/ Money, Travel & Leisure

The murky world of timeshare resale

Row of colourful holiday homes

Do you have a timeshare you want to sell? If so, don’t fall into the trap of being scammed to the tune of thousands of pounds by unscrupulous resale companies.

Hundreds of timeshare owners are targeted every week by resale companies promising to take their timeshare off their hands. Typically, the companies request large sums of money upfront in order to secure a sale.

We’ve heard from numerous Which? members who have been duped into handing over large sums of money. Once they’d handed over the money however, they never heard from the company again – welcome to the world of the timeshare resale.

Although it might seem obvious not to hand over any money, these companies can be extremely convincing and are adept at delivering the ‘hard sell’. And, because owners are often desperate to sell, they’re more likely to fall for an attractive sales pitch – even if it sounds too good to be true.

Don’t fall for the cold call

Take the case of Geoff Faulkner. Over the years, desperate to sell his three timeshare products, Geoff has paid out thousands of pounds in the hope that one of the companies would deliver on its promise.

None ever has and although he has managed to recover his losses through his credit card company, he is still in possession of timeshares he doesn’t want, paying annual maintenance fees on properties he doesn’t use.

Judging by the letters and emails we’ve received, Geoff is far from being alone. And, with more than half a million British and Irish citizens owning timeshares across 1,300 European resorts, the potential for unscrupulous resale companies to deceive owners is vast.

How to spot a scam

Here are some of the techniques used to part you from your cash:

1. You’re told there’s a buyer ready to buy your timeshare, but first you have to pay a large fee to secure the sale. After this is paid, you never hear from the company again.

2. You receive a call inviting you to attend a presentation under the pretence that the company will sell your timeshare or that you will meet potential buyers. Typically, the presentation turns into a high-pressure sales pitch in which the company tries to sell you one of its own timeshare products.

3. You’re invited to a presentation by a timeshare company and told that if you buy their timeshare you’ll receive a cash-back certificate where you’ll be able to get all your money back. Needless to say, it’s rare you’ll ever get your money back.

Future proofing timeshares

There is some good news on the horizon. New legislation governing the sale of timeshares, resale, timeshare exchange and long-term holiday products comes into force in February 2011. It outlaws the practice of taking payments upfront and states that money should only be exchanged after a sale has taken place.

The legislation means that any company or individual that takes money upfront can be prosecuted. Hopefully this will deter unscrupulous companies and give timeshare owners more power if they do fall for their scams.

Comments
Member

Hi. New on here.

I have a timeshare at Orange Lake in Florida. Because of broken promises I stopped paying them a penny over 2 years ago. I attended a meeting with ITRA, but settled on TESS to handle my case. It was a one-off fee of £1500. I have a copy of a long and dismissive letter towards OL that they sent them. Although I still get the bills from OL, and I still owe money on their financing, I send everything to TESS who tell me regularly when I phone them for peace of mind that the bills are all that OL can do to scare me into paying. I’ve stopped getting the phone calls.

I’ve done research and as far as I’m aware, this is a civil matter under Florida law. For enforcement in the UK, a Judgement that would be awarded in Florida has to then be agreed in the UK where it would be considered under British Law. As OL broke all number of promises this is highly improbable and in any case it’s something OL would be loathe to pursue as if they did, and lost, it would set a precedent.

I have no reason to doubt that TESS are anything but a legitimate company who work for their clients.

My advice to anyone who has a timeshare in Florida is hold your nerve. There is no reciprocal agreement between the US and the UK in civil matters.

Member
ian rankin says:
9 November 2017

Has anyone has dealings with TimeshareCompensation in Tenerife, owned by ABC Lawyers?

Member

HI Ian – TimeshareCompensation and ABC Lawyers are a part of a network of businesses that include Monster Travel, Monster Rewards and SellMyTimeshare.tv. You will find previous postings about them on this thread. They have been the subject of numerous consumer complaints and are currently under active investigation by UK authorities

Member
Rebecca says:
10 November 2017

Chris, do you know if TESS is a legitimate way to get out of timeshare or of a legitimate way to? My mum signed up to a timeshare with vacation villages in Florida about 12 years ago and is trying to get out of it. It’s a ‘in perpetuity’ contract. She was told lots of lies about being able to sell it back which weren’t true and signed after hours of being harassed by salespeople.

She has now gone to Praetorian Legal and signed a contract to pay them £4500ish when they get her out of her timeshare. Does anyone know if Praetorian are legit? They told her it would take months or years but now are saying they’ve sent 2 letters and she’s out of it and must pay it all now. She has refused until she has proof from them and the timeshare company that she is out of it and does not owe the timeshare any money. Praetorian were not happy and said she’d get charged £45 interest every week until she paid it all off.

I’ve told her not to pay anything to Praetorian. I’m at a loss of how she can get out of the timeshare?? They’re very stern that she’s signed a contract and won’t let her out.

Please help!

Member

Hi Rebecca.

I think it’s probably best to start with the core problem. Have you / your mum contacted the timeshare company and said that you wished to relinquish? Sorry if that seems a bit ‘obvious’, but it is a fact that many people I deal with seeking help have not done that – it seems that they read there is never a possibility and so don’t go through that simple step. If that’s been done, then if there was undue pressure and /or misrepresentation, then that would be the next step.
In cases we have seen, the two businesses you have mentioned do something which again is very simple – they write to the timeshare company stating that it was mis-sold – and then regardless of the response or lack of it, will tell the owner that it is in effect relinquished. The basis of this is that they are confident that a timeshare company based in the US will not legally pursue a UK citizen in the British courts – and certainly that is overwhelmingly the case- which is why they often offer ‘guarantees’. However, as you will appreciate, you can do that yourself – you don’t need to pay fees. This is often not properly disclosed as the legal reality is that the timeshare contract still exists – the alleged debts are simply not being robustly legally enforced.

In terms of Praetorian Legal, if they have not explained the process in the first place and the timeshare company states the contract still stands, then it can be contested that Praetorian Legal have not fulfilled their obligations / contract. You can find out more by sending a Subject Access Request to Praetorian Legal , which is a process that compels a business (under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act) to provide an individual with all information they hold on them. You can specify that you wish to see all correspondence files etc. This information, together with the information from the timeshare company could assist you in your dispute.

Praetorian Legal have previously been involved (taking ‘legal action’ referrals) with two business that are under formal investigation by UK law enforcement Authorities – EZE Group and Monster Travel / SellMyTimeshare.tv (the proprietors of the latter are now mostly using ABC Lawyers as a brand).

TESS have previously been involved with Monster Travel / SellMyTimeshare.tv but subsequently came into dispute with them and are now offering to pursue claims against them. The other connection is that the owner of TESS, David Cox also sold the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) to Mark Rowe, the owner of Monster Travel and connected businesses. The TCA site has since been used to lure in consumers. You can of course, ask TESS to provide in writing full clarification of their intended processes and whether the definition of success depends on the timeshare bushiness confirming relinquishment – or whether it is based on non-enforcement?

Apologies for the long-winded answer – we do have to be very diligent and accurate and I hope this information is helpful. You can seek information n help via the Citizens Advice website – ‘Other useful information’ – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/scams/common-scams/holiday-club-and-timeshare-scams/timeshare-top-tips1/ and by all means do ask any further questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them.

Member
Harry Darby says:
29 November 2017

[Hello your comment has been removed to align with our commenting rules. Comments which break our community guidelines will be edited or removed. Thanks, mods]

Member
Harry Darby says:
29 November 2017

Chris

Whilst we have taken business from organisations that are under investigation we have co-operated fully with investigations into the organisations you refer to and we have had no allegations of impropriety or wrongdoing levelled at ourselves.

Proceedings are advanced against one particular organisation and we have been completely eliminated from the enquiry into that organisation.

What did come out of the investigation is that but for Praetorian Legal carrying out the work we have done for the client, the client would have received no value for the money paid to others.

We were the company who carried out the work promised.

If you want proof of this then contact us and we will gladly let you see the correspondence as we are totally transparent.

Member
bev milsted says:
19 November 2017

in a nut shell can tess be trussed as iv`e been tuned over by ???

Member

In a (large) nutshell’ the best policy is diligence. With any legal or claims business, get all the specifics in writing, including whether there are any guarantees of success and if not, what is the liklihood of success? What will be the precise method used and if it is reliquishment being sought, is success determined by the timeshare company confirming relinquishment? What fees are involved in total, including any possible extras as your case develops? What are the timescales involved? Ask if they will provide full disclosure, including copying you in on any and all actions carried out on your behalf, including contact with your resort / timeshare company and any third parties they engage with. Ask for a copy of their terms and conditions. Before you pay anything take all of this away and double-check everything. If the business will not provide such dusclosure in writing and give you time to evaluate, then I would say you have your answer anout trust. If you have paid fees already and feel that all is nit right, submit a Subject Access Request to the business asking for copies of all information they hold on your case, including all correspondence with any and all parties they have contacted. Seek further advice if you are unsure.

Member
Harry Darby says:
29 November 2017

Chris

If we may be so bold to say that after four years of terminating timeshare with no complaints as recently confirmed by Trading Standards upon a request from our lawyers to Trading Standards to disclose ‘any’ and ‘all’ complaints against Praetorian Legal.

We have a written reply confirming that they cannot evidence not one complaint made by a Praetorian Legal client or a member of the public. We have dealt with over 3,000 timeshare owners and not one formal complaint to a government agency confirmed in writing.

Sure, we have people who simple do not read or understand our documentation but that is not because it’s complex it’s because they read forums and then doubt their decision but that is not because we have done anything wrong or haven’t fulfilled anything we have promised.

If people want to believe others that is their problem but we deliver 100% of the time and the majority who make adverse comments are our competitors so if people want to believe the hype of others they can but we will pursue non payers who use social media hype to avoid paying for our services.

If you want a real incite into Praetorian Legal come and see the operation for yourself you are most welcome.

Come and meet the staff and come and read the 90 plus handwritten testimonials we receive month on month and speak to as many of those people as you like at random.

Member
Harry Darby says:
29 November 2017

We Praetorian Legal provided a substantive response to a thread that was published on this convocation.

It would appear that the content has been taken down for some reason?

We would reiterate that Praetorian Legal are a transparent and reputable timeshare termination and claims company authorised and regulated under the Ministry of Justice and accountable to the Legal Ombudsman in respect of our operation and conduct of our business.

We are not aware of any timeshare company who have this level of authorisation or regulation in the timeshare industry.

We have been in periodic contact with UK Trading Standards in respect of consumer complaints made against Praetorian Legal and it has been confirmed in writing back to us that there is no evidence of any complaints contrary to what our unregulated competitors might have people believe.

We deal with timeshare owners fairly and we provide a unique peace of mind service that tested and proven in the timeshare market place.

Member

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Member

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Member

Hello Harry, your comment was removed as it discussed an individual’s case and named them publicly on Which? Conversation. Please ensure your comments align with our commenting rules and terms and conditions. While we encourage a lively debate on Which? Conversation, we will edit or remove any comments which we believe break our rules.

Member
AnnaWells says:
13 December 2017

Chris, As KwikChex is funded by the RDO which in turn is funded by the timeshare resorts, is it not in your interest to discredit any company that claims to get people out of timeshare contracts?

Member

Hi Anna.
Any business that is acting in a wholly legitimate way to assist consumers would not be criticised within our actions. We focus on those practising deception and breaching consumer protection regulations and work with various authorities to assist and enforce the law. We are currently involved in 3 active criminal prosecutions, further ongoing investigations and a number of civil claims cases. Key features of the deceptions that take place include not advising that consumers can relinquish at no cost or low cost, selling other unwanted products in bait & switch operations and actuslly not providing the services promised. The funding for consumer assistance is as you say, provided by the RDO and this is made clear on websites and in communications with consumers. It does not inhibit the assistance provided and many consumers are also assisted in relinquishment. The assistance is scrutinised by Trading Standards and must at all times be provided in the best interest of the consumers.

Member

I am new to this site.
We need to sell our time share week in Florida as we are both over 60 with no children & the cost of maintainance has risen to nearly £1000 this year.
We have also been scammed in the past plus wasted hours at so called legit sales companies. Our friends have just given us an advert for Timeshare.lawyer but we are loathed to try because of our past experiences.
How do we contact the resort directly to discuss taking it off our hands? All I can find are numbers for booking holidays with them? It is Orange Lake Resort in Orlando, Florida & we no longer belong to any club (it was RCI) anymore.
Any advice as this is really worrying us now we are retired.

Member

HI Ann

Firstly in terms of Timeshare.Lawyer, this is a trading name of ABC Lawyers Ltd. They are not in fact qualified lawyers and are owned by one Mark Rowe,who is better known as the person behind Monster Travel / SellMyTimeshare,tv – you can quickly conduct research regarding these businesses.

In previous contact with Orange Lakes, on behalf of consumers, we have found them to be responsive, so I would recommend you start with them directly. Contact email is ownersupport@orangelake.com

Be extremely cautious with claims and legal businesses, who are often not what they purport to be. Please do use this forum to advise how you get on and / or seek further help.

