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Barclays Partner Finance

Timeshare Sales End at Golden Sands Malta

Welcome to the end of the week, today Inside Timeshare reports of the latest news coming from Malta. It has been announced in the Times of Malta that timeshare sales are ending at the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort and Spa with the loss of around 80 jobs. Azure Services Ltd which is the sales and marketing company for the resort told employees by email that “the majority” of staff will be made redundant. They will be making way for a new “elite team” which will be embarking on a “new strategy”. As yet we don’t know what this new strategy is, but this will be a blow for the staff especially at this time of year. (See link at the end for the full article)

Azure Services Ltd is part of the Limora Group owned by the Trotta family and is the Maltese sister company of Silverpoint selling the very same products. Azure Services was set up in 2003 with the sole intention of selling timeshare or as they called it “vacation ownership” at the five-star Radisson Blu Golden Sands located at Golden Bay beach at Għajn Tuffieħa.

Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort and Spa

Linked to the hotel at one point were the Manchester United football players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, they had invested in Island Hotels Group which was the company that managed the hotel. This was a major selling point for the sales staff and tended to swing sales in their favour.

In 2015, the Corinthia Group, the parent company of Corinthia Hotels a Maltese hotel company acquired a 50 per cent share of Azure Services, with the remaining 50 per cent being owned by international investors (Limora Group).

On Monday the email sent to employees explained that the company would no longer be selling timeshare or holiday clubs but the focus would be on servicing its thousands of members.

The email went on to say “inevitably, in consequence of this new strategy going forward, the majority of the sales and marketing teams will need to be made redundant to make way for an elite team of marketing and sales staff selected to promote and take forward this new strategy.”

There will also be a restructuring of other servicing departments and this could increase the numbers losing their jobs to 120.

In the Times of Malta report, a spokesman said that both sets of shareholders remained committed to the future of the resort as a “high-end luxury destination.” They also maintained that Azure and Golden Sands Resort would fully honour all timeshare commitments arising from obligations to existing members

Azure sold not just the basic timeshare but also copied the model from their sister company in Tenerife Silverpoint, this was the selling of “investment” weeks with the promise of rental income and then a resale with profit after 2 years. None of this ever materialised.

They also moved into selling membership points-based holiday club called Azure X, which Inside Timeshare has been told by readers is known as XP. These are explained by the sales staff as a virtual currency such as bitcoin and could be traded in the same manner or used to gain access to motor yachts, supercars and other hotels which include those owned by the Corinthia Group.

This product is designed as an attempt to bypass timeshare legislation as it is a membership to a club and has no property or weeks attached. But we all know that anything sold by any of the Limora Group companies will be worthless and useless, just look at all the products sold by Silverpoint over the years.

As for the new product and the “new strategy”, we will just have to wait and see what this will bring, no doubt it will not be for the benefit of the consumer!

Full article Times of Malta

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/timeshare-sales-end-at-golden-sands-with-loss-of-80-jobs.756316

This is not the first time Azure and Golden Sands has hit the press, Malta today reported in February 2019 on the investigation by the FCA into loan agreements brokered by Azure for the purchase of timeshare with Barclays Partner Finance. These loan agreements were brokered illegally as Azure was acting without official authorisation.

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/93169/golden_sands_timeshare_loans_investigated_over_misselling_by_uk_watchdog_#.XfNzg-j7SUm

If you have purchased any product from Azure especially the XP “virtual” currency, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. Please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Have a great weekend.

The Whistleblowers of European Timeshare

Most timeshare owners have over the years received cold calls, be they for resales, claims and the cheap holidays commonly known as flybuys. In many cases the caller has been met with verbal abuse, well not surprising considering the number of calls owners have had to put up with.

But have you ever thought that the person calling is not actually aware that they may be working for a “scam” outfit. Many of these call centers are based in Spain and the workers tend to be expats especially women just out to earn a living for their family. That is not to say that all callers are unaware of what they are doing, many are well aware that they are calling to “scam” people of their hard earned cash.

Inside Timeshare has recently received several emails from workers, not only from call centers but also from the sales people based in the resorts.

As for the sales representatives that have contacted Inside Timeshare, they also tell a very similar story, taking on the job to be able to live a life in the sun. One sales rep who emailed us explained how he applied for the job from the UK, he was unemployed and thought this would be just the right new start in life he wanted.

He travelled to Tenerife with the promise of three months free accomodation, then began training. At first he believed in the product he was selling, it was pitched very much like it is to the potential purchasers, a dream.

At first he was having trouble selling, he was then taken to one side by a very experienced rep and told how to make the sales and earn his commission, that was the only source of income as there was no basic pay. You don’t sell you don’t eat.

He took on board what he was told and began to embellish his pitch with the usual lies, “you are buying property, it will go up in value”, “it’s an investment”, well you know the rest. Eventually this rep was making lots of money and certainly living the dream.

