Club La Costa salespeople – Should they be selling timeshare and brokering Hitachi Loans?
Dealing with customer enquiries is; for the most part, a very enjoyable experience, you get a great feeling when you are in a position to offer positive advice and assist owners to overcome their perceived problems, but equally you feel rather deflated when you have to say “sorry” there is not a lot you can do.
Of late the majority of queries have been in relation to Silverpoint, not surprising given the current situation, however there has been another common thread recently concerning ownership at probably the largest timeshare/fractional ownership resort on the Costa del Sol. The conversations were literally a mirror image of each other, so for the purposes of this article we will highlight one.
We were contacted by Abbigail G on behalf of her mother, whilst fact finding it was established that her mother is of a reasonably advanced age and also a widow. Whilst on a free holiday (inspection trip) in May 2019 with Club La Costa, Abbigails’ mum was persuaded to take out a trial membership at this timeshare resort. Later in the year she went on her full holiday at the same resort where; after a long and persuasive presentation, she was convinced into upgrading her trial ownership to a Club La Costa fractional ownership contract over a 17 year period, at a net cost of £17,959.
Needless to say Abbigails’ mum did not have that kind of money, so the nice sales representative said he could arrange finance with Hitachi to facilitate the purchase. Furthermore, many of the loans that were brokered by Club La Costa were actually done so without the broker being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FDA).
Normally the resort would also require a deposit, but the nice man said that they would take the trial membership in part exchange. After all the paperwork was completed, Abbigails’ mum was the proud owner of 17 years of holidays at Club La Costa, so what’s the problem?
The problem is “buyer’s remorse”. On returning to the UK and after discussing the situation with Abbigail, her mum realised the error of her ways and wanted to reverse the whole purchase. This is where the problems started to manifest themselves. The resort was most unhelpful and as were the finance company, so could we help….unfortunately no.
No actual money passed hands by way of a deposit on the day, the trade-in covered that and as that was not strictly a monetary payment, it escaped the legislated 14 day cooling off period, so no help there. Although it would appear that the resort arranged the finance, from their website I quote:
“(All our financial services partners have each carried out due diligence checks on all of our products, as well as maintaining a continuing dialogue with us in all areas of compliance. This ensures we maintain consistently high standards in respect of the sale of regulated products.)”
It seems their compliance and due diligence are flimsy, to say the least. No doubt the loan carried a 14 day cooling off period but this had well elapsed by the time Abigails’ mum got cold feet. Signing up an aged client for 17 years and saddling her with a whopping debt with no apparent way out is hardly “due diligence”.
No doubt, with a great deal of pleading, the resort may well rescind the ownership, why not, they can always put it back in their inventory and sell it to some other unsuspecting customer, as for the loan…no chance. The approach may go something like this:
“Hello Mr Hitachi, I borrowed £17,959 from you to purchase a fractional ownership at a large timeshare resort. The problem is that I made a mistake and don’t want it anymore. I can probably give it back to the resort and if I do will you cancel my loan please?”
Do we really need to write the reply that Mr Hitachi stated….we thought not!
Abbigails’ mum is really stuck between a rock and a hard place, with seemingly no avenues of redress. She has a fractional ownership she doesn’t want, a loan she can ill afford and we forgot to mention the dreaded annual maintenance payments that she must pay for something that she will probably never use again. What a very sad state of affairs!
So could we assist? In this scenario we really have no real advice to offer. There is a possibility of claiming misselling through the courts but that would be “big man Vs little man”. One could attempt to claim that the loan was not handled with compliance and due diligence, but this will have to be proven and will be a very arduous and time consuming task.
We understand that a leading London Solicitor practice is in the process of examining evidence relating to similar cases with the same resort but at the time of writing we have no further news. We will of course publish on this site any further developments.
For now, you can see that on occasions, despite all our industry knowledge and experience, we do find ourselves in the same corner as the consumers we aim to help. There could be hope on the horizon as there are several test cases being run in the UK against major banks including Hitachi.
Think not only twice but twenty times before you enter into
the same black hole as Abbigails’ mum, or the next time we speak it may be you
that we are telling:
“We are terribly sorry but on this occasion we fear there is nothing we can help you with.”
Posted on: February 3, 2020
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