Another judgement issued against ITRA in court – and this time they don’t even show up

International Timeshare Refund Action (ITRA) have once again had a judgement made against them in a court action brought by a consumer and supported by KwikChex.

On 4th June at Stoke-On-Trent County Court, ITRA were ordered to refund a consumer all the monies he paid to them plus costs – a total of over £5700. On this occasion, although fully aware of the proceedings, ITRA did not appear to defend the claim.

ITRA have lost several cases at courts across the UK in recent times after consumers took actions, citing misrepresentation and breach of contract. KwikChex has assisted many consumers that have complained that they have been pressured into paying thousands of pounds for supposed timeshare relinquishment and claims services which were never delivered.

The consumer in the latest case thanked KwikChex for the help provided and said that the judge had commended KwikChex for the work being done and for providing free assistance.

Update on ITRA & ECC

In recent times, after a run of defeats in court and adverse publicity,  those behind ITRA appear to be abandoning the ITRA brand and switching to their newer ECC brand, (European Claims Centre or European Consumer Claims). ECC is being operated by the same people from the same locations as ITRA. Complaints and concerns are already emerging about ECC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have already upheld a complaint against the business  for misleading advertising, with the ruling clearly identifying their close association with ITRA – see link to ruling – https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/european-claims-centre-llc-a16-334571.html

Timeshare Task Force responds to over 1000 consumer requests for assistance in 11 months

Since the launch  of the new Timeshare Helpline, in July 2017 the Timeshare Task Force operated by KwikChex, has received and responded to over 1000 requests for assistance and successfully resolved half of these, with the remainder receiving ongoing support.
As a provider of evidence and witness statements the TTF has helped secure:
•       The convictions of 3 persons involved in rogue activities
•       Multiple arrests
•       4 Judgements in favour of consumers in County Court proceedings against ITRA
•       The closure of numerous websites and businesses, including EZE Group
Consumers have been assisted with refunds totalling over a quarter of a million pounds.
All assistance to consumers is completely free, with funding being provided by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the representative organisation for timeshare developers in Europe.
The Task Force has a 5 star Trading Standards Approved rating, with outstanding feedback – see example below.
“Extremely helpful and supportive and completely free! They helped me to achieve a complete refund of all monies within a few weeks. Totally upfront and with valuable connections to Trading Standards and The Citizens’ Advice Bureau. I would totally recommend them to anybody with Timeshare problems. Definitely use them!”
See more reviews and details of our Trading Standards vetted & approved accreditation – https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex/24358/

Another Court Judgement Against ITRA

Consumer awarded over £4800 as judge declares that breaches of contract by International Refund Action Ltd. (ITRA) were “completely unacceptable”

KwikChex can report that on Friday 19 January 2018,  at Weston-Super-Mare County Court, another consumer it has supported has won a judgement against International Timeshare Refund Action – ITRA.

The judge ordered ITRA to repay the consumer £4802.60, having decided that ITRA had not provided the services promised.  The judge also commented that the “Breaches were as fundamental as they could possibly get” and that there had been “so little done for so much money”

The consumer asked for the assistance of KwikChex via the Timeshare Task Force resources that KwikChex manages, which are funded by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) after ITRA’s multiple failures to clearly respond for over a year to requests to detail what ITRA had carried out on her behalf. KwikChex provided free  advice and support for 18 months during the dispute, which culminated in the court hearing, with ITRA vainly trying to defend the lack of work carried out and poor communication. Attempts to carry out some work at the eleventh hour, well after legal proceedings were started were rejected as ‘too little, too late’.

KwikChex Director Chris Emmins provided a witness statement and attended court in support of the consumer, which detailed ITRA’s involvement in the notorious Club Class Concierge scams which resulted in the winding-up of seven connected companies by the UK authorities. Also included in the statement were details of complaints made by consumers to Action Fraud about ITRA and the misrepresentations that ITRA had a ‘Head Office’ in Gibraltar – something the Gibraltar authorities had confirmed was untrue.

ITRA attempted to defend the claim by using their favoured law firm, Pinder Reaux and a barrister, whilst the consumer represented herself. Two witnesses appeared for ITRA – the first was a Patrick O’Connor, who from the outset admitted that he used an alias when working for ITRA, calling himself ‘Steven John’ a name that has been quoted by many consumers making complaints against ITRA. He stated that the alias was easier for consumers to remember. The second witness was identified as Andrew Cooper, who in his witness statement said that he was a ‘consultant ’for ITRA. However, a solicitor from Pinder Reaux described him as ITRA’s CEO – and when questioned whether he was a director of ITRA he replied that he was. Andrew Cooper was also a director of two of the companies closed down by the UK authorities in 2012 – Bridge View Consultants Ltd. and Club Class Concierge Ltd. He is also a current director of European Claims Centre Ltd., a business that claims to have helped thousands of people to exit timeshares, though it was only formed in June 2016 and uses the serviced  / virtual offices to conduct its business as ITRA.

