European Consumer Claims – frequently asked questions?
The ECC team are ready, willing and able to answer your questions and help you sort your timeshare problems out once and for all! The “FAQs” below cover the most common questions we are asked – but please feel free to use the form below to ask your own specific questions and we’ll aim to reply immediately.
WHY DID TIMESHARE GO WRONG?
Let’s start with the biggest question! There are all sorts of reasons as to why timeshare went wrong… and it is a great shame, as the original concept of timeshare was truly innovative and it did largely deliver on its promises through the timeshare “boom times” from the mid 1980s into the 1990s.
However, due to the lack of regulation, the rather one-sided way that timeshare contracts have been written, the pure greed of a number of the timeshare groups/resorts and the major economic downturn in recent years, the timeshare industry finds itself in major difficulty.
The real victims of course are the customers – those people who bought into the idea of timeshare and now find themselves locked into long-term contracts, paying hugely inflated fees that increase year-on-year, for a holiday concept which no longer delivers what it promised due to overselling and lack of availability.
To find out your options for releasing yourself from your ongoing liabilities, please call our friendly team on 0800 6101 512 or complete short ECC wizard enquiry form now.
WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TIMESHARE MAINTENANCE FEES?
Virtually all timeshare agreements include clauses relating to maintenance, management or similar fees that must be paid throughout the full contract term and (here’s the catch…) these fees can be varied entirely at the discretion of the timeshare group/resort.
There are many different types of timeshare contracts, but the fees are generally charged on the premise that all the “members” of a particular resort or scheme are collectively contributing to the ongoing upkeep and management of the resort/scheme.
The problem is that most timeshare groups/resorts became greedy over the years and simply couldn’t resist taking advantage of this, so they have kept finding reasons to increase the fees they charge their (literally) “captive audience” of customers, who are usually locked in to long-term contracts and have no option but to just accept these increases.
The only way to fully and finally stop the fees is to get out of the timeshare contract – and that’s where the ECC team come in!
WHY DO TIMESHARE MAINTENANCE FEES KEEP INCREASING?
The maintenance fee clause in a timeshare agreement is the “Trojan Horse” hidden away in the small print, which allows the timeshare group/resort to change (i.e. increase) the fees at their discretion.
Unfortunately, because you have signed a contract agreeing to this and, whether you realised it or not at the time, you are legally obliged to pay these fees throughout the full term of your agreement.
This situation is all too tempting for many timeshare groups/resorts, who have become used to simply pushing the fees up year on year – and this habit shows no signs of stopping. There are exceptions of course but, as a general rule of thumb, it is estimated that timeshare maintenance fees double every 10 years. Therefore, if your fees were £400 per year in 2006, they are likely to be around £800 per year in 2017 and would be £3200 per year in 20 years’ time.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I JUST STOP PAYING TIMESHARE FEES?
This will depend on your timeshare contract and the specific timeshare group/resort but, if you refuse to pay your timeshare maintenance fees, the likelihood is that the timeshare group/resort will put you into their credit control process.
This is likely to include an escalating sequence of events, starting with reminder letters/phone calls and sometimes additional charges and/or interest for late payment. You may also suffer restrictions in terms of using, exchanging or renting out your timeshare while you remain in arrears.
Fees will usually continue to accrue and the recovery procedures may escalate, with threats of legal action, damage to your credit rating and the use of debt collectors – For example, Daniels Silverman are known to act on behalf of some timeshare groups/resorts in this way.
The whole process can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience and, ultimately, the timeshare group/resort has a signed contract and they can enforce this as they see fit, so we would not recommend this course of action.
If you are unwilling, or unable, to pay your maintenance fees, or simply want to bring your timeshare to a close, please contact us today on 0800 6101 512 or please complete the short ECC wizard enquiry form now so we can help you escape your timeshare contract and the associated Fee liabilities for good.
WHAT DO I DO WHEN I RECEIVE A MAINTENANCE FEE INVOICE OR REMINDER?
Please forward the maintenance invoice/reminder to firstname.lastname@example.org. This document will be uploaded onto your file and forwarded to our collaborating lawyers.
In most cases, you can stop paying maintenance fees; however, this must be confirmed by the legal team prior to stopping your payments. In this instance, should you have a direct debit set up, you can cancel it directly with your bank.
WHAT WILL MY MAINTENANCE FEES BE IN THE FUTURE?
The one certainty about timeshare is that your fees will increase over time!
The timeshare groups/resorts know all too well that they have you and their other customers locked into contracts which allow them to increase the fees at their sole discretion… so most of them do.
