Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we ended last week with a warning of yet another fake law firm rearing its ugly head, Servicios Legales Barcelona. As we explained, this name has been used to completely confuse any consumer who attempts an internet search, as in Spain it is a general term for “legal services”. One piece of information was the bank account details, a Royal Bank of Scotland account in the name of a private individual. What could be better proof of a scam?
We begin with some news which we came across over the weekend from the US, as we know it is the season for the annual maintenance fee bills, which many owners/members dread each year. The same question is always asked, how much have they increased?
Well, at the moment most don’t know, but one increase in the timeshare owners/members costs has been announced. RCI (Resorts Condominiums International), is increasing their “exchange” fee for next year.
Obviously, this news is from our friends in the US, so at present, we don’t know if this will also apply to European owners/members, we suspect it will.
There are also other fees involved with RCI membership and usage, so it will be interesting to see if any of these change as well.
These links below explain how RCI works and in the second link they also show the other charges that you may encounter.
There also appears to be a lot of discussion on some US forums regarding the Hilton acquisition of Diamond, once again the focus is on the sales agents and what they are telling members in order to “upgrade” them.
It now seems the discussion is gaining ground with Hilton members, unsure of how all this is going to affect them, with reports surrounding sales agents’ tactics beginning to mirror those of Diamond.
Apparently, Hilton may be launching a non-deeded trust-based product, whereas at present they are deeded. This also appears to mimic Diamond products and according to our information will be using “Event of a Lifetime” to up-sell existing members.
As Inside Timeshare receives further information we will be publishing an article on this subject, it may just give our European readers some insight as to what they may expect.
After publishing Friday’s article, late news arrived about another Marriott case, this time it was from the Court of First Instance Number 8 of Palma de Mallorca.
The presiding judge declared two contracts illegal and therefore null & void, ordering MVCI Management and MVCI Holidays to repay the German client a total of 68,262€.
In his sentence, the judge ordered the repayment of 44,870€ for the purchase and also ordered a further 23,262€ in respect of the illegally taken deposits. As we know all the courts are following the Supreme Court ruling on the repayment in double the amount of any illegally taken deposit. The court also awarded the client Legal Interest on the full amount.
The case was prepared and presented on behalf of the client by Canarian Legal Alliance, it now remains to be seen if Marriott deposits this amount with the court without the need for any enforcement proceedings.
Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments & questions regarding any of the articles published, if you also want to know about the validity of any company that has contacted you or you have found, or just want to find out if your contract may be illegal then please use our contact page.
Appeals by Anfi against the judgements of the Court of First Instance have become a common feature on Inside Timeshare, not a day seems to go by without yet another appeal being dismissed and today is no exception. Although Anfi has the legal right to lodge an appeal, it beggars belief that they continue to do so even when every single appeal is being rejected and the original sentence is being upheld. We also have a look at the latest information being given to members of Anfi regarding the signing of the “New Contracts”, which in theory conform to current timeshare legislation.
We begin with the latest case to be dismissed by the High Court Number 5 of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
The case involving a Norwegian client whose original case in the Court of First Instance Number 4 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana, was prepared and presented by Canarian Legal Alliance.
In the original sentence, this court declared the contract null and void, they also ordered that Anfi repay the client 31,770€ plus interest. A sentence that follows all those which have been past previously. After all, the courts are applying the law as laid down in 131 Supreme Court Rulings.
The three basic principles being:
The contract is for a duration of more than 50 years, known as perpetuity;
The inclusion of floating weeks and points systems;
The taking of payments even by a third party within the statutory cooling-off period.
In this case, the Court of First Instance followed these principles.
Yet as expected Anfi filed their appeal with the High Court, the reason, well that is pure speculation, but we do believe that it is an attempt to cause as much delay in paying as possible, plus, to cause as much stress and anxiety to the client as possible.
We already know that the Provincial Prosecutors Office is investigating Anfi, part of this investigation is centred on the movement of funds to empty bank accounts. This then prevents any embargo from being enforced as there will be no money in the accounts. This investigation could lead to criminal charges being filed.