The latest case echoed the well-publicisied win by Mr & Mrs Walker against ITRA in court in 2016, who were refunded over £7000 – see the report by the Daily Mail – http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-3709511/Couple-win-7-000-victory-faulty-timeshare-contract-following-18-month-legal-battle.html

KwikChex and a number of consumer protection and advice agencies continue to receive complaints concerning ITRA.

Free advice and assistance is available for consumers on the Timeshare Business Check and Timeshare Task Force websites and via the Timeshare Helpline – 0044 (0) 1202 832012 timesharehelpline.net

KwikChex and the Timeshare Task Force services have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards and are the only business operating within the timeshare sector to have received official accreditation under the Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme – see the accreditation and verified consumer feedback on the following link  – www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex/24358

KwikChex – looking back at 2017

Timeshare

For KwikChex, 2017 was dominated by successes and praise in the timeshare sector, where KwikChex manages the Timeshare Task Force, providing totally free assistance to consumers.

 

Consumer feedback

Click here to read feedback from timeshare owners about the assistance they received from KwikChex.

 

Rogues arrested, in court & guilty

Our work in cooperation with the authorities has always been a vital part of our consumer protection efforts. In 2017, in cases supported by KwikChex, 6 people appeared in court over scamming timeshare owners.  Two of those have already pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in 2018. The other four go to trial in April. And in the longest running investigation, multiple offices were raided and owners and senior executives of one network of businesses were arrested.

 

Civil claims

KwikChex continued with the well-publicised success of the previous year, providing more free assistance to timeshare owners who have been scammed by rogue claims businesses, providing evidence that helped forced settlements in civil court and Section 75 claims – helping to win back thousands of pounds.

 

 

Relinquishment

Many timeshare owners were helped to relinquish their timeshares at no cost or for low cost payments to their timeshare companies. The majority had been lied to by rogue claims companies about their legal and contractual rights and only found that they could exit easily after making contact with KwikChex via the Timeshare Task Force.

 

 

New Timeshare Helpline opens

KwikChex, supported by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) added to the online Timeshare Business Check – www.timesharebusinesscheck.org with a new telephone helpline for consumers which again provides completely free assistance +44 (0) 1202 832012 www.timesharehelpline.net

 

Trading Standards Approval for KwikChex

Definitely one of the highlights of the year.  In addition to our existing Corporate Affiliate membership of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), the integrity of KwikChex services was demonstrated again when we were awarded one of the most trusted accreditations for any UK- based business – Trading Standards approval through the Buy with Confidence scheme – and consumers that we have helped since gaining the accreditation have been quick to provide more feedback, giving us a 5 star rating.

 

 

Presenting at the 2017 Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards Conference

KwikChex had a full session at our presentation to many Trading Standards Officers at the annual CTSI conference – helped by the popularity of the topic we presented – overcoming funding problems to help beat rogue traders. KwikChex was able to demonstrate how our investigations, verifications and resolutions services have helped cash-strapped law enforcement authorities in the battle against scammers. There was also plenty of activity at the KwikChex exhibition stand, with law enforcement and other authorities involved in consumer protection visiting to discuss cooperation.

 

 

 Online defamation, harassment and distortion

The story that never goes away. 2017 saw many more businesses from across the world seeking help from KwikChex. With a seven year track record that has been covered by the media globally, a wide range of businesses continue to seek our assistance when attacked by liars and cyber-bullies. Hotels and restaurants complaining of fake reviews on TripAdvisor remain the largest group – but many other professions, including lawyers, doctors, online businesses, health & fitness and even funeral directors have sought our help – and we continue to provide the unique services so often seen and heard on television and radio and in leading national newspapers.

 

Timeshare Task Force 2016 year in review


Successes for consumers right across the spectrum

The Timeshare Task Force, which is managed by KwikChex, has produced an unparalleled series of results for consumers during 2016.

The free service has become increasingly vital and more used  by consumers in the last 12 months, with the Timeshare Business Check website playing the leading role in consumer protection and assistance. The site has been a very effective resource for consumers seeking advice on businesses across the timeshare spectrum – from advising caution through to winning back monies for consumers and helping timeshare owners understand and exercise their legal and contractual rights.

