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holidayresort

Lowcost Travel Group Administration

Although this is nothing to do with the timeshare industry, it was felt that an article on this company was needed.

 

Lowcost Travel Group announced on Friday 15 July 2016 that it had been placed into administration, the company dealing with this is: Smith & Williamson and CMB Partners. Customers are instructed to contact Martyn Frazer or Paul Stagg at the following email address: lowcosttravel@smith.williamson.co.uk

 

It is believed there are currently around 27,000 customers already at resorts, and 110,000 with bookings, who have yet to travel. For those already on holiday, there should not be any problem as their flights and hotels should have already been paid for. It is those yet to travel who will have the problems. The reason for this is the company operated on very narrow margins, it relied on new bookings to help the cash flow and pay for flights and hotels of those already booked. This does seem a little odd, that a company can operate in this way, using payments from new bookings to pay for ones booked earlier. But apparently this is not unusual in this sector of the industry.

lowcost travel

Lowcost Travel operated from bases in the UK, Spain, Switzerland and Poland, the number of job losses will be: Gatwick 120, Krakow 264, Mallorca 60 and Switzerland 7.

 

Although the redundancy numbers are low, it is the cost to the customers that will be the greatest. Those with bookings and yet to travel have been advised they may have to cover the costs of flights, pay transfers and hotel accommodation locally. They may be able to claim back through travel insurance or credit cards, but the CAA  (Civil Aviation Authority) who operates the ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licence) scheme which is a safety net for these eventualities, has stated that these holidays are not covered by them. The reason is that Lowcost Travel relocated to Spain and being registered as an entity in Mallorca, are not in the CAA jurisdiction, the CAA warned about this in 2013. Lowcost Travel had dismissed this by stating they were covered under the Spanish scheme.

 

So why did this happen?

 

The reasons being given are, that due to the Brexit referendum, many customers delayed making their bookings, resulting in the cash flow problem, then there was the fall in the pound against the euro after the leave vote. This had the impact of reducing bookings further as they became too expensive. The Guardian newspaper published an article 10 July 2016, on the number of people opting for holidays at home, the article stated that it would cost an extra £245 for a family of four because of the 10% drop in the pound. (see link at the end).

 

Other reasons are the increased terror threat, which has impacted the travel industry. The list of destinations according to Smith Williamson are:  Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Orlando, Brussels, Paris and this list will now include Nice.

 

Lowcost Travel was founded by Paul Evans in 2004, he had previously been resort manager for Club 18 -30. According to their last filed accounts, in the year up to October 2014, they had sold holidays to the tune of £477 million, with a pretax loss of £47,000. It is not hard to see what the impact a drop in bookings would have by these figures.

 

If you have booked and require any information please go to the following links.

smithwilliamson

http://www.smith.williamson.co.uk/news/8711-lowcosttravelgroup-ltd-smith-williamson-and-cmb-partners-uk-appointed-joint-administrators

 

http://www.lowcostholidays.com/

 

The above link has email addresses for customers who have booked with any of the companies not covered by the administrators.

 

The Guardian article on UK tourist industry.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jul/10/brexit-and-the-uk-tourist-industry

 

BBC News link

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36810558

Links to information on Section 75 and how to claim from your credit card.

Claiming Money Back From Your Credit Card.

 

 

If you have any questions about timeshare or holiday ownership, resales or claims, Inside Timeshare will find the answers.

 

loans

Shawbrook Bank Announce Irregularities in Timeshare Loans, Similar Activities in the USA.

For many people their Timeshare or Holiday Ownership was paid for on Finance, these loans were usually arranged on the day of signing the contract by the sales staff. One of these lenders is a bank called Shawbrook Bank, with their head office located in Brentwood Essex. The bank was founded in 2011 and according to their web site works closely with the holiday ownership industry to provide finance for their customers.

