South African Timeshares – Public Inquiry

In South Africa, there is in excess of 200 resorts and over 600,000 people who own timeshares. The industry has come under the spotlight and it has become apparent that consumers are not so happy.

There have been many allegations and complaints against the timeshare industry and the National Consumer Commission are now looking to kickstart a public inquiry. The inquiry will hopefully get to the bottom of the allegations that consumers have made, such as being conned into signing contracts that last a lifetime and not being able to cancel the contracts once they have signed them.

Consumers are also claiming, that when they go to book their holiday with their resort, there is no availability, because timeshare companies are overselling and overbooking. They also claim that the timeshare resorts are rapidly increasing their maintenance fees and clients are being threatened with lawsuits if they don’t pay the fees.

A lawyer, Anton Alberts, said: “There’s a very aggressive marketing scheme being used and people feel they are being bullied into these contracts. The day after, when they want to cancel the contract, they are told they can’t, even though, by law, they have a five-day cooling period.”

Ebrahim Mohamed, National Consumer Commissioner, has said in the past two decades they have received thousands of complaints regarding the timeshare industry. There were various complaints made, but particularly relating to unreasonable property levies, unavailability of accommodation, perpetual contracts and the points system.

Mohamed also said ‘‘It’s disgusting, in my view, that captains of this industry can turn a blind eye to the relentless pain and suffering of consumers for such a long time’’. He went on to say that: ‘’The most disturbing aspect is that the vacation ownership industry has done little or nothing to correct itself, when issues are raised with conduct, products or services.’’

Specific attorneys have been picked to from a three-member panel to get to the root of the complaints. The three will spend 6 months with consumers that have been affected. Their aim, is to ‘identify the root causes of the issues experienced by the consumers, make findings on the facts and evidence presented and make recommendations on how to address the consumer issues highlighted in the complaints.’

In December, a report with recommendations and possible legislative reforms is expected to be handed over. Hopefully, this enquiry can bring justice to those consumers allegedly affected and help future consumers of the timeshare industry.

If you feel like you have been affected by any high-pressure sales tactics, or have purchased any holiday products based on unfulfilled promises, please contact our specialist team at info@mercantileclaims.co.uk or on 0800 470 3900 to discuss what we could do to help.

Westgate Towers – Orlando Timeshare Accused of Fraud

A husband and wife from San Diego, USA, are suing Westgate Towers, an Orlando timeshare resort, claiming fraudulent practice.

Mr and Mrs Grider lodged a complaint on November 6th, claiming that the company breached its responsibilities of fair dealing and good faith.

The complaint states that on January 6th 2016, the couple attended a timeshare sales presentation. The couple were lured into a purchase by misrepresentations made by Westgate Resorts. As a result, they have suffered monetary losses, by way of the initial deposit, instalments and annual maintenance fees.

Two of the allegations made are that Westgate misrepresented the type and scope of the benefits offered, with the intention of inducing the claimants to make the purchase.

The couple also claim that Westgate sold the timeshare as an investment opportunity and they were lead to believe that, in time, this would increase in value. They were also advised that the prospects for resale and rental were substantial and they would make a return on their purchase.

The Griders are suing for damages in excess of $15,000, an injunction and the cost of legal fees.

If you believe you may have been subjected to mis-selling, contact us on 0800 470 3900 to speak to one of our team today.

PRESS RELEASE – EZE GROUP

We have recently been contacted by several Praetorian Legal clients who were referred to us by Eze Group.

Our clients have advised us that they have read reports on the internet about Eze Group and their imminent Crown Court appearance to answer numerous serious criminal charges, including fraud by misrepresentation and breaches of consumer legislation.

Understandably, our clients have been concerned by this news.  Praetorian’s stance is that we previously enjoyed a good working relationship with Eze Group and we have no comment to make in respect of the alleged charges they face. Although Eze Group, and the two other individuals involved, have pleaded guilty to two charges, there remains ongoing criminal proceedings and we have no desire to prejudice those proceedings.

