There have been so many stories regarding people being let down and left out of pocket whilst on their holidays whilst chasing their dreams of a holiday home in the sun. It’s not uncommon for us to hear the same complaints about the timeshare industry, the resorts are always coming up with new ideas to get more money out of you.
However, what you must remember is; opportunities are not always what they seem!
We have all herd of, Rip of Britain with Angela Rippon, Julia Somerville and Gloria Hunniford. If you haven’t heard of the famous BBC One programme, these three women travel to different countries reporting on holiday horrors and investigate companies that have ripped people off around the world.
On Monday the 14th of January, an episode was aired, from the island of Tenerife, investigating a company called Planet Sunlight Travel. This company has been in contact with many timeshare and ex-timeshare owners claiming to be able to get their money back if they have ever invested in a timeshare, or a similar type of holiday package.
Around 10 years ago, a couple from Gloucestershire decided to buy into a holiday club. Holiday clubs use the same principle as timeshares, however, they have a choice of different resorts to use instead of being restricted to one, these could be located all over the world.
When the couple used their timeshare, they loved it, and didn’t really have any complaints about it. It was always clean and tidy and a five-star resort. The reason they decided to leave their holiday club was purely due to the fact that they could no longer continue to use it. The yearly fees were also rising, so they decided to cut their losses and ended up walking away without recuperating any of their original outlay.
Not long after they had made this decision to leave the holiday club, the couple started receiving calls from various companies, stating that they could make a claim back on the couples behalf, against the holiday club, if they felt that they had been misled or mis-sold on their original purchase.
The couple turned down the offers from a lot of companies, but when they received the call from Planet Sunlight Travel (PST), they decided to go for it. They felt like PST offered a much safer way for them to get their money back. They were told that instead of claiming their money back thorough the timeshare company itself, they would be able to make a claim against the bank that they had received the finance from, and they could get back up to £17,000. All they had to do was fly over to Tenerife and sit through a short presentation, so that a PST advisor could explain the process.
At the end of the day, to this Gloucestershire couple, it was practically a free holiday and they had nothing to lose. Being sceptical, but intrigued, they decided to book their flight to Tenerife.
When they arrived, they assumed that their meeting would be in the hotel, but when the rep turned up, the couple were escorted to his car and were driven up to the town of Adeje. During the car journey, the couple admitted that they felt a little out of control, and as an afterthought said that they really should have driven their own car and followed the rep instead.
Instead of being taken to an office, they were taken to a café, where they were told they could have as much coffee as they liked. The meeting was described as very laid back, relaxed and took the rep a long time to get to the point. After their “all you can drink” coffees, the rep walked them around some offices that were owned by Planet Sunlight Travel and they finally got down to business. By this time the couple had been with the rep for four and a half hours and started to feel hungry and tired.
A woman called Debbie, the firm’s ‘solicitor’, brought out some paper work for them took look over and a letter to sign, which stated that Planet Sunlight Travel were authorised to act on the couple’s behalf. After being promised that they would receive their £17,000 pounds in compensation in only 60 days, all they had to do was kick start their claim by paying an upfront fee of £8,000. It was explained to them that the £8 thousand would be returned to them with no risks at all, and the payment was for part of a complicated set of interrelated deals, which were; future holidays and loans with a major international bank.
Hanging on the walls around PSTs office, were pictures of HSBC’s headquarters in Japan, the rep explained that this is where their money would be going. First, the couple were asked to pay a £4,000 credit card payment, which the company would then be able to refund back into the couples’ bank account, which the couple gave them readily, so that the money could be refunded to them.
The couple thought, if worse came to the worst, they could just ring their credit card company and say they had been scammed, and get the payment stopped. After five hours, the poor couple were feeling distressed and just wanted to get away, so they decided to pay the £4000 and be on their way.
On return to their hotel, they rang the credit card company straight away and to their dismay were told that there was nothing they could do. The credit card company explained that as the couple had physically put their pin number into the machine, it meant that they had authorised the payment.
The couple went on to explain to the credit card company that they were under duress and were stressed, which is why they entered their pin number, but again the credit card company said there was nothing they could do.
The couple got online and read up on Planet Sunlight Travel, to their horror they found the exact same story from other people who had been duped by them. It was the exact same story and the exact sequence of events.
After reading the online stories, they knew that they would never see their promised amount of £17,000 in compensation. They cut their losses their and decided to make a claim against the credit card company for the £4,000 payment that they had made on their credit card.
The couple knew that they had made a mistake, with a pit feeling in their stomach, that they had fallen for yet another scam related to timeshare.
We would like to stress that when speaking with companies over the phone, be sure to do your research first, and always ask as many questions as you can. If you do decide to go ahead with the company that you have spoken to, remember that any upfront payments are illegal, you should have a cooling off period in which you can read over any contracts and find out anything you may be unsure about.
Watch the full episode here
Posted on: February 1, 2019
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk