/ 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

Hi all,
May I indulge in asking once again for advice on a Timeshare issue? Following on from previous discussions and welcomed advice from various people on this thread, I decided that the common sense thing to do was take the loan costs on the chin and move on. This decision was based mainly upon my reasonably frequent visits to the USA and I didn’t want any potential problems on entry.
However, may I ask for advice on a side issue of the aforementioned problem.

The company ABC Legal have featured in previous discussions and I would like to relate my experience with them and hopefully get some rewarding advice. ABC contacted me and said they could get us out of our Timeshare on a no win no fee basis. Rightly or wrongly I took them up on their offer. After signing up on the Ipad and doing a scribbled signature of acceptance, I wrote to say that I didn’t want to proceed (based upon reviews of them on this forum). The initial problem is that I didn’t cancel before the 14 day expiration period. In the meantime they say they have been sending letters to the Timeshare company, but having no correspondence back. They sent me a bill after I cancelled and I think it is extravagant, to say the least. I therefore asked for evidence of all of the letters they had sent to try to justify this ridiculous cancellation fee, allegedly based upon the work they had already completed. I was forwarded copies of several letters (look like standard communication letters), sent approximately 5 days between each other. This alone is strange because they said they were asking for documentation to be sent to them, but were sending them numerous letters without giving time for a reply. I have not settled their fee and would welcome some advice on this please.

Hi Fergie,

Sorry to hear about this. I couldn’t comment as I don’t have experience in this matter – and it may be the case that none of our regular community members do either – but you may wish to contact our legal service about it: https://legalservice.which.co.uk/

Oscar

Could anyone give me some help/ advice on the above comment please?

DerekP says:
16 January 2019

Hi Fergie, I’m not an expert here and you may need to read the small print of the contract you signed with ABC.

In the event of cancellation, you are probably obliged to reimburse there actual costs to date and pay them some or all of the actual profit that they would have made from their final fee, ie if the work had completed successfully.

Hi Fergie.

In addition to the track record of the owners, including arrests and ongoing police investigations, there is another element that would support you challenging the fees claimed / defending the fees. ABC Lawyer are well aware that because of their history, timeshare companies will not deal with them.They were aware that this was the case when they persuaded you to enter into the contract. From what you say and from previous cases I have dealt with. they have done no proper due diligence, but rather are sending out templated letters which they know will be ignored. In previous cases we have advised on, the consumers refused to pay the monies to them and aside from a few alleged debt letters, no further actions were taken by ABC Lawyers.

Chris, many thanks for taking the time and trouble to reply, it is much appreciated. I am in complete agreement with your comments. With regards to a lack of due diligence, that is perfectly correct, because after the initial conversation, they went straight into the process of signing me up on a no win no fee arrangement. I have still not received any proof that the letters they allegedly sent were actually sent. All that I have received from them, after my request, are copies of what look like templated letters.
I shall bide my time and when in receipt of their next administration fee request, I shall explain my reasons for not settling their ludicrous bill.
Do you think this is the appropriate action to take?

Hi Fergie
You certainly could wait – but equally, you can be proactive and write to them now to explain why you will not be paying them. FYI, others have successfully contested their fees for similar reasons. If they are persistent, let me know and I will assist further

Hi Chris
I thought I would wait until I received the next piece of correspondence from ABC before getting back to you.
This morning I received another letter informing me that the debt is now accruing interest at 8%, but if I wish to avoid the additional charges then if I settle the “cancellation invoice” within 10 days they will not add on any interest.
Do you think my next step should be to write to them saying that I don’t think they carried out due diligence prior to starting my claim?

HI Fergie.

Yes – write to them stating all of your concerns -i.e., that no due diligence was carried out, that they did not provide you with details of the legal basis with which they could terminate your timeshare and that you have since discovered the information regarding the common ownership connecting ABC Lawyers with Monster Travel and the arrests that have taken place regarding the latter and that you have feel they have been dishonest and will therefore not be paying their invoice.

James Ditchfield says:
17 March 2019

Hi after my dealings with sellmytimeshare .tv I can honestly say the product that they are selling is a true scam living on the greed of time share owners who should know better than expect 300% return after 14 months fools and there money !!!!!!!

Hi Fergie,

I would like to know what was the outcome?

I am currently in a similar situation as yourself.