How to Deal with Timeshare Bills, Invoices, Claims, Debt Collectors, Creditors and the Like.
If you are being pursued for a timeshare debt, the claimed indebtedness is generally in the form of an invoice. This is the creditor’s/claimer’s position and it should state the claim value which they believe they are owed by you and when it is due.
This being the case the claimer classes their claim it as a debt and that debt is entered into there accounts as such.
At this point it is only a claim made against you and when received it you can do one of 3 things
- Admit the timeshare company’s claimed debt
- Ignore the timeshare company’s claimed debt
- Dispute the timeshare company’s claimed debt.
How you view the claim (of debt) is your decision and yours alone. After considering the claim and advice you will formulate a view (as detailed above) and once you have this view/position you should act so as not to prejudice your position.
In the event a claim is received and you do not accept liability of the claim, the debt becomes (by way of process) a disputed claim. If this is the case your position on the matter should be advanced to the timeshare company so that they are aware that you contest the claim.
The claim at this point and if disputed might be sent for determination to a court or some other action will be advanced to enable the dispute to be resolved.
This is the ideal way of dealing with dispute however some companies choose to use debt collectors/ repeat their position and/or gently harass the receiver of there claim. Some go even further with telephone call at home at work send repeat texts and even unsolicited door step call.
We at The Timeshare Consumer Association Ltd want to help if this is the predicament you find yourself in.
Admitting the claim
If you admit the claim or know it is owed by you, you have two options – either pay the claim or seek to have the claim payment deferred as you are unable to pays the sums you know are due and owing.
Please consider this when dealing with deferring payments and asking for time to pay.
Some debts are more urgent than others because the consequences of not paying them can be more serious than for other debts.
These are known as priority debts and include things like mortgage, rent and council tax debts. The people you owe this type of debt to are called priority creditors.
Debts which are considered to be less urgent than priority debts are debts such as credit card debts, overdrafts and other unsecured loans. These types of debts are known as non-priority debts.
If you have any priority debts, you must make sure you can pay these first before coming to any arrangements with non-priority creditors.
Please view these Citizen’s Advice Bureau links if your creditors won’t accept your offers to pay or take you to court and you do not have enough money to pay off your non-priority creditors, you’ll need to think about your options very carefully.
If you need help with admitted timeshare debts you can get free help to deal with your creditors through either us or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
You can’t be sent to prison for not paying non-priority debts. But if you do not make any offers to pay, without explaining why, your creditors may take you to court. If you still fail to pay when the court has ordered it, your creditors can take further action. For example, they can get another court order which allows them to send bailiffs round to take your property away. This will be sold to cover your debts.
Debt collectors dealing with timeshare debts are not bailiffs and do not have there powers to seize goods from you they as they require a court order to take any action.
Ignoring the claim
Don’t ignore letters or phone calls from a timeshare creditor. Get in touch with them as early as possible. You should do this even if you’re not yet in a position to know whether it is possible o pay them back or what arrangements you want to make for paying them back.
If your creditors don’t know you’re having financial difficulties or dispute their claim, they will assume you just do not want to pay – resulting in them possibly taking action against you.
Explain that you are trying to deal with their claimed debt and that you will contact them again shortly when you’re in a position to know how much you can afford to pay or the position you will take with their claim.
Also, ask them if they will put taking any further action, such as going to court, on hold until you’ve had time to work out our position or how you are going to deal with the debt.
If the first person you speak to is unhelpful, ask to speak to someone more senior.
Make a note of all telephone calls or meetings. This should include the name of the person you spoke to and what you agreed.
Follow up phone calls with a letter, confirming what you said and keep copies of your letters.
These actions will help you enormously if you end up in court as the reasonableness of your action will be taken into account by the court if and when the timeshare creditor applies costs in the proceedings. Unreasonableness on behalf of claimant will invite the wrath of the courts with cost sanctions.
Disputing the timeshare companies claim of debt
A dispute starts when two or more sides disagree. In the case of timeshare fees those fees/claims are incurred due to a claim under a contract, so its that contractual right which generates the claim made against you (by the timeshare company) and it’s those clauses in the contract which facilitate defences to the claims made.
Defences, position statements, claims and counterclaims are all different. So are the procedures, offers and counter offers in disputes. Invariably when parties seek from the court adjudication on a matter you have at the back of any case, without prejudice discussing which invariably to focus on, not the rights and wrongs of the legal issues, but the risks each party faces at trial. It is these elements of the dispute which become equally worrisome when parties are locked in legal battles.
Disputes by there very nature cause the parties involved stress and worry, so its best practise to think very careful before you launch a claim or defend a claim. As with most things preparation is the predominant fact in being successful. That all said the start is the claim and you disputing the claim.
The first step is to take advice on the issues and the claim. Once you have received advice you should discuss your options with the advisor. Ensuring you are happy with the advice, it’s effectiveness and most of all it is a balanced arguement.
Decide what you are going to do and set a budget for the pre-action works which will provide comfort in the event the dispute advances.
Once you are happy with the advice and your position, write to the claimer and set out your position fully explaining the reasons why you are disputing their claim against you.