Consumers contacting KwikChex via the Timeshare Task Force resources have benefited from:

  • Refunds from mis-sold holiday and rogue timeshare reclaim businesses.
  • Advice and direct assistance leading to contractually and ethically correct, no cost and low cost timeshare relinquishment.
  • Help with civil actions, including legal assistance from qualified lawyers and the provision of evidence to support claims.
  • Advice that prevented consumers from falling prey to scams.

Every single case has been assisted by KwikChex entirely free of charge.

The court case won against ITRA

The highlight of the year must be the support KwikChex provided to Harold and Brenda Walker, who came to KwikChex with concerns about monies they had paid to ITRA –  International Timeshare Refund Action. It was obvious from the outset that ITRA had made false promises and misleading statements in order to persuade the Walkers to pay over £7000.  Requests to ITRA for a refund were either ignored or rejected, so the only option was to take ITRA to court. Even though the Walkers were using the Small Claims Court, ITRA used the services of a specialist law firm and a barrister in trying to defend their actions – so KwikChex appealed for help from the RDO – the Resort Development Organisation, who responded with funding for similar representation for the Walkers. KwikChex went on to provide evidence and acted as a witness in court in support of the Walker’s claim. The judge subsequently ruled for the Walkers, declaring the ITRA actions illegal and the contract null & void. The Walkers were awarded a full refund and costs.

The Walkers
Harold & Brenda Walker 
[Image by Damien Mcfadden]
It would be difficult to imagine a nicer couple than Harold and Brenda Walker – both in their 70s, they epitomise human decency and civility. Brenda was at the time undergoing treatment for cancer, which added to the stress caused by ITRA’s deceptions.  Sadly, Brenda passed away not long after the case against ITRA was won, but Harold was so kind to say how much she had appreciated what KwikChex had done.  And in reality, as was quickly demonstrated by KwikChex, the couple had no need of the alleged services that ITRA said they would provide regarding relinquishment – because their timeshare was with an RDO member and they were entitled to a free relinquishment, which was subsequently arranged. ITRA lied about many things, including telling the Walkers that their children would be liable for their timeshares as their heirs and then tried to use ‘legal muscle’ to defend what should have been the indefensible. They failed – and now the publicity from the case has resulted in more consumers coming forward keen to take legal action against ITRA.

Read the full story in the Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills/article-3709511/Couple-win-7-000-victory-faulty-timeshare-contract-following-18-month-legal-battle.html

and the follow up exposure of ITRA – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-3810740/Can-trust-firm-says-rid-timeshare-price-families-did-lived-regret-it.html

KwikChex support for law enforcement and regulatory bodies

During 2016, KwikChex has continued to work closely with the police, Trading Standards and various regulatory authorities, providing vital evidence and intelligence on rogue operations.

Responses by KwikChex to police requests have resulted in the opening of a formal criminal investigation.

Responses by KwikChex to Trading Standards have resulted in the opening of investigations – and the resolving of complaints made to Trading Standards by consumers.

Four complaints about misleading advertising in the timeshare sector made to the Advertising Standards Authority were upheld in 2016 – against Easy Consulting SL t/a directresortsinternational.co.uk ; Timeshare Relief UK  and European Claims Centre LLC t/a Timeshare Advice Centre (a part of the ITRA operations).

In addition, an initiative in cooperation with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to stop Data Protection offences, including unsolicited contact and data theft is now well on the way to producing evidence that is likely to lead to prosecutions.

ctsiKwikChex also exhibited at and presented a session at the Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition in 2016 – providing new ways and means of detecting scams and helping to bring the perpetrators to justice.

< Left – KwikChex talking with Trading Standards Officers at the Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition.

 

 

 

 

The work will continue in 2017 and will include the continuance of free assistance to consumers, responses to requests by Citizens Advice for the provision of update advice, participation in the 2017 Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards Conference and active support in both civil legal cases and criminal prosecutions.

 

Consumer successfully released from ITRA demands and timeshare

In July 2016, a consumer contacted KwikChex via the Timeshare Business Check website, with the following request

“I have been mis-led and signed up for relinquishment of my timeshare with DRI. I thought I was seeing a consumer advice person at Timeshare Advice Centre Exeter only to be told that ITRA will be working on the relinquishment of my membership for a fee which needed to be paid immediately. Fortunately I realised before paying by BACS to a Bank in Morocco that all was not as it seemed. I cancelled the agreement within 3 days and asked for the return of my Deeds. They are refusing to do this unless I pay work in progress of £1280. Can you help?”