Nevertheless, those proceedings relate solely to Eze Group and not to Praetorian. In no sense does it affect the work that we have carried out on behalf of our clients and we will continue to stand by each and every one of our clients, as we have always done.  If you have any concerns about your membership with Eze Group then you should contact us immediately and you should certainly not engage with any party trying to take money from you, on the basis of Eze Group’s situation.

It does not and will not affect the work we have carried out on your behalf.

Should you have any concerns, or wish to discuss any aspect of your matter, please contact us sooner rather than later, so that we are able to allay your fears.

Please contact us via telephone on 0800 470 3900 or by email at info@mercantileclaims.co.uk should you have any queries.

PRESS RELEASE – DAVID COX AND TIMESHARE EXIT & SUPPORT SERVICES (TESS)

It has recently come to our attention that David Cox of TESS, who operates a similar timeshare termination service to Praetorian Legal, has published serious defamatory material upon TESS’ website, about Praetorian Legal and its Directors.

It should be known that David Cox was formerly the owner of Timeshare Consumer Association, a supposedly free consumer resource.  He was the contributor of many very poorly written posts, where he sought to critique many people and companies in timeshare.  These posts were created from Cox’s own opinions. However, no right of reply existed and he has had free reign to publish defamatory material unchallenged. Until now.

To gain some real perspective as to what Cox’s real agenda is, please take a look at the link below, which is a well-written and composed website, exposing him for what he is.  His style of gaining himself business is to attack others and discredit them.  He does little or no marketing of his services, as he considers defamatory blogs is the way to gain people’s trust and, more importantly, their business.  We also believe that Cox charges for his services up-front, unlike ourselves. Praetorian Legal never asks for money upfront. Ever.

This is the link referred to above: http://www.tess-timeshare.com/tess/

Within the site, it lays doubt to TESS and Cox’s claims about their service and suggests that there may be disgruntled clients who have not received the service promised by TESS and Cox.  If this is the case with yourself, please do let us know and we will assist you in reporting TESS to Lancashire Trading Standards.  We are not interested in taking money from you for claims or offering you our services. We are simply interested in helping you to get your complaint(s) heard.

Finally, we would like to bring the following article to your attention. This was written by Cox, during his time as owner operator of Timeshare Consumer Association.  He came to Praetorian Legal and carried out, what he termed as, due diligence on Praetorian Legal. This is what he wrote about Praetorian Legal within an article named ‘Oh No It’s The RDO’, having satisfied himself that Praetorian Legal were a reputable company.  The following quote can be found in the link below.

‘Praetorian Legal is a small and effective paralegal company who operate in Birmingham and is headed up by a seasoned campaigner and pursuer of consumer disputes and compensation. They are successful, solvent and no stranger to standing up to large industry dons and bullies. They have in the past been effective in helping the underdog against the greedy conglomerates. Indeed they were one of the first ever legal services companies to undertake bank charge reclaims (2005), PPI claims and one of the first companies to be registered by the MOJ to conduct Personal Injury claims management.

They operate within the legal profession and challenging the murky world of timeshare. That said Praetorian Legal has never sold timeshare, are not in the timeshare industry and are nothing to do with the RDO’ – David Cox

Link to Timeshare Consumer Association article: https://www.timeshareconsumerassociation.org.uk/2015/02/05/oh-nooh-no-rdo/

So what has changed Cox’s opinion of us?  Nothing, save for the fact that he now carries out his business (TESS) for gain, we are a competitor and his marketing tactics are to simply discredit his competitors, whether true or not.

High-Pressure Sales Tactics Used To Sell Vistacay Vacation Club Timeshares

A Democratic Party lawmaker claims that a company called ‘Great Time Universal (HK)’, who have claimed to be an authorised agent for Vistacay Vacation Club in South Korea, have been flagged by the Consumer Council for high-pressure sales tactics. The Consumer Council have said that Great Time Universal have used the high-pressure tactics to sell memberships varying from HK$50,000 to HK$160,000. In September, they received 48 complaints, involving HK$2.7 million.

