Blog post -
Down the timeshare rabbit hole. Owner spends £35k+ with 24 different scam companies trying to exit.
Here at the Timeshare Consumer Association in recent years the majority of help requests have been from members wanting to safely exit their timeshare contracts.
Steven Warner, a timeshare contracts expert with European Consumer Claims (ECC) explains: "People are just not signing up to what is being increasingly regarded as an outmoded system of holidaying. With new membership revenues dropping the timeshare companies are fighting tooth and nail to prevent members from escaping the commitment to the annual fees.
It is possible to get out of most timeshare contracts but the red tape is daunting and often in a second language if people buy in a different country. There are no shortage of alleged "law firms" offering to help, but many of these are unfortunately not genuine. They will take your money but not do the job. The luckless timeshare owner is still stuck with their annual fees despite having paid a hefty fee to escape the contract.
There are genuine firms out there who will get you out of your timeshare membership, but how can you find the right ones?
David Sharp (name changed) is undeniably an intelligent man. He was a successful Fellow Chartered Accountant and at 82 he still keeps his hand in with preferred clients. A conversation with David quickly reveals a perennially sharp intellect undulled by his years and yet between 1998 and 2016 David fell prey to an astounding 24 separate scams by fraudulent timeshare exit firms.
Sharp bought £8,500 worth of timeshare points from company called Gran Vacation Club in 1998. The salesman was convincing and It felt like an amazing deal to David. Before using the membership for the first time however, he calculated that it would not make financial sense in the long run and googled what he thought was a company who would help him out of the contact.
He paid them. They didn´t.
David's case is extreme in that he made this mistake another 23 times between 1999 and 2016, begging the question: "How can an obviously switched on individual keep falling for the same scam?"
"It isn´t a reflection on David," says Steven Warner. "These illegal firms are often extremely sophisticated. They play on your need to escape the burden of your timeshare and they anticipate every question or objection their victims may have. The lesson that people should take from this is that if an astute professional who works with money and understands financial laws can be taken in, then the rest of us certainly can."
"My desperation made me susceptible," agrees David Sharp. "Of course people will think that I should have known better, myself included. But each time the salesperson was able to demonstrate exactly why this time was different and safe. I wanted to believe them and I got stung. I spent £35,000 before finally getting free of the timeshare. My counsel to other people is: Ideally don't buy a timeshare in the first place. if you do and you want to get out of it, don´t deal with anyone without getting advice first."
"Anyone in David's position is welcome to get in touch with us at the TCA for advice," says Daniel Keating. "We keep a constantly updated whitelist of the law firms who can be trusted (with both contract relinquishments and compensation claims) and a blacklist of the fraudsters. Whether you want to check the credentials of a company you are thinking of retaining or just want informed advice on who can be trusted, our team is happy to point you in the right direction.
"Even if you have already paid money to someone we can let you know if they are trustworthy. If they aren´t we can let you know how best to undo the damage."
Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: +44 2036704588 or +44 2035193808 (ask for Daniel), E: firstname.lastname@example.org (Address to Daniel).
WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055
TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations – We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.
An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.
We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff. We know our way around the timeshare business
We are a proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition
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- Steven Warner
- ECC European Consumer Claims
- Timeshare refund claims
- European Consumer Claims Limited
- ECC Timeshare
- European Consumer Claims Reviews
- Daniel Keating