ECC discuss common timeshare problems, and potential solutions, with seasoned journalist and podcast host Eugene Costello.
Valencia Life website and podcast
“The food, weather and lifestyle are all glorious to a Brit used to the urban blandness and iron skies of London,” says Eugene. “The locals are welcoming to us ‘extranjeros’ and the cost of living is so much lower than the UK. There is even a sizable expat community here which makes it easier for new arrivals to find their feet.”
Eugene, by his own admission, has too much energy to retire so in 2021 he founded the Valencia Life website, which reaches hundreds of thousands of people in the area as well as further afield. The associated podcast was launched in 2022, and already there are over 3000 unique podcast downloads per episode. The show focuses on all aspects of Valencian life, for expats, re-pats (people who moved away and returned) and various notable individuals from the province.
Eugene Costello and ECC
In 2005, Eugene Costello’s parents, Eileen and Denis, were targeted by a timeshare sales operation called Pestana Vacation Club in Portugal’s Algarve and sold a 20 year membership (the senior Costellos were in their mid seventies at the time) for over £20,000.
Not entirely unpredictably, age related concerns prevented the retirees from being able to use the membership more than 3 times in total. The fees (£650 per year) had to be paid regardless of whether the pensioners could stay in the property. The cost was a burden that the family seemed unable to escape, despite multiple approaches to the resort by the Costellos and their family.
Finally, after Eileen sadly passed away earlier this year, Denis asked Eugene to help rid him of this financial burden once and for all.
Eugene’s research led him to European Consumer Claims (ECC), and he decided to document his dealings with the well known firm for the benefit of others in his father’s situation.
Finally he invited TAC/ECC Communications Director Mark Jobling onto his Valencia Life podcast to delve deeper into the background of timeshare, timeshare claims, and timeshare relinquishment.
Fraudsters vs genuine firms
An aspect of the process Eugene was keen to explore was how regular listeners can avoid being conned by scam operators offering these same services. Eugene’s professional instincts quickly led him to understand that the marketplace is awash with fake firms looking to cash in on the desperation of timeshare victims. But how do the rest of us discern who can be trusted?
The key indicators, as explained by Mark, are:
- Look for a company that enjoys good feedback on trusted review sites. But also check how the company reacts when they get negative feedback. As Mark says: “Every company makes the occasional mistake, so look to see how they deal with that bad review. Are they condescending and dismissive? Or do they treat the reviewer respectfully and do their best to rectify the situation?”
- Look for a company that has been in business for a long time: “Scammers quickly develop a poor online reputation and need to change their name and website. If a company has been trading for many years, they are more likely to be genuine.”
- A company with client video testimonials has nothing to hide: “Written testimonials on a company’s website are great, but how do you know who really wrote them?” asks Mark. “When you can watch real people discussing their personal experience, you are able to make a better informed decision.”
Eugene and Mark discussed multiple other ways to carry out due diligence before retaining a claims/relinquishment company but space limitations prohibit a lengthy list here.
Suffice to say, that this podcast is definitely worth a listen if you are in the market for solutions to a timeshare problem.
I’ve heard the podcast, now I’m interested in retaining ECC
“There are a huge amount of people who are unhappy with their timeshare ownerships,” says spokesperson Suzanne Stojanovic. “And ECC has a policy of only accepting cases they know they can win. So your first step is to get in touch with our team at Timeshare Advice Centre (ECC’s marketing arm) to arrange a free, no obligation assessment interview.
“Our consultant will ensure that your options are clear and that you have the information you need to decide how to move forward.
“If you don’t qualify for a claim, or in the unlikely event your membership can’t be relinquished, our consultant will explain exactly why, so that you can rebuff any future attempts by fraudsters to extract money from you for a service that is not possible to fulfil.”