 

Complaints Made to Customs & Excise as customer forced into buying timeshare

 

Complaints have been made to the Customs and Excise Department’s headquarters in North Point by Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who represents New Territories West, and 10 others, who were allegedly forced into buying timeshare memberships with the company.

The company director has been arrested on suspicion of misleading sales tactics and breaching the trade description ordinance. A customs spokesman has also said that he would not rule out other arrests.

The pitch would start with repeat cold calls, telling people that they could collect a free five-day holiday package from their office. Those who went, expecting a free holiday, were then told they would only be eligible if they were to sign up to be a member of a South Korean Resort. This membership came with a fee of between HK$50,000 and HK$100,000.

After purchasing the membership, customers stated that they did not receive the 5-day holiday they were promised, and they were told by agents that the resort was fully booked. Customers were then told that they would need to make further payments and upgrade their memberships to enjoy the packages sooner.

Great Time’s staff would take it in turns to pressure potential buyers for between 2 and 5 hours, going late into the night in some cases, in order to get them to sign up and pay the fee. The sales staff would then leave the customers in rooms with loud music while their identity and credit cards were taken for processing. They were also made to switch off their phones. One customer states that during his 4-hour sales pitch he was not allowed to go to the toilet on his own.

Sales staff would tell people that the membership would cover flights and hotels and that holidays to places such as Australia would only cost them a couple of thousand Hong Kong dollars, but when they approached the company, they were told only hotel costs were covered. They were also informed that they would have to pay a ‘management fee’ each month of a few hundred dollars.

If you feel like you have been affected by any high-pressure sales tactics, or have purchased any holiday products based on unfulfilled promises, please contact our specialist team on 0121 272 3100 to discuss what we could do to help.

A Message from Mercantile Claims CEO

My pledge to you, as a timeshare owner desperately seeking a reliable termination solution, is this:

If you are serious about wanting to end your timeshare nightmare, my company can provide you with the termination solution you want; guaranteed.

Is it time to leave your Cameron House timeshare?

An interesting article, written by the Mail on Sunday’s consumer champion Mr Tony Hetherington and published on the 12 November 2017, came to our attention. The article outlines the plight of an 80-year-old couple who purchased a Cameron House timeshare on the picturesque shores of Loch Lomond back in 1993.

The story highlights the inequity of timeshare ownership, the burden of what was once considered to be a fashionable way to holiday and to assure families of holidays for years to come. The nightmare of timeshare was not to unfold for some two or three decades.

The couple in the article purchased their timeshare back in 1993. The timeshare purchased is owned by Cameron House Owners Club. The couple, now in their 80’s, began to realise the timeshare was becoming a financial burden. They spent several years of worry and uncertainty, trying to terminate the timeshare themselves. They tried from 2004 – 2012 to sell the timeshare, all their maintenance fees at the time were paid up-to-date and the couple handed over their ownership certificates/original paperwork to Cameron House and thought nothing more of it.
They thought they had offloaded their timeshare burden forever.

Unfortunately, this was not the case and the couple have recently been contacted by Cameron House with demands of thousands of pounds in unpaid maintenance fees. They are now being pursued for the sum of £3,010.00 and the threat of debt collection agencies taking over the debt if the funds remain unpaid.

The elderly timeshare owners explained that they both have medical conditions and, therefore, can no longer make use of their timeshare as they once did.

Cameron House Hotel boasts additional lodges, of which some belong to celebrities. Not only is the resort appealing and glamorous, with celebrity owners such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs, but it also promotes an affordable way to own a luxury holiday home in the picturesque Loch Lomond.

It is not uncommon for us to see that timeshare owners have suffered a substantial shortfall in their retirement income into their later years. However, timeshare maintenance fees have consistently increased and beyond the yearly rate of inflation. What was once a happy holiday home is now a financial millstone around their necks.