 

Unfortunately it was announced recently that the bank had set aside around £9 million to cover any defaults in these loans. This has come about due to the discovery of irregularities in the issuing of these loans.

shawbrook

Shawbrook Bank has admitted that it did not do its due diligence when approving the finance for holiday ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts, whose aggressive style of selling has resulted in many people being over stretched financially, then being lumbered with a product that they find is unworkable. They are also stuck with management fees that are continually rising, also being unable to get out of their contracts.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/28/shawbrook-banks-shares-plunge-on-9m-hit-from-dodgy-lending/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3663651/Shares-Shawbrook-drop-challenger-bank-reveals-loan-irregularities-cost-9m-finance-chief-quits.html

 

What did Shawbrook miss on its due diligence?

 

Quite simple, finance agreements made out by sales staff on the day of the sale have not had the usual credit checks made. Normally when a loan is applied for there are several checks that are made, we all know this as at some point we have had them. Firstly, does the applicant earn enough to qualify for the loan. Secondly, can the applicant actually afford the repayments, after other payments are taken into consideration, i.e. mortgage, living expenses etc. Lastly does the applicant have a good credit history, in other words have they defaulted on any other finance, be it loans or credit cards, or have they had county court judgements made against them

 

All these are the usual checks, being unable to fulfil any of these criteria would normally prevent the loan from going through.

 

Another aspect is how the applications are filled out, Many people spoken to over the years have said that the application had been filled out by the staff. It later transpired that the purpose of the loan had been made out as “home improvements” nothing to do with the purchase of holiday ownership. In some cases, even the income has been falsified. Unfortunately, for the applicant this could lead them to the possibility of criminal charges, after all they have signed the form.

edwincoe

This is not the first time a bank has hit the news in relation to holiday ownership, Barclays Partner Finance has been the subject to action in the High Court on this matter. Edwin Coe LLP, represented many clients of Resort Properties, who had been sold “investment packs” which were then financed by Barclays Partner Finance. On 16 August 2015, Edwin Coe LLP announced that the High Court had decided in favour of the consumer.

http://www.edwincoe.com/our-expertise/group-action-litigation/resort-properties-barclays-partner-finance/

http://www.edwincoe.com/high-court-decides-in-favour-of-the-consumer/

 

Many of these loans did not have the usual credit checks made, in fact Inside Timeshare is aware of an elderly couple who had been given one of these loans. They had been talked into one of the Resort Properties / Silverpointinvestment packs”, at the time he was 8o years old his wife 76, the loan was for £30,000, yet both are on pensions. When Inside Timeshare spoke with them, the question asked was, had you gone to your bank, do you think they would have provided the loan? Well we all know what the answer to that is. They are now taking legal action.

barclays

Unfortunately this is not just the case for Europe, in the United States the same controversy exists.

 

Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation has been highlighting this, on 27 April 2016, he published an article on a Credit Union which has been supplying loans for Diamond Resorts clients. Quorum Federal Credit Union has been in operation for 82 years, as with all credit unions they are member based.

quorum

http://sirf-online.org/2016/04/27/the-enabler-and-the-lifeline-diamond-resorts-and-quorum-fcu/

 

Quorum, has been supplying loans for the holiday ownership industry for years, Diamond Resorts are their largest portfolio. Diamond tend to send the riskier applicants to the credit union, these are those in the lower credit ratings, what the Americans call “subprime”. In other words the banks would not touch them with the proverbial barge pole.

 

According to Roddy Boyd the deal provided around $40 million in loans for Diamond and in return these borrowers became members of Quorum. Sounds like a win win for both, (not the consumer).

 

At least Shawbrook Bank have admitted that it has seen a problem in this area, setting aside a substantial amount to cover any future problems. In the end a loan for a holiday product which will on average be around £10,000 or more, is a huge commitment, not one that should be signed and approved on the day. Especially by the sales staff who have a vested interest in getting the “deal”.