As we have come to expect from the High Court, they dismissed the appeal and fully endorsed the sentence of the lower court.
The case has now been returned to that court for execution of sentence, so we expect this client will soon receive the payment into their own bank account.
The case was prepared and present by the CLA Lawyer Eva Gutierrez with Claims Consultant Lotta Nielson assisting the client during the long process.
Moving now to the “New Contracts”Anfi is trying so desperately to make members sign.
We have been publishing on this subject since May 2017, at this meeting, Anfi put forward three proposals for changing the new contracts. Full details on the result and the proposals can be found in the links below.
Since that time, Anfi has been trying to get members to sign the new contracts with varying excuses, these have ranged from “bringing the contracts” in line with current legislation and “updating” the member’s database. This has included adding others such as family to the contract.
The last method which they have employed recently has resulted from the closure of resorts due to the pandemic restrictions being enforced around the world.
Because of this, the vast majority of members were unable to use their weeks in 2020 and it looks very unlikely they will have any better luck this year.
What Anfi have done is nothing short of “Blackmail”, unless the member signs the new contract, the week they were unable to use last year, which they have already paid their annual maintenance fees on, will be lost.
Sign the “New Contract” and Anfi will give you an “accommodation voucher” to save your week for use in the coming year. We suspect this will be the same for those who are unable to use their weeks this year!
Recently, Anfi has begun yet another campaign to “force in” these new contracts, according to the independent timeshare lawyer Javier Correa, this is what Anfi are saying:
“According to the legal changes, each member now has a fixed week in the contract, so that a value is specified with the number of square meters and cadastral registration data. The inventory that is taken internally from the system can also be viewed by the member. So that you don’t have to come to the specified week, we have an extra document for you which is marked with “Registration in the flexible system”.
In this document, you relinquish the right to the week that is in the contract to us so that you can freely choose the week, the apartment and the day of arrival as usual. Nothing will change for you when using the weeks and you will remain flexible.
By enrolling in our flexible exchange system, we guarantee you will continue to be flexible, you will continue to book in the future as before”.
The underlying concern for this lawyer and on reading the above Inside Timeshare agrees this “New Contract” is being portrayed as “MANDATORY”.
Considering Anfi’s attitude toward those with unused weeks, this conclusion is very valid.
So what if you sign the new contract?
The answer is very simple indeed, you lose all your legal rights to sue Anfi for the illegal selling of your contract, you waive your rights to legal redress and having your contract declared null and void, with the repayment of the full purchase price plus double any payment taken illegally within the statutory cooling-off period.
In other words, they know that with every case that is found against them by the lower courts and subsequently on appeal, more cases will follow.
Now, on reading the above which was issued by Anfi, it is clear this is another attempt to circumvent the law.
Although they claim that each member will be given a specified week and apartment number, which is the fixed week system which is allowed by law, but the telling thing is the “separate” contract or as they put it “document”. They call this the “Registration in the flexible system”.
On signing this “addendum”, the member waives their right to the numbered week and apartment and being placed in this “flexible system”. Hang on, does this not look like retaining the “Floating Weeks”?
We know not everyone is able to or wants to vacation the same week every year, most people do, but sometimes due to personal circumstances that may not be possible. Is this not what the old “internal exchange system” covered, after all, it was just like banking and exchanging with RCI or Interval International?
So once again, we see Anfi trying to pull the proverbial wool over the eyes of their “valued members”, no doubt there will be some lawyer who will find that this “New Contract” is just as illegal as the original. This is something which we will watch with great interest and we expect that it will be contested in the courts at some point in the future.
If you would like further information on your legal rights regarding illegal contracts whether it is Anfi or any other resort, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
Towards the end of last year Inside Timeshare published a series of articles on “Timeshare versus Independent Booking”. These were prompted by many comments from members of the various timeshare resorts due to the maintenance payments issue. As you are well aware, members have still had to pay their maintenance fees even though they have been unable to use their weeks. This is still the case because of all the travel restrictions. Today, we once again highlight Marriott.