So what changed his mind?

As he explained, he had an elderly couple on tour, using all his charm and the usual lies, he eventually sold them a pack of several weeks in a one bed apartments, all with the promise that they would receive a rental income for the weeks they didn’t use and a resale with a substantial profit after two years. All this was financed with a loan from Barclays Partner Finance, totaling around £50,000.

The following year he met the couple again while they were on holiday, the story they told him made him feel guilty. This couple had great difficulty in repaying the loan, they ended up having to remortgage their home in order to pay it off. This had brought them great financial difficulty and they asked for the timeshares to be sold.

He had the unenviable task of telling them that there was no call for what they had purchased, that the only way was to upgrade, which they could not afford to do. Again the Barclays Partner Finance loan was offered. The couple were in tears, they could not afford to take on another, they were now lumbered with timeshares they did not want and were also in a considerable amount of debt.

There was absolutely nothing he could do for them, guilt took hold as they reminded him of his own grandparents. He realised he had been used by the timeshare company to make them unlimited amounts of money. Subsequently he handed in his notice, luckily he had not fallen into the usual trap of spending his money on drink and drugs so had a fairly large amount saved up. He eventually found a job managing a bar and continues to do so although not in Tenerife.

The company he worked for was none other than Silverpoint.

Inside Timeshare has heard many stories such as this, it does go to show that there are some people who have worked in the timeshare industry who do have a conscience and some morals.

Have you had an experience such as these, if so contact Inside Timeshare and let us tell your story.

Start the Week

Summary of the Royal Courts of Justice Tribunal Ruling by Judge Timothy Herrington.

This case was heard on 19 June 2018 and  revolves around a validation order made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which validates (makes legal) loan agreements taken out by clients of Azure Resorts Malta, using Barclays Partner Finance (BPF).

The loan agreements were made by Azure Service Ltd between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016, with this company not being authorised as a licenced broker to arrange or introduce clients to BPF. On finding out that these loan agreements were made by an unauthorised entity, BPF applied to the FCA to have the loans validated or made legal.

This validation order was issued, affecting some 1,444 clients and could cost Barclays around £47 million.

An appeal by the clients and their legal representatives forced the FCA to apply to the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing on the legal implications and guidance to overturn the validation Order.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement.

He ruled that the FCA did not take into account “Client Detriment” when they issued the validation order, his ruling was that the FCA re-evaluate that decision and take into account the client detriment.

He stated that the client detriment revolves around the following:

  1. Clients were not given sufficient information as to the terms and conditions of the loan agreement required by law;
  2. There were no major credit checks made as to the affordability of the repayments such as income versus outgoings reports;
  3. The length of the loan agreements were not explained, with client under the impression that they were for two years;
  4. Clients were pressured into signing these agreements;
  5. False representations were made to clients relating to the financial impact of regulated agreements;
  6. Clients were subject to long high pressure sales tactics to purchase the timeshares;
  7. Clients were sold timeshares which were not appropriate for them;
  8. Vulnerable consumers were treated inappropriately;
  9. Concerns about commission arrangements and disclosure thereof.

The FCA must now re-examine the original validation order and take into account the client detriment statements of the borrowers.

With this ruling it makes it almost impossible for the FCA to uphold the original validation order, therefore it must overturn the previous decision and rule that these loan agreements cannot be validated and are thereby unenforceable in law.

This means that all 1,444 clients will be entitled to be repaid all the money plus all interest paid.

Once the FCA issued a cancellation of the original validation order, this will no doubt have an effect on any loan issued by a timeshare company through BPF. Although the company brokering the agreement may be authorised, the points listed above may make it possible for any loan to be contested.

This will be of significant interest to all Silverpoint clients who entered into contracts under the investment weeks scheme.

At present it is not known how long the FCA will take to issue their findings.

Latest news surrounding Tauro Beach.

The scenes witnessed a few weeks ago of the destruction of homes situated on Tauro Beach have been the subject of many news articles, the local people are understandably very angry.

The destruction was carried out by a private demolition company with a not too savoury reputation, Desokupas, who were hired by the Cazorla‘s and Anfi to clear the area which they claim they own.

This was done without any apparent court orders, which leaves us to believe that the destruction may just be illegal, even if the land is owned by the Cazorla’s.

It does leave us to wonder how the members of the Anfi resort must feel about this, that the company they pay high annual maintenance fees can behave in such a manner?

Do they actually understand what is going on?

It also begs the question how the Ambassador for Anfi David Silva, the renowned footballer and local boy must feel about how the company he represents in advertising is treating his own people and neighbours?

Click on the links below.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/situacion-vecinos-Desokupas-chabolas-Tauro_2_799340062.html

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/politica/Nueva-Canarias-Ayuntamiento-Mogan-Tauro_0_800020281.html

For the full story of the whole project search Tauro Beach in the search box.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this or any other article, or if you need to find out about any company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.