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Trump

Friday’s Letter from America

This Letter from America was originally scheduled for publication in August, it follows the revelations published here about a crucial decision from Scotland’s Court of Sessions, by Lord Sanderson. It is a US perspective of Mr Trump and his relationship with certain timeshare moguls, just like the story of his involvement in Scotland, it does not paint a very good picture. This article also briefly shows the efforts and role of the “Regulators” in the U.S. So it ties in with another article published this week. For those of you who are not familiar with the “Timeshare Mogul” named, click on the YouTube link and watch the Queen of Versailles, you will then ask yourself the question, “Is this where my money has gone?”

Trump and Timeshare

By Irene Parker

U.S. names like Trump and Biden are not mentioned in polite company without jeopardizing relationships with friends and family. There are many reasons to like or dislike both named politicians, but those on the side of consumer timeshare protection have reason to question former President Trump’s biased stance on timeshare sales and marketing practices.

Charles reported earlier this week on questionable lending as pertaining to the Trump Organization’s acquisition of the Turnberry Resort and golf course in Scotland. A look back to what happened in 2016 provides some political timeshare history.


Pictured left front Westgate owner David Siegel

Pictured above is candidate Trump in 2016 on the stump. Westgate owner David Siegel of Queen of Versailles fame is seated to Mr Trump‘s right. The Queen of Versailles documentary describes the couple’s 90,000 square foot Orlando home that includes Mrs Siegle’s 5,500 square foot clothes closet. The documentary took Best Director at Sundance some years back.

I have no objection to great wealth, but a number of Westgate owners have reached out to me or our volunteers, unable to exit their timeshare. Some have debilitating and chronic health conditions. One couple, the husband, age 90, was forced to default on their timeshare week because Westgate objected to their paying their broker his $800 commission after the broker had found a buyer offering $500. I know of no honest timeshare resale broker (those who charge no upfront money to list a timeshare for sale) that will accept a listing for Westgate units because it is written into the contract that Westgate is entitled to 50% of the commission.

The  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the federal agency in the U.S. that seeks to protect consumers, along with the Federal Trade Commission. The CFPB in 2016 fined Wells Fargo $100 million when agents opened unauthorized accounts to reach performance goals and compensation incentives.

Westgate underwent a two-year investigation concerning sales and marketing practices. According to Buzzfeed News, Diamond Resorts was the next likely candidate to come under CFPB scrutiny. Not only was the Westgate investigation dropped almost immediately after the 2016 presidential election, the CFPB was all but dismantled.

REGULATORS ARE LOOKING INTO AMERICA’S LARGEST TIMESHARE SELLER March 18, 2016

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times

According to the CFPB’s civil investigative demand (CID), the Westgate investigation looked into possible violations by salespeople involved in “the sale and financing of timeshares engaged in, or are engaging in, acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and the Fair Credit Billing Act.

Where is the CFPB today?

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a report highlighting legal violations identified by the Bureau’s examinations in 2020. The report also highlights prior CFPB supervisory findings that led to public enforcement actions in 2020 resulting in more than $124 million in consumer remediation and civil money penalties. June 29, 2021

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-report-highlights-supervisory-findings-of-wide-ranging-violations-of-law-in-2020

Anyone who is unable to resolve their dispute, after reaching out to their timeshare company, and feels they experienced unfair and deceptive practices, should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the state Attorney General where the contract was signed, and the Better Business Bureau. It is only because of a volume of complaints that Timeshare Sales appeared at #7 on the FTC’s list of Top Ten Scams at $17.4 million and Timeshare Resales (We have a buyer for your timeshare scams) #10 at $12.5 million.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/ftc-top-scams.html

Inside Timeshare will say this again, there is nothing wrong with the concept of timeshare, for some, it is a good option and suits their vacation needs, but as always it is the way it is sold and managed. The consumer is just the proverbial “Cash Cow” to be milked of their cash by the greed of the industry.

Inside Timeshare welcomes your views on this subject, Inside Timeshare can see many similarities in what is happening in the timeshare world, not just in Europe but in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Eventually what happens in one place will happen elsewhere, it is an international problem, so we invite you to use our contact page or just leave a comment. Have a great weekend.