As we have already published in our past articles, most timeshare resorts can be booked by non-members online using various booking platforms. Prices do vary from platform to platform, but in most cases, they tend to be cheaper than the annual maintenance fees.
Once again after doing some research online we have found that booking.com tends to feature Marriott on a regular basis and also tends to be the cheapest. As you can see from the screenshot of a general search for one week in April this year they vary from 84€ to 225€ per night based on a 1 bedroom sleeping 2 adults.
Booking.com, at 84€ per night, works out at 588€ for the 7 nights, much cheaper than the average annual maintenance fee of 1,500€ per year for a one week stay in the same apartment.
Even at the highest price of 225€ per night which comes to 1,575€ for 1 week in the same apartment, this is reasonable for the “quality” of the resorts.
Taking this higher price we will show you that it is still better value to book as a non-member, there is a very good reason for this. The average cost of a Marriott Vacation Club membership is around the 20,000€ mark, depending on which membership package you purchase.
If we take a 10 year period, the cost in maintenance is 15,000€, which does not include the rise in fees each year, for the same period booking independently comes in at 15,750€. OK, that is 750€ more, but, don’t forget to figure in the initial purchase price plus the annual subscriptions to the exchange companies such as RCI and Interval International.
RCI charges 145€ per year for a subscription, they also add on 71€ to exchange your weeks with your own resort system and 144€ for exchanges to other resorts. Again this price may be more, depending on your membership package.
So what does this mean financially?
Purchase price 20,000
Maintenance fees over a 10 year period* 15,000
RCI Subscription x 10 years 720
Total cost over 10 years 35,720
*Maintenance has not included any annual rise.
Now let us say that you only use RCI exchanges 5 times over that 10 year period,
Exchange fee for 5 years of exchanges* 720
Plus total cost for 10 years 35,720
Total cost including exchanges 36,440€
*This is the basic price it goes up depending on what type of membership you have.
So now we divide that by the 10 years and we have an annual cost for 1 week in a 1 bedroom apartment for 2 adults at 3,644€.
That is certainly a lot more expensive than the 1,575€ at the highest price we have found, which is a saving of 2,069€ by booking independently.
Now, what did your timeshare salesperson say at your sales presentation, could it have been along the lines of “membership to our club makes financial sense”?
Well, it certainly does to the timeshare industry.
During your presentation, your “sales rep” will have done what the industry calls the “financial logic pitch”, but this did not take into account the original purchase price. They also did not include the cost of flights or airport transfers but used what you paid when booking your full package of hotel, flights and transfers, against the annual maintenance fees for the timeshare.
This price does not include the cost of food and drink.
If you used finance brokered by the sales reps, then you can virtually double that cost due to the interest on those finance agreements, which as we know are rather steep.
It is also a fact that you must pay your annual maintenance fee even if you do not use it, booking independently, you only pay as and when required. So with timeshare, you are obliged to pay for a vacation regardless of whether you use it or not!
Just on this alone it certainly looks like timeshare is a very expensive way to take a vacation, had you been aware of this at the time, we have to ask, would you still have purchased?
Not only have they misrepresented the cost from the start, but they have also in most cases sold you an illegal contract.
Since 5 January 1999 and the implementation of Law 42/98, it has been illegal in Spain to sell timeshare under the following basic rules:
Contracts more than 50 years in duration;
Floating Weeks or Points systems, this also includes Fractional;
Taking any payment even by a third party within the statutory cooling-off period.
If you purchased any timeshare in Spain or upgraded since 5 January 1999 and have a contract which includes any of the above, you may just have a case to have your contract declared null and void plus the return of the full purchase price including double any money taken within the cooling-off period. This period may also be extended by the courts to 90 days if the court deems it necessary, this means that any amount paid within the 90 days must be paid back in double.
Although this article is about Marriott, this formula can be used for other timeshares such as Anfi, Diamond and Club la Costa. If you would like further information on your legal rights and whether you have a valid and viable claim, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.