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Orange Lake

ABC Lawyers Another Client Duped

Today Inside Timeshare revisits an old company which has been the subject of many articles, ABC Lawyers, another company owned by the infamous Mark Rowe. As we already know Mark Rowe and several of his companies are under investigation by the Regional Organised Crime Unit of Somerset & Avon Police and the Spanish authorities. We also know that when the original raids took place they were well-coordinated as both Spanish and UK authorities mounted them simultaneously, several weeks ago we also heard that the Spanish Authorities again raided Mark Rowe’s company offices yet again.

Today’s story is one that may well be familiar to any other reader who has had the misfortune to have dealings with Mark Rowe and ABC Lawyers. It involves an elderly couple who were contacted by ABC a couple of years ago and offered help in relinquishing their contract with Orange Lake in Florida and claiming compensation.

Mark Rowe looking happy, so he should he has taken your money!

They were invited to meeting with ABC Lawyers who also paid for them to stay at a hotel near to their offices. While there they were “pitched” with a very convincing story that ABC could indeed get them out of their timeshare and also get them compensation. After several hours they decided to sign up with ABC.

They and their family also went through all the contracts and documents provided by ABC, they too were convinced this was genuine.

Eventually, they received a very convincing letter to tell them they were now out of their timeshare contract with Orange Lake and any demands for maintenance fees should be ignored and sent to ABC.

Now two years down the line they have discovered that they had not been released from their contract and are receiving demands and threats of legal action by Orange Lake. They have also been told that Orange Lake has placed a “LIEN” on their property. This has obviously frightened them and the family.

The definition of a lien is:

a right to keep possession of property belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is discharged.

“they shall be entitled to a lien on any lot sold”

What is a lien and how does it work?

It’s a claim that someone or something has on property that you possess or use. The individual or entity that has the claim—such as a lender—can repossess or foreclose on the property if you don’t make payments on an associated loan or perform other agreed-upon terms.

So for this couple who are European residents owning a timeshare in the US is very good news, Inside Timeshare has sent them a draft letter asking Orange Lake to foreclose, which is what they wanted in the first place.

It is also a fact that US timeshare companies cannot chase for any debts in Europe or affect the owner’s credit standing they do not have any legal jurisdiction.

So we know that ABC Lawyers were taking money for relinquishments and telling the clients to just stop paying maintenance, unfortunately for those who owned in Europe they are now finding that they owe considerable sums in maintenance arrears, ABC Lawyers and Mark Rowe did absolutely nothing apart from taking peoples money!

What about the compensation?

According to our reader, the compensation would be done via Section 75 of The Credit Consumer Act 1974 as they paid by credit card.

There is only one small problem there, the purchase was made over 25 years ago and so no claim could be made as there is a 6-year time limit. It is also a fact that even if they were within the time limit, having used the timeshare they have received the goods and services paid for. The credit card provider will always contact the supplier of the goods or services paid for and will then reject the claim.

Section 75 covers, not receiving the goods or services paid for, faulty or unfit for purpose goods, the company has gone into liquidation. It will not cover the mis-selling of a timeshare or the fact the timeshare contract might be illegal.

According to our reader, they have now been passed to another Mark Rowe company, Lansdown Finacial Ltd. Mark Rowe resigned as director 30 May 2019, we suspect that is because of all the investigations into his activities that are taking place.

At least there may be a good ending to this story, the couple will be out of their timeshare, plus they also have a good claim against ABC Lawyers to get back the thousands of pounds they paid, this was done on their credit card and as they have not received the goods or services they were promised plus the fact that ABC Lawyers are now in liquidation they never will.

Although ABC Lawyers may be going into liquidation he is still conducting the same business with another firm based in Tenerife Timeshare Lawyers which is actually Mark Rowe, Managing Director
Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL the previous name for this company was Jive Hippo SL the replacement for Monster.

This is another example that you need to do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you regarding your timeshare.

