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RDO

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the first Tuesday Slot of the year, today have a look at the re-emergence of our old friends at Mindtimeshare. As we know they stopped publishing in November 2019 but came back recently, the unfortunate thing for them is that their news and information is not what you could call reliable. There is also a message for all members who purchased a timeshare through Azure Resorts in Malta, using Barclay Partner Finance loan agreements brokered by the sales staff, more on this below. We begin today with yet another blow and it is a huge financial one for Anfi.

Yesterday the High Court released their ruling on yet another appeal by Anfi against the sentence and ruling issued by the Court of First Instance Number 2 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana.

In the original ruling, the court of SBT declared the Anfi contract null and void, which is what we have now come to expect in all cases, the court also awarded the Norwegian client 105,061€ plus legal interest and the return of all legal costs.

This huge award has been calculated that the clients be repaid 46,031€ which is what they originally paid for their timeshare. The court also added a further 59,030€ to be paid back, which is double the amount illegally taken in deposits during the statutory cooling-off period.

The High Court agreed with the ruling and sentence of the Court of First Instance rejecting and dismissing the appeal confirming the original sentence. The case is now back for the execution of the order which, as we have already seen in past cases, has a “provisional execution order” already in place. So we hope that this client has a speedy payout.

The case was prepared and presented by the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez with Claims Consultant Michael Gadman assisting the client throughout the process.

We now move to the continuing saga of the Financial Conduct Authority and their validation order to “legalise” loan agreements made by Azure Services Ltd. This company brokered loan agreements on behalf of Barclay Partner Finance yet they were not an “authorised” agent.

This has affected over 1,400 clients, whose loans were not enforceable under the law if the client defaulted on the loan. With the validation order, these loans were effectively legalised and BPF could enforce payment through the County Courts in the event of a default.

Although the FCA has issued a validation order, this is now subject to appeal as it appears that no client detriment was taken into consideration.

A group has now been formed on the following Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1152657598482168

If you would like to know more or join the group in their appeal then please do check this page out and join. (See below for links to previous articles).

We now move to Mindtimeshare, as you all know, Mindtimeshare went through quite a dramatic couple of years following Alberto Garcia’s demise with the subsequent removal of funds from the RDO.

Due to financial constraints, Mindtimeshare stopped publishing back in November 2019, they re-emerged only back in December 2020, just over a year without publication.

Obviously being out of circulation for that amount of time has left them well behind on all the scam operations, this is seen by some of the posts published over the past couple of weeks. Most of the “fake” law firms they have highlighted were the subject of several articles published by Inside Timeshare months ago.

Two, in particular, stand out, Morales Maxwell and Suarez and Simpson, both were highlighted for the first time in June and July 2020, with all websites working and a barrage of “cold calls” and unsolicited emails.

Unfortunately, by the time Mindtimeshare began publishing, these two have seemed to have disappeared into thin air with their websites no longer functioning.

The other cause for concern is their publication of a “fake” law firm Century Abogados, which had begun an email campaign targeting Eze Group members. They are using the following email address:

[email protected]

All credit to them for highlighting this “fake” law firm, but, unfortunately, it seems that their research has not been carried out completely. According to their article, there is no law firm or offices with the name Century Abogados.

There is a firm based in Malaga, with offices in Torremolinos, Marbella, Madrid and Barcelona, they use the website:

https://www.centuryabogados.com/

Which was registered on 5 May 2015 and is due to expire in May 2024, not the usual length for a scam company.

Entrance to the Malaga Office of Century Abogados

Inside Timeshare has contacted them and confirmed they are a genuine law firm with no interest in timeshare matters.

In fact, there is plenty of information on this law firm when searching the internet such as the one below:

https://www.elabogado.com/century-abogados-malaga/sedes/

As we said, all credit to them for highlighting the emails as being “FAKE”, but their research has let them down somewhat and this could have some serious consequences for the law firm as well as Mindtimeshare.

Inside Timeshare has also received this picture from a reader which appears to come from Mindtimeshare:

Well, all we can say is now we know where some of your new stories have originated and actually thank you for publicising Inside Timeshare, if Mindtimeshare is following, then we must be doing something right in our research!

That is all for today, please remember that in Spain, tomorrow is the Day of the Kings and is a public holiday, so unless some important news appears over the course of today there may not be an article tomorrow.