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene Parker of the The Street for supplying the link to Roddy Boyd´s article. Do read it in full yourself as we have only just touched the surface, also read the following link, again it makes interesting reading.

 

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

 

If you have any questions relating to this article or any others published contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to find the answer for you.

advice1

Going to a Meeting? Best Advice.

Over the past week Inside Timeshare has had enquiries from many people about various companies they have been to see. The one theme that has been the same is the fact these meetings have been very intense, all have commented it felt like when they first bought timeshare. Must have a decision on the day, it has to be today or it will be too late.

 

They have also handed over their original documents, then once home they start to have doubts about what has happened, This is when they start to look on the web, and the realisation hits them that they may just have been conned again.

sales meeting

In one case the client even tried to stop the credit card transaction the following day, but the credit card company told them they should give this particular firm a year to see if they would deliver what was promised. This in itself is totally wrong, surely if you have doubts and report it to your bank, especially the following day, they should be on your side. After all it is preventing a possible fraud. The banks do say if you think any transaction may be fraudulent contact us to stop the payment.

 

Also in all the cases the client has handed over all the original documents, this now presents a problem. How do you get them back if you have found information that makes you change your mind about the company you have just met?

 

In most cases they are gone for good, then when you do find a genuine firm you no longer have the paperwork and they can’t then do anything for you.

 

The only advice that Inside Timeshare can give is never take the originals with you, never pay anything until you are certain you are dealing with a genuine company. Also beware the “No Win No Fee” offers, they are the enticers and usually end up with a demand for some kind of payment. Any payment you do make should also be made on a Credit Card, not a bank transfer, cheque or even debit card. Using a credit card you are then protected by the Credit Consumer Act 1974 Section 75.

 

Any genuine and trustworthy company will accept your decision to go away and think about it, make a payment later and then send the documents. Also, always keep copies yourself. Just remember how you were sold timeshare in the first place, today, today, today, pressure, pressure and more pressure.

tspresent

 

Think, research and be sure before you go, then once there, think, check and be sure before committing.

 

If you need any help in researching any company that has either contacted you or you have found, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact using the comments section with the company details and we will be in touch by email with any information we find. Have a good weekend

invest

TCA Highlight Silverpoint Preying on the Vulnerable.

The TCA yesterday 8 June 2016, published an article regarding how Silverpoint (Resort Properties) may be taking advantage of existing members who they know are in a vulnerable position.

tca logo

The TCA have received a letter from a couple who outlined their dealings with Silverpoint. The couple are retired and care for a daughter who is severely disabled, what follows is in my mind just disgusting.

 

The sales rep on finding this out called in his manager, he offered them a “FAVOUR”. They were offered an Investment, which is illegal in the selling of timeshare. This favour was to spend another sum around £10,000 on a one week unit of timeshare, this unit would then be rented out in 2015 by Silverpoint on their behalf in 2015 for £800.

silverpointlogo

 

 

 

After this Silverpoint promised to refund the £10,000 as they would then sell it on. When they returned in 2014 they were told this was not then possible and were convinced to trade it in for another resort The Club Paradiso They have now “invested” around £30,000 for timeshare units they can not afford.

 

This particular practice has been going on for many years and there have been many cases upheld in the courts. This particular practice was highlighted in a blog called mindtimeshare the truth by a Mrs Wilson, who had also been taken in by the sales pitch.

 

Please be aware that timeshare does not increase in value and any promise that you will either get your “investment” back or even make a profit is false, it is also against the EU Timeshare Directives. The courts in Spain are very aware of this practice and are now ruling very much in the client’s favour.

 

It is also disappointing that as Silverpoint are also TATOC and RDO members that this has not been stopped. Is it because this company is one of the main contributors of funds to these organisations. After all TATOC should be looking after the interests of the owners and the RDO should be ensuring that its members play according to the rules and the law.

 

tatoc logordo-logo

For the full story follow the link to the TCA and also Mrs Wilson’s blog.

