Saturday, August 30, 2008

INVESTIGATE: STAY AWAY FROM ETOO? TOO RIGHT - mirror.co.uk

INVESTIGATE: STAY AWAY FROM ETOO? TOO RIGHT - mirror.co.uk
Penman & Sommerlad 28/08/2008

Timeshare firm grilled over rip-off fees and hidden costs

Timeshare outfit ETOO wants to be your "first choice" for selling unwanted weeks. Here's why we think you should make it your last.

In the past six years, ETOO - aka the European Timeshare Owners Organisation - has taken up to £17.5million in fees from people desperate to off-load timeshares they either don't want or can't afford.

Yet the firm's own figures show they have sold just one in five.

And even that deeply unimpressive figure depends on your definition of the word "sold".

Demetri and Pat Demetriou found out exactly what "selling" their timeshare through ETOO entails.

They paid the firm £1,910 after it promised to sell their two timeshares. They were told to travel to Portugal, at their own expense, to meet a buyer. Smelling a rat, they invited us along.

There we confronted ETOO salesman Mark Walker in a cafe. He seemed more interested in his fry-up than the Demetrious' problem, but he offered to take the timeshares off their hands in part-exchange - if they stumped up yet more money to join his Club Class Concierge.

Other victims have told us how they have been pressured into paying a membership fee of, typically, £850. For what exactly? ETOO says it is to pay for their £75,000-a-month TV, newspaper and online advertising budget - for ads like the one banned by the Advertising Standards Authority this week.

In it, a voice says: "Looking to sell your timeshare or points? You need to speak to ETOO... ETOO should be your first choice to purchase, sell or exchange your timeshare." The ASA got more than 50 complaints about the advert from people feeling they'd been ripped off. They said it failed to mention they had to pay an upfront fee, sign a year-long contract and might have to pay travel costs to attend a presentation overseas.

But ETOO hit back, saying the level of complaints was "minimal" and blaming "over-zealous telemarketing executives" - the same excuse they gave us.

They provided figures showing that, during a recent six-month period, 11.5 per cent of members got a sale. But older figures show that out of 20,554 members since 2002, just 4,106 timeshares were sold - a "success" rate of 20 per cent.

The ASA said: "Even allowing for the time lag between registration and sale, and for a generous margin of error, the information provided showed the vast majority of clients were unlikely to be able to sell their timeshare or points, as claimed."

The ASA upheld all complaints and ordered that the ad must not be broadcast again.

That is welcome news for David Tubb, from Stamford, Lincs. He is still chasing the £850 he paid to ETOO earlier this year.

Told that a buyer had offered £8,186 for his timeshare, he agreed to fly to Malaga to complete the deal. He ended up in an eight-hour Club Class sales pitch, where he was asked to hand over another £9,000 and they'd take the timeshare off his hands.

David was also promised £10,000 cashback in three years' time from Cashback Europe PLC.

Etoo, Club Class and Cashback Europe all use the same Gibraltar mailing address. Which is also the address of the "independent" trade body International Timeshare Resale Association.

Says it all, really.

He offered to take the timeshares off their hands.. if they paid to join a holiday club



Friday, August 15, 2008

Diamond Resorts International® Acquires LCI Travel

Diamond Resorts International ® (DRI) a global leader in the vacation ownership industry, has successfully acquired LCI Travel, the largest independent distributor of vacation ownership for Diamond Resorts in Europe.

Diamond Resorts International ® (DRI), a global leader in the vacation ownership industry, has successfully acquired LCI Travel, the largest independent distributor of vacation ownership for Diamond Resorts International ® in Europe.

LCI is a sales and marketing company with Preview and Call Centers strategically located in Wakefield, Nottingham, and Rotherham, England.

Glyn Margrave, owner of LCI, has been appointed to the position of Sales Director, United Kingdom for DRI. “We have worked with Glyn for many years, and we welcome him and the 120 LCI team members into the Diamond Resorts International® family,” said Neil Cunliffe, DRI European Sales Director.

Simon Crawford-Welch, Ph.D, RRP, DRI’s President and Chief Operating Officer, said that the acquisition of LCI increases sales and marketing distribution for DRI Europe. “Diamond Resorts International® is committed to continued expansion and bottom-line growth, and acquiring LCI creates significant synergies for us and provides us with the opportunity to expand our growing European portfolio of travel services and benefits,” Crawford-Welch said.

Diamond Resorts International®, with global headquarters in Las Vegas, Nev., is one of the largest vacation ownership companies in the world with more than 110 branded and affiliated resorts and nearly 23,000 guest beds in 14 countries with destinations throughout the continental United States and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Offering simplicity, choice and comfort to its more than 360,000 owners and members through the branded service of more than 5,500 team members worldwide, Diamond Resorts International® is dedicated to providing its guests with effortless and relaxing vacation experiences every time, for a lifetime.

For more information, visit www.DiamondResorts.com.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bogus Holiday Club in Wales wound up!

Three North Wales based companies that provided timeshare-type products, have been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) of the Insolvency Service.

CIB’s investigation found that Key Select Holdings Ltd, Key Select Services Ltd and Key Select Promotions Ltd had traded as Key Select Club which operated a scheme whereby customers, for a fee of between £3,000 and £9,000, would receive each year a certain number of points which could be redeemed for holidays. The investigation found that the scheme received £107,250 in joining fees from members but after just 12 months of trading the officers abandoned the companies without providing the accommodation and holidays that the members had contracted for. The members of the Key Select Club were also misled into believing that the Key Select Club was associated with a third party holiday provider, that the Key Select Club would operate until 2062, that 10% of the subscription fees would be deposited into an escrow account which did not exist and that upon ceasing to trade in March 2007 that their membership would be transferred to another provider although no such agreement had been made.

CIB’s investigation was unable to establish how many members the Key Select Club had although only 10 members successfully booked holidays and a further 5 members attempted to book holidays but were unsuccessful.

In addition, due to the abandonment of the companies and the absence of books and records the investigation was unable to account for the joining fees. The companies also failed to comply with various requirements of the Companies Act 1985 and appeared to be insolvent.

The registered office of Key Select Promotions Ltd, Key Select Services Ltd and Key Select Holdings Ltd which were incorporated on 22 and 23 September and 4 October 2005 respectively, is at County Arcade, 24 Meliden Road, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, LL19 9RT.

The petitions against Key Select Promotions Ltd, Key Select Services Ltd and Key Select Holdings Ltd were presented on 5th June 2008 under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986. The companies were compulsorily wound up by the court on 29th July 2008.

The Insolvency Service carries out confidential enquiries on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform through Companies Investigation Branch.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, PO Box 326, 17 - 21 Chorlton Street, Manchester, M60 3ZZ. Tele: 0161 934 4182
Email: piu.north@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

Further information about the work of The Insolvency Service is available from http://www.insolvency.gov.uk

Source: The Insolvency Service