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-azure-bpf-loan-agreements/

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-bpf-azure-loans-update/

https://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-loan-agreements/

A New Member to EGTBW (Re-published)

Yesterday we published an article which highlighted yet another Anfi defeat in the High Court, it then went on to ask the question, Why the RDO allows its members to continue to flout the law and yet does nothing to sanction them, despite the fact they are also ignoring the “Code of Conduct” of their membership to that organisation. Back in June 2016 we published the article “A New Member to EGTBW”, which has been republished several times. Although a “Spoof” article with the “Trade Body” being made up it certainly reinforces the question of what are the RDO there for? Today we re-publish the article with a couple of changes as it does go into a little more detail. But first, we begin with a very significant victory in the Spanish Courts.

The case involves a Spanish consumer who purchased a timeshare membership with Club la Costa at their Malaga resort, all well and good you might say, they are covered by the Spanish timeshare laws. Unfortunately this was not to be the case which then resulted in an epic legal battle, one which we have highlighted before, it covers Club la Costa’s insistence that the Spanish Courts do not have jurisdiction over their contracts.

CLC insist that all their contracts, which have the following clause, are subject to UK Law and the Jurisdiction of UK courts, this contention has been the subject of many cases which the High Court of Malaga has rejected. They have consistently ruled that as the purchase was made in Spain, the purchase was made in Spain and the fact the resort is actually located in Spain, gives Spanish Law jurisdiction.

They have also constantly expressed the view that companies operating in Spain cannot unilaterally decide or choose which jurisdiction they come under, thus denying consumers the full protection they deserve.

Now considering that it is also a Spanish Citizen who purchased in his home country, how can a company deny that citizen the full protection of the laws of their OWN COUNTRY?

Well, the Court of First Instance Number 3 of Fuengirola seems to agree, also following the rulings of the High Court of Malaga. They ruled that they did have jurisdiction and declared the contract null and void, ordering Club la Costa to repay 22,546€ including Legal Interest.

No doubt we will see Club la Costa launch yet another appeal, which we have all confidence in them losing yet again.

The case was brought on behalf of the Spanish client by Canarian Legal Alliance.

This is another reason why today’s article is being re-published, according to the RDO “Code of Conduct” which states:

“To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.”

This to Inside Timeshare appears to be a very good example of timeshare operators doing what they like along with the protection and support of the “Trade Body” they pay to join. We hope it gives you a bit of a laugh, but most of all it will show you that all is not as it seems.

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kitemark of excellence.

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately, this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis, we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo
The Old Boys Club

This organization’s own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.

They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:

“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”

“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”

So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out that MacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).

tony hetherington
thisismoney

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2346500/TONY-HETHERINGTON-I-escape-nightmare-sun.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2527546/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Timeshare-boss-relents-spite-fighting-talk.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1323162/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Death-doesnt-bring-end-timeshare-fee.html

So these are poorly researched are they?

On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believes the court has got it wrong, the RDO, it seems agrees with them!

For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is ageing, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.

What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?

It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:

  • In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
  • A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
  • If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
  • In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases, any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.

(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)

As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.

In the original article we also asked the question:

What of TATOC in all this?

Although since the first publication TATOC, (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees)) is no longer, having gone into liquidation due to several legal altercations, it’s purpose was supposed to be representing the owners and their elected committees. As we know Harry Taylor who was the CEO, was in fact a full supporter of the industry and TATOC funds were paid by the industry members the same as the RDO.

tatoc logo

No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!

Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.

We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything have finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non-members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

Start the Week: Another Defeat for Anfi & A Question for the RDO

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, although it will be a short week and looking forward to a welcome break over the Christmas and New Year Period. We begin this week with news which came in late on Friday with another defeat for Anfi at the High Court. We also ask the question of why is the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) not even acknowledging that their own members are losing in the courts for not abiding by the law let alone the organisation’s code of conduct and ethics?

High Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

As we have been seeing time and time again, Anfi is doing their utmost to delay proceedings with their constant appeals to the High Court, causing not just stress for the clients but also creating a huge backlog of cases to be heard by this particular court.

The Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana Number 3, declared the Anfi contract null and void in accordance with all cases they have tried, this is also in accordance with the rulings, of which there are now 131, by the Supreme Court in Madrid. This is Spain’s Highest Court and once they have ruled there is no going back as this is the last port of call for any appeal.


Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana

The original sentence issued by the Court of First Instance as well as declaring the contract null and void also ordered Anfi to repay 61,166€ plus Legal Interest. The award was also calculated to include the repayment of double the amounts the client paid within the statutory cooling-off period.

