

On Monday, Inside Timeshare will be giving an update about the ongoing case of Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts, for those who have been following Inside Timeshare for the past 4 years you will be familiar with the case.

Mrs B paid a company to get rid of her two timeshares, one at Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote, the other at Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, a Macdonald run resort. Both were duly transferred to another person, no problem with Oasis Lanz, they just accepted it, not so for MacDonald’s.

They have pursued Mrs B with debt collectors and law firms for the arrears as they do not recognise the transfer. The latest news is that McDonald’s “legal bully boys” Shepherd and Wedderburn based in Scotland are now intent on taking her to court with her sister.

Both are in their 90’s and both have serious health issues, with both being virtually housebound. Yet Shepherd and Wedderburn are sending them documents of cases (6 in total) that they have conducted for MacDonald Resorts over arrears and won. If these are not tactics to scare two elderly ladies I don’t know what is. Join us on Monday for the latest instalment of this disgusting case.

Have a good weekend and take care.

MacDonalds Instigate Court Action against Mrs B and her Sister

Today Inside Timeshare once again highlights the plight of Mrs B and her sister in their battle against MacDonald Hotels and Resorts. As many of our regular readers will remember our story begins in 2015, when Mrs B employed the services of ITRA to extricate them from two timeshares, Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote and Dona Lola Club owned by MacDonalds on the Costa del Sol. These timeshares were duly transferred to a named person, with notarised documents showing this to be the case. As far as Oasis Lanz is concerned there has been no problem, they accepted the transfer, this cannot be said of MacDonalds.

Now MacDonalds has engaged the services of a law firm who has instigated legal proceedings in the County Court to claim “arrears” for a timeshare that Mrs B and her sister no longer legally own.

The claim is for £6328.18, court fees of £410, legal representatives costs £80, a total of £6818.18 before any interest is added.

The law firm engaged by MacDonalds is:

Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

Condor House 10 St Pauls Churchyard London EC4M 8AL

Shepherd & Wedderburn have offices in Edinburgh, London, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Singapore and Dublin.

The timeshare was purchased in 2000, while they were on holiday in Spain, after over 4 hours on the presentation they purchased two weeks in a 3 bedroom apartment at a cost of around £7000. At the time they were both in their 70’s and 60’s, now they are in their 90’s.

At this point, we must remind you our readers that the new Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 had come into force, this made any contract over 50 years (perpetuity) illegal which is what their contract was. They were also as usual told that they were purchasing “property” and that it was an “investment”. As we all know this is totally false.

It should also be noted that MacDonald Hotels and Resorts did transfer all fixed week owners to their own points system, including Mrs B without their permission, which as we know Harry Taylor of the now-defunct TATOC wholeheartedly endorsed. The points system is also illegal under Spanish law.

They did use the timeshare for the first few years, then due to illness they were no longer able to travel, but they continued to pay the maintenance even though they were unable to use the timeshare. They paid this for over 10 years without fail.

After several attempts to sell the timeshare through the resort which came to nothing, they employed the services of ITRA at a cost of over £5000 in 2015.

Eventually, they received from ITRA documents to show the two timeshares had been transferred to a third party, his name address and passport details were also on the documents. After checking the electoral register it was found that this person did indeed exist at the address given.

Oasis Lanz accepted this and they have never received any demands for any maintenance fees. The same cannot be said for MacDonalds.

According to MacDonalds, they do not recognise the “sale or transfer” to the person named, that no member can “sell or transfer” their timeshare without going through MacDonalds. In other words, they hold the “monopoly” on the timeshares with no method of getting out.

Inside Timeshare has copies of all the documents showing the transaction and they are duly notarised by a registered notary in Spain and conform to Spanish law.

Since 2015, MacDonalds have been “threatening” legal action against two old and frail ladies who are also housebound, with Mrs B’s sister who is now very ill, are now making good their threats and issued court documents prior to court action.

The law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP are now the instrument of the MacDonalds bullying tactics and in the opinion of Inside Timeshare are not worthy of being called lawyers. Obviously they are only interested in receiving the substantial payments from this despicable and unethical firm headed by none other than Donald MacDonald himself.

The Highest Court in Spain, Tribunal Supremo

MacDonald Hotels maintain that their contracts are subject to Scottish law and the jurisdiction of Scottish courts, unfortunately, the Spanish courts do not agree as can be seen in a previous article (see link below). This is a case which went to the Spanish courts in 2016, where the Spanish judge dismissed the MacDonalds claim of jurisdiction. The point being the timeshare resort is in Spain and the purchase was made in Spain, therefore Spanish law does have jurisdiction.

This point has also recently been followed in the Spanish courts in cases against Club la Costa and Diamond Resorts. Both of these timeshare companies claimed that as the companies are UK limited companies then UK law and jurisdiction applies, the courts have ruled that Spanish law takes precedence and has jurisdiction.

This particular case is one of the worst that Inside Timeshare has ever seen, out of all the timeshare companies MacDonald Hotels and Resorts are the worst, even the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) the industry trade body has removed their membership. Now for the RDO to do this, things must be bad, after all, they did allow Silverpoint to peddle their “investments” without saying a word.

Inside Timeshare will keep you informed of this case and we are sure that the County Court will see the “evil” that MacDonalds is perpetrating and throw the case out.

If you have had a similar experience or have problems with MacDonalds, please use our contact page and let us know, Inside Timeshare knows that this is not an isolated case, that MacDonalds use these bullying tactics as a matter of course. It is time this company was brought to task.

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-macdonald-resorts/

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