Last week we introduced the timeshare industries trade body in Europe, the RDO (Resort Development Organisation), an organisation that on the surface appears to not only represent the industry but also promotes itself as the “kitemark for quality and trust for consumers”. Today we have a look at their “Code of Conduct”, available through their own website, which was adopted on 1st January 2010, and all members must abide by it.
It begins with Part 1 General and contains 3 points: Objective; Applicability; Members Commitment. So far so good.
In their own words their objective is:
“The objective of this Code of Conduct (“the Code”) is to support the RDO Members in both promoting, and in operating in, the Resort Development Industry. The Code is founded on the understanding that business and consumers are commercially interdependent in the Resort Development Industry.”
A good start, a promise to support RDO Members, something which is expected when you pay to join such an organisation, after all, it brings the developers together and could be a forum for change. This could be the point of the second sentence, which clearly shows that without the consumer, the industry would not exist or develop, a point that many believe has not been taken.
The next paragraph is just one sentence about how members should conduct their business and “ensure a high degree of satisfaction for consumers”. Again this is debatable.
Objectives ends with this paragraph:
“The Code is designed to complement and reinforce all applicable laws as well as to establish RDO and industry “best practice” standards.”
There are just two points to this section, the code applies to all activities within the Resort Development Industry and the “authoritative version” is the one on the RDO website. Well, it does not appear to have been updated as the version is 12 years old.
This is one of the most important sections of the code, as all members undertake to comply with all provisions (spelling and grammar are theirs):
- 3.1 To comply with the all conditions of membership, the Code and the Administrative Procedures and to uphold RDO standards, taking account of all guidance published in any Guidance Notes;
- 3.2 To fully comply with all administrative procedures of RDO and RDO’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme (ADR), including its binding decisions upon Members’ activity;
- 3.3 To conduct their Industry Activities with integrity and propriety and in accordance with industry best practice, and generally in a manner that will uphold the credibility, positive reputation and goodwill of RDO and the Resort Development industry in general;
- 3.4 To take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the Code by its employees, officers and by all who undertake Industry Activities on its behalf (including all individuals or companies acting as independent contractors), irrespective of the location of such activities, and promptly take remedial action should such noncompliance be discovered, and to terminate their relationship with any individuals or companies in sustained breach of the Code; and
- 3.5 To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that, but as you will see, this has most definitely not been the case.
This section is split into three parts: Trading Principles; Sales and Marketing Principles; Principles for Ongoing Protection for the Consumer.
These are very basic principles to abide by in any business, honesty of the product, quality of the product and service, with RDO members obliged to ensure “consumers can make informed purchase decisions when contracting with a RDO Member”. It also has three points regarding disclosure of information and delivery of the product or service, it also states that “adequate” treatment of complaints from consumers is ensured.
We do actually wonder what they mean by “adequate”?
In Sales and Marketing, they make reference to consumers should not be misled about what they are purchasing, with the member having to ensure that consumers are treated with “respect” and allowed sufficient reflection time before purchase. This is a point any consumer who has been on a sales presentation will disagree with, the constant now and today and today only.
Procedure and Administration
This basically repeats some of the above and ends with complaints and the sanctions the RDO has at its disposal and it is this last point that is of relevance here. We have already mentioned in Commitment, that the RDO member is bound to uphold all those listed, including abiding by the laws of the jurisdiction they are operating in. A very simple point, you operate in the UK you work by their laws, in Spain by theirs, yet we know that many RDO members have not abided by the laws of Spain and not to forget the countless EU Directives on timeshare.
These laws were placed into force in January 1999, yet RDO members continued to sell their products in contravention of these laws. This is a fact that cannot be disputed, the evidence is there in the court cases the industry is losing in Spain. Yet we never hear of any sanctions against these companies.
The most publicised case must be that of Silverpoint formerly Resort Properties and Azure all part of Limora Group. The number of court cases against them is staggering and with each case, we are seeing the depths of their fraud, a fraud that has cost consumers millions in bogus timeshare investments and the loans associated with them.
Associated with these cases are the various investigations that have been underway since before the Silverpoint liquidation, which has just uncovered a whole new can of worms. The investigations are being conducted by various Spanish law enforcement agencies and will be covering many jurisdictions including international.
The main point is that Silverpoint and Azure were selling timeshare as an investment, this is in breach of EU Directives and Spanish law, this is clear from their letter which is undated but is before March 2011.
Silverpoint Investment PDF
Now considering it was around 2011 the first cases against Silverpoint were hitting the courts, we have to ask ourselves why the RDO did not take any action, was it they received no complaints, that is something we very much doubt.
Silverpoint has not only broken Spanish law in more ways than one, but it has also breached the very code of conduct they signed up for.
On a final point, it has to be said that the CEO of Resort Properties and then Silverpoint was Mark Cushway, he was also a director of the RDO, with Silverpoint reputed as being the largest contributor to RDO coffers.
This ends Part 2, our next episode will feature the press and an overview of what we have covered so far, but all are pointing in one direction, it is not in the interests of the consumer.
Full Code of Conduct PDF
We hope you all had a great weekend, Baby Dog had a full one, visiting his friend and going up into the mountains to meet the ducks.