 

http://www.timeshareconsumerassociation.org.uk/2016/06/08/is-silverpoint-preying-on-the-vulnerable/

 

http://www.mindtimesharetruth.com/

 

If you have had any dealings such as this Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, if you require any information as to how you stand legally we will point you in the right direction.

holidays

Holiday Packs: What Are They?

A question that has been asked is what is a Holiday Pack and is it subject to timeshare laws? There is no simple answer to this, it appears that these are not subject to the regulations set down for timeshare and discount holiday clubs. It would seem that this depends on which company you are dealing with.

 

Many timeshare companies have used packs as a last resort, usually when the client does not want to purchase a timeshare or cannot afford it at that time. These were known as exit packs, many sales staff called them the try before you buy option.

holiday packs

Basically the pack consists of around 5 weeks of holidays which must be used in 36 months. Usually the first two weeks are taken at the resort of purchase, it gives the purchaser a taste of the standards in timeshare resorts. The other weeks can be taken from the inventory available.

The charge for these holiday packs are around the £4000 mark, but again this varies from company to company. This is paid for either on the day, or a deposit is taken and the balance paid on the customer’s return home. As we know, for timeshare or holiday clubs a deposit within the 14 day cooling off period is illegal, so how do these companies get away with it?

Most of the ones I have come across have the duration below 36 months usually 35, this it would seem circumvents the timeshare laws. Also these are holidays paid for in advance and can be booked at anytime within the period specified. So in effect, the company can claim they are acting as a travel agent thereby they do not come within the scope of the timeshare directives.

 

It must also be noted that in many instances these holidays come with the provision of attending a sales presentation. In other words the opportunity to sell you another product.

 

As far as cost is concerned, you must also take into account that the price is for accommodation only, you still have to add the cost of flights and then what it will cost in meals and drinks. So they may not actually be cost effective for everyone. Granted, most timeshare resorts are of a higher standard than many offered by high street travel agents. But today with the internet, you may find the same resorts offered by online booking companies at a cheaper price, some tour operators such as Thomson/Tui also have deals with many of these resorts.

travel-agency-clipart

So it pays to do your homework, unfortunately this may not be possible while on holiday. Many of these offers of holiday packs follow the old timeshare system of only available on the day. The only advice is if you don´t feel right don’t buy.

 

If you have purchased one of these holiday packs Inside Timeshare would like to share your experiences with other readers, whether it be good or bad. In This way others will get the information they need to make decisions to buy or not to buy.

 

takeover

The Villacana Story: A Repeat of Past Deeds.

The world of timeshare is full of controversy, from perpetuity contracts to owners being forced to continue paying maintenance fees even when unable to do so due to age etc. One of these is the ongoing argument between MacDonald Resorts and various owners groups, the most recent being Villacana.

villacana

There is an ongoing argument between these two parties that has been running for several years, this has resulted in the MacDonalds Resorts Legal Action Group, MRLAG. This has been set up to fight the proposals by MacDonald Resorts to transfer all fixed week fixed apartment owners to floating weeks. Now this does seem surprising as floating weeks have been declared illegal in Spain.

 

So why are the owners against this, apart from floating being illegal?

 

It would seem it is about control. They have seen this from other resorts where this was pushed through. As fixed week fixed apartment owners they have a say in the running of the resort, after all they are technically the owners. When a company like MacDonalds changes to floating weeks they basically become the owners of the fixed weeks and apartments, which then gives them control.

mcdonaldsresortlogo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With many of the other resorts where this has happened, the main argument was that the owners did not want to go ahead with the proposal. But the votes have not gone their way, many owners complaining that MacDonalds received the necessary vote because they controlled any vote not cast by a member, either in person or by proxy. Not to forget that the resort developers control any votes for weeks not sold. (see previous article)

Manipulation of votes by resorts and resort owners

The other point in this argument is that the floating weeks do not guarantee a holiday as they are subject to availability. Also MacDonalds as the controlling owners have the right to sell or rent these weeks as they see fit, even to non members, and at the member’s expense, plus while still enjoying your maintenance fees.

