Welcome to the last Friday of January and what a month it has been, we began the year with the news of several Club la Costa sales companies going into liquidation, news that has been seized upon by some of the less reputable companies that have emerged. According to our readers, they have been told that it is Club la Costa itself that is going into liquidation and they will lose their timeshares. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. It has also been a very bad and expensive month for Anfi. They have consistently lost all cases in the Court of First Instance, lodged appeals with the High Court, only to have them dismissed and rejected. They have also been forced to pay out to clients, who now have the money secured in their own accounts.
On 6 January, while Spain was celebrating Day of the Kings, we received news of a very important case against Diamond Resorts in the Court of First Instance in Fuengirola. The case centred around jurisdictional issues of the contract.
As we have explained before, many timeshare companies like Diamond and Club la Costa have a clause in their contracts which claim that the contract is subject to UK law and the jurisdiction of UK courts. Even though the purchase was made in Spain, deposits paid in Spain and the contract signed in Spain, thereby denying the legal rights afforded to consumers under Spanish law.
As with the other jurisdictional cases including those of Club la Costa, the court ruled as per the judgements of many High Court hearings, that Spanish law and courts take precedence and do have full jurisdiction. This is a blow to the timeshare companies who have used this to “escape” the strict regulations governing the sale of timeshare.
It should also be pointed out at this point, that this is also a breach of the “Code of Conduct” laid down by the trade body the RDO, whose code clearly states:
“To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.”
As part of this series, we published the personal story of one family and how they ended up being sold a timeshare by Azure with so many false promises and the ubiquitous BPF loan. The story follows the problems this has caused especially with the passing of one of the partners. The article is called The Story of Smoke and Mirrors.
We also brought you news from around the courts in Spain, with some rather good results from two law firms and one independent lawyer.
The cases ranged from First Instance trials, appeals to the High Court, Jurisdictional issues and then embargos to force payments. All in all, it was an expensive week for timeshare.
There was also a visit to articles published by the TCA, the first was on the confusion around the Club la Costa liquidations, which has been extensively covered by the TCA and Inside Timeshare. They also published another scathing article on the timeshare industry, this time regarding the availability at Diamond Resorts through independent booking sites.
Again this is a subject that Inside Timeshare has covered, not just for Diamond but all the major timeshare resorts. The fact that non-members are able to book at these resorts, usually cheaper than members pay in maintenance fees, plus without the huge initial outlay to join, is, to say the least totally unfair.
We then ran two articles on the timeshare industry, focusing on the replacement for TATOC, to “represent” timeshare “owners”, this is called EUROC, European Resort Owners Coalition. The articles asked the question “do they actually represent you the members”? The answer to that we leave you to decide, we know what our answer is.
We then published an update on Themis Resolution, a “company” which does not appear to be registered either in Spain or the UK. Certainly doesn’t look good.
Then for our friends across the pond, we issued a warning on a scam operating out of Mexico, the Modus Operandi is very similar to a previous one and also mirrors that of our friends the Litigious Abogados Family.
We then continued to look at the RDO and EUROC with Timeshare Industry Denies the Truth.
In this article, we looked at one of their own members, our old friends at Anfi. It highlighted the breaches that this company has made in not just Spanish timeshare law, but also against the Code of Conduct of the RDO. It also asked the question, why this organisation does not “sanction” their members for these breaches? Again we leave you to make up your own mind, we know what we think.
We end this week with the happy news for one English client who won their case at the Court of First Instance against Anfi. Then to find that Anfi had as they always do to delay proceedings had lodged an appeal with the High Court.
While this was going on the “provisional execution order” had been put into place, this resulted in money being secured from an embargo against a tax refund that was due to Anfi.
The client who was represented by Canarian Legal Alliance has now received over 11,000€ into their account and are also timeshare and maintenance-free.
That is it for this week, we hope that you have enjoyed reading the articles and we welcome your comments and views. Join us again next week for more in the murky world of timeshare.
Back in April 2019, Inside Timeshare published the news of a replacement for the liquidated and discredited TATOC (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees), which as you will remember was fronted by the also discredited Harry Taylor, or was it, Henry Taylor? The name of this new “organisation” is the European Resort Owners Coalition or EUROC, it’s purpose according to their own website “is to represent the interests of its members and act as the official spokesbody for current or potential issues relating to timeshare ownership”. But the question is are they actually representing the interests of timeshare consumers rather than the “owners” of the resorts and the management companies that operate them?
