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TATOC

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The RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) is supposedly the trade body for the timeshare industry in Europe, yet it is their very own members who are being taken through the courts for the mis-selling of timeshare. Yet it fails to act against them or even sanction them for their misdeeds. In fact, if you look at their own membership list, it probably only represents about 10% of the industry in Europe, with many of their own members on the receiving end of hundreds of court cases.

Instead, it funds several entities to discredit companies that do genuinely try to help beleaguered timeshare owners, Kwikchex, Timeshare Taskforce and Timeshare business Check, all run by Chris Emmins. This gentleman does not have a very successful track record when it comes to his directorships, with 17 appointments with all companies being dissolved under his directorship.

Kwikchex and Chris Emmins replaced the now discredited Alberto Garcia who with his blog site Mindtimeshare did the RDO’s bidding, using the “Enforcement” program, now renamed Timeshare Taskforce. Granted, timeshare owners do need to know the good from the bad, but as we have seen over the years the good have been lumped together with the bad, all because they do not wish to subscribe to RDO membership or are using legal means against the timeshare industry.

Chris Emmins

So who do the consumers have to turn to?

At one time many believe that it was TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, but as we know that organisation has fallen by the wayside. It was also funded by the industry and the then CEO Harry Taylor instead of protecting timeshare consumers was very much on the side of the industry.

Recently the RDO announced a new organisation for owners, EUROC, or European Resort Owners Coalition. Yes, you have guessed it, the European equivalent of ARDA ROC from the US.

We do know that the RDO and ARDA, (American Resorts Development Association) are very close, in fact, the RDO is very much modelling itself on their US cousin. Lobbying on behalf of the industry to the detriment of the consumer.

UEROC, is being funded by both of these organisations, according to the RDO for at least one year, then it should become self-sufficient. But does that mean it will be funded by timeshare owners, or like we had with TATOC funded by industry membership and associates?

Is this new organisation actually going to represent consumers’ interests against the industry or is it going to be just another sham to make consumers believe they have a voice?

Only time will tell if what we are seeing with the industry in the US, with ARDA supporting bills which destroy consumers rights in Florida and Nevada, it does not bode well for consumers in Europe.

At least in Spain, the law is on the side of the consumer, making perpetuity contracts illegal, banning the sale of floating weeks and points systems, enforcing the cooling off period and forbidding the taking of any payments within that period. These are the basics of many of the court cases consumers are winning, resulting in contracts being declared null and void and the return of all payments.

If you purchased a timeshare in Spain after January 1999 and want to know where you stand legally, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we look again at the Nevada Senate Bill 348, with the introduction by Irene Parker and comments from Michael Kosor. Once again it looks like the industry is moving to protect itself rather than the consumer, yet the problem is one of their own making.

In Europe a new organisation has been created, EUROC, yes, it is the European version of ARDA ROC, it is being funded by ARDA and RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) Europe’s timeshare trade body. EUROC is being set up to replace the discredited TATOC, which closed down in 2017. Once again it is a smokescreen to give consumers the illusion of having a voice. According to the press information, the two organisations behind it are only going to fund it for a year, after that it should be self sufficient, well, we shall wait and see.

URGENT AND TIME SENSITIVE

If You Bought a Timeshare in Nevada and Experienced Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

Nevada Needs to Hear From You

The Next Timeshare Legislative Battle is April 5 in Nevada

Nevada Senate Bill 348 is an identical Bill that follows Florida HB 435

Nevada SB 348:  https://legiscan.com/NV/text/SB348/id/1965282

Introduction by Irene Parker

Comments by Nevada resident and Timeshare Advocate Michael Kosor

April 2, 2019

As part of Nevada SB 348, the timeshare lobby ARDA has proposed that timeshare members seeking exit services wait 24 hours before a timeshare member signs a timeshare exit service provider contract. Given the volume of complaints concerning fraudulent timeshare sales, if anyone needs 24 hours to “sleep on it,” it is the timeshare buyer. Buyers typically sign a perpetual timeshare contract with little to no secondary market. When deceived, contracts signed for even $100,000 or more are worth nothing seconds after the rescission period.  We previously reported how easily a sales agent can dodge the rescission period.

