During the past couple of months, AIT has been covering “cold calls” and the varying efforts of the “salesperson” in convincing you to sign up for their services, the most common now being “exits & claims”. This is “direct marketing” commonly known as “telemarketing”, it is not illegal, although there are or should be strict regulations in place regarding your data, including verifying where and how it was obtained.
As well as the “legality” of the data there are also regulations in place when it comes to who they can call. Many consumers may have registered with “TPS” or “Telephone Preference Service”. So what is TPS?
This is the explanation given on https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the UK’s only official ‘Do Not Call’ register for landlines and Mobile numbers. It allows people and businesses to opt out of unsolicited live sales and marketing calls.
It’s free and quick to register a telephone number. Doing so will reduce the amount of unwanted sales and marketing calls you receive. There is also a register for businesses, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service.
If a number is registered with the TPS/CTPS, organisations are legally required – by the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 – to refrain from calling it. In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office enforces the law and has power to fine firms that break it.
Organisations are required to screen against TPS/CTPS at least once every 28 days.
Obviously, if the company is legal and is using legal data they have nothing to fear, they run their lists and filter out all those on TPS and should not call them. The problem arises with the “scam” operators and the call centres operating from abroad, they do not appear to be covered by these regulations. For those with TPS, the “cold call” is a dead giveaway of a scam.
The other area of marketing which can also be a problem is “Advertising” and “Paying for Articles” that favour the “company” in various publications, some of which may be highly trusted.
Over the years we have seen this method used by some of the biggest scams operating on the periphery of timeshare. One of the memorable ones just happens to be “Designer Way Vacation Club” (ILG), they were being investigated by Penman & Sonnenlad of the Daily Mirror. The Mirror published a two-page spread on one of their reports, yet on the following page was a full-page advert for “Designer Way Vacation Club”. How could they publish an advert for a “company” they were investigating for “criminal” activity?
In this next example, the publication in which the advert appeared is one that I personally would have trusted, it was the Royal British Legion Magazine, a very worthy cause. Yet their pages were used to lure an elderly lady to sign up for a dubious law firm, ABC Legal, a company whose owner-director is currently on trial on serious charges relating to his other companies.
Our elderly lady who also had ties with the RBL obviously trusted this magazine as well, she wanted to get out of her timeshare. It was no longer being used and was now a financial burden, believing what she read she made contact and that is where she started her nightmare and lost thousands.
Luckily with a little help, she managed to get money back from her credit card and her bank for the transfers made, this was due to the fact a police investigation had been launched into the “owners” other activities.
The “Paid for Article” is just another form of advertising, the article will always show the company, quite often not named in the article, in the best light possible, sometimes with a link in a paragraph which takes you to their website. Others may have a piece at the end of the article with their contact details.
It is also usual for a notice such as this to be present at the end: This post is provided by a third party who may receive compensation from the companies whose products or services we mention.
A very clear indication that it is an advert.
One which we have recently seen is very concerning, it is titled “Everything You Should Know Related To Canceling A Timeshare”. AIT will not be going into the details of the article, we leave that to you,
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It may be aimed at students as the label suggests it is “Student Advice”, but the way it is written makes it look like it is “impossible” to get out of your timeshare. The usual “scare tactics” are present, many have been covered in previous articles, but as usual, there is a solution.
In Paragraph 3, there is the tell-tale link “cancel timeshare”, which conveniently directs you to the company website and a page titled “Timeshare Education”. We agree with “education” although we prefer to call it informing the consumer.
The “scare tactics” are evident in the opening paragraph:
Getting out of a timeshare isn’t insanely hard, for how the internet states it to be. Yes, that’s true you can’t be the one-man army here, all you’ll need is to be backed up by some professional and that’s all. Instead, what makes it difficult is how immensely good their salespersons are at their jobs. They make sure they bring in and use all the tactics that can make a potential client stay in a deal without making a firm decision of leaving or canceling the contract.
If on reading that opener, you are getting worried, that was the point, you will read on and click the link.
We agree that it is “insanely hard”, but it is not impossible, yes you will need help, and that help is out there in the form of Advocacy Groups, all helping each other to overcome the hurdles. What consumers don’t need are “articles advertising” services such as exits, claiming that you can only do it with “professionals”. Your timeshare “sales Agent” was a “professional” and look where that has got you.
This advert, although published and supposedly aimed at “students”, is really very obviously aimed at their actual target audience who will be their parents or grandparents. Probably some of those parents are financially pushed and need the “maintenance fees” to pay for college or university fees. The student now has a vested interest in helping them to be rid of the timeshare, mistakenly thinking he is doing them good.
AIT is not saying that the company that placed the article is doing anything illegal, but it does have to question how it puts its “Advertising Message” across. To imply only they can get you out of this “complicated” situation is bad enough, but it also implies that the consumer is too “stupid” to do it themselves, which is a total insult.
We mentioned the “Advocacy Groups”, the first was the Diamond Advocacy page on Facebook, begun in conjunction with Irene Parker back in 2016/17. It has teamed up with Groups of other developers members, it has grown and is still growing, so you are not alone.
It should also be noted, the publishers do not make any checks on the companies placing the article or advert, it is advertising space to be filled and revenue to be gained. This is obvious from our first two examples, on both occasions, it was brought to the attention of the organisations, and the buck was passed to “marketing”. Something very familiar there!
Join us tomorrow for “Timeshare Wars: An Attorney Speaks Out About Exit Companies and Developers”, by an Attorney with the introduction from Irene.
These are three of the main Fb Groups, you may also leave a comment or use our contact page and AIT will get back to you.