The RDO awarded a grant of 97,000€ and ARDA $150,000 respectively, which according to the RDO they will eventually “become self-sufficient”. So the question is how long will that take and will the two “trade bodies” still be funding them the same way as they did TATOC?
But what is the reason behind this new “initiative” of the RDO?
Well, the most telling part is in a statement they made when announcing the funding:
“The industry trade association RDO (Resort Development Organisation) is unlikely to be seen by the authorities and regulators as truly representing owners. When EUROC talks to regulators, it will speak on behalf of thousands of timeshare owners and homeowner clubs across Europe. Where appropriate, EUROC will work alongside the Resort Development Organisation (RDO).”
(Quote is taken from the TCA Article of 10 April 2020)
This is in fact very laughable, the RDO actually admitting that no one is taking them seriously or even being seen to be representing the interests of consumers. We use the term consumers as that is what they are, they are not “homeowners” as ARDA and the RDO would have you believe, perpetuating the old myth that when purchasing timeshare you are purchasing “property”.
Just as TATOC bowed down to the will of the timeshare companies it appears that EUROC is also doing the same.
In a recent letter to Marriott’s Club Son Antem“owners”, they give a warning about the number of “claims companies and fake law firms” targeting timeshare “owners/members” with cold calls regarding mis-sold timeshare and illegal contracts. (Contrary to popular belief, cold calls are not illegal).
This in itself is not a bad thing, but it is the nature of what they are saying that is the problem along with the fact that they are also including the genuine law firms in their statement.
According to the letter, it appears that EUROC is following the same line as the RDO in denying that many contracts sold and signed after 5 January 1999 are illegal under Spanish Timeshare Laws.
Now, this actually goes against what we already know from the many court cases that have taken place and been reported not just by Inside Timeshare but also Spanish newspapers and television.
It is also a fact that Marriott themselves admitted that they had been losing cases in the Spanish Courts for the sale of illegal contracts. It also set aside $16.3 million to cover litigation costs in the US and Spain. The admission which came in a financial statement reported in Market Exclusive (see link below) on 7 July 2018.
The question is if it is illegal for a law firm to take upfront legal fees, how is the case ever going to be prepared and eventually end up in court?
We also have to ask the question what legislation are they using to state that it is “ILLEGAL” to pay “upfront legal fees”, they show no link to any legislation either in Spain, the UK or Germany?
Inside Timeshare has even asked several lawyers for confirmation and they know nothing of any legislation.
We all know that lawyers need paying to do the work and bring a case to court, so is this just another attempt to stop the growing number of “consumers” who are taking the timeshare companies to court?
The letter also urges “consumers” to report any calls along with details to Timeshare Business Check, a website run by Kwikchex which is another company funded by the RDO and ultimately the industry. (see the link to a previous article on Kwikchex below).
EUROC also states that they and the Timeshare Task Force, another Kwickchex and RDO funded enterprise work very closely together to combat “fraud”. They are not doing very well considering the “frauds” have been perpetrated by RDO members, Silverpoint and Azure are two very prominent cases in point, yet nothing has ever been said or done about these companies by either the RDO or TATOC.
Another director with links to the timeshare industry is Philip Micheal Broomhead, who has many directorships most of which he is resigned from, but they do include Club Cala Blanca Ltd, First National Trust Company which are still active and many more including Los Claveles Ltd, of which there are several companies listed. Full company details and list of officers can be found on the links below.
Just on the information, we publish here, it certainly does appear that EUROC is for the benefit of the industry and not the consumer, it is just another “smoke & mirrors” attempt to reduce the number of cases for illegal contracts getting to courts.
If they are so concerned about saving the industry, which already has a very negative reputation they are too late and the use of untrue information to timeshare consumers in order to sway them away from seeking legal redress puts them in the same category as the scammers they claim they are trying to protect consumers from.
We all know that the holiday industry has been suffering for the past year and timeshare consumers are still having to pay exorbitant annual fees, even though they are unable to use their membership. By using these methods to stem the tide of litigation and the loss of maintenance fees is nothing short of scandalous and holding consumers to ransom.
If an association formed with the purpose of “protecting” consumers interests cannot get their facts right, who does the consumer turn to for the TRUTH?
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.
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.
Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
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.
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 thatMacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).
On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Courtregarding 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:
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.
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.