Following Friday’s article highlighting Military Consumer Month, several questions were asked regarding the military and timeshare in Europe, do they have the same problems was the most common. Scam calls are also high on the list of messages received, so today we will give a quick answer to the first question, then have a look at the latest “offers to help”.
As we have highlighted in our articles on US timeshare, it is sold very aggressively compared to how it was sold in Europe, the pressure to sign on the day is from testimonies we have received intense, to say the least.
It would be wrong to say that no serving Military and Veterans own a timeshare, undoubtedly, they do, but over the years we have never come across the antics we see from our US cousins. Especially when it comes to finance and the pressures to sign contracts.
One of the main reasons for this we believe are the rules which “qualify” a “potential” purchaser from attending a presentation, one of the main “qualifications” was “Do you own your own home”. In other words, you have a mortgage, that will help get the finance through if you haven’t got the cash, those who rent, may “qualify” if it was private and they had lived there for many years, in other words, settled.
Now considering that most servicemen are single, at least for the first years of service, they would not even qualify for a “courtesy” tour. The married personnel, however, would usually be housed on or near the base in “married quarters”, which is “rented accommodation”. As for the length of time at that location, well that depends on postings or in US terminology deployment, but on average it would be around three to four years.
So straight away we have eliminated their likely exposure to timeshare sales. OK, we know that “OPCs” and “reception” will always slip one through, but the truth always comes out, after all the “reps” are wise to the OPC tales.
It is not until servicemen who are in it for the duration, begin to own their own homes away from garrisons and bases, sending their kids to local schools rather than moving every couple of years will timeshare probably come up. They are also the ones rising through the ranks with more disposable income and they are the ones who end up on “tour”.
When it comes to finance, there are some very strict rules which “lenders” should adhere to, on the whole, this does seem to be the case. When serving during the late 70s, getting a loan or purchasing on finance as a soldier was not easy, banks and lending companies were very strict, usually requiring “guarantors”, in the soldier’s case it would be his CO for permission. This was even true when financing through one of the NAAFI stores either on base or located in one of the garrison high streets. Soldiers were never high up on the “credit ratings” in those days.
There is plenty of advice available regarding finance and the military on the Government Website, with information about the Ministry of Defence joining forces with 3 Credit Unions that specialise in providing financial services to the military.
Although today, the military does have a sizable “reserve” force, these are Royal Navy, Army & Air Force servicemen who live and work as civilians but are called up to reinforce the full-time services in times of crisis. Many of these will have purchased timeshares, and some may have done so with finance, but we have never received one story or complaint which directly links the sale or finance to the fact of being in the services.
The nearest we have come across was with finance provided by BPF brokered by Silverpoint for their “Investment Packs”. In this case, the consumer concerned was just ending his 30 years of service, taking retirement, that was all the sales rep needed to know. Not the fact he was military, but he fitted their profile of those about to retire early with a sizable “severance package”, which sums up the “victims” of Silverpoint to a “T”.
So yes, there is a very big difference in how the military seems to be protected, not just by the Government, but also by the European timeshare industry sales “qualification” rules, which did prevent them from being conned.
Moving now to the latest cold calls and the potential for consumers to be scammed, we had two names which have been covered by our friends at the TCA, These are Vested 7 and Contract Debt Relief Centre, the TCA findings can be found at the links below.
Vested 7 appears to be a new outfit, following the old routine of “helping” to get your claim paid out and also using the “you’re not out” of your contract pitch and you are liable for ex-number of years in maintenance arrears. In the TCA case, it was Anfi and £60,000 in arrears, yes you read that right.
As with the TCA case, our reader has also had a successful court ruling and is also awaiting the administration process to finalise, in their case, it was only £10,000 of “FAKE” arrears.
Needless to say, our reader was told the same as the TCA told their reader, “RUBBISH”.
The other “scam” highlighted is Contract Debt Relief Centre, or is it European Debt Recovery, it appears they are using the same phone number and their “pitches” are very similar.
The main point of the pitch is that a US Timeshare Developer has taken to a European Court a UK owner for arrears in maintenance fees. Now this is for a timeshare legally exited through Westgate themselves.
Now the first thing we ask, is how did this go to a European Court for a UK Citizen, and to cap it all they had no idea any case had been filed against them?
Westgate also has no presence in the EU or in the UK, certainly, they don’t have any resorts or affiliations, that we or the TCA know of.
Once again the reader had also contacted Westgate for confirmation, and Westgate confirmed there is “NO DEBT”.
As the TCA pointed out, this was unusual being Westgate, our enquiry was regarding Diamond/Hilton, but the story was the same, our reader had all the documentation showing they no longer held any interest or liability in their US timeshare.
These scammers use “FEAR of DEBT” to get you hooked, they will use the fact that the developers can hire expensive lawyers and pursue you until you eventually pay. It is one of the two basic rules to scamming, “FEAR & GREED”, if they can’t hook you with greed, then they will use fear.
Remember, if it is a cold call, unsolicited email or text, it is 99.99999% likely to be a scam, don’t be taken in by all the promises, if it sounds too good to be true the alarm bells should start ringing.
That is it for today, We shall be publishing article another in our Smoke & Mirrors series, bringing you Part Two of “ARDA Report, How Research and Advocacy Are Transforming Today’s Timeshare Experience: Is it what it seems?” Either on Wednesday or Thursday, at the moment our Friday article from Irene is scheduled as “A Velas Resorts Mexico Solicitor Offers a New Twist on an Old Scam”, which sounds like one we are familiar with in Europe.
We hope you all had a great weekend, Baby Dog was not in a very happy mood yesterday, he knew he is going to the vet today, a bit like a kid and the dentist.