This week I received a call from a very distressed lady.
Her husband had put his details into a competition website and within 48 hours had been called to book their “luxury promotional week” to Malta. The company mentioned Radisson so many times that they believed that the company booking their stay, Island Residence Club/Azure Resorts, were actually owned by the Radisson group which gave them confidence to book without doing any further research on the company.
In the small print terms & conditions to the promotional holiday it said they must be home owners, they weren’t, they must have a minimum income level, they didn’t and they must be in full time employment to qualify for the promotion. Mrs X was not in employment, in fact she was on disability benefits due to a severe condition called fybromyalgia. When Mrs X questioned this with the Island Residence Club/Azure staff she was told not to worry.
Once they arrived they were told they needed to attend a presentation as part of the promotion, which they agreed to. That week Mrs X had spent most of the time in bed due to the pain caused by her condition, but feeling harassed and under obligation both attended the meeting.
At the meeting the Island Residence Club/Azure Sales Representative made them various “investment” offers. As per The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010, page 7, point 14 (3) Island Residence Club/Azure have broken the law.
They declined each one until the offer became ridiculous and they were told it would not cost them anything for 10-months, (by which time their weeks would be sold), no RCI fee for the first two years and no maintenance on any of the weeks for the first year. The couple were tempted but Mr X had been bankrupt and Mrs X didn’t work so they knew they would not get the finance. Even after offering this information the Island Residence Club/Azure Sales Representative was still confident they could get this “investment” opportunity, but only if they were an existing “member” which he could arrange for just £950 as long as they agreed TODAY!
In their own words looking back, they were “incredibly stupid”. They let the Radisson name sway them to think the company was credible and after hours of relentless, hard sales tactics, they agreed and filled out the Barclays credit application. The application went into Mrs X’s name only as Mr X was previously bankrupt. Mrs X asked for time to read the credit agreement and contract as her Fibromyalgia meant she had problems mentally processing information – NHS Fibromyalgia. She was told that this was just red tape and that the agreement was built on trust so not to worry.
Somehow Barclays approved the huge personal loan to someone who did not own a home and had no income but her disability benefits – Is this not the definition of irresponsible lending? But what was the loan application reason given by Azure, surely not timeshare ownership as it would have been rejected?
Mrs X logged numerous letters and calls to Island Residence Club/Azure wishing to cancel with no avail, she then turned to TATOC for help. Mrs X said she felt like they were fact finding rather than offering any advice and nothing was done, she felt the information had been fed straight back to Island Residence Club/Azure as someone did then call her inviting her back to Malta to “discuss” the situation.
Using one of their “free” holiday vouchers, which they actually purchased, they agreed to return. This is a Sales Representatives dream, telling them they should not have purchased these weeks, but he could help them, they just needed to take out another loan and he would consolidate it all for them so they just owned one Club Paradiso week in Golden Sands. This time they were strong enough to say no as they knew what financial difficulty they were already in and couldn’t afford more.
When they returned home they contacted TATOC once again but were told there was nothing more they could do and were satisfied Island Residence Club/Azure had done all they could to resolve the situation – of course they would say this as Azure, a sister company of Silverpoint, were one of TATOC’s main financiers, directly or indirectly via the Resort Development Organisation (RDO).
After consulting with Citizens Advice Bureau, Mrs X contacted Barclays. Barclays responded by saying the contract issued by Island Residence Club/Azure was valid and they had even used part of the product purchased, the week to Malta. Barclays even quoted it as the “free holiday voucher”, how can a free holiday voucher be purchased?
Since their initial dealings with Island Residence Club/Azure, Mr & Mrs X have purchased a property, which they seriously look to lose due to the £210 per month they cannot afford and have to repay back to Barclays for the purchase, plus the multiple weeks maintenance fees which are now due, as surprise, surprise they did not sell after 24 months, let alone the 10 months they were verbally promised.
Thankfully Mrs X is now seeking legal advice and is contacting anyone who will listen to her story to warn them of doing business with this company, publicising her dealings on all social media channels, Watchdog, Rip-Off Britain due to the unscrupulous lending practices, hard sale techniques and farcical investigations claimed to be done by TATOC, on the behalf of the consumers, when really they work for the paying member resorts.
Posted on: February 19, 2016
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk