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The Tuesday Slot: The Timeshare Industry and Scams Work Hand in Hand

Timeshare has been with us for many years now, the original concept was one that certainly sparked great interest, the quality of the resorts and the guarantee of that quality no matter where you booked. But over the years many timeshare owners have been the victims of some very unscrupulous entities, from resale companies to discount holiday clubs and now exit companies, all promising the timeshare owner a way out of their commitment. So we have to ask the question, is the timeshare industry responsible for the proliferation of the many scams involved around timeshare?

In a way, the industry is responsible, the way it has been sold and the difficulties many owners have on getting out of their contracts when they no longer require the membership has made it very easy for the scammers to take hold and make even more money out of the unsuspecting timeshare owners.

In the early days, timeshare was sold as though it was property, the pitch at sales events was very simple, you could not afford to purchase an apartment abroad just for holidays, the cost was too great. So how about purchasing a “share” in an apartment, along with other “owners” you would split the cost of maintaining the apartment and the resort, these were the annual maintenance or management fees.

At first glance this looks like a win-win situation, you get to “own” a share in a luxury apartment in the sun, a place you could call a home from home. You actually believed that you “owned” the apartment and that according to the sales pitch it would increase in value, just as though you owned it outright as real estate.

This then gave rise to the resale industry, with promises of very inflated prices, but this came at a cost. In order to place your “apartment” for sale, a fee was required to “list” your timeshare on their website. Many of these companies operated by way of cold calls, they enticed the “victim” with promises of quick sales and in most cases for more than you originally paid for the timeshare. Remember, you were conditioned at the original sale that you were purchasing property and it would increase in value.

These companies would also make the promise that if they did not sell within the year of the contract, the initial payment would be returned. Great promise until they disappeared after that year and reemerged under a different name. Thousands have been lost in this way.

Eventually, these began to be replaced by the “holiday clubs”, these were basically discounted clubs where you purchased a membership, it was also a way out of your annual maintenance costs. The “holiday club” when you purchased membership would then take your timeshare, in some cases with the cashback system which supposedly paid for the membership and your timeshare after a specific period.

This particular scheme became infamous through its use by Incentive Leisure Group, selling the Designer Way Vacation Club. This whole scheme was eventually shut down and the cashback scheme was shown for what it really was, a total fraud and in many cases, the “member” still owned the timeshare.

Eventually, these clubs have frittered away, one of the last was the Monster Travel, Monster Credits and Monster Rewards dreamed up by Mark Rowe, who was also well known as a sales rep and sales manager for Resort Properties/Silverpoint. As we know this timeshare company has been shown to be one of the most fraudulent in the history of timeshare.

Rowe even took this one step further, he set up “law firms” who would not only exit you from your timeshare contract but also get you compensation. The only problem here is that to do this you also had to “join” his “club” either Monster or the replacement Jive Hippo.

So this now brings us to the present day, the “exit & claims” companies.

Although there are many cases going through the Spanish courts all brought by genuine law firms, there is on the periphery a growing number of operations that are less than legitimate.

These claim that they will “exit” you from your timeshare contract then claim compensation once the contract is cancelled. There is however a fee that needs to be paid to “exit” you from your contract, in many cases, this can be around £3000 or more.

The vast majority of these “exits” never actually happen, we have over the years seen many companies come and go with “victims” losing thousands and finding they are now in arrears for maintenance fees of around 3 years or more. Their contracts were never cancelled despite what the company told them.

So back to our question, is the timeshare industry responsible for these frauds?

In a way they are responsible, it has been their own greed that has allowed these scams to proliferate and continue. The being locked into contracts that are virtually impossible to get out of, the huge rise in annual maintenance fees and not to forget the biggest problem of all, availability.

All these are problems made by the timeshare industry, it is these problems that make owners/members vulnerable to those who see an opportunity to make huge amounts from scamming them. After all, any industry which basically holds its members to ransom making it almost impossible to “exit”, will always be a catalyst for the unscrupulous.