Member

Thanks Chris,
I do know Monster & Sell My Time Share for previous episodes.
We will contact the owners support as you suggest & see what we can do to help.
Thanks again youhave given us the first real piece of advice & help.
Will let you know.
Ann

Member
Janet Packham says:
16 January 2018

Hello my husband & I have a points system timeshare which we would like to terminate. The maintenance fees this year are over £1500.00 and we are struggling to pay this. We have great difficulty getting places to stay using our points because the resorts are always full! When taking the timeshare we did not understand that it would be in perpetuity and that we could not gift it to our children when we no longer could use it. It will be something hanging over their heads when we have died. We would like some advice regarding legal help to get out of this hiddious contract. We are both professional people & never dreamed we would get conned into timeshare. Many thanks in advance for any advice you can give us.
Janet & Gary

Member

Hi Janet & Gary.
Perpetuity in terms of passing an unwanted liability to heirs is simply not legally enforceable so please do not worry about that. In terms of relinquishing your timeshare, it is necessary to examine your contract and also your circumstances to be able to determine your options

Member
Lydia says:
24 January 2018

Working in Mallorca and recently came across a man called Willam Montgomery. He is a scottish man in his 60s. Claims that he wants to make big investments on the island but it all feels very shady. Can’t find much about him though. Think he was involved in a previous scam with timeshares sold from an office in Dunlope. Would appreciate any info regarding him.

Member
Samir says:
3 February 2018

Hello,

My parents bought a timeshare with Vacation Village Parkway in Florida in 2004, which is part of RCI I believe. I was 18 at the time and had gone with them, unfortunately I as well as parents signed the contract. My parents are retired now and pushing 70, they are tired of paying the maintenance fees and haven’t used the timeshare in 10 years.

I’ve been trying to wade through the muddy waters of this issue on the internet to find what little truth I can for them, as they are worried and confused about what will happen to it if they die and leave it to their kids.

What are their best options? They have sent an email explaining that they are old, don’t travel and don’t use the timeshare anymore. But beyond that what is the best course of action to just relinquish the timeshare.

Member

Hi Samir

Have you had a reply to the email yet? Next steps will depend on this – and then an evaluation of the contract & possible options can be carried out

Member
Steven Chorley says:
28 February 2018

I had/have Diamond resort points, and in a nutshell, this is where I am at what has happened up to now:-
– we were invited down to Stratford about 2 years ago with a free overnight stay to discuss exiting our contract and getting some money back ….wasn’t too bothered how much, but just wanted to get out of paying £1,000/year maintenance fees for something that wasn’t practicable for us
– it was really a Monster Rewards office!
– the deal which we signed up to was … we pain £1,000 deposit, they set up a loan for us for £5,200 to cover the balance of the legal fees, they gave us a large amount of Monster points which we could sell back at a discounted price after 14 months ….. this was still a reasonable amount of money on paper
– the idea was that they buy the points back, and they make a cut on the re-sale and the money generated pays off the loan you originally took out for legal fees
– CATCH 1 …. they don’t buy back the points directly, they go up for sale on their website for others to buy – but guess what, they just don’t get bought!
– CATCH 2 ….. the legal support which is given at the start is basically just don’t pay the maintenance fee and ignore any threats to pay as it doesn’t seem to be legally enforceable anyway (the threats for non-payment have now stopped but we still get the annual payment request) – I could have just done that myself!
– all that said, the points do get you some discounts but you have to be careful what you use then for and they can be used with a lot of major companies – the problem is that you got so many points and you have to pay to get some discount vouchers plus we now pay an annual charge of £79 to stay in the ‘Monster Club’
– we are now at the point where we just want rid of the Monster points for cash, but you have to go down to their Monster office in Bournemouth to see what deal they will give us ……. free 2 night stay but 2 days each off work and a long trek down there from Cheshire!
– QUESTION – has anyone been down to Bournemouth office for the CASH offer????
I hope that helps others that might read this post

Member
mchammered says:
4 March 2018

Cash offer means they will offer you £1 in return for the £6200 you have already spent.

Member
John says:
6 April 2018

Whereabouts in Bournemouth is Monster credit.?

Member
Harry Darby says:
6 March 2018

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Member

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John says:
6 April 2018

Is abc lawyers a front for monster credit.

Member

[Hello your comment has been removed to align with our commenting rules. Comments which break our community guidelines will be edited or removed. Thanks, mods]

Member

You can find details of connected businesses on the Companies House website. In addition,there are other ‘brands’ under the same ownership.

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