Welcome to the start of another week with AIT, our article last Friday has received many responses, many of these have been on shared posts on social media and the many forums and groups. The two stories we have so far published out of the six planned, have certainly hit a “raw nerve” with many of our readers and members of these groups, this is only the start, there are more stories to get your blood to boil.
Ever since Irene first made contact back in 2016, her articles on the practices of the timeshare industry in the US have been based on consumer awareness or rather the lack of it in the industry. They also complimented our articles on European timeshare practices, the similarities of how they sold timeshare and how Europe especially Spain strengthened regulations to curb these practices in favour of the consumer.
During the many discussions and emails, the idea of self-advocacy became the dominant force. We both became aware that if we could not curb these practices or the scams on the periphery, consumer awareness on how to do it yourself was to be the way forward.
How that idea has grown, from humble beginnings and battles with Diamond, the idea has spread to include other developers such as Westgate. We have also seen a huge growth in the number of “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”, different developers and sales agents, but the same old stories. Stories many of our European readers identified with, especially the “buy to rent or sell investments”, the “predatory lending” of seniors and the huge difficulty of getting out.
Along with these stories we have also published the “good news” as well, the cases that have been resolved. On many occasions, we have had to pull an article due to a last-minute “outreach” by the developer, resulting in an amicable conclusion. All without the need to pay any third party.
Many of those involved in these stories have then joined one of the self-advocacy groups as volunteers, helping and guiding others through what they have already gone through. A lot of time is involved, there are no quick remedies regardless of what you may have been told by a cold-calling scammer.
Another area AIT is covering is the problem of loan agreements to finance the purchase, virtually all contracts sold in Spain after January 1999 may be illegal, with the finance being brokered by the very same salespeople selling the timeshare. Thousands of these agreements are now suspect, it has also triggered a growth in scams, with consumers set to lose thousands in the process.
Self-advocacy or do-it-yourself is not impossible, many have done it without any help and support, and most will need some kind of support and advice. Especially when it comes to letter writing.
One group which has been very successful in this area has been the Azure group in their fight against BPF and the FCA over a validation order, a story we have covered. With Ivor Williams at the helm and ably assisted by others, they achieved more for consumers than the lawyers. While the lawyers were arguing over “legal interpretations”, this group focused on “consumer detriment”. How they and other consumers have been financially harmed by these loans, didn’t fall on deaf ears. Their call was heard by the judge on the case, he took a very keen interest in this aspect, a consumer champion at last?
As a result, BPF collapsed, not just paying back the loans in this case but all loan agreements brokered by Azure. The consumer has done what the lawyers have failed to do for years.
As we have said, these are not quick fixes, they take time and effort, but at least you are safe in the knowledge that it is being worked on and are not paying a third party for doing absolutely nothing. Remember, BPF, FCA, FOS and others do not tend to recognise or respond to third-party correspondence, it is also a fact they have not even responded on many occasions to letters from law firms on behalf of clients.
Our readers with their battle against BPF will testify to that, on many occasions her law firm fighting her court cases in Spain has written to BPF and others on the illegality of the contracts. Never have they received any response, other than we are in contact with the client.
Her cases have now been going on for around 10 years, and in this time she has done it virtually on her own with some help here and there, and it has been a struggle. We should also point out that when she first started her journey, these cases were very new, the courts had only just started hearing timeshare cases, and we had not even had the first Supreme Court rulings. Hopefully, things have moved on and claims will not take as long.
Self-advocacy and do-it-yourself work, it just takes time, patience and also help from others who have gone through it. The one main theme from our articles is Consumer Awareness, that you are not alone, a bigger voice is emerging, and consumers are coming together to get justice and curb the immoral practices of an industry that could be so much better.
We are not unaware there are occasions when “professional legal” help is required, but that should be your last resort. It is also not without risks, from the law firm you engage right through to the “professional” claims and exits scams on the periphery. Again, consumer awareness will reduce those risks, due diligence is key.
If you have any comments or questions on any article, please place them on the relevant article or use our contact page and we will get back to you.
We hope you all had a great weekend, unfortunately for Baby Dog, the heat and the dust (Calima) in the air prevented him from going out, but somehow I don’t think that bothered him.