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Mail on Sunday

Timeshare Sales, Barclay Partner Finance & The FCA

For the past couple of years, Inside Timeshare has been following the case of the Financial Conduct Authority granting a validation order for loans provided by Barclays Partner Finance, brokered by timeshare sales agents of Azure Services Ltd. This validation order was granted to BPF after the finance company found out that over 1,400 loan agreements were brokered by Azure Services who were not authorised, competent or diligent enough to broker them.

Many of the clients who signed these agreements for the purchase of timeshares, tended to be either retired or just coming up to retirement. They were lured with the wonderful patter of you are “investing in property”, “it’s not timeshare”.

There was the promise of renting out the purchased weeks, which would give an income, supposedly to cover the maintenance fees and a bit more. Then after 2 years the “investment weeks” would be sold and they would make a profit. This would cover the cost of the loan provided by Barclays Partner Finance.

Well, we all know how that story ends, remember that Azure is part of the Limora Group of companies owned by the late Robert “Bob” Trotta and was also the sister company to Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Company Participations have been likened to this!

Silverpoint, formally Resort Properties, sold the same product, in fact, it was they who originated it. They further developed the product into the Company Participation Scheme, which changed by registering the apartments for sale as “companies”. But the same idea was applied in the sales presentation, it was an investment with rental income and profit after sales when the “company” was transferred to the purchaser. (Sorry but that is the very simple version).

The vast majority of these purchases were made by loan agreements brokered by the sales staff selling the products and provided by Barclays Partner Finance.

When you consider that in the two years which the FCA is looking at for Azure clients this has affected over 1,400, the number of loan agreements financed by BPF must number in the thousands and as far as money is concerned worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Although this is just a guess it is on the figures received by Inside Timeshare on the Azure loans worth around £40 million.

We now move to the latest phase of the case, back in August 2018, Judge Timothy Herrington, ordered the FCA to re-evaluate its decision to validate the order, citing that “consumer detriment” must be taken into consideration.

Judge Timothy Herrington

Over a year later, the FCA confirmed the validation order with a provision that BPF appoints a “competent person” to investigate client detriment.

Now the appeal has been launched to overturn this decision, there is a group that has been formed to coordinate clients who are affected by this decision called Azure Malta Action And Support Group. They are a closed group on Facebook and are gaining in membership, not just with Azure owners, many others affected by the sales practices of the timeshare sales reps and their brokering of these loans.

The group has now published a letter to BPF which Inside Timeshare has placed as a downloadable link below, which demands the right to know what information was given to BPF by the broker regarding the loan application. It also calls for BPF to provide all details of any correspondence between the client and BPF.

It is a legal right under data protection and known as Data Subject Request.

This template letter is not just for Azure clients, any timeshare purchaser who was brokered a finance agreement by the sales reps with BPF or any other finance company can use it. Inside Timeshare urges you to do so, as from all the people that Inside Timeshare has spoken with none have ever provided any full financial details such as “income v expenditure” which are normal procedures especially when considering the sums involved. These reports show if the repayments are affordable and in fact, Shawbrook Bank admitted it had not carried this out several years ago.

The Azure Malta Action And Support Group along with Inside Timeshare are urging all those affected by BPF loan agreements to begin submitting these requests and then filing complaints with the FCA. Hopefully, this may force the FCA to investigate.

Unfortunately, in an article in the Mail on Sunday by Jeff Prestridge, it appears that there are some very serious concerns about the FCA.

According to the start of the article, which we must point out is also our opinion, the Financial Conduct Authority is there to protect consumers, but “is more interested in protecting its own”.

It also goes on to highlight the inherent problems of staff untrained and lacking the knowledge to actually carry out their work. They are not being trained to spot “anything suspicious” in the companies they are supposed to be monitoring.

They lack any training, knowledge or experience in dealing with consumer complaints, and as Inside Timeshare has found in the past, every complaint seems to be dismissed in favour of the industry. Sounds a bit like the Resorts Development Organisation don’t you think!

Although the article is not about timeshare it is a very damning report of the FCA and their apparent inability to actually perform the job they are entrusted with. It certainly highlights the problems being faced by consumers who have had to endure lengthy high-pressure sales presentations, ending up signing agreements for finance on the false promises of sales staff, reliant on the loans to close the sale.

The link to the full article is below along with previous articles on this subject along with the link to Azure Malta Action And Support Group.

If you have purchased a timeshare with a loan arranged by the sales staff and would like more information on what your rights are, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you. If we are unable to answer your question we will find out for you.

Link to the Azure Action Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1152657598482168

PDF & Word versions of the template letter

Jeff Prestridge Article

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-9070435/JEFF-PRESTRIDGE-FCA-let-investors.html?fbclid=IwAR3M0bPZrnghdan3Ae5zxaGP17CHfiwYQ5llR0V0ELMTzic-j9XZD_3-72E

Articles on the FCA validation

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-azure-bpf-loan-agreements/

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-bpf-azure-loans-update/

https://insidetimeshare.com/barclays-the-fca-and-azure-the-story-continues/

Shawbrook Bank

https://insidetimeshare.com/shawbrook-bank-announce-irregularities-timeshare-loans-similar-activities-usa/

MacDonald Resorts: No Stranger to Bad Press.

mcdonald logo

MacDonald Resorts and Hotels are no strangers to the press, over the years there have been articles in many newspapers about how they treat their members. Mrs B from the previous article is just one in a long line.

 

Tony Hetherington from the Mail on Sunday has highlighted this on many occasions, in one article dated 25th April 2014, he even mentions that MacDonalds will even make the executors of a will liable for maintenance fees.

mailonsunday

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

 

This article also highlighted the problem owners face on trying to end their contracts, MacDonalds makes it virtually impossible to end them. Although they did say they were making efforts to provide an exit solution.

 

Well we know what that usually means, and even Tony Hetherington showed this in the article. Yes we will let you out, but you must pay up to 4 years maintenance fees first. Inside Timeshare has been in contact with many owners who have had to pay considerable sums, just to be free of the burden of maintenance. I have also seen comments on different forums from uninformed people, just don´t pay the fees, they won´t come after you. Well unfortunately we know only too well MacDonald Resorts will send in the debt collector.

 

Due to the age of many owners that are in the position of wanting out, not paying is not an option. These people have been brought up in a different culture, one that a debt is a debt and should be paid. To them being threatened with court action is a no no. MacDonalds know this so pursue with vigour.

 

What of The RDO in all this?rdo-logo

 

As we have stated many times before this organisation is there for the resort owners and developers. If they were a genuine trade body regulating the industry, these unfair practises would not exist. Go to the RDO with any complaint about your resort, the answer will be the same every time. They do not investigate complaints against their own members.

 

What of TATOC?tatoc logo

 

Exactly the same, they do not investigate or mediate against any RDO member, yet they are supposed to represent you the owners. Harry Taylor is well known in the industry, he has sided with the RDO for years, even making a career out of his leadership of TATOC.

 

Again it is up to you the owners to fight these injustices, demand Independent oversight of this industry to protect yourselves. Demand a new Owners Association that is not funded by the industry. The RDO and TATOC will not do it for you.

If you require any information or impartial advice on how to deal with any timeshare problem, Inside Timeshare is here to help. If we do not know the answer we will find out.

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