Timeshare outrage: phantom debt demand has caused torment for couple | The Crusader | Finance


Will a couple ever be free of the holiday resort timeshare they once were a part of and its crooked, toxic legacy?

Calls from hard sell scammers offering to “help” to victims exit inflated maintenance contracts or claim spurious refunds have been a persistent feature of the discredited and dying industry as former owners Judith and George Hayward know only too well.

But the couple are now on the receiving end of a new blizzard of intimidating debt threats from vile, bullying so-called “contract” experts. “We are terrified,” they confessed to Crusader.

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on maisha.frost@express.co.uk ++;

Like countless other Brits they believed they had found their holiday dream they bought their two-week timeshare in Tenerife agreement back in 1999 from Club la Costa.

But as the charges rozs so did the pressure on the Haywards to capitulate and accept CLC’s offer to exchange their holding for points. This was peddled as giving them access to other resort stays around the world.

“But we were never able to book a holiday so we cut ties in 2010 and accepted our loss of thousands of pounds and resolved not to be so naïve in future,” says Judith. “We returned our certificate of ownership to CLC at its request and were glad to be out of it all.”

Over the next few years they received sporadic cold calls from so-called “lawyers” saying they had been mis-sold the points and they could get their money back for a fee. “But we did not fall for it,” adds George.

CLC (UK) plc, its timeshare arm, went bust in 2022, with branding for other parts of the group taken over.

Now in past couple of months the harassment of the Haywards has ramped up with callers leaving messages accusing them of owing £20,000 in back payments and reference to fancy legal terms, such as a lien, all designed to crush them.

For the record a lien is claim or legal right against assets used as collateral to satisfy a debtand serves to guarantee an underlying obligation, such as a loan repayment.

Some of those bullying the Haywards cited the names of existing companies they are from, but there’s no proof that is so. Nor are there any grounds for such an outrageous pursuit as the couple’s timeshare contract was years ago and any agreement now out of time.

What is sure however is the way they have been hounding them is illegal.

“The worst was from a debt collector ordering us ‘to pay or else’,” says Judith.

“We have not received any formal letter, but it is very traumatising. They don’t say where they got our information from. They mention new owners of the business. Now we have been ordered to attend a zoom call to ‘discuss legalities’. We have refused, but our home feels invaded.”

Like many timeshare victims the Haywards are older, in their late 70s, and not the best able to withstand the onslaught, although changing their phone number would be enormously disruptive.

Crusader will continue to support them and chase down any viable link to root out the rot.

[names have been changed]

And if you once had a timeshare and are suddenly being pursued too, hang up and let us know, we want to hear from you.

After action from the Financial Ombudsman some owners’ claims about mis-selling have been upheld by the High Court with it ruling that Club La Costa illegally sold its fractional memberships as an investment. In some instances compensation is being sought by victims from the companies that financed their purchase.

But the statute of limitations ringfences a collection of outstanding debts to six years. Anything after that point is written off and cannot be collected or held against someone’s estate unless there has been a charge on their property.

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