Timeshare horrors: fresh hope for 100,000 people locked in costly contracts
Thousands of Britons trapped in onerous timeshare or “holiday club” arrangements – where they are forced to pay annual fees for few or no benefits – could be given an escape route as their contracts are effectively “null and void”. Some might even be able to claim refunds.
These rip-off agreements could completely unravel as a result of a court ruling against “perpetual” timeshares. Soon-to-be-implemented Europe-wide rules are expected to back the decision.
Data shared with Telegraph Money suggests that 100,000 timeshare contracts are affected. Figures from the timeshare industry show that around 12pc of the 850,000 timeshares in Europe could now be considered illegal and their owners due a refund of all money spent, plus interest and legal costs.
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While “timeshare” often describes legitimate arrangements where, typically, consumers buy fixed weeks each year at a set resort, the term is also used to describe a vague package of benefits, supposedly attached to a range of resorts, where customers risk being locked into unfair terms.
The latter, sometimes called “holiday clubs” or “floating timeshares”, are notorious. Owners found they had unwittingly agreed to pay hefty annual fees that were supposed to continue after their death, with the obligations passing on to their children or heirs.
Reports have surfaced of people in care homes being forced to pay for timeshares they could not use, as well as relatives of deceased owners being hounded for money.
The Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA), an independent lobby group representing timeshare owners, told Telegraph Money that up to 60pc of agreements were being enforced by providers against the owner’s wishes.
Of the 850,000 timeshare arrangements in Europe, 30pc of owners are in dispute with providers, the TCA said, with many refusing to pay.
What has changed?
A Norwegian woman was awarded more than £28,000 by the Spanish Supreme Court in March, giving fresh hope to Britons locked in similar arrangements.
In the case against the Gran Canaria-based Anfi Group, the judge ruled that “in perpetuity” clauses broke a Spanish law which states that no timeshare agreement signed after January 15 1999 can last more than 50 years. This rendered the whole contract invalid, and the court ordered Anfi to refund all payments as well as interest and legal fees.
Politicians in Brussels are now reviewing relevant timeshare legislation, seeking to apply tighter rules retrospectively, with enforcement expected “later this year”.
See if you can make a claim http://claimsright.co.uk/timeshare-claims/
Under current rules, the Timeshare Directive implemented by member states in January 2011, provides protection for consumers who signed up to timeshares after this date.
The move could give British consumers reassurance that excessive or unfair charges are unenforceable. The decision from March 6 applied to traditional fixed-week timeshares, but would extend to other agreements “held in perpetuity”.
Currently, around 20,000 timeshare owners across Europe are pursuing group actions against their firms, and around 30,000 people are pursuing cases individually, according to the TCA.
It said it had seen a 25pc increase in inquiries from British owners since the Spanish court’s ruling.
What are the disputed charges?
Timeshares can cost thousands of pounds upfront but the controversy surrounds annual “maintenance fees”.
Owners will have to pay the fees indefinitely, with firms known to pursue “debtors” ruthlessly. This leaves some pensioners forced to pay fees until they die, even if they are too old or ill to use their holiday properties.
Stephen Boyd, a partner at law firm Athena, who deals exclusively with timeshare disputes, said: “The more aggressive resorts will try to pursue an estate for money and might employ debt collectors who can make your life miserable if they get your phone number.”
Affected timeshare owners should write to any debt collection companies that contact them and inform them the debt is disputed. “They will often close their files and leave you alone. If clients have a legitimate dispute they shouldn’t be afraid of debt collectors.”
Mr Boyd, who deals with around 40 timeshare complaints at any given time, said one client with Alzheimer’s was being forced to pay for his timeshare even though he could not travel abroad.
“You think you’re buying something to ensure reasonably priced holidays for life. Instead you end up paying escalating fees for life,” he said.
'We won a "free" holiday but it actually cost us £2,000'
The offer of a free holiday from a stranger abroad should normally ring alarm bells.
But when an official claiming to be from the “tourist board” approached Bob and Shelley Cartman while they were holidaying in Tenerife in 2012, their trusting instincts got the better of them.
Mr Cartman, who is 69 and retired, was offered a free bottle of wine, but his wife, 60, “won” a grand prize – a week’s free holiday “anywhere in the world”.
They were persuaded to visit a resort called Grand Holidays Club, a well-known company in Tenerife that targets British tourists in an attempt to sign them up to costly timeshare agreements.
After being locked in a room for more than four hours, they paid €2,800 (£1,995) for a “trial” timeshare to provide them with a holiday anywhere in the world – even during the school holidays – for just £99 a week. But these bargain-priced holidays failed to materialise and by 2013 the couple had given up their investment as a lost cause.
Two women have been arrested and charged by the Guardia Civil for blackmail and threatening behaviour after they extracted over 90,000 euros from a resident of San Miguel de la Salinas.
The man had paid one of the women, a 32-year old Romanian, for sex, over 12 months ago, since which time she had been threatening him. Either he paid her money or she told his wife that she was a prostitute who had regularly been providing her husband with sex.
He chose the former and in the ensuing period he is understood to have given the woman two cars and over 90,000 euros in cash.
The man met the prostitute, a hostess in a Torrevieja club in December 2016. Apparently, he had several sexual encounters with her.
Everything seemed to go well until she began asking for large amounts of money in exchange for her silence. The first time was 40,000 euros. The man agreed and made the payment through the prostitute’s bank account. He thought that would be an end to the situation, but he was wrong.