Have running alongside this position and in your mind what you ultimately want to achieve. Consider best and worst case scenarios and what the minimum you will settle for, in short what’s you main goal. When that has been done consider what the timeshare company wants out of this. Always (even though it’s hard) consider the other side and extract as much information from them to support their point of view. Positioning knowledge and pre action information will stand you in good stead and we at The Timeshare Consumer Association Ltd are here to assist you.
Once the claimer has received your points of dispute no doubt they will digest your position and will either respond or completely ignore your letter and enter into a process of bashing on with reminders, red letters, phone calls, texts, and debt collector threats, etc.
These actions are designed to put pressure on you in the hope you will abandon your dispute and reside yourself to just paying this claim and the others to follow.
This is called weeding out the chaff. When it happens to you it’s not nice but as far as the timeshare companies are concerned it’s effective in eliminating the easy targets and their disputes who give up due to worry.
Consider when you see an argument in a pub – two people disagree about something, they discuss and the volume gets louder and louder until one gives up in fear, still believing they are right, or someone gets a punch in the face. This is what we want to avoid at all costs, either scenario. A consumer should concentrate on the end game, control their emotions and put into place effective controls and well thought out arguments to stop the rants and practises of ignorant claimant’s. How is this done?
Courts don’t like bullies, they don’t like intimidation or threatening behaviours. In fact the courts have rules and the overriding objective in all disputes is that parties, their advisors and legal council should be reasonable at all times.
Your letter therefore should not seek the advancement of your dispute (by adversarial methods) and should include such environments as arbitration, mediation and discussion – before advancing a court action. To stop the weeding out of your claim you should appoint another to assist you so they can stop the bully boy tactics and generate a level playing field for the dispute to be resolved.
If a claimant chooses not to take up such offers then they will be penalised in court and in the event of you losing the claimant might even have to pay there own costs and yours as well due to there behaviours. In short you get (by your behaviour) a free stab at putting your case to a judge. That is what the Timeshare Consumer Association hope to do at all time “Protect you”
We can offer you sanction from these bullying tactics by taking control, setting out of your dispute and writing to them, fully setting out your issues and preserving your position. We will include no confrontational arena’s to settle the disputes and confirm with them that they are not to discuss the matter any further with you as we are instructed to deal with it your behalf.
If they choose to repeatedly ignore us and continue to contact you direct we will on your behalf seek injunctive relief on their activities including their servants and agents. This will send a short sharp shock to them that you are serious and will not put up with any nonsense.
At any time you will be able to take matters out of our hands and your complete files will be passed to you.
You are at all times welcome to seek out help and assistance what ever action you decide to take and we will remain by your side. We are a not for profit association and will never be controlled by anyone other than those who have consumer interests at heart.
How creditors should treat you
When you have fallen into arrears with a loan, creditors are expected to treat you fairly when they are negotiating with you or are trying to collect the arrears.
They are not allowed to intimidate or harass you.
If you have a mental health problem your creditors should take this into account when dealing with you. Many creditors have a special team to deal with people with mental health problems and have special procedures in place to ensure that they are dealing with you fairly. There is a guide to debt and mental health on the “Moneysavingexpert” website at www.moneysavingexpert.com.
Many timeshare companies use debt collection companies/agents to collect debts on their behalf because it works out cheaper for them. This is a normal part of the recovery process and you shouldn’t worry if you are contacted by a debt collector for money they say you owe. Debt collectors don’t have any extra powers but you may find that they’re more persistent.
Don’t let debt collectors pressure you into making arrangements you can’t keep up. Treat debt collectors in the same way as you would any other creditor.
Some debt collectors may pretend to have more legal powers than they really have.
For example, they may say that they can take your goods away, when in fact only a bailiff can do this and they need to get a court order first.
If a debt collector does this you should complain to them or to the creditor whose debt they are collecting. If you are still not satisfied or the complaint is not sorted we suggest you contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) as the Office of Fair Trading closed on 1st April 2014.
There are other guidelines that debt collectors have to follow. For example, a debt collector must be very careful when dealing with someone who has a physical or mental illness. A debt collector should not continue with a home visit if it is obvious that someone is suffering from a mental illness.
If debt collectors don’t follow the guidelines, action can be taken against them. If you’re being harassed by debt collectors or are unsure what powers they have, get further advice from an experienced solicitor or specialist debt advisor. Other useful links that may be of use: AdviceUk and National Debtline.
We advise caution before any action, taking good care prior to admitting any debt and/or entering into any new agreement in relation to any alleged debt.
Creditors and debt collectors are not allowed to discriminate against you, for example, because of your age, race, sex, disability, sexuality, or religion. This includes not using language which you find offensive because of your age, race, sex, disability, sexuality or religion.
For more information about discrimination, see the CAB discrimination pages.
If you think you aren’t being treated fairly by a timeshare company or their debt collector or if they are not keeping to the rules, you should get advice about what to do from us, an experienced adviser or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
A creditor is acting aggressively or harassing you
Creditors are not allowed to intimidate you, harass you or pretend to have more legal powers than they really have.
If you are being harassed by your creditors, get advice about what to do, as the creditor may be committing a criminal offence.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you if you are being harassed by your creditors.
For free information and consumer assistance register with Timeshare Talk.
Last modified: March 11, 2016