The recent case of Mr & Mrs B was a classic example of how the Timeshare Task Force has been instrumental in meeting its objectives of assisting consumers and tackling rogue businesses.
Pensioners in poor health, (Mrs B is disabled), they were lured, via the website www.timesharerelease.co.uk to a meeting in Malaga with ITRA, (the infamous International Timeshare Refund Action business). Even though the ITRA employees could see the poor health and knew the age of the couple, ITRA proceeded to tell them that they could release them from their timeshare within 4 – 6 weeks at a cost of £4,500 – which they paid. (ITRA had originally said they would handle the case on a no win no fee basis). When they were not released as promised, they went online and found the information about ITRA on the Timeshare Business Check website, which is provided by the TaskForce – and immediately sought help.
A fast and free solution was available all along.
As their resort was a member of RDO, the first action that took place was to liaise with the developer with regard to allowing them too surrender their timeshare under the exit provisions drawn up by the RDO and agreed to by the developer. Just over a week after contacting the TaskForce, it was confirmed that their situation warranted an immediate surrender, with no costs or fees.
The second element now being tackled is to assist the reimbursement of the £4500 paid to ITRA . Although the couple originally had a claim rejected by their credit card company, support and evidence now being provided by the Task Force should ensure the imminent return of their monies – this is another standard and frequent service provided by the Task Force.
Pursuing criminal prosecutions
Finally, the evidence is now being presented to law enforcement authorities in the appropriate European countries (on a cross border basis) and prosecution sought. The Task Force vigorously pursues such cases and will if necessary help victims take action via a private criminal prosecution.
All the elements so typical in Task Force work were present in this case – the deceit of well known serial offenders, the fact that free, fast and effective solutions were available if the timeshare owners had only used the Task Force resources first – and the subsequent assistance in refunding monies and enabling prosecution.
Cooperation and coordination paying off
The various organisations working in partnership are also greatly contributing to the results being achieved.
Cases received by the ECC network concerning RDO members have been quickly resolved – previously such cases were not even being reported to RDO, so no action could possibly have taken place.
Cases received by TATOC have been passed to the Task Force for investigation and resolutions processes, with many resulting in very fast reimbursements and others being prepared for criminal offences actions.
Information received by the Timeshare Business Check website has resulted in joint actions by Trading Standards and the Task Force.
In addition to quick resolutions, RDO, after forcing the resignation of a member for non-compliance, have passed the case details to the TaskForce for follow up action, including refund of monies and criminal prosecution.
A summary of achievements is below.
America Maya, the KwikChex Legal Officer and in-house lawyer is coordinating the actions between the Task Force investigations team and the authorities. She said “This is only the start. – the more information received by the Task Force, the greater the potential for resolutions, refunds and enforcement actions. Cooperation between all the various authorities and organisations is absolutely essential to deal with cross border problems and EU-wide legislation and regulations.”