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Express newspaper highlights widespread timeshare scam and harassment problems

Mar 18, 2024 | Blog, European Consumer Claims

Crusader report in the Express newspaper exposes 25 year Club la Costa horror story

Daily Express article

One of the UK’s oldest newspapers, the Daily Express was launched in the year 1900.

With Lord Beaverbrook at the helm, the Express quickly became the largest circulation newspaper in the world, and remained so for decades. In 2024 it maintains an enviable reputation for supporting the British consumer via their Crusader Section.

Maisha Frost is the ‘business, and consumer watchdog at the Daily and Sunday Express, covering business enterprise and consumer affairs as well as The Crusader.’

Frost published a hard hitting article in early 2024 shining a spotlight on the shocking world of timeshare related fraud.

Familiar story

Like hundreds of thousands of other Brits, George and Judith Hayward fell prey to a slick, high pressure timeshare presentation.

Their saga began in the year 1999 with a Club la Costa sales pitch in Tenerife. The Haywards bought two weeks, convinced that they had made the best decision to accommodate their future holiday requirements.

CLC World: Embattled timeshare company

The couple soon realised that the booking system was never going to facilitate the holidays they wanted, and the annual fees quickly spiralled out of control. They allowed themselves to be convinced into an ‘upgrade’ into points but this failed to solve any problems.

The Haywards exited their membership in 2010, a time when timeshare companies would sometimes allow their customers to exit.

Barrage of fraudulent calls

For the 14 years since leaving CLC George and Judith have been bombarded by chancers offering to relinquish their memberships, or even to claim compensation against Club la Costa for mis-selling.

The callers variously claimed to be:

  • debt collectors
  • timeshare lawyers
  • genuine claims or relinquishment firms

Unable to discern the (probably very few) trustworthy callers from those intent on stealing their money, the couple adopted the sensible default position of refusing to engage with any of them. Recently the Haywards have experienced an upsurge in the persecution. The latest tack is for the caller to claim that Mr and Mrs Hayward owe £20,000 in overdue maintenance fees“The worst call was from a debt collector ordering us to ‘pay or else,’” Judith shares.

The way that the couple’s information is being disseminated is concerning and undoubtedly illegal. “They don’t say where they got our information from. They mention new owners of the business.” Now the couple have been ‘ordered’ to attend a meeting to discuss legalities.’

“We cut them off, but our home feels invaded.”

At this point the couple feel like they are of out options. They are elderly, and the stress of the onslaught is wearing them down. At the same time, changing their number would be “enormously disruptive.”

Expert comment

“The reality is that a huge proportion of firms in this space are fraudsters,” explains Andrew Cooper, CEO of European Consumer Claims“The Haywards were right to follow their instincts about these nuisance calls.

Andrew Cooper:  Timeshare expert and philanthropist
Andrew Cooper: Timeshare expert and philanthropist

Cooper points out that the journalist may have got some details wrong. Namely that the Haywards are not in a position to claim because CLC World is going through liquidation. “It’s an understandable mistake,” explains the experienced anti timeshare-misselling crusader. “Any journalist has limited time in which to research and is only going to be as accurate as the sources they choose.

Mr and Mrs Hayward may potentially still be entitled to compensation.

“Firstly, CLC’s liquidation does not annul their debt to those they have wronged. The group has vast tracts of luxury real estate among other assets. The Liquidators of Club la Costa UK: FRP are looking at making recoveries on behalf of missold owners as well as other creditors.

“Secondly, just because somebody relinquished their membership, it doesn’t negate the fact that they were mis-sold and have lost a lot of money because of illegal activity on CLC’s part. However to determine eligibility in a specific case would take examination by legal experts, and it sounds from the article that this couple now just want a peaceful life and to put the whole affair behind them. Which you can sympathise with.”

Lessons to learn

So what lessons can we take from the Haywards’ highly representative timeshare experiences?

Suzanne Stojanovic, spokesperson for Timeshare Advice Centre breaks it down to four main points.

1) Don’t buy a timeshare.

“In the past, when many people bought timeshare it was a genuine solution to vacation problems like quality and exclusivity,” says Suzanne. “That is sadly no longer the case. People do not buy memberships without slick marketing and sales operations manipulating them into buying. This is because the product doesn’t offer genuine vacation value. The safest way to avoid being stuck with a timeshare is not to buy one.”

2) If you do find yourself considering a timeshare purchase. Do NOT make the decision on the day.

“Timeshare companies don’t want you to go away and think about the purchase,” notes Suzanne. “Timeshare is an emotional sale. When the emotion of the presentation subsides, logic takes over and people are rarely interested at that point.

“Ignore any threats that the deal is ‘only available today.’ If you did return they would readily accept your cash.”

3) To escape your membership, seek trustworthy and capable expert help.

“There are far more scammers than genuine companies offering this service,” explains Suzanne. “There are various methods to distinguish genuine companies from fraudsters. Be absolutely sure before parting with your hard earned cash.”

4) Before doing anything about an unwanted timeshare, check ALL your options.

“There are lot of ways to get it wrong when leaving a timeshare. Conversely there are sometimes ways to come out financially ahead. For example, if you were missold you may be entitled to considerable monetary compensation.”

Contact our team to discuss your best way forward.

For new enquiries contact our advice team on 0203 7699 164 or email pr@ecc-eu.com

For current clients please contact Customer Services on 0149 174 3059 or email cs@ecc-eu.com

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