Press release -
Why are genuine timeshare claims firms so rare?
So many claims firms. So few honest ones: Why not just do the work?
Consumer laws ignored
In Spain, since 1999 there have been laws to protect timeshare consumers from high pressure sales. Resorts were no longer allowed to take a deposit on the day (or within the cooling off period). Contracts of more than 50 years were outlawed, as were various other aspects of the business.
Most timeshare companies ignored the new legislation, fearful of the impact it would have on their bottom line. The complexity, red tape and glacial pace of the Spanish legal system insulated errant timeshare companies from being brought to book for their behaviour
A new industry
Then came the rise of legal firms offering to claim big money in compensation from the timeshare companies who illegally took money from consumers.
For a fee these firms offered to handle all of the process from start to finish, chasing the claim through the Spanish court system, the appeals and actual acquisition of the money for the client. The claims firms would not be deterred by the resorts' 'delay and confuse' strategies. Mis-sold timeshare owners are now receiving the money they are entitled to, with some resorts having to pay out tens of millions of pounds
Even though it sounds like a win-win for consumers and law firms (if not the malpracticing timeshare companies), surprisingly only a tiny amount of claims firms are genuine.
Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims, explains: "If you Google 'claim timeshare compensation' or even 'get rid of my timeshare' nearly every result that comes up are fraudsters; illegal firms that will take your money and disappear without ever doing what they promised.
"Quite frankly it's astounding. There is such a huge volume of unlawful contracts which resorts are legally obliged to pay compensation for, that you have to wonder why the fraudsters don't just hire lawyers and genuinely do the job.
"What it probably comes down to is either laziness or greed," continues Cooper. "For the fraudsters, it is easier to give the impression they will do the work than it is to actually do the work. Plus if the only job they have to do is convince someone to part with money, rather than pursue the claim, their profit is naturally much higher
"A lot of these scammers are ex timeshare personnel themselves. Since the collapse of the industry, they all needed somewhere to work and many ended up joining these fake claims firms. Many timeshare owners have commented to us that the scammers sounded exactly like the person who sold them the timeshare in the first place. That is no coincidence. It is usually someone who actually did that job, and could potentially be the exact same salesperson who sold them in the first place.
Get advice before paying money
"This all sounds like a minefield, but it isn't difficult to find the honest and well reviewed firms provided people are diligent about handing over money to strangers on the phone," says Andrew Cooper. "If you know other owners who had a good experience with a claims firm, and you trust their judgement that is obviously a great steer.
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Andrew Cooper background article can be read here