Depending on the term of your contract, this could well mean that you are committed to major financial liabilities over time.
MY CASE IS WITH THE LAWYERS, WHY AM I STILL RECEIVING MAINTENANCE BILLS?
Any Timeshare owner with outstanding maintenance fees are added to a list for non-payment and automated correspondence is sent at regular intervals. Therefore, these owners will be receiving maintenance fee demands during the legal process even when your case is submitted to the court.
Timeshare companies will use various methods and tactics in order for the outstanding maintenance fees to be paid, i.e. newsletters, telephone calls, SMS messages, emails, etc. This is their primary source of income.
I RECEIVED A LETTER FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR COMPANY, WHAT DO I DO?
Please forward the letter to email@example.com. This document will be uploaded onto your file and forwarded to our collaborating lawyers.
The lawyer will contact the debt collector Company informing them of your dispute and that you have been advised not to pay the fees.
WHAT DO I DO IF I RECEIVE A SUMMONS FOR UNPAID MAINTENANCE FEES?
In the unlikely event, provided we have advised you previously not to pay maintenance fees, please send use the summons which we will defend and counterclaim.
WILL BAILIFFS APPEAR ON MY DOOR STEP?
Bailiffs will not appear on your doorstep straightaway, first a ‘Court Imposed Judgment’ would have to be issued and subsequently ignored.
WHY CAN’T I BOOK MY HOLIDAYS WHERE I WANT & WHEN I WANT?
Along with the high maintenance fees and the collapse of the resale market, the lack of availability is one of the major frustrations among Timeshare owners and, like a number of the other problems with timeshare, the greed of the timeshare groups/resorts is sadly the root cause.
The relentless sales drives of these organisations over time means that many resorts & point Schemes are hugely oversubscribed, which means that only a very small proportion of the members are ever lucky enough to be able to book their first choice accommodation & dates.
This is exacerbated by the fact that some resorts, groups and exchange networks are known to hold back some of the most desirable accommodation and dates for sale on the open holiday-maker market, rather than sharing the full allocation fairly across their fee-paying membership.
On top of this, there is often a further allocation of the best units/dates held back for new potential customers, who are flown in for a few days so the sales teams can try and sell them into the prevailing special Timeshare scheme of the moment.
It all means that the actual fee-paying members/owners, who have bought into their Timeshares and dutifully paid their Maintenance Fees, are often pushed to the back of the queue and generally find themselves having to choose from what’s left over.
WHY CAN’T I SELL MY TIMESHARE/POINTS?
Whilst there are a handful of exceptions, it’s a sad fact that the vast majority of timeshares are simply impossible to sell now.
The salesman’s promise that timeshare was a great asset that may even increase in value over time, has proven to be entirely false – especially since the recent global economic downturn.
Timeshares are frequently advertised on eBay for £0.99p, but even then, no-one wants to buy them for the obvious reason that the purchase price is of no consequence when compared with the associated fee commitments over the term of the contract. Rather than buying something for next to nothing, any buyer would therefore have to take on the future liabilities for increasing fees over many years to come – which represents a commitment of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on the contract term.
Some timeshare groups insist that any attempt at reselling a timeshare is conducted through a specific resale company (e.g. Diamond Resorts insist that you use Travel and Leisure), but these companies generally charge open-ended “listing” or advertising fees. With virtually nil chance of success, it’s just another fee to add to the list – and we have customers coming to us every day who have spent years, and sometimes a lot of money, unsuccessfully trying to sell their Timeshares.
It is of course heart-breaking to come to the realisation that your timeshare is not only worthless, but a growing financial burden. However, in the vast majority of cases, this is the sad reality – and you need to think about how you can get out of your contract to avoid further fees, as well as looking at other ways in which you might reclaim money. Please contact us today on 0800 6101 512 or please complete the short ECC enquiry form now so we can help you.
WHY CAN’T I SELL OR GIVE IT BACK TO MY TIMESHARE GROUP/RESORT?
Quite simply, whether or not some sort of buy-back option was loosely promised to you in the past, it is not in the interest of the timeshare Group/Resort to take your timeshare back from you. If they did this, they would effectively be “letting you off” the maintenance fees that you would otherwise be liable to pay over the rest of your contract term, which may well be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds to them.
It is also important to remember that timeshare is an abstract concept, and is now even more so than it was in the past, as many people have been moved over to points schemes, fractional ownership, floating weeks and similar variants.
This means that, to create a new timeshare contract to sell to a new member is purely a matter of raising some paperwork, as the timeshare group/resort do not need to have a timeshare that they have taken back from you or another member “in stock”. They can just sell a package of points to the new member and add to the over-subscription.