As expected, Anfi once again appealed the ruling to the High Court of Las Palmas. The Judges once again in accordance with past practice and the Supreme Court rulings rejected and dismissed the appeal. They confirmed the original sentence and returned it to the original court for execution of sentence.

No doubt the Lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance had already placed a “provisional execution of sentence order”, even before the announcement of the appeal. We have come to expect this in every single case.

In this case, the Norwegian client’s case was prepared and presented by Eva Gutierrez with Claims Consultant Michael Gadman assisting the client throughout the procedure.

We now have to ask the question, “Why does the RDO not sanction Anfi and other timeshare operators who are their members, such as Diamond Resorts and Club la Costa?”

Well, the simple answer is the RDO policy of not getting involved in any dispute between their members and timeshare owners. Yet they will pull out all the stops if a non-RDO member does anything remotely wrong.

Is this practice fair for consumers, Inside Timeshare and others think not!

In fact, all the cases we are seeing and also highlighting on these pages are members of the RDO, they also have one thing in common, they are all in breach of one of the main points of the RDO “Code of Conduct and Ethics”.

Part I, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.5 actually states:

“To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.”

Now, considering that the Laws of Spain have been ignored by virtually all timeshare resorts and companies since the Law 42/98 came into force on 5 January 1999, surely this is a blatant breach of their rules?

This is not the only breach of the RDO “Code”, Part II of the code, which covers “Principles”, is also being blatantly breached. This covers the way in which timeshare should be sold and relates to the information consumers must receive. It also covers the point that consumers should be given the facts in order that they are able to make “informed purchase decisions when contracting with an RDO Member”.

In Part II of the Code, it is also clearly stated:

2. Sales and Marketing Principles 

2.1 RDO Members will in no case mislead a consumer into believing that a product or service has other features and/or benefits than those laid down in the contract.

2.2 RDO Members will in particular ensure:

2.2.1 Appropriate marketing techniques that make it clear what the object of the approach to the consumer is;

2.2.2 Appropriate selling methods that treat the consumer with respect and allow the consumer choice between purchasing and reflection; and

2.2.3. The provision of any necessary assistance to consumers to enable them to make an informed decision.

As we have seen over the years, these principles have been ignored by all the major timeshare resorts and operators. The very worst was by one of the RDO’s former largest contributors, Silverpoint, whose CEO Mark Cushway was also a Director of the RDO!

Silverpoint withdrew from the RDO with Cushway resigning as a Director a few years ago, since then have filed for liquidation following major defeats in the courts regarding the sale of their product “Investment Packs”.

Mark Cushway former CEO of Silverpoint and Director of the RDO

These were groups of weeks and apartments sold with the promise of a rental income and a profit when the weeks were to be put up for resale after 2 years. As we know none of these ever materialised with Silverpoint losing in all cases along with around 50 rulings against them in the Supreme Court.

This particular scheme has been dubbed as one of the biggest frauds in timeshare history, yet what did the RDO say or do about it?

Well, you guessed it, absolutely nothing, even when these consumers made complaints to the RDO their response was what we have come to expect, the RDO does not mediate in any dispute between a member and a consumer. The consumer must take up any complaint directly with the timeshare operator. Hence the proliferation in litigation which the timeshare industry is losing.

Below is a PDF copy of the RDO Code of Conduct, once you begin to read it you will see many other infractions of this code by RDO members. Just remember what the sales reps told you when you first attended a presentation or even the constant attempts to “upgrade” you by the in-house reps. This will certainly open your eyes to what this industry and the so-called “Trade Body” are actually all about, we call it “protecting the old boy’s network”.

So, who can you go to when you have a dispute, the Kwikchex “helpline”, which is just another company funded by the RDO designed to protect their own members. The choice is very limited, timeshare owners are basically left on their own and at the mercy of some very dubious “exit & claims” companies. For those whose purchases were made in Spain, at least they are able to use the laws in place and use the legal system to gain redress, as we have constantly shown on our pages.

To end today’s article, if you purchased in Spain after 5 January 1999, with a contract with either no end date (perpetuity) or over the permitted 50 years duration, you have floating weeks or points systems, which also include fractional, paid any amount within the statutory cooling-off period. Then you may have a case under the Spanish legal system against your timeshare company for breaches of Timeshare Laws 42/98 & 4/12.

If you would like more information on this subject please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.