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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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My partner and I joined The Grand Vacation Club 2000 at Woodford

Resolved Question:

My partner and I joined The Grand Vacation Club 2000 at Woodford Bridge Country Club in north Devon; where we bought 15 time share points at a price.

The main points that we were told before purchasing the points were:

. We would be able to sell the points very easily.

. We were told they would be in a position to buy them back if we wanted to sell them.

All of these points were later found to be extremely questionable.

As time went by GVC became Sunterra then Diamond Resorts.

We went on a few holidays with them and in the same year in Benal Beach in Spain, we were convinced to purchase additional to make a total of 60 points promising further benefits. Overall we have invested around £7000.

When Diamond Resorts took over they changed the rules only offering to exchange the points for a 1 week in Devon apartments a member. We have tried various times since then to relinquish the membership but to no avail.

We have been paying monthly management fees ever since and have not even used the timeshare of 1 week/year.

Last year, we refused to pay the fees for one year but under threat by letter, we duly paid up by increased monthly fees to make up the
difference.

From online forums, I gather that many people have had the same problems and they have refused to pay albeit with threatening letters from the likes of Daniels Silverman, the debt collectors.

We cannot continue to pay up for something we don’t use, don’t want and frankly we are coming up for retirement and will not be able to afford in the near future.

With the fear of Diamond Resorts possibly threatening to sue, what practical advice can you offer? Not pay? Hope they don’t sue? Take it up with somebody? Write to Diamond Resorts? Anything will help.

Best Regards

Carl Yeo
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X will try to help with this.

In order to give you answer tailored to your circumstances I will need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Is there an exit programme please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Not sure what you mean by exit programme, but I gather the contract is deemed for life reading other forums regarding Diamond Resorts.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Thanks.

You probably already know that timeshare is now a bad deal. The maintenance fees can spiral out of control at an alarming rate and they are hard to escape.

While many organisations offer a painless escape the truth is that there are really only three options and none of them are anything like painless unfortunately.

The first is to sell to another consumer. That can happen sometimes and if it does then thats wonderful. However, demand for timeshare is at an all time low. Its quite unlikely you will find another consumer as this is really just a debt. Its difficult even to give these weeks away. You might try something like an Ebay listing. Or you could try an honest resale broker. Do remember that from the 23 February 2011 though it is a criminal offence for a resale broker to take any money, for any purpose, from a seller until the sale has been completed.

The second is to hand the ownership back to the resort of the club. A small number of resorts will not offer their owners the right to terminate ownership at no cost or a small one. Commonly this is called an exit programme. Actually I know that Diamond do offer it in some cases.

The third – and this seems the most popular – is simply to walk away and refuse to pay the annual fees. This is actually a surprisingly effective method although it is not painless. Generally the timeshare company will threaten to take defaulters to court. For the most part they do not. Sometimes when they do some owners have defended claims on the basis that there was a misrepresentation at the point of sale. Also it can be argued that the original contract is null and void as its outside of the jurisdiction. There is, however, a risk you would have to go to court over this.

Sorry this is probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to advise you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Jo
Regarding your reply, I have tried point 1 when I paid about £400 to an online Timeshare sales website in the US for increased coverage - to no avail. The second point I also tried by contacting Diamond Resorts but they do their usual thing by listening and then you don't hear from them despite numerous phone call chats. For the second point I offered not to reclaim any of our investments back!

Regarding the third point, which seems the best alternative, should I send a letter to them explaining that I don't want to continue with the contract? I also read a letter from another person in the same situation, where he even mentioned in his "resignation" letter advising Diamond Resorts not to pass over to the Debt Collectors (Silverman) any threats as this would constitute harassment - any thoughts on this? If you advise sending a letter, what words do you recommend?

Thanks

Carl
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I'm not surprised you find yourself in that position. It's becoming increasingly common.

When you send a letter or not is really a judgement call.

The starting point is that you don't have the right to just surrender in this way. There's no way around it. You will be locked into a contract with them. Now, you may be able to escape that by raising misrepresentation or jurisdictional issues but you cannot just surrender lawfully by sending a letter.

If you do write to them then all that will do is remind them of the need to review your case.

I wouldn't worry about what you've read on the Internet. People talk absolute nonsense unfortunately and it's very misleading. The harassment legislation has been particularly abused. One thing that is clear from it though is that sending legitimate debt collection letters does not amount to harassment and, in any events, there is no quantifiable loss in having to open letters from debt collectors and ignore them.

I think overall that is probably better to ignore them. There are people who disagree but my experience has been that however brilliantly you argue with an opponent it's very unlikely that they will agree with you. All that will happen if you write to them is that you will remind them of your case which is generally to be avoided.

Of course, they will pass this on to debt collectors and you will get some very nasty letters. That is distressing and unpleasant but it isn't decisive of the case. All you really need to worry about is whether or not they are going to sue and that is unlikely.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One last question, in the event of DR suing me, what the worst case scenario in the sense of payment? full refund of payments due or that plus their costs?

Thanks for your help on this
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You would be liable for the arrears plus their recovery costs but since the arrears are likely to be fairly low it would only be small claims court arena so costs would be low.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 64045
Experience: Over 5 years in practice.
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