End the Week: News for Puerto Calma Members

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare, we started this week with a warning of yet another “FAKE” law firm to rear its ugly head, Marbella Solicitors Service, who are making contact with Eze Groupvictims” with stories of money being held by the courts. They also claim they are working for the High Court of Madrid and this is where they have the got “victims” information. On Tuesday we published the horrific story of an elderly couple and their long dealings with Diamond Resorts. It really is a Nightmare on Timeshare Street. This article has prompted many emails and another nightmare story, we hope to publish this story in the future. Our Wednesday article bright the news of Mindtimeshare restarting their blogs. This article actually left more questions to be answered than before. The same article also brought news from the courts in Marbella and Gran Canaria, with great results against Marriott and Anfi. Yesterday we broke the news about the Menie Dunes, the location of Trump’s Golf Course and Resort. It was not good news, the dunes have now lost their “protected” status and this has angered many in Scotland.

Holiday Club, Puerto Calma

Over the past few weeks, there has been some friction between members of Puerto Calma and management, this has stemmed from the inability of members to use their weeks this year due to all the restrictions and closures of resorts.

There were calls for refunds of the 2020 maintenance fees which are due at the start of each year, plus there was some concern as to when the lost weeks could be taken. Many argued that the offer of using this year’s unused weeks next year with a deadline of 31 December 2021 was unacceptable to many. The main argument came in two forms, first, the number of those who could use them, this would obviously create problems with availability, the other concern was for those who could not double up their holidays next year as they do not have the available time for extra holidays, this means they would lose out.

What has not helped the situation is the lack of information and response from management, what also did not help was that the members found out that the resort was being turned over to the authorities and the Red Cross for the refugee problem.

The news is now in that the results of the meeting of members and owners associations have been released by newsletter. (See PDF below)

The newsletter itself mainly focuses on the points of the refund and the use of this year’s unused weeks. From this initial report, it does look as though it is a relatively fair compromise.

There has been agreement on members who between March and December this year could not use their weeks may apply for a partial refund. Going by the average maintenance fee, this equates to around 30% to 33% of the total annual charge, if they do not wish to or are unable to carry their week forward.

For those who are able to “bank” their week and use it later, the deadline for the use of this week has been extended to 31 December 2023. That should help with the problem of availability as now everyone will not be trying to get in the extra week next year.

There are obviously Terms & Conditions to this, these are the terms supplied in the newsletter:

  • Maintenance fee for 2021 must be paid in full, before the 14th February 2021.
  • Members must confirm that they will not be using their week from 2020 in order to be eligible for the partial refund. 
  • Members have until the 31st March 2021 to inform Holiday Club of their intention to use the week from 2020 at a later date or to request the partial refund. Members who do not inform us of their choice of the partial refund or the use of the week will not be eligible for the refund and will have their week to be used by the 31st December 2023.
  • Members who have deposited with RCI, either weeks or points members, already have their week from 2020 available to exchange with RCI and will not be eligible for the partial refund.
  • Members who choose to use their week, instead of the refund, should contact the Reservations Department to rebook. All reservations are subject to availability.
  • To request the partial refund or to inform us that you will be using the week, please send an email to [email protected]. If you request a partial refund, please send your bank details (Account holder, IBAN number and BIC code)  as well as your full name and contract number so we are able to make the transfer to you.

Although this may not please everyone, at least it is an offer and they have given until 31 March 2021 for members to decide and register their choice. It does appear to be a fair offer considering that only down the road is the Anfi Resort, members are not getting any refund and are being “blackmailed” to save their weeks. They can only save and use their weeks lost this year if and only if they sign the new contracts. No new contract, lose the week!

The only problem now is for those members in the UK who were hoping to travel to their resorts when they reopen in the near future, Many will not be able to travel now due to the latest “quarantine” regulations which come into force at 4 am on Saturday 12 December.

The Canary Islands have now been removed from the safe travel list by the British Government, this now means that anyone returning to the UK will have to go into a 14-day quarantine. For many who are working, this makes it impossible for them to travel.

The question is now, how long will this last and are we going to see a repeat of the same arguments regarding next year’s maintenance fees?

Another question is which other EU countries will follow suit and ban travel to the islands?

