AUTHORITIES NEED TO DO MORE TO PROTECT TIMESHARE CONSUMERS
They say that justice delayed is justice denied. Well, as a firm of solicitors, representing victims of the timeshare industry, we are increasingly frustrated with the very organisations that are supposed to protect consumers.
Firstly, we the following questions: –
- How is it possible that there are no proper checks on unregulated companies who target timeshare victims? Even though the banks are FCA regulated, they give unregulated companies banking and credit card facilities, allowing them to collect money from vulnerable consumers.
- How is it, considering all the banks supposedly share information, that the same people can close down their unregulated companies, leaving many timeshare owners out of pocket, and simply come back with a new company and get the same banking facilities as before?
- Why, after so many complaints from timeshare owners trying to get their money back from these non-regulated firms, is the advertising watchdog not taking effective action to protect consumers? It is not as if these unregulated companies carry out their activities in secret. These non-regulated companies advertise their services, on various platforms.
- Why are these non-regulated companies allowed to publish misleading news about their wins with impunity?
- Why is Companies House not monitoring Directors who keep opening and shutting their companies down, owing millions of pounds who then create new companies?
We feel justified in questioning whether they really care about the consumer, and whether they are even fit for purpose.
We were contacted by the police, they came to our offices and indicated that they would be extremely grateful for any help we could offer them, by filling in any gaps in their knowledge. We found them more than eager to help, and they seemed to take on board the information we furnished to them. However, their problem is that because they are so underfunded and understaffed, there is no way they can possibly deal with all the complaints. It makes it very difficult to bring the culprits to book. Obviously, the blame for this underfunding must rest with the UK government.
To be fair, the Police are doing a brilliant job, with their limited resources, and have helped their Spanish counterparts. However, as fast as they close these companies down, the people behind them open up new companies, and carry on with their activities.
In a further attempt to secure justice for victims of the Timeshare industry, we managed to get an audience with several MPs in the House of Commons. We put the plight of victims of the Timeshare industry to them, explaining that when the timeshare industry started over 50 years ago, there was very little to no legislation. Moreover, the legislation that is in place now is woefully inadequate. The MP’s seemed to be genuinely interested in what we were telling them, but then Covid happened. Perhaps it is not surprising that this was as far as it went.
As regards the banks involved, in funding timeshare purchases, they have demonstrated absolutely no interest in helping their customers. We have pointed out to them how lax their procedures were, with regard to (i) giving the timeshare companies the facility to offer finance, and (ii) failure to carry out proper due diligence on them. Indeed, we found that some of the timeshare representatives did not even have a consumer credit licence to facilitate finance, and there were no checks on the sales persons offering the finance.
In fact, we have evidence that a lot of timeshare reps and employees was not even using their own names. Now, when you consider that the timeshare industry operates on commission, this leaves the whole sales operation open to systematic abuse.
So, it begs the question: why did the banks and timeshare companies encourage this to happen?
It does not appear that the banks even put in place any ongoing checks on these representatives, to ensure that the finance and the products it was funding was being sold correctly. The banks simply kept taking millions of pounds from the unsuspecting public, thereby assisting in their years of misery.
We will be following this up with a further blog shortly.
Sarah Waddington Solicitors
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