The good news is that we can almost certainly help you. Please call us on 0800 6101 512 or please complete the short ECC wizard enquiry form now simply to find out your options.
WHAT DOES “IN PERPETUITY” MEAN?
The literal translation is “for ever” and some timeshare contracts were sold “in perpetuity” in the days when timeshare sales groups were pushing the idea that, along the lines of property, Timeshare was a long term purchase, which should be protected for you and your family so no-one could take it away. How times have changed!
This means that, if your timeshare contract was sold “in perpetuity”, the intention is that it would stay in your ownership for the whole of your life, then pass on to your children, then your children’s children and so on.
It is likely that this was put forward as a benefit when the salesman was presenting the timeshare opportunity to you – but you will no doubt be fully aware of the downside now that you and your family face the prospect of relentlessly escalating fees liabilities, for ever.
There are some intricate legal and technical considerations around perpetuity which we would be impossible to fully explain in a few lines on the website so, if you have concerns or questions, please call us free on 0800 6101 512 or please complete the short ECC wizard enquiry form now and we’ll call you back.
WILL MY TIMESHARE LIABILITIES PASS TO MY FAMILY WHEN I AM GONE?
This depends on the timeshare group/resort, the specific terms of your contract and certain rather technical legal considerations – but the timeshare would usually form part of your estate and pass onto your descendants accordingly.
Were you passing on a valuable asset, such as a house that you owned, this would normally be considered a good thing of course – but your timeshare contract is almost certain to be a liability, due to the increasing maintenance fees attached to it over the course of the contract term.
We are frequently contacted by customers for whom this is a key consideration and for whom it is important to be released from their timeshare contract precisely to prevent it passing on their children. Similarly, we frequently hear from people who have inherited timeshares and have only more recently come to understand the associated fee obligations.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO CANCEL MY TIMESHARE?
This will depend on a number of factors including the timeshare group/resort in question, the terms of the contract, the legal jurisdiction under which your contract is governed, the transactional history of your particular case and, very importantly, whether there are grounds for claiming the timeshare contract and/or any credit agreement, may have been mis-sold.
We would generally expect the process of cancelling a timeshare contract to take from 3-6 months, but there are exceptions of course. In some, rare cases there will be a specific set of conditions which enable us to conclude the cancellation much more quickly than this – and the process can sometimes take longer if the case is more complex or if the timeshare group/resort in question is known to be more obstructive than others.
It should also be noted that the associated claims which we may recommend, which will potentially lead to compensation for mis-selling, unfair timeshare practices and so on, will also take a varying length of time to conclude.
What is certain is that, the sooner you start the process, the sooner you will have peace of mind. It is also well worth noting that, as soon as they’ve taken the first step, many of our customers tell us that they had been putting it off and only wish they had done it earlier!
So please complete the short ECC wizard enquiry form now to find out your options today – or call us free on 0800 6101 512.
CAN I CLAIM ANY MONEY BACK?
For many of our customers, by far the most important consideration is the relinquishment of their timeshare contract and freedom from ongoing maintenance fee liabilities. However, the good news is that, if you would like us to do so, there are and ever-increasing number of legal precedents around timeshare mis-selling that we can pursue in terms of potentially claiming money back in relation to your timeshare. This includes:
- Claiming against the timeshare group/resort itself for mis-selling of the timeshare at the beginning and/or at later stages, when you may have “upgraded” your contract or been moved into a different type of ownership/membership;
- Claiming against unfair timeshare exchange network practices.
We have enjoyed considerable success in these area on behalf of our customers and have often been responsible for claims which have produced 5 figure settlements.
To get started with the process of releasing yourself from the burden of timeshare and to see if you if you might qualify for potentially significant compensation, please complete the short ECC enquiry form now or call us free on 0800 6101 512.
WHEN CAN I STOP PAYING THE FINANCE?
Finance payments need to be paid until advised otherwise by a lawyer following a court ruling or a decision of another state authority, e.g. FCA ruling.
I AM BEING HARASSED BY THE TIMESHARE COMPANY, WHAT DO I TELL THEM?
Once we are satisfied that we have been provided with sufficient documentation, you can notify the resort that you are in dispute and no longer wish to receive their phone calls and all correspondence should be made in writing.
Please note, timeshare companies can be rather persistent so you are advised to ignore them.
I WANT AN UPDATE ON MY CASE.
If you request an update on your case, ECC will check your file and will inform you of the latest developments. Once your case is assigned to a lawyer, the update will be provided by them.
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