This situation is not only affecting timeshare owners and resorts but also the entire “tourist” economy of the Islands. With nearly all the hotels still closed, the severe restriction on numbers of customers in hotels, bars and restaurants, the unemployment rate is soaring, the economy is taking a severe downturn and many bar and restaurant owners are now closing down for good.

It is not only the bars and restaurants owned by ex-pats of all nationalities, we are also seeing some of the older locally-owned bars and restaurants closing their doors for good.

For all the people living and trying to make a living on these Islands, it is a difficult time, and the longer this goes on the worse things will get, but I’m sure that their resilience will win out, have a great weekend.

Breaking News: Trumps Aberdeenshire Golf Resort Hits the Headlines

Back in January 2017, Inside Timeshare published the story of the Trump golf course and timeshare development at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire Scotland, this development was hugely contested by the local population back in 2008. The original plan was to build an 18 hole golf course, a 450-room hotel, 500 luxury homes and 900 timeshare apartments along with a second 18 hole golf course.

Menie House, Balmedie, Aberdeenshire

Opposition to the development not only came from the local population but also from Scotland’s Environment Agencies, this was due to the area being rare and legally protected coastal dunes. Trump won the planning approval only because of the promise that the resort would be an “economic investment” of national importance and 1,200 jobs would be created.

There were then plans to increase the development with more homes and timeshare apartments, but apparently, these were shelved temporarily due to the economic crash in 2008. It was rumoured they were being revived by his company with further timeshare apartments and homes.

Since then arguments have continued over this development and the land it is built on and adjacent to. There have also been heated arguments over one plot which the owner refuses to sell for the next stage of the development. See link below: Trump faces a wall of opposition.

Local Graffiti against Trump

Today the news has broken that the Coastal Sand Dunes have now lost their protected status.

According to NatureScot, the dunes at Menie, which is just north of Aberdeen, had been a “high-quality example” of a geological system which is characteristic of Northeast Scotland. Unfortunately, since the Trump golf course was built, it seems that they no longer merit being part of a “site of Special Scientific Interest”.

Menie Dunes & Golf Course

The agency also remarked that, although the golf course had carried out work to protect rare habitats and plants, “there was now no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie, as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated”.

The Policy and Communications Director at the London School of Economics’ Climate Change Research Institute, Bob Ward said, “This is a bitterly disappointing decision which shows that golf still trumps the environment when it comes to Scotland’s natural heritage.”

It was also stated that this had “opened up the door” for further harm to the remaining dunes due to the construction of the second golf course. This has already been approved and is to be built next to the original one on the Menie Estate.

Despite all the protest the original golf course was completed and opened in 2012, there was the promise of creating 6,000 jobs and an investment of £1bn. It was reported last year that the Trump company had only spent around £100m on the course and only around 650 jobs were created for temporary and permanent staff.

According to other reports, the golf course and luxury hotel have not been a profitable concern since they opened eight years ago.

This situation has not only angered the local population but also political parties and environmental groups, Mark Ruskel of the Scottish Green Party stated: “The Trump organisation has left a litany of broken promises to Scotland, on jobs and on housing”.

“The environmental damage caused to this site of special interest is completely unforgivable when we are in a nature emergency”.

“Donald Trump’s destructive company should not be allowed to do business in Scotland again.”

Trump on the Destroyed Menie Dunes

This argument is very unlikely to go away quietly, it is clear the people of Scotland do not agree with these developments or the removal of the areas “protected status”, they obviously feel as though they have been let down by those who they have voted into power. As more news on this story unfolds Inside Timeshare will be reporting it on these pages.

Link to the Sky News report published 10 December 2020

https://news.sky.com/story/trumps-aberdeenshire-golf-resort-kills-off-site-of-special-scientific-interest-12156589

Links to previous news reports on this story

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-organization-golf-links-resort-scotland-aberdeen-conflict-interest-a7534596.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/planners-reject-donald-trump-revised-plans-scottish-golf-resort#img-1

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/23/donald-trump-faces-wall-of-opposition-as-he-returns-to-scotland

Inside Timeshare links

https://insidetimeshare.com/attorneys-general-timeshare-trump/

https://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

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