Timeshare victims wait nine months for banks to issue payments

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Tens of thousands of retirees who were sold timeshares risk “never getting justice in their lifetime” as compensation claims drag on for months, a law firm representing them has warned.

In May last year, a High Court ruling paved the way for victims who wrongly sold timeshares before 2010 to receive compensation from major banks including Shawbrook and Barclays Partner Finance (formerly Clydesdale Financial Services).

Now Praetorian Legal, a law firm that represents these timeshare owners, is calling on the Chancellor to force the banks to pay up.

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, seen by Money Mail, lawyer Gary Smith warns that “this is a grave injustice to thousands of victims who urgently need the compensation they are due.” .

It estimates that around 25,000 victims should receive a total of £500m in compensation – and up to £150,000 each in the worst cases.

Pressure: Thomas and Agnes Woods (pictured) are desperate to put an end to the timeshare nightmare which has cost them £48,000 over the past 24 years.

Pressure: Thomas and Agnes Woods (pictured) are desperate to put an end to the timeshare nightmare which has cost them £48,000 over the past 24 years.

However, nine months later, the victims are still waiting and have “faced severe financial difficulties in their final years.”

Mr. Smith says several victims died without justice being served.

Timeshares proved hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s – and ten years ago more than half a million people in the UK still owned them.

But they fell out of favor as the industry became known for aggressive sales techniques.

These programs gave investors the right to vacation at a property, often abroad, for a specified number of days per year.

In exchange, they paid a lump sum up front and an annual maintenance fee. Investors also had the option of becoming part owners of a property through what were called fractional ownership programs.

These investments typically involved expensive loans from banks working with timeshare companies.

But in some cases, investors’ ability to repay the debt was not properly assessed, leaving many stuck in contracts with properties they couldn’t get rid of.

Former Secretary of State for Business and Commerce Vince Cable this week described the delays as “another scandal” by the banking sector and another case of “cynical disregard” for the rights of victims of sales abusive.

“There is also an embarrassing parallel with the current Post Office scandal,” he says.

“Intolerable foot-dragging means those whose rights have been established by the courts are being denied the compensation they are due. Banks say the delays are due to the complexity of resolving cases.

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the delay in resolving these complaints, which are taking longer than expected due to their complexity.

“All customers concerned about a pending case should contact us directly. »

Payouts: Lawyers estimate 25,000 timeshare victims should receive a total of £500m in compensation – and up to £150,000 each in a worst-case scenario.

Payouts: Lawyers estimate 25,000 timeshare victims should receive a total of £500m in compensation – and up to £150,000 each in a worst-case scenario.

A spokesperson for Shawbrook said: “We welcomed the court’s clarification of the applicable law and its conclusion that each claim must be carefully considered on its own individual facts, and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach unique” is not appropriate. »

Thomas and Agnes Woods from Rattray, Aberdeenshire, are desperate to put an end to the timeshare nightmare which has cost them £48,000 over the past 24 years.

In 2000, the couple took out a loan to buy a timeshare to take family vacations with their three children to destinations including Spain, the Lake District and America.

Initially, the couple paid £4,000 in four monthly installments for a set of points that could be redeemed for a single week’s holiday. The scheme would also require them to pay an annual management fee of £2,000.

They chose to spend this week in Spain, but upon arrival, they say, timeshare sales representatives insisted they attend a five-hour meeting during which they were forced to spend thousands of extra pounds to purchase another set of points for a vacation at a later date. . They then agreed to pay a second installment of £4,000.

The couple claim they were told they couldn’t buy the points directly and were encouraged by sellers to take out loans.

“It seemed like a good deal: it’s so easy to get caught up in it all,” says Agnes, a former paramedic.

At first the family took two vacations a year, but a few years later the high costs crippled their finances.

Fashion: Timeshares proved extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, but fell out of favor as the industry became known for aggressive sales techniques.

Fashion: Timeshares proved extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, but fell out of favor as the industry became known for aggressive sales techniques.

Agnès says: “In 2017, we were desperate to opt out of the system. There was no way to avoid paying the £2,000 annual management fee, so we joined the trial led by Gary Smith.

The couple say they appealed to the Financial Ombudsman Service, who contacted them in November to tell them they should be compensated. “The Ombudsman said payment would be made by December 8, but we are still waiting,” explains Agnès.

A spokesperson for the Financial Ombudsman Service said it had resolved more than 800 cases and issued a further 1,700 interim assessments.

It says: “The final decisions of our free, independent service are legally binding when accepted by the consumer — businesses must follow our instructions, including in other similar cases.

“If they don’t, we will refer them to the regulator.” Our priority now is to resolve all other cases quickly and fairly.

  • Are you entitled to compensation for a poorly sold timeshare? Email a.cooke@dailymail.co.uk

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