Some states, like Arizona, understand the plight of timeshare victims, especially if lawmakers themselves experienced deceit. The reverse is true in Nevada. Many of the 779 complaints Inside Timeshare received were directed against Nevada sales centers. The Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) dismissed all with a “You have no proof” letter. It is likely Nevada SB 348 was proposed due to a less than warm reception for the identical Florida HB 435, given the comments made by Florida representatives who themselves experienced negative timeshare experiences. Nevada SB 348 was proposed on the last day a bill could be filed.    

In Florida, spokespersons for the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) reported Florida received 1,600 complaints each year for the last few years with 700 complaints already received in 2019. Of the 1,600 complaints, it was reported that most complaints are about the initial sales presentation and approximately 50% were reported by seniors. Only 42 complaints were “engaged” and those they said were mostly about resale.

In effect, perpetrators in Florida and Nevada have been given the green light to make up anything to sell points, knowing complaints are likely to be dismissed by the timeshare company and by NRED and DBPR. Florida is a two party state so consumers cannot legally record the sales presentation.             

ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson opposed the pro-consumer Arizona HB that would have required timeshare buyers be granted 24 hours to review a timeshare contract. His argument was that Arizona only receives 250 annual timeshare complaints.

If you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices in Nevada, there is an easy method to comment on pending legislation. If you signed an NDA you can still make a general comment asking the bill to be amended to include the offer of a 24 hour period for the buyer to consider the purchase of a timeshare.

To voice your opinion click on Nevada SB 348 to comment:   

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/80th2019/

Thousands upon thousands of people across America and in the European Union are reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Just this week Consumer Affairs reported on a couple over the age of 85 sold $250,000 in timeshare points. USA Today and the Arizona Republic reported on a couple nearly 90 years old sold $150,000 in timeshare points. In March I received a complaint directed against the same timeshare company from a couple turning 90, both diagnosed with age-related dementia. They were sold $145,000 additional timeshare points promised a maintenance fee relief program that does not exist. A third complaint against one agent, a sales agent we have on a recording defrauding a veteran a year ago, sold a couple ages 79 and 80, 90,000 timeshare points. The husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; the wife’s first language is Cantonese. They were unsure of the purchase price but a conservative estimate is $240,000.    

There’s more!

If this bill passes, law firms providing timeshare exit assistance and legitimate exit providers would not be allowed to receive payment for services provided until all services have been provided. Timeshare companies have not been forthcoming in even notifying timeshare members that their loan has been cancelled. Many have reported not learning of a loan cancelled until a 1099C arrives in the mail.

We want timeshare buyers to be offered 24 hours to think about their decision to sign a timeshare contract. This could be waived if the buyer chooses, but would allow those unduly pressured to consider their decision, consult an attorney, mom, dad, son or daughter. As things stand, same day sales are demanded after exhausting sales sessions.

The proposed “cooling off period” as stated in the NV SB 348:

A time-share exit assistance or relief services provider shall give the owner who is not a developer not less than 1 business day to review a contract pursuant to this section.

Timeshare exit providers have heard from thousands of timeshare buyers desperate to find release. Voice your opinion – click on SB 348 and demand your 24 hours:

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/80th2019/

Timeshare members collectively donate approximately $5 million a year to the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC through “voluntary” donations via their timeshare maintenance fee invoice, yet not one of the 779 timeshare members who have contacted us could tell me what ARDA or ARDA ROC stands for. These donations fund ARDA lobby efforts. ARDA purports to be lobbying for the consumer, but what’s wrong with a consumer being allowed 24 hours to think over a purchase that has financially devastated so many families?  

Michael Kosor, a Wyndham owner and Las Vegas resident, responds to Wyndham Sr. VP Jason Gamel who testified at the Florida HB 435 legislative workshop held in Tallahassee March 12

The Nevada Senate Bill 348 denies legitimate attorney representation to responsible consumers desperately seeking to escape the perpetual liabilities of a timeshare contract. Attorneys who provide timeshare exit assistance would not be allowed to charge a retainer or any money upfront until services have been provided. Challenging a timeshare contract can take up to two years or more.  

When I last visited the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) and sat down with an investigator on the issue of timeshare complaints I learned the following:

  • NRED continues to be one of the only states that I am aware of, with a large number of timeshare sales, with no dedicated timeshare division. I believe Nevada is #7 in timeshare sales.
  • NRED has no legal staff, thus NRED must forward all legal questions to the Attorney General.
  • The investigator confirmed that NRED produces no public report to anyone, including its own investigators, on the number, type, and/or outcome of timeshare complaints filed. Are there fifty or fifty thousand complaints?