Have you had any dealings with the companies named here or any other company that is owned and operated by Mark Rowe, if so use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday edition of Letter from America, today we welcome the Madden Family with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this time it is Orange Lake in Orlando. It is another story of deceptive sales practices by sales agents working on behalf of the timeshare developer and the lack of a secondary market. It is a story we are all too familiar with at Inside Timeshare.

A TRUE STORY by an Orange Lake Timeshare Buyer

May 31, 2019

By the Madden Family

We recorded our Orange Lake experience on YouTube hoping to prevent others from making the decision we unfortunately made. I’m told Orange Lake is no worse than several other timeshare companies. Buyers who no longer can use the timeshare are held hostage with no choice but to walk away due to the lack of a secondary market.

Our YouTube

We purchased an Orange Lake Resort Timeshare in Orlando, Florida in 2014. It was the day after Christmas. After hours of mouth flapping, winning smiles, scribbled notes in illegible writing, we were fairly pliable and ended up signing a contract we now know is worthless. This has been a source of massive stress.

Here are the unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices we experienced which readers will have heard countless times: The sales agent told us that we were making an investment that would appreciate like any other investment. Timeshares are worthless.

  • The sales agent said the timeshare had built-in equity from a prior owner. There is no such thing as equity when it comes to a timeshare. Timeshares are a liability. The sales agent said that since this had been owned by a prior party, we had to buy “today” or the price tomorrow would be without equity, so full price. This was nonsense.
  • The sales agent said we could easily refinance, replacing the exorbitant 26% financing provided by Orange Lake. This was not true. Banks don’t finance timeshares because they are not an asset.
  • The sales agent said there was a resale market. We tried that market but were scammed the same way we were scammed into buying the timeshare.
  • The sales agent said he wasn’t a salesman, just there to help timeshare owners find buyers. He was a salesman.
  • The sales agent said an Orange Lake timeshare is like any other property. You can deduct mortgage interest. You can’t deduct timeshare loan interest.
  • The sales agent said we could cover the cost of owning the timeshare by renting it out. He said he would help us rent. He didn’t.
  • The sales agent said we could book wherever we wanted easily. We wanted to book west coast Florida but were told it was unavailable and would be unavailable through the next year. We tried to book Cape Canaveral, Panama City Beach Resorts or Galveston, but that was unavailable. We ended up in Las Vegas as a last resort. We were never able to book with the ease the sales agent promised.

The moral of our story is that you can’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. I know there are timeshare members who use and enjoy their timeshare, but there are also thousands and thousands of complaints. Before buying, check the happy and unhappy buyer sites. Weigh each side, because your only discernable truth will come from those who bought timeshares, not from those who sell them.    

We tried reaching out to Orange Lake with our concerns but were ignored. The lack of communication from Orange Lake made us feel like they have no cares whatsoever for their customers, or about the deceptive claims their sales agent make, as long as they get their money. They were never in a hurry to answer our concerns, but have invested considerable time to call us daily, repeatedly, to collect money.

When we filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Orange Lake responded with a copy of our contract. Surely signatures do not exempt a company from promising a diamond but delivering a piece of coal. Where is the Federal Trade Commission?

We intend to tell our story in as many places as possible to warn others. Too many families are being financially harmed so that sales agents can earn commissions and timeshare companies can report profits at the expense of hard-working citizens. Citizens harmed spent a lifetime buying cars and houses, relying on the integrity of the seller, integrity that, based on our experience, does not exist in timeshare.

Join our efforts!

Contact Inside Timeshare to join this family’s efforts to help others. Following are self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you to the Maddens for sharing the experience of your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, many of our readers will recognise some of the tactics and deceptions from their own experiences. Is it not time the timeshare industry reigned in these unscrupulous sales agents, then they may have a product which does not court controversy, complaints and above all misery to consumers. It is only through you the readers sharing your stories and coming together which helps others to see that they are not alone, together you do have a voice that can change the industry.

If you would like to share your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or have a happy story to tell of good sales practise and consumer protection, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Are you a European owner of a timeshare in the US and want to get out, are you a US owner of a timeshare in Europe especially purchased in Spain and want to know how Spanish law protects you, then use our contact page and lets us know, we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Legal News From the US: Castle Law Group PC v Timeshare Developers

Today Irene Parker gives us an insight into one lawsuit that has made the headlines in the US, it would seem that across the great lake it is the timeshare companies that are on the legal offensive. In Europe the timeshare companies are very much on the defensive as we have seen in some of our previous articles.