After intervention by KwikChex,  the deeds have been returned by ITRA to the consumer and have ceased demands for payment. In addition, the consumer has now relinquished their timeshare in return for a very low administration fee. These services were provided free of charge as part of the role played by KwikChex leading the Timeshare Task Force.

Asked to comment on her experience with KwikChex and the Timeshare Task Force, the consumer replied

“ I have no objections to helping others if I can and have appreciated the help and information given by yourselves and Mindtimeshare who gave me your contact details.”
Mrs B, Nov 2016

KwikChex can report on a court victory for two consumers regarding International Timeshare Refund Action (ITRA)

The contract the consumers were persuaded to sign was declared illegal and null and void by the judge and they were ordered to repay the full amount they had taken – over £7000.

Whilst the judge’s decision was based on contravention of specific laws relating to timeshare, including non-disclosure of key information relating to the rights of consumers – and the illegal taking of monies during the cooling off period, there was much more presented by the claimants in court.

Undue pressure and misrepresentation
As mentioned in the article, the consumers were pressured into paying immediately, with claims by the ITRA salesperson that time was critical – that they must pay on the day of their meeting with ITRA as a compensation case was about to be filed and they might miss out. In fact, no such case existed. This pressure and the misrepresentations were clearly in breach of Consumer Protection Regulations.

The consumers were also told that their timeshare would be compulsorily passed on to their children. This too was a lie and was exposed as such in court. Not only was there no such liability – in fact, the Walkers were entitled to relinquish their timeshare free of charge – something that was achieved soon after they contacted KwikChex.

The ITRA defence was completely dismissed by the court.

Legal support
The consumers – Harold and Brenda Walker had contacted KwikChex via the Timeshare Task Force after having their complaints rejected by ITRA. When they filed a claim in the Small Claims Court ITRA sought to defend by appointing law firm Pinder Reaux and using a barrister in court. We considered that ITRA should have acted ethically and refunded the monies, instead of using expensive lawyers. Because of this escalation, we sought support on the Walker’s behalf from the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), which funds the Timeshare Task Force managed by KwikChex. RDO agreed and paid for legal representation. KwikChex gave witness in the trial itself, presenting evidence of many consumer complaints regarding ITRA, including to Action Fraud.

ITRA’s previous involvement with consumer detriment
ITRA have previously been exposed as a business operating a ‘bait & switch’ operation. Named in a report by the Insolvency Service in 2012 as a business luring consumers into extremely detrimental purchases of ‘Club Class Concierge’ membership with false promises of timeshare relinquishment. Such was the seriousness of these activities that seven connected companies were compulsorily wound up by the UK authorities in the interest of consumer protection.

Consumer monies not protected
The Walker case also exposed the misleading impression that ITRA gave of protecting client’s monies by saying that they would be held in a client account with accountants Sochalls LLP. In fact, Sochalls was simply another part of the ITRA operation – and they sent monies paid by the Walkers almost immediately out to another one of the ITRA businesses based in Spain – Eurafric. Eurafric is currently sending out demands for fees to victims of the Club Class Concierge scams – attempting to persuade them that they are legally obliged to pay for services for a products considered sold illegally and with gross misrepresentation by the UK authorities.

News of the court ruling comes just after another ITRA network business – Timeshare Advice Centre (European Claims Centre LLC) was ruled by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to be misleading consumers – ASA Ruling

At the recent Consumer Affairs & Trading Standards Conference, KwikChex gave a presentation and discussed the type of problems experienced by the Walkers. Law enforcement and consumer organisations are now looking very closely at such issues. The reality today is that there are few complaints received about new timeshare sales. This is because strict compliance with consumer laws is observed – and there was a significant weeding out of salespeople that broke the rules. Consumers need to know that there is help available and as in the Walker’s case, it is not only laws that will protect them – there is also significant relinquishment assistance underwritten by for example the RDO member’s Code of Conduct. Whilst many consumers have enjoyed their timeshares for years, some have genuine concerns and need help they can trust. They should resist any type of undue pressure and misrepresentations and seek advice from the likes of Citizens Advice Bureau and Trading Standards or talk with a solicitor. KwikChex, as part of the Timeshare Task Force provides free assistance.

Excerpt quote from Harold and Brenda Walker

“Had it not been for the actions; dedication and encouragement of Chris Emmins and his team at KwikChex it is highly questionable whether we would have been able to pursue this action through to a final successful outcome against ITRA. We would encourage anyone who is or have been victim to similar treatment as experienced by us with ITRA to make contact and place themselves in the safe and trustworthy hands of KwikChex.”

The full letter is available on this link

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