The stress and worry for this unfortunate couple continues, as they count the cost of simply buying something that they once got great enjoyment from, but which has now turned into a nightmare; a decision they no doubt they deeply regret, tarnishing the memory of many happy times spent enjoying their timeshare. For this couple, the nightmare doesn’t end there and they have now been informed that the selling of the timeshare is unlikely to clear the debt owed and they will be responsible for any shortfall.

To the couple’s dismay, they have now discovered that the contract states that the ownership is in perpetuity. This means that when the timeshare owners pass away, the resort could make a claim on their estate. To add insult to injury, the couple have been advised that use of the resort may be prohibited whilst their unpaid maintenance fees remain outstanding.

A timeshare blogging site tells how they tried to contact Cameron House Hotel to discuss a possible exit policy. They were advised that, although contracts were in perpetuity, they did operate an exit policy. Cameron House, when asked for details of their exit policy and cost, declined to provide this information.

If you have been affected by the above please contact our friendly team on 0800 470 3900

PRESS RELEASE – HERITAGE RESORTS AND MR NORMAN ANDERSON

 

Heritage Resorts Maintenance Fees – Don’t Pay Them!

This is a Press Release for the benefit of all Heritage Resort timeshare owners and clients of Praetorian Legal.  For too long now, Mr Norman Anderson of Heritage Resorts has been writing to our clients, telling them that Praetorian Legal are a scam company and they can do nothing to help Heritage Resort owners.  This form of libellous communication, either verbal or written, only happens within the timeshare industry and whatever Mr Anderson might say it is untrue, as he knows that every Heritage Resort client who has used Praetorian Legal, has not paid Heritage Resorts a single penny since signing up with ourselves.

As our long-term clients will appreciate, we have been by their side since they contracted with us, some four years ago in some cases. Many of our clients are still being harassed by timeshare resorts who have a lot to say about Praetorian Legal but not one of them have summoned up the courage to take any Praetorian Legal client before the court in a legal action.  This is simply because they think that they can bully our clients into submission by bypassing us and going straight to our clients.  This has not worked, and nor will it work in the future because unlike every other timeshare termination company, who have deserted timeshare owners after taking money from them, Praetorian Legal are consummate professionals and support their clients, whatever is thrown at them. This is why a direct approach from timeshare resorts does not work and will never work.

Heritage Resorts and Mr Norman Anderson have written to clients harassing them. They have made threatening telephone calls to owners and they have even written correspondence to ourselves containing a four-letter profanity. They have not a modicum of professionalism and they are what we call ‘typically timeshare’.  The one thing that comes out of all of this, is they have not and will not take action against a Praetorian Legal client, but we would gladly welcome their legal proceedings should they care to stop harassing our client and take action.

If you have a Heritage Resort timeshare and you want to terminate it then please contact us on: 0800 470 3900 or email us for further details at: info@mercantileclaims.com

Heritage Resorts – What the public are saying..

  • A villa in a plush and quiet urbanisation, but take cab money
    Good points: privacy, friendly staffBad points: the laundry, sand fliesI stayed at Club Playa Real, Heritage Resorts, in urbanización Marbesa. It sounds confusing, but as I remember Playa Real is the Hotel with the main complex reception, and the apartments are in Marbesa. We had a lovely 3-bed 2-bath villa ... read more
    Source: Heritage ResortsPublished on 2017-11-15
  • Appauling – Stay well clear of these salespeople
    We were staying at a nearby resort and visiting a local town when accosted by a smooth guerilla street salesman who convinced us that we had won a star prize. 5 Minutes later found ourselves in a Taxi heading for this place. 30 minutes later arrived at this hotel, Greeting ... read more
    Source: Heritage ResortsPublished on 2017-11-15
  • first heaven then hell
    I stayed in this place with my family in March 2009, in a villa, and what seemed to be the vacation of a lifetime become hell. On the middle of the vacation the house was robbed thay gave me a new one, but then was like the place was mine. ... read more
    Source: Heritage ResortsPublished on 2017-11-15
  • having problems
    Had a great holiday here in May 2009, and bought the membership. We now find it is not what we thought .We beleived that we could use it to book holidays at any-time, with anyone,using high street travel agents if we wanted.this does not seem to be the case ... read more
    Source: Heritage ResortsPublished on 2017-11-15

 

Take the next step to rid yourself of Heritage Resorts, Mr Norman Anderson and your timeshare nightmare before you pay your next timeshare maintenance fees……..Act NOW!