Yesterday we published an article about the legal battle being waged against Silverpoint, they have stated that they will be filing a case with the High Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that Spain has got the EU Timeshare Directives wrong.

eu court justice

Just to clarify one point on the EU Timeshare Directives, that is what they are “directives”, they are not law. A directive issued by the EU is a guide to all EU States to enact into their own domestic laws certain aspects which affect citizens. It is up to each individual state to interpret those directives as they see fit. The whole point is that each State may strengthen the directives, which is what Spain has done with their own timeshare laws, firstly with Ley 42/98 and more recently with Ley 4/12.

Directives are there to try and unify each State’s laws, especially on the matter regarding consumers rights, which the timeshare directive was intended to do. Before the timeshare directives came out, timeshare in Europe was what can only be described as lawless, timeshare companies could walk all over the consumer, there was no protection, timeshare was a new concept which nobody actually understood.

It followed an old economic system known as Laissez-faire, which has its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was to be free of any government intervention, such as regulation. More recently a new term was conceived by conservative politicians and economists ‘free-market capitalism’. Timeshare has always followed this model, profit, profit and more profit at the expense of the consumer. (Again it sounds like Star Treks Ferengi).

Until laws are strengthened to the benefit of the consumer, we are going to see many more of these legal battles, be it consumer against developer or developer against law firms, the stage is set, let battle commence!

Now on with today’s article by Irene

Castle Law and Judson Phillips is Sued in Federal Court for Fraud

Orange Lake v. Castle Law Group PC

Westgate v. Castle Law Group

Diamond Resorts v. Castle Law Group

Who Next v. Castle Law Group

Speak truth

By Irene Parker

August 22, 2017

Who is Judson Phillips?

Tea Party Nation is a conservative American group considered part of the Tea Party movement.   The group was created by former Shelby County, Tennessee assistant district attorney Judson Phillips in 2009

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_Nation

Judson Phillips Ridiculed for Wanting to Deny Others the Right to Vote

Judson Phillips, the lawyer behind Castle Law Group (Nashville), latest idea has created a hurricane size backlash against Mr. Phillips. The Castle Law Group owner believes that only property owners should have the right to vote.  Phillips seems to believe those who aren’t the elite feudal lords of property can’t be trusted to vote. Instead, they must be put back in their place as serfs, working for their lords for scraps off the feudalistic tables.

http://www.brighthub.com/money/home-buying/articles/123520.aspx

A Bright Hub reader’s response:

Yes, I am Republican but in no way would I ever want to be affiliated with any political group who deemed renters shouldn’t vote in public elections.

Who Castle Law Group is not:

http://www.castlelawgrouppa.com/

I contacted attorney Ben Hillard of the Castle Law Group P.A. in Largo, Florida a few months ago – by mistake. Mr. Hillard responded saying he thought I had his law firm confused with Castle Law Group PC of timeshare fame, law firms differentiated only by the initials P.A. and PC. Mr. Hillard would like to make it clear his firm is in no way associated with Mr. Judson Phillips or his law firm Castle Law Group PC. In a recent letter to Mr. Hillard, Mr. Phillips said his firm is considering rebranding for reasons not associated with Mr. Hillard’s concerns, the similarity in names.

Here is the Castle Law P.C. and Orange Lake Lawsuit as reported by Paul Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando-based timeshare companies Westgate Resorts and Orange Lake Country Club filed nearly identical lawsuits in Orlando against Tennessee firms Castle Law and Castle Marketing. Westgate and Orange Lake accuse the Castle companies of charging some customers an upfront litigation fee of $7,500. Orange Lake said Castle filed no lawsuits for any of its owners who paid the fee; Westgate said Castle hasn’t filed lawsuits for some owners who paid the litigation fee.