Wyndham Sr. VP and attorney Jason Gamel, who provided testimony at the Florida HB 435 Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12, made some arguably false comments in response to Florida state Representative Newton’s question about Wyndham’s dissolution policies. Mr. Gamel explained that there was no need for owners to contract with an exit service provider because members seeking a loan cancellation due to hardship can apply for a hardship release through Wyndham. Those who were denied release and contracted with an exit service provider, or those with pending litigation, will find the testimony interesting.

When asked about the percentage of owners who would be eligible for release through Wyndham’s dissolution program, Gamel stated “…over 99% of the inventory qualifies and if the owner is current in their maintenance fees and their mortgage is paid off, it’s literally just about everybody. So anybody that has called us in the last few years while this program has been active, we have taken those timeshares back.” He further went on to state, “If they qualify for the program everyone gets out.”

I have talked to those who own Wyndham (as I do), who tried to get out but did not “qualify”. When I researched the program I discovered:

  • A policy to exit a Wyndham contract is only a few years old at best.
  • To my knowledge, Wyndham doesn’t publish any qualification criteria. I am an owner. I have asked. They will not provide the specific policy criteria in writing or in a telephone conversation as to what is sufficient to “qualify”. If anyone has the qualification criteria of any developer, exchange program, etc., I would like to see and share it. It is my assessment “qualification” is a purely subjective determination made by Wyndham.
  • Contrary to my experiences and those I have talked to, more often than not, simply being current on maintenance fees and having no mortgage does not automatically result in the ability to exit/dissolution.
  • In my opinion, the entire effort is primarily a smoke screen created in response to increased consumer issues seen as threatening a very profitable business model while deflecting attention away from fixing the flaws in the product and its lack of a resale market.
  • Florida Representative Newton requested and was promised information to support Gamel’s assertions. I hope it will be made public.

Mr. McKelvey, representing ARDA ROC, also made some questionable comments that need to be rebuked. First, he claimed “most of the developers I know and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single (one). There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us (the management company) to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have a one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy….”

Mr. McKelvey’s Defenders Resorts may have had a dissolution policy, but in no way can the statement be supported that all resorts have a dissolution policy.

McKelvey went on to imply dissolution policies are “passed by your board of directors.” These are not developers, these are board members elected to a board that have passed a certain dissolution policy. We send that (dissolution policy) to the directors, but we never get an answer.

There is much to challenge in McKelvey’s testimony:

  • I seriously question the validity of his claims related to the vast proliferation of dissolution policies.  
  • There is a huge difference in “having a way to get out” and getting out.
  • Dissolution policies, contrary to what McKelvey implies, are the developer-controlled boards of the corporations and exchange trusts formed by the developers used in the developer’s affiliation (exchange) programs.
  • I find it incredible that legislators and consumer protection agencies fail to act on the realities encased by prior flawed and outdated legislation that permits the sale of perpetual contracts, on the twin legal fantasies that timeshares represent an interest in real estate, and the equally damaging “constructive notice”- a presumption purchasers are knowing of and accepting of all the contract provisions imposed. I know of no other consumer product that fits these twin categories and have produced so much wealth destruction. As I have said in the past, the properties of real estate have been stripped away from timeshares. Buyers own little more than a “membership” in a strange sort of country club that can cost $100,000 or more upfront with perpetual liabilities.

ARDA’s claim that it represents both the industry and the consumer needs to be debunked.  Who are the true consumer advocates?

Thank you Mike for your opinion. Please voice your opinion on the Nevada link provided. Venting on complaint sites is easy and might make you feel better, but venting affects no change.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

We seek to provide timeshare members 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://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish an article from a new contributor, Meryl Stefan, with the introduction from our very own Irene Parker, but first a quick look at Europe.

Another warning is being issued on a fraudulent resale company which has just come to our attention, Mundo Tours Viajes SAC, with the address, Calle Serrano 78, 28006 Madrid – Spain, Tel: +34603108836 a Spanish mobile,  fax +34 917693079, a Madrid number. The email address is [email protected], which is an email  address provider just like gmail or yahoo and is not linked to any company website. None of the registration numbers show up on any Spanish registry and are false, Licencia S.A. 253797/ES , Registro mercantil 679-369-GOY-98.

