It is more than likely most people will not have considered making a claim and exiting from their timeshare until they receive a cold call. From the inquiries received, this tends to be the most common way owners begin to look at making a claim, often signing up with the company that cold-called.
Their decision to pursue a claim, which tends to be linked to an exit, or to take full-blown legal action such as the cases in the Spanish Courts, tends to be based on the information they have been given, be it right or wrong. The promise of being free from the timeshare along with the prospect of recouping all the money paid is the clincher.
But everything is not as simple as you may have been told, this was covered in two previous articles (links below), where we explained the most likely methods of a claim. this may be on a “no win, no fee” basis, provided you also use their “exit” services, for which a high fee is required “up front”.
The second article focused on claims through the Spanish Courts, where the timeshare was purchased in Spain and contravened Spanish Timeshare Laws. This is an area which did see a huge number of bogus law firms spring up, many were also very convincing.
Although the information in the articles is correct, there have been some significant events which have been or may be used for nefarious purposes. This is where the “scammers” will twist the truth to serve their own purposes & we also warn about the “small print” or the “terms & conditions” of every contract.
In the article “Azure Loans Refund Process Direct from BPF”, we published a release direct from Barclays along with a link to their website, with the correct information regarding loan agreements for timeshares sold by Azure. They agreed to repay and cancel all loans made between 2006 & 2018, they also explained the client did not have to do anything, BPF would contact all their clients, even if the loan had been repaid, even giving a rough timeframe.
This was twisted by scammers to include all timeshare loans for Silverpoint as well, that BPF would not contact clients and it was all a publicity stunt. Another part of the pitch was to create urgency, by claiming there was a time limit. All misinformation to convince you to pay up.
Only recently we published “Banks Lose Appeal against Financial Ombudsman Service: News Breaks in the US First”, where a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service against the banks in several cases was taken for a Judicial Review.
The banks lost and the Ombudsman’s decision stands, to the great delight of the consumers whose cases were the subject of the appeal. But the judge’s findings are for the cases involved only, they are not a “catch-all”, and this is where the scammers will pounce. They will use snippets of the judgement to make it look like fact, not giving you the full story.
Unfortunately, most do not find out the truth until it is too late, which brings us on to the “Terms & Conditions” of any contract.
These are the most important part of any contract; they lay out your responsibilities as a client and those of the service provider. Many of these T&Cs can be very lengthy and full of what can only be described as “confusing” language. It is also a fact that many people do not read them fully at the time of signing, this also goes for the T&Cs for any product or service.
For example, today on the consumer program “Rip Off Britain”, they did cover this, I only caught a part of it, but it was interesting. In a study of T&Cs from the travel industry, they showed the length of the contract and how long it would take to read, that is read not understand. Top of the table was Hoseasons, whose T&Cs are over 16,00 words in length and take 1 hour 30 minutes to read.
No wonder no one reads them.
One unfortunate reader contacted us about a claim he made through Section 75 against a claims company for the return of payment for services, namely, failing to complete the claim as promised.
Below are the three clauses common to contracts in the T&Cs for claims & exits which was the downfall of his claim.
- “The Client” agrees to provide “XYZ Claims” with his purchase agreement(s), timeshare ownership and/or membership certificate(s), other purchase related documentation and proof of payment including credit card payment receipts, bank transfers, cash receipts and/or finance/loan agreements. “The Client” understands that claims cannot commence until “XYZ Claims” are in possession of all of these documents. Where original documentation is not available “The Client” agrees to obtain copies. “The Client” understands that further documents may be required by the lawyer in charge of the case.
- “XYZ Claims” agrees to examine all documentation in connection with the timeshare purchase and ownership and will determine the best route for a claim or settlement agreement, depending on the viability of the claim at the time of entering into this agreement, taking into account the respective legislation in force, jurisdiction and companies involved in the timeshare transaction.
- “XYZ Claims” agrees that in the event of “The Client” being unable to provide the necessary documentation, “XYZ Claims” will enter into this agreement on the basis of the verbal information supplied by “The Client”, “The Client” agreeing to obtain the required documentation as soon as possible.
The clauses are quite clear, it is down to the “client” to “provide” all documents and evidence for the claim, if documents are not available it is down to the client to obtain copies.
When the company was approached by the card provider for their side of the claim, this clause was used to “justify” why they had not carried out the work successfully. They stated the client failed to provide all the documents and evidence required. The claims & exit company won.
Terms & Conditions are an essential part of the contract and should be read and understood before entering into any agreement.
Just like the claims above, taking legal action through the courts is not something you want to do blindly, we have seen so many taken in by “fake” law firms and lawyers using very convincing documents to give credibility.
Although this area is now on the decline with fewer cases being filed, it is still open to abuse by scammers, who again use parts of the truth to create urgency.
This urgency tends to be around “deadlines” in getting your case filed with the court, or you will lose everything. We saw this happen with the announcements of the various sales companies which were being placed in administration.
In one enquiry received, the consumer was pitched for a claim against his timeshare resort, much of what they were told was fact, the breaches in the law on the contracts were present, and they did on the surface have a claim. It was when the client asked about success that the “misinformation” came out.
The reply to the question was true, they had won many cases and were successful, but that was in general, it transpired they had not had a single case against this particular developer. In fact, AIT only found one case against this developer and that is still ongoing with a totally different law firm.
Although not an out-and-out lie, the inference was quite plain and misleading, reinforcing why you need to check everything you are told before making any decision. No matter what you are told, there are no quick fixes to exits, claims or court cases.
If you require further information or have any questions please place a comment or email your question.
On Friday, Irene brings us “Timeshares Are Not a Service? So Ruled a Delaware Judge”, in which we take a look at some of the recent cases in the US and the strange ruling of a Delaware judge.