A senior partner with Castle — attorney and Tea Party leader Judson Phillips — denies those allegations…. he said in an email he believes the suits are frivolous, and he and Castle have obtained good results for clients.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-timeshare-cancellation-fraud-20170618-story.html

According to a letter sent to Orange Lake attorney Brian Lower, from a Castle Law Group attorney, Castle accused Orange Lake of “gross misrepresentations regarding the terms and conditions of the Orange Lake timeshares in that they were fraudulently induced to enter into the timeshare contract and the debt instruments associated with such contracts in violation of federal and state laws.”

A letter from a lawyer like this triggers a “cease and desist” demand of all communication with the client, including collection attempts. This cease and desist letter has served as a bone of contention to timeshare developers in that a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer if the consumer is represented by an attorney or has an open Attorney General complaint, under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Among the twelve causes of action in Castle’s cease and desist letter against developers, are those our Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us asking for help would not disagree with:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

Castle Law Group PC is not Better Business Bureau accredited, is nonrated, and a consumer complaint warning has been posted.

https://www.bbb.org/nashville/business-reviews/timeshare-cancellation-and-litigation-attorneys/castle-law-group-pc-in-nashville-tn-37113357

According to the Castle Law website they are timeshare lawyers trusted by thousands with a 4.7 out of 5 star ranking based on 12 reviews (powered by GetFiveStars). When I reached out to the firm for comment, I was put on hold for a very long time.

https://timesharecancellation.com/

you decide

Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association was recently quoted by the Orlando Sentinel that more lawsuits against cancellation companies were likely in the works.

“Some of those cancellation companies that have been targeted by developers were actually started by their own former timeshare employees. Those folks learned how to exploit the system by learning what is called the inside track. They know how the high-pressure sales tactics work,” Crist said. “They attract timeshare owners in the same way — post cards offering a free dinner, or an evening out. They show owners how maintenance fees escalate, and literally scare the hell out of these people using calculations that are wildly inaccurate and overstated. These are not law firms but represent to have an attorney on staff, giving the illusion that there are legal services involved in the transaction. Rarely does the company even communicate with the resort and the timeshare owner doesn’t even know what is happening until it is too late. Why is that?”

Crist explained this is often due to an unqualified money back guarantee the company provides that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The owner is simply lulled into a false sense of security, until they are foreclosed on and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Crist has watched this happening for years, but says the industry is making a mistake by throwing legitimate attorneys in the same mix with resale, transfer and advocacy groups.

While the NTOA is involved with educating owners, advocating for their rights and helping them engage in the product they already own, they do not sell, transfer or offer services like TPE’s do. Any timeshare member or owner can join NTOA.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

GBUgly

The present legal climate in the timeshare world is reminiscent of the old west with summons flying like bullets back and forth across the corral. Lost in the middle is the consumer, many complaining they purchased a timeshare based on false promises. The timeshare lobby ARDA and the major timeshare developers seem determined to ignore outcries of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale.  

All attorneys are not created equal. It seems that timeshare developers don’t want a timeshare member to ever contact any lawyer and they lump all attorneys into a kettle of frivolous lawsuit filers. Two major developers attributed their rise in default rate due to “attorneys targeting members and cease and desist letters.” As in any profession, some attorneys do have questionable business practices, but any citizen should have a right to their day in court and the legal representation that accompanies that right if they feel they were deceived into purchasing a timeshare.

One former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent described “inventory recycling” as a hamster wheel that sometimes begins with deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. To date (as of August 16, 2017) Inside Timeshare has received 124 inquiries of which 110 allege they were deceived on the front end of the timeshare sale. Most have outstanding loans.

“I am asking you to look at the moon and you are staring at the end of my finger,” deceased Jesuit Priest Anthony DeMello once wrote. That’s how I feel listening to case after case from family members, often financially devastated, alleging they were deceived, sometimes just days after a rescission period. Why won’t developers take a closer look at their own house?

ethics cartoon

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share, through your experiences others may have a better understanding of what they are going through and see that they are not alone.

If you need any further information regarding any article published, or wish to know where you stand legally with your timeshare, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

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