There is a genuine Mundo Tours SAC, but this is registered in Lima Peru and is a genuine tour company, it has nothing to do with this operation in Spain. The paperwork sent to the client even has the logo of the genuine company at the top, including the company name as it appears on the genuine website. Again we see a fraudulent operation using the name of a genuine company to give some credibility when you do a search on the internet, this is a ploy that has been used for many years.

Click to see a PDF of the letter.

mundo_tours  

According to our information they tell the timeshare owner they have a buyer for the timeshare, this buyer has offered a substantial amount 27,000€ and is a guaranteed sale even naming the buyer! The only thing is to get the sale underway and sort out all the legal paperwork and transfer, a large sum of money is required. In the case of our reader, this amounted to 2,900€, which needed to be paid upfront!

Remember, as far as resales are concerned, there is no resale market, timeshares do not sell for the fantastic amounts these companies tell you, there are no “guaranteed” buyers. Just look on ebay, people can’t even give them away, even if they are fixed weeks and cheap on management fees!

Now on with our letter from America.

Americano Beach Resort – post Hurricanes Matthew and Irma

What does the Future Hold?

By Meryl Stefan

Introduction by Irene Parker

July 27, 2018

Inside Timeshare published our first Americano Beach Resort article June 19. Since then we have heard from several Americano owners wondering what their vacation future holds. Obviously, no developer benefits by keeping a resort closed unnecessarily. The issues at stake are complex for both sides.

ARC has a public website that provides construction updates. According to the website, work is progressing. The installation of new windows is underway. One major area of concern to owners is the possibility of additional special assessments. According to ARC FAQs, no additional special assessments are planned, but that uncertainty remains, especially for seniors on a fixed income.    

http://www.americanobeach.com/irma-update-center.html

From our prior article:

Americano Beach Resort, a/k/a The Suites at Americano Beach, now managed by ARC Resorts, LLC, has been shut down since a few days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September 2017. http://www.insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-9/

By Meryl Stefan

We have been an Americano owner for 22 Years. One of our primary concerns is the special assessment of $1,834 levied because of hurricane damage and the possibility of future assessments. We can accept that increase might have been necessary, but on top of possible additional special assessments, it’s too much for many seniors like us living on a fixed income.  

Hurricanes can’t be predicted, but I feel that by now ARC should have been able to determine how much money will be needed and how much owners will be required to pay. If this was a one time assessment of $1834, we would understand that there could be a shortfall in insurance. The ambiguity of possible unknown assessments has forced us to walk away because of not knowing the extent of the liability. In addition to the special assessment, we paid our 2018 maintenance fee, booked a week for June 2018, but then learned the reservation had been cancelled.  

We originally paid $6,500 for a floating summer week. Maintenance fees in 2016 were $899. In 2017 they increased to $1,086. We never had a problem paying annual maintenance fees. We had always been able to book any week as long as it was 60 days in advance. I always paid my maintenance fees in January and then booked our week.

I am 65 years old, and my husband John is 75. We just don’t know what to do. We have always been responsible citizens. This is painful for us, and I know it is for many others as well. We had two other timeshares which we gave away to friends and family. We wanted to keep Americano so that we could vacation there every year with our family.

We attended one ARC meeting June 2017, after hurricane Matthew, but before Irma, after ARC acquired Americano. They tried to get us to buy into a different plan, which required more money. We declined. ARC agents wanted us to upgrade. They showed us many pictures, but the plans did not seem practical. We did not like the remodel proposed.

Comments from members,

We have heard nothing as far as an opening date other than possibly January 2019.  One member reported that he had heard it could be a couple of years before it might open. New windows are being installed but nothing has been done on the inside as far as anyone knows.

Since June 1, there have been 72 units deeded back to the Association. Some who have deeded back are under non-disclosure agreements so cannot reveal the circumstances.  Some claimed hardship, some are individuals who may have completed special warranty deeds and have submitted them to the court for filing.

The Freedom 365 plan (described below) has been purchased by some members, but other members have reported that they will not pay special assessments; although some have paid, hoping it will open.  

Many Americano owners are senior citizens now. The majority just want out of their obligation.  Some have hired attorneys but members should do due diligence before retaining any lawyer or timeshare exit company, as scams abound.