Shortly afterwards she demanded another 25,000 euros. On that occasion, it was not to her bank account, but to that of a male relative. Once again the sanmiguelero agreed to the request and paid for her silence, but it did not work either. The woman asked again for another 25,000 euros and this time she wanted it paid in cash. She also asked for two cars which he gave to he and never saw again.
With the situation having gone on for over a year the man finally chose to denounce the situation to the San Miguel Guardia Civil who opened their investigation in December 2017. They found that it was not one but two women who have been pocketing the cash, the Romanian and her 36-year old Bosnian friend.
Both were subsequently arrested and charged with crimes of extortion and threatening behaviour. The two women appeared in court last week but after being charged the pair were released and are now awaiting trial.
The lifesaving and rescue service that man’s Torrevieja’s packed beaches provided assistance on a total of 1,116 occasions during July. Included in those figures is one of cardiorespiratory arrest, in which it was possible to stabilise the affected person, and 56 rescues of bathers from the sea.
Javier Manzanares, the councillor for Beaches, announced the figure on Friday, saying that 406 people were treated for injuries at the various lifeguard posts with a further 406 needing attention for jellyfish stings and 46 for insect stings.
The high temperatures also took their toll on the beaches, with 22 people treated for sunburn and dehydration.
Other interventions include 35 lost persons of which two were children who were playing in the sea without adult supervision
The day on which most interventions took place was on 30 July when there were 66, and those with the least, the 5th and 7th July with 10 interventions on each day.
The councillor said that he was satisfied with the work of the lifeguards adding that “during the month of July there were no fatalities on any of Torrevieja’s beaches.”
At a press conference held on Monday, Torrevieja’s Councillor for Security, Javier Manzanares, announced that, following the weekend’s Simulated Exercise, the Municipal Plan for Seismic Risks will be updated by the participating experts who were involved in Saturday’s activities.
In making the statement Manzanares appeared alongside a leading expert in Seismic risks, the architect Joaquín Blanco, as well as the administrador de fincas and President of the Association “Torrevieja 1829,” Isidoro Carrillo, a group that remembers the catastrophic eruption that caused so much death and devastation almost ninety years ago
Manzanares said that the amended information would be disseminated through a series of lectures and talks with many different groups, in schools, colleges, homes for the elderly and associations. He confirmed that the Town Council would advise such organisation when the information and dates have been confirmed.
The purpose of the briefings would be to advise members of the public how to act during and after an earthquake, thereby providing knowledge that could save many lives, such as the need to move away from areas with high buildings and to go to areas of wastelands as well as the location of necessary medical facilities and the requirement to take, and to provide information for, a census.
hi , i will be visiting for a week in april and i would like to rent or buy some fishing tackle for my son . any advice would be appriciated
New steam cleaning service up and running
PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE ANY VEHICLE FROM THIS COMPANY.
I have had non stop problems with this company since I purchased my car back in June 2014. I was promised many things of which I have in writing and am still waiting for this now, January 2015.
I was sold a car that I was told after I got it home that it was not road worthy and in a dangerous condition, however it passed its ITV I will never know, leaving me to pay over €1000 in expenses.
I have approached the garage many times in person, and received nothing but rudeness and bad customer service. I then asked for an official complaints form which by law all business must carry, and was told that they do not have this document and insisted that it isn't a legal requirement and told me to proceed to Guadia, in not a very nice way of telling us.
I was advised by the guadia that this is a civil case and not a criminal and to contact the town hall to proceed with my rights as a consumer and they can assist me with further steps.
I was never issued a buyers agreement contract that would state all my rights or a warranty certificate which I should have received upon purchase.
For anyone who has suffered a similar situation in the past, and would like to bring this company to task, please do not hesitate to file a complaint either at your local town hall or you can do so online on the communidad valencia's website.
just moved into the area and i am looking for people who would like to play squash on a regular basis
Petition for Summer Live Entertainment Music Licence - online now JUST IN Let's Keep Entertainment Live in Spain!!
Petition for Summer Live Entertainment Music Licence - online now JUST IN Let's Keep Entertainment Live in Spain!!
I am Posting this to inform you that as lovers of live entertainment a petition has recently been set up to request a Summer Licence that allows venues to legally hold live entertainment both inside and outside during the summer months at a reasonable sound level.
This is a very important issue as many areas are suffering due to lack of clarity in the laws and them being restrictive for bars, entertainers and customers alike. I am asking you all if you would be kind enough to support us by signing one of the 2 petitions.
If you have an NIE please sign THIS petition
Click on the link then go to the bottom and click on "Firma La Recogida de firmas" On the next page, Enter 1. Your first and last name. 2.Your email address 3. Your NIE or DNI 4. Commentarios - leave blank. Uncheck the boxes at the bottom unless you want junk mail. CLICK Firmar Recogida de Firmas and you should be done!
If you or your friends have NO NIE, but want to support this cause please go to this site - https://www.change.org/p/president-of-spain-president-of-european-union-president-comunidad-valencia-make-summer-live-entertainment-music-licenses-available-in-all-venues-from-june-to-september-in-spain#
Chose one of the other please. The one that counts with the Spanish Government is Peticion publica, and we need 30,000 signatures just to be heard. I thank you for your time and support for the shows that we have held.
If any one would like to get a copy of the Poster to erect in their Bar or premises it can be found at http://www.spain-info.co.uk/Spanish-Summer-Music-Petition.htm. There are three versions on the page. If anything ever needed pushing it is this campaign.
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