Complete the form below for more information

Timeshare Maintenance Fee Mayhem

With the end of another year fast approaching, there are many things to look forward to with the festivities that Christmas and New Year period bring. With all celebrations also comes the expense and extra financial burden that this time of year brings and timeshare, holiday product and vacation club owners feel it more than most.

It is around this time of year when many are hit hard with demands for their annual timeshare maintenance fees.

Although not every client’s fees are the same, as they range from £350 to over £1,000, there is one common trend for everyone – the INCREASE! Clients see a rise year on year, and whilst these fees are shared amongst owners, the financial strain and responsibility remain the same.

With an economy feeling the pressure of Brexit negotiations and inflation, it is a worrying time for all. But by terminating your timeshare, you could free yourself of the burden and distress which go hand in hand with the arrival of the dreaded demand dropping through the letterbox.

Ask yourself what that money could be used for – Home improvements? household bills? or covering the cost of the holiday period instead of paying for something, which for many, is often impossible to use.

Contact our team of timeshare termination specialists today to find out you can rid yourself of maintenance fees and start to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year” once again!

Holiday Booking Scams Including Timeshares Rise By 19%

The number of holidaymakers that were ripped off last year by booking scams saw an increase of 19%, new figures show.

The UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre Action Fraud saw 5,826 cases reported during 2016, up almost a fifth on the previous year.

The most common scams related to airline tickets, online accommodation bookings and the perineal timeshare sales.

A total of £7.2m was lost to these scams last year at an average of £1,200 per victim.

More than a quarter of the victims said that that the scams had a significant impact on not only their financial well-being but also their mental and physical health. A further 259 were left needing medical treatment or at risk of bankruptcy.

A new campaign has launched backed by the City of London Police, Abta and the fraud prevention group Get Safe Online to highlight the dangers posed by holiday bookings and timeshare purchases.

Tony Neate, of Get Safe Online, said holidays are often a “big-ticket item” and present “the perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to swindle unsuspecting victims out of their hard-earned money”.

He went on to stress that you should always do as much research as you can about the organisation you are looking to book with before making a purchase.

“By booking in haste, you could not only risk losing a huge amount of money, but also disappoint family and friends when it comes to that long-awaited escape.”

Sporting events such as the UEFA Champions League Final and religious trips such as the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages are a popular target for these scam artists due to the limited availability of tickets and subsequent higher prices.

Timeshare Scams and Timeshare Release Claims

The unregulated timeshare industry that saw its boom in the 1980’s and 1990’s is still claiming its fair share of victims.

Many customers were promised exotic holidays at affordable costs with an “investment for the future” angle taken in the often oversubscribed timeshare presentations. It was during these presentation that high-pressure sales tactics forced people into quick and uninformed decisions.

These tactics have left many people owning timeshares which they can no longer afford due to the ever increasing maintenance fees. However, after a Supreme Court ruling in 2015, timeshares that were mis-sold to customers could be eligible to a full refund or cancellation.

This has allowed customers to bring claims against timeshare resorts such as Club La Costa. In a groundbreaking ruling against the resort a customer was refunded the full purchase price of his timeshare along with a proportion of the maintenance fees. The contract was also cancelled as he was granted a timeshare release.

Action Fraud says reports of travellers being swindled have consistently risen over the past five years.

Mike Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “Abta is regularly contacted by members of the public who have been caught out by increasingly sophisticated travel-related frauds.

“Follow the tips we have put together in partnership with Get Safe Online and the City of London Police to avoid falling victim yourself and ensure that your hard-earned money goes towards your holiday and not lining the pockets of a fraudster.”