ARC has offered owners at all their resorts the opportunity to get out of the perpetual deeded timeshare by deeding the property over to ARC via the new Freedom 365 plan.

http://perspectivemagazine.com/060320175942/arc-delivers-membership-adaptability-with-freedom-365

https://www.insidethegate.com/2017/03/arc-delivers-membership-adaptability-with-freedom-365/

One owner reported that ARC Freedom 365 requires a purchase price ranging from $12,995 to $21,995. Another owner reported being quoted $5,000. For some seniors on a fixed income, spending more money is not a viable option. One member expressed reservations about Freedom 365, because she said she would need to book one year in advance. A member provided this description.

The Freedom 365 Platform gives you unlimited weeks of travel in timeshare accommodations for $299, any size, any season, anywhere. Additionally the ARC Platform gives you access to inventory not available through RCI or II at great rates!

Our future retirees love the fact that they will have travel dreams fulfilled in their retirement with our RENEWABLE CURRENCY (Savings Dollars)! A currency that not only allows them to get GUARANTEED best rates on hotels and cruises but restaurants, and thousands of everyday products and services!!

Additionally we offer the opportunity for you to discover Europe without paying for your accommodations through our Heritage Program!

Let’s take a look at your options. Do nothing, keep your unit, and in ten years you will pay over $12,000 (without inflation or assessments) and get 1 week of vacation every year. You will have an expensive week of vacation, a liability that will continue to get more expensive and difficult to opt out of.

Trade in your unit and replace them with the Freedom 365 platform and a Deed to a 2 bedroom at Magic Tree, our ARC resort in Orlando if you are interested in continuing to own a deed or have RCI points (the maintenance fee is $600 per year but is given back to you in Savings Dollars to use for future travel or to purchase products and services 365 Days a year)

Trade in your unit, have no deeded liability and use the unlimited weeks through Freedom 365 for $299 for all of your travel needs. Additionally you will enjoy $2000 savings dollars per year to travel to hotels, take cruises, purchase products, entertainment and even restaurant cards using your renewable currency.

ARC worked in cooperation with RCI Club 365 on ARC’s Freedom 365 plan:

The benefits of Club 365 are wide-ranging, with multiple uses for affiliates in North America. Club 365 can be seamlessly integrated into virtually any sales process, and can be utilized to best suit business needs by serving as:

  • A low-cost, value-added benefit to enhance core product offerings
  • An enhanced purchase incentive to increase closing rates
  • A strong non-buyer program to increase revenue and build the pipeline of future prospects

https://rciaffiliates.com/north-america/en-us/rci-news/rci-launches-club-365-to-deliver-year-round-benefits/

From the FAQs found on the ARC website

In addition, ARC sponsors a travel & leisure discount program called Freedom 365 which affords its members steep discounts on cruises, hotel & resort stays and consumer products. ARC Freedom 365 is not a deeded product, and the Member may remain so for as long as they like or may cancel their membership at any time.

From Irene

Americano members are seeking answers they hope will be forthcoming. Posting answers to questions on the ARC website helped me understand the situation better. It looks like there is a long way to go, but progress is in the works. Owners hope to be able to vacation with families and friends as they have in the past.  

If you or anyone you know has a timeshare story to share, or needs help with a timeshare issue, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help members sponsored Facebooks and websites. Remember not to pay anyone to get you out of your timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups below. Meryl paid two exit companies $395 each to get out of her timeshare, to no avail.

This Better Business Bureau report, released July 24, 2018, is the subject of next Friday’s Inside Timeshare:

In this report, we look at all aspects of the timeshare process — from buying an initial property to attempts by businesses to sell consumers on vacation club memberships to consumer endeavors to divest themselves of their timeshare investments. BBB advises consumers to use extreme caution when considering the purchase of a timeshare or vacation club offering.

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

We seek to provide timeshare members 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://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

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

Thank you Meryl and Irene, a very informative article, we just hope that some kind of resolution is forthcoming. Next week in our Tuesday Slot we highlight another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this contributor has requested anonymity which we have agreed. We welcome our readers to submit their stories, we will always respect their wishes if they wish not to be named.

Well here we are again the end of another week, Friday and the weekend beckons, whatever you are doing, having a BBQ or just relaxing down at the beach or pool, have a great weekend and join us next week.