On 21 February 2019 The Times published a report on a Timeshare company in Malta that has been accused of mis-selling timeshare to hundreds of British consumers, this is nothing new except that the timeshare resort had two very high profile part owners, Manchester United football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.
It all centers around the sales operations at Golden Sands Resort in Malta, a very prestigious Radisson Blu franchise, with sales of around £47 million funded by loans brokered on behalf of Barclays Partner Finance.
During the high pressure sales pitch, the stars names and links were highlighted by the sales staff, obviously an attempt to gain prestige. In all around 1,444 sales were made along with loans brokered by unauthorised unlicenced sales agents of Azure Services Limited.
The package that was being sold was a spinoff from the Silverpoint model in Tenerife, purchase the timeshare and it would then be resold with a substantial “profit”. One client purchased one week in a one bed apartment for £13,300 in 2014 and was told that by 2015 it would be worth £24,000, he still has not found a buyer.
In order to finance the purchase the sales staff brokered BPF loans explaining that once the sale had gone through the “profit” would easily cover the early repayment of the loan.
All well and good if the resale did actually take place.
The story came to light when Barclays turned to the Financial Conduct Authority and applied for a validation order, which would then legalise the loans and make them enforceable. The FCA originally issued the validation order, but this was disputed and the case went before Judge Timothy Herrington at The Upper Tribunal of the Tax and Chancery Chamber in July 2018.
Judge Herrington said that the FCA acted unlawfully in issuing the “validation order” which then allowed Barclays to enforce the loans as the regulator (FCA) had not considered “evidence of potential consumer detriment”.
The Upper Tribunal also heard that customers had complained the terms of the loans were not properly explained to them, no proper credit checks such as income versus expenditure were made and they were pressured into signing the deals. Customers also claimed that “false representations” were made about the financial impact of the loans, or informed of the duration that the agreements were for.
Canarian Legal Alliance in Gran canaria is also representing clients in this case and as yet no decision has been made by the FCA regarding rescinding the “validation Order”.
This is by no means an isolated case, Barclays Partner Finance has for many years been the main provider of loans for the purchase of timeshare. Canarian Legal Alliance is representing many clients mis-sold timeshare for “investments” by Silverpoint, the vast majority have been financed by BPF.
Many other timeshare companies have also used BPF to fund their sales. The sad thing is that it is the timeshare sales agents push the loans as an easy way to secure a sale that would otherwise not take place, due to the fact the customer could not afford it.
It is also known that customers have been told by sales staff, the person doing the loan application is employed by BPF and not the timeshare company, this as we know is not true.
It is also the case that these loans are agreed without any of the safeguards that one would normally associate with any large loan, proper credit checks, affordability checks and income versus outgoings reports. Along with the various promises of the timeshare sales staff that the customer will be able to make money by renting and then subsequently selling for a profit, which has never happened , has left many with debts and financial problems.
So who is at fault, we believe it is both parties, BPF and the timeshare sales staff. BPF, for allowing sales staff to broker these loans as a tool to make the “sale”, without proper supervision or checks. Then the timeshare companies who allow their sales staff to say and do what they like in the chase for making money.
As and when new information come in about the FCA decision, we will publish it here.