It is a problem that is not going away, as long as the timeshare industry continues to operate in the same old way, there are going to be those who will take advantage of people’s fears and offer them what looks like a simple solution to their problem. Unfortunately, all it will do is empty your bank account.

If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Thursday Round Up Plus a Peek at Tomorrow

Today we have a quick round-up of the news this week, tomorrow we welcome back Irene Parker to Friday’s Letter from America slot, we also remind you of another You and Yours program on MacDonald Resorts going on air tomorrow, but more of that shortly. We begin with our round-up of this week so far.

On Monday, we brought you another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” involving MacDonald Resorts. This story involves another reader who is currently experiencing the full wrath of MacDonald’s use of the law.

He is at his wits end, he feels he has nowhere to turn and is unable to get the legal help he needs due to cost. Once again, we see the bullying tactics of the timeshare companies against the most vulnerable and the law allows it.

This I personally believe is criminality in itself, a form of legalised extortion, tactics the Godfather Don Corleone would love!

Following that story we brought you news of cases heard in the High Courts, these involved two Anfi and one Silverpoint.

As usual with cases involving Anfi, they did not accept the rulings of the Court of First Instance and immediately lodged an appeal with the High Court of Las Palmas. It is something the lawyers and Inside Timeshare has come to expect in every case.

The High Court as they have done in every previous case has upheld the lower court’s decision and denied the appeal returning it back for the execution of sentence.

Silverpoint did the same thing in Tenerife, they appealed to the High Court of Santa Cruz, once again that court dismissed the appeal and upheld the original sentence. In this case, it has now been lodged with the Mercantile Court for the execution of sentence due to the liquidation process.

Tuesday it was once again Anfi in the frame, this time with the Supreme Court.

They lost at the Court of First Instance, then lost at the High Court, so decided in their wonderful wisdom to appeal to Spain’s Highest Court!

Yes, you guessed it, they lost!

We do have to ask the question, yet again: Why do they continue on this course of action?

Yesterday, we published information on a new company that has come to our attention, Theodora Consulting Ltd.

At present we don’t have that much information, but what we did publish certainly gives cause for concern.

Tomorrow we welcome Back Irene Parker with her Letter from America, which covers the ongoing news of the Hilton acquisition of Diamond Resorts. Irene has spent a great deal of time and effort in researching this article, Inside Timeshare is proud to welcome her back with such an important subject for Diamond members.

Following on from our MacDonald Resorts article, tomorrow at 12:20 pm on BBC Radio 4, the consumer affairs program You and Yours will be highlighting the stories of our readers over the past week or so.

Inside Timeshare will be listening to the broadcast and we hope you will be able to find the time to listen as well. For members of MacDonald Resorts, this is a very important item and will show you that you are not alone.

That is all for today, please do join us tomorrow for Irene’s article and do tune in to Radio 4 at 12.20 pm.
Hilton Acquisitions by Irene Parker
Broadcast on MacDonald Resorts

Start the Week: MacDonalds Using the Courts to Extort Money; News from the Spanish Courts

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, last week we published the story of one reader’s experience with MacDonald Resorts, it is truly a Nightmare on Timeshare Street story. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg, Inside Timeshare has received yet another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story involving MacDonald Resorts and their use of the Courts to extort money from their members. We also have a quick look at the news which came out of the Spanish Courts last week, these involved our old friends Anfi and Silverpoint with one case against Holiday Club.

We begin with MacDonald Resorts and their constant use of the County Courts to force “members” into paying their maintenance fees, even though they are unable to use the weeks due to age or ill-health. In many cases, they are also unable to afford the payments and being “locked-in” to perpetual contracts they have no way out.

We also know that MacDonald Resorts will attempt to freeze assets to ensure payments, they will also do the same with any will, ensuring the family of the deceased are unable to execute the will and are forced into paying.

Article on this subject by Tony Hetherington published 2014

Our latest reader is already in the courts and it does not look good, MacDonald Resorts and their “legal bloodhounds”, Shepherd and Wedderburn are intent on destroying this readers life.