 

Then we have the problem of getting out of your timeshare, we all know that there is no resale market. But MacDonalds offer what can be described as a derisory solution. Every two years offering a limited number to hand back their timeshare, but at the cost of 4 years maintenance.

 

The TCA have been highlighting this for some time with regular updates.

 

So what of TATOC in all of this?tatoc logo

 

Well as we know TATOC is supposed to represent the timeshare owners committees, in other words you. But as we have seen they are throwing their full weight behind the MacDonalds Proposal. For those of you who are not in the know, TATOC receive the bulk of their funding from the timeshare industry, such as MacDonalds Resorts who pay annual fees to be “ACREDITED” by TATOC.

 

Somehow I don’t think this is actually in the interests of you the owners / members. I agree that the owners committees should have good relations with the resort developer, but this should be on an equal partnership. After all it is your money that is paying for it and keeping the resorts open and maintained.

 

It certainly seems that it is time for new organisations and associations to be set up to serve your interests, as well as a new and non industry related body to oversee the developers and resorts. So get rid of TATOC and The RDO, then you may at last have some say as well as justice.

 

If you have any questions or thoughts on this subject Inside Timeshare would be pleased to hear from you. If you want any information regarding any timeshare matter we will try to answer it, if we don´t know we will find it out.

 

victory

Here We Go Again! Another Supreme Court Ruling for CLA against Anfi.

Canarian Legal Alliance once again announces another Supreme Court victory against Anfi, this was published on their website on 31 May 2016.

 

The Supreme Court again has awarded one of their clients double the deposit back, due to the fact of taking payments within the 14 day cooling off period. The court has also reinforced the fact that floating weeks and contracts in perpetuity are illegal. This client will be receiving over 30,000€ and have their contract canceled.

 

This now brings the number of rulings by the Supreme Court on behalf of CLA clients to nine. This will obviously have a profound effect on all timeshares sold within Spanish jurisdiction, the floodgates have been opened and there is now no turning back.

 

Consumers now have the full protection of the law despite what the timeshare companies and the trade body the RDO may say. In the end it is only themselves to blame for their present predicament.

 

It has also come to the attention of Inside Timeshare that another case brought in Tenerife against Silverpoint has resulted in a victory. The only information so far is the case was conducted on behalf of a British Silverpoint client, the case was heard by Judge José Pablo Carrera Fernadez. At present we do not know which firm started these proceedings. It would seem that the court in Tenerife has also used the Supreme Court rulings in its judgement. More will be published on this when the information becomes available.

 

Once again congratulations to the respective clients and both the legal teams that fought your cases.

slicksaleman

THE SUPREME COURT STRIKES AGAIN

Inside Timeshare is here to bring you the latest news and information about the world of timeshare. If you need any advise or information about your own timeshare or any company that you may be thinking of dealing with, contact Inside Timeshare for free and impartial advice.

consumer rights

Supreme Court Rulings: Simply Explained.

We have seen many articles about the recent Supreme Court Rulings on timeshare, but what are they?

 

Firstly the taking of deposits within the 14 day cooling off period has been declared illegal, it has also been clarified that this includes those taken by a third party. Many companies used this method to get round the EU Directives which stated that no deposit was to be taken, many had the deposit paid to a trust company, thereby being able to state that they did not take deposits.

 

Why were deposits taken within this period outlawed?

 

Many of us are familiar with paying deposits, there are many instances where this is done. For instance, when booking a table in a restaurant for a large party a deposit is usually required. This tends to be non-refundable if you don´t turn up or cancel with reasonable notice. Most of us would accept this as we have initiated the contract with the restaurant.

 

Another example is booking a holiday with the local high street travel agent, we pay them a deposit as a sign that we will fulfil our commitment to complete the booking. If we cancel then the deposit is again non-refundable.

travel

So why is the taking of a deposit for timeshare or related products illegal?

