On Monday 24 October BBC Scotland broadcast an investigation into the problems people have in getting out of their timeshare, especially the elderly.
It highlighted an elderly retired couple from Scotland who purchased their timeshares from a company that is now owned by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels. The company is now owned 50% by HBOS Group (Bank of Scotland and Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group) and 50% by Donald MacDonald. They originally purchased at the Dona Lola Club in Spain, when their children were young. But as we have seen on many occasions, ill health prevents them from travelling, especially abroad, because of the problem of the increasing cost of travel insurance.
They have been trying to “relinquish” their contract for around two years, but the resort management, MacDonalds, want them to pay over £3000 to relinquish their two weeks. Even after they have paid their maintenance every year since purchasing. They are still trying to negotiate with MacDonalds, but are still paying £1600 maintenance each year.
This is not a new story to Inside Timeshare, we have the story of Mrs B, who used another company to “get rid” of her timeshare at Dona Lola, she is 83 and also in ill health and unable to travel. Like many others she paid her maintenance every year without fail, even though for the past ten years has never used it, Mrs B and her sister could not even travel to any of the UK resorts.
When she eventually paid another company to get rid of it for her the trouble started. Inside Timeshare has copies of the documents that show her timeshare has been transferred to another person, but MacDonalds refuse to accept this and say she owes maintenance. They have even instructed a debt collection agency, Network Credit Services, to chase for the the £1412.54 they say she owes. She has already received a final demand to pay within 7 days or face court action.
Inside Timeshare has helped her to formulate an official complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service to try and resolve the matter. This is still underway, yet it is that time of year when new maintenance bills will be falling on the door mat.
MacDonalds stated in the programme: “We’ve been widely praised for pioneering the introduction of a practical exit mechanism for owners. In fact, 90% of resort owners voted in favour of amending their resorts’ constitutions to formally adopt these fair and reasonable proposals”.
Well the proposal to be able to get out was not what you could call fair, it required at least 4 years payment of maintenance and was limited to every 2 years with first come first served.
In the next comment MacDonalds also stated: “However, it would clearly be detrimental to the upkeep of the resorts and unfair on the remaining resort owners if people were allowed to walk away from their contractual and legal obligations without some form of reasonable recompense which allows for the quality of facilities at the resorts to be maintained for future generations”.
This last statement clearly shows that MacDonalds are not interested in the owners apart from the continued collection of fees. So what is the reason for this statement?
It is quite simple, MacDonalds are a management company employed by the resorts, to run, maintain and collect the management fees. They actually own no property, like most of these large companies, i.e Diamond and Diversified. In the past MacDonalds with the backing of TATOC, changed the members from fixed weeks to a points system, when doing this they effectively took control of the resorts. By taking over the fixed weeks, MacDonalds become responsible for the maintenance fees on those weeks, with you the points owners paying a hefty increase in your charges.
By allowing people to hand back their ownership, with no prospect of new clients purchasing what is now a very expensive way to holiday, it will cost them. After all MacDonalds does not want to use their own money.
Another point to the broadcast was the problem of using other companies with their promises of “resale”. One company interviewed was one Inside Timeshare has highlighted in past articles, Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster.
The BBC sent an undercover reporter, Fergus Muirhead, he contacted Sellmytimeshare.tv about getting rid of his mothers timeshare. Over the phone he was given a valuation of £9,400 with an invitation to meet with the company face to face.
He stated that it was obvious that they had no intention of paying him that amount from the outset of the meeting, with Sellmytimeshare telling him “We can’t sell the timeshare because no one’s buying them so we certainly can’t get that money back for her.”
He was then given by the advisor a series of figures, which had to be paid upfront on the day, this was for thousands of pounds. He was told he would be given “credits” which could be used as part payment for goods or even be sold.
Fergus stated that if he held them for 14 months, he could sell these credits for £17,216, which covered the £9,400 and the £6,700 he was going to pay upfront. It was also not clear as to how the timeshare would be disposed of.
The programme also interviews Stephen Boyd a lawyer with experience of timeshare law, he is also a partner at Athena Law. He said he had around 300 clients and was in the process of instigating a legal action against Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster Travel Group, the parent company.
He stated: “My clients were told by this company that they could get rid of their timeshare, but when they went to a meeting they had to buy another product and they were promised a financial return.
“They’ve also found that the promised financial return never materialised and in many cases they’re still liable for the maintenance fees of their timeshare.”
When asked for a reply the spokesperson for Monster said: “Customers seeking advice from us about relinquishing their timeshares are informed of the options available through us and are free to choose what they consider best suits them”.
“One of those options includes the purchase of a Monster Rewards Bundle, which can be redeemed against an increasingly wide range of goods and services, including travel”.
Follow the link to the full article on BBC News.
Recent Inside Timeshare articles.
One thing is clear from all this, it is the owners of the timeshares who are suffering, not just from the timeshare companies but those who say they will sell them for you, only to sell you another product. Remember the Club Class and DWVC pitch, we will take your timeshare from you if you join our club, we will then give you a “Cashback” certificate for the value of the timeshare and the cost of joining. This was to last either 3 or 5 years, at which point you claimed from the cashback company supposedly the value on the certificate. Guess what, no one ever did and in most cases they still were liable for the maintenance fees.
Timeshares are not worth anything, they lose value the moment you purchase, even in the USA as we have seen from recent articles, they sell only for a fraction of the original cost if at all. So the warning here is do not believe it when you are told you timeshare is worth thousands, check out ebay, they can’t even give them away.
If you require any further information about this or any other matter, or need any help in finding out about any company you may be thinking of doing business with, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help. Remember being forewarned is being forearmed.