In short, this reader is no longer working, he has no assets of his own and for some time now has been the sole carer for his very ill Father. He was also unaware that he had signed a contract for “lifetime” membership to their club, he thought he was only purchasing one weeks holiday. Since that time he has been in constant contact with MacDonalds as to why he is being constantly billed for annual maintenance fees, all to no avail. Letters and emails are not replied to, just the constant threats of legal action if the arrears are not paid.

We will be bringing you more on this story as we receive the details on how he ended up as a member.

To put things into perspective and a possible reason for this action by MacDonalds, we do know that they and their owner Donald MacDonald are in severe financial difficulty. They are in fact in debt to the tune of £275 million! This was even before the pandemic took effect.

The man himself, Donald MacDonald, Owner of MacDonald Resorts. The man chasing the elderly with no compassion.

Please see the links below for this part of the story.

We now move to news from the Spanish Courts.

On Tuesday 16 March new came in of yet another appeal by Anfi being dismissed and the confirmation of the original sentence of the Court of First Instance, by the High Court Number 5 of Las Palmas.

The original case was heard in the Court of First Instance Number 1 of SBT, where the court ruled the contract null and void, demanding Anfi to repay 18,278€ plus legal interest.

As usual, Anfi appealed the decision to the High Court, for no other reason than to delay payment.

The German client’s lawyers, Canarian Legal Alliance also filed a counter appeal as the awarded amount did not show any reference to the deposits illegally taken within the statutory cooling-off period. This point has been firmly established by the Supreme Court and should have been repaid in double.

Along with confirming the sentence of the lower court, the High Court ordered an additional 28,055€ to be added to the original amount and also included legal cost to be repaid to the client. This brings the total to 46,333€ including legal interest.

The following day, the High Court Number 4 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife confirmed the original sentence delivered by the Court of First Instance Number 4 of Arona against Silverpoint. The original sentence was the declaration the contract was null and void with the return of 125,119€ plus legal interest to the client.

As expected Silverpoint appealed to the High Court, which dismissed the appeal and confirmed the sentence of the lower court, declaring the contract null and void and confirming the 125,119€ plus legal interest. This time they also added the return of all legal costs to the client.

CLA who represented the client is now in the process of applying to the Mercantile Court to expedite the payment of these funds. This is due to the application by Silverpoint to file for liquidation.

On Thursday, Swedish clients of CLA were celebrating as they received their payment of 10,517€ into their own bank account after Holiday Club paid as ordered by the courts.

The case was originally heard at the Court of First Instance Number 5 of SBT with the declaration that the contract was null and void.

It must be noted that, unlike other resorts, Holiday Club accepted the ruling and voluntarily lodged the money with the court. This has not only saved them further legal fees for the appeal but also the possibility of further payments to be added by the High Court.

On Friday afternoon, after yet another appeal to the High Court by Anfi after the Court of First Instance Number 2 of SBT declared the contract null and void with the repayment of 16,548€ plus legal interest.

As with the case above, CLA also filed an appeal with the High Court Number 5, as the original sentence did not show any reference to the payment of double the amount taken by way of illegal deposits.

As we have now come to expect, the High Court had no hesitation in dismissing the appeal by Anfi, finding that the appeal had “no substance”. They confirmed the original sentence increasing the awarded amount by 15,988€ and also adding in the repayment of legal costs.

So the German client can now expect to receive 32,536€ plus legal interest and legal costs.

As we know CLA always files a “provisional execution of sentence” after the ruling by the lower court, they are now in the process of expediting the immediate collection of these funds for the client.

Along with the story about MacDonald Resorts and the antics of Anfi and Silverpoint, this really does show how unscrupulous these timeshare companies are, the only one that has shown any ethical sense is Holiday Club. Let us hope that CLA is successful in receiving a swift payout from Anfi and Silverpoint.

Are you a MacDonald Resorts member, are you or have gone through the same problems as shown in our reader’s stories, if so please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Last week’s MacDonald’s article

Press report on the debt and attempt to sell 27 hotels

Scotland’s First Minister offers financial help to MacDonald Resorts

Timeshare Consumer Association Article on MacDonald Resorts