Keep Reading

Court Masp

Fast and Furious: Result Within 24 Hours!

On 27 May Canarian Legal Alliance posted another victory against Anfi Resorts, this case was heard on 25 May 2016.

 

From the initial hearing to the judgement being delivered was within a staggering 24 hours, now this is amazing for any court no matter what country. This particular family must be very happy indeed, their contract has been cancelled and the court has ordered that they be repaid 20,000€.

fast and furious

It would seem that the Supreme Court rulings are having a profound effect on the way the lower courts are now dealing with these cases. In the past it was taking so long for cases to be heard and could even take longer to be resolved, mainly due to the lengthy appeals process. This can be seen with the now famous Grimsbo v Anfi case, six years in the making, but resulting in historical Supreme Court rulings.

 

Again this contract was declared null and void due to the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, along with the illegality of floating / points systems. We now wait to see how quickly other cases similar to this will be heard and adjudicated.

 

So it is congratulations to this particular family and well done the legal team at CLA.

 

Inside Timeshare is here to give you the latest news and information on what is happening around the timeshare world. Much of it will be kept from you the members, could it be they are afraid of a mass exodus or even more litigation. Truthful information is what you the members require, yes, you may be happy with what you have, Kim & Andy are proof of that. But even they are interested in what is going on, after all it may just affect you in the future.

real news

thoughts

My Thoughts Today (End of May)

We are now at the end of May, it has proven to be quite an interesting month. It began with the start of the RCI class action brought by Edwin Coe LLP, as yet no news from the case is available. It went into a second week, and as we all know the legal system takes time, so we do not expect any judgement from the High Court anytime soon. But we will keep you informed as and when the news comes in.

 

It has also been a very expensive month for some of the resorts with huge awards being issued by the courts in Spain. One firm has secured a massive payout in the past week for one of its clients, with many other cases in the pipeline. This has shown that the authorities in Spain are taking the matter of companies selling against the rules very seriously indeed.

legal clipart

The case of Mrs B now seems to be at an end, as stated in a previous article, the paperwork she has, does state her timeshare has been sold. This was on a document signed and sealed by a Public Notary. It now only leaves the matter of the resort to accept this fact, but due to her age and health somehow I don’t think they will bother to cause any more problems. After all it isn’t really in their best interest to pursue this and end up with a very bad public image.

 

Earlier in the month we ran an article on happy owners, once again thanks to Kim and Andy for taking the time to talk about and write down some of their experiences. This piece did show that for some timeshare does work well. It also showed that like anything else you have to learn how to use it. Timeshare is a good concept, it is just a shame that in the past it has been sold with flaws. The current situation with the law being clarified in Spain bears this out.

bogus clipart

We have also issued warnings about bogus law firms, these have been claiming that courts have awarded payments to owners who have lost money to resale companies. These have been followed by calls from bodies claiming to be either inland revenue or other officials. Then comes the crunch, you have to send them by bank transfer a tax payment. It was also highlighted that many of these entities are using names or very similar names to genuine companies.

 

It was also announce this month that The Privileged Club had filed for liquidation, apparently this is because the owner is seriously ill and cannot continue to run the club. Unfortunately we don’t yet know what will happen to the members, hopefully another club will take them on. We hope that Gary Woodward does indeed get well.

 

Articles on the history of timeshare were also published, showing how it has developed over the years. We ended with an article about one of the most infamous resale crooks on the Costa del Sol, whose business was the model for all subsequent scam companies. The question on this last piece is will he be making a return when released from prison? Lets hope not.

It now only leaves Inside Timeshare to say have great bank holiday weekend, we hope that the weather is fine for you to begin the BBQ´s. Remember do your research before entering into and contract, check and check again. If in doubt or don’t know where to look contact us and we will give you the advise.

bbq