Azure timeshare scandal
When we observe reports in the media, it seems there is no end to the timeshare scandal’s that are being unveiled in recent years. From Timeshare fraud to issues of misrepresentation and bully tactics within the industry there is an increasingly negative representation of Timeshare – and for legitimate reasons. The name ‘Azure Timeshare’ has earned itself a negative reputation within the industry after being linked to mis-selling. In August 2018 we looked in this article at Azure group after they came under scrutiny. It was apparent that Azure Services Limited was not an FCA authorised broker, and there had therefore been in breach of the general prohibition in section 19 of FSMA when they brokered loans. The total amount of the concerned loans amounted to £47 million, and eye-watering £32,500 per transaction!
Now, in this article by the Times, former footballer Gary Neville has been linked to an alleged mis-selling of Timeshares in Malta and has been connected with the Azure group. The sales operation concerned centred on the Golden Sands resort (a prestigious Radisson Blu franchise). In 2009, Neville became a non-executive director of Island Hotels Group Holdings after he and Ryan Giggs invested €1.1 million each. The Island Hotels Group owned 50% of the Golden Sands resort and 50% of Azure Services Limited. Azure marketed the timeshares and brokered the Barclays loans, and as we reported in our article in 2018 which you can read here, Azure company was found to have been operating as a financial broker between 2014 and 2016 without authorisation under British law.
The footballers’ links with the hotel group were allegedly often used by sales staff, who brokered an incredible 1,444 loans through Barclays Bank. Many customers said it was the link with the footballers that made the sale seem credible, but that they were not adequately informed about their purchase, or even told they would be able to make profits through easy sales in just a few short years. Barclays said at the tribunal that in 2017 ‘63’ of these loans had been claimed to have been misrepresented to buyers and there were a number of litigation claims. The Financial Conduct Authority must decide on whether Barclays should be allowed to enforce these debts.
How does this affect Timeshare owners?
In the Times article, there are many personal stories of customers who have suffered from these timeshare deals. We will look at just one here. A 41-year-old man named Charles Rebbeck in Hastings had received a cold call to his home in the UK offering him a week’s holiday for £150 at the Golden Sands resort with his family connected with Neville and Azure. His wife was in remission from cancer, and he had two young daughters, so he decided to give the holiday a go. He said: “I know there is no such thing as a free lunch, but it was such a good offer. I knew I would have to attend a sales meeting, but I had absolutely no plans to buy a timeshare.” However, like so many others, after sitting through an intense five-hour sales pitch with photographs of Neville and Giggs displayed, he agreed to pay £13,300 for a one-week timeshare with a 25-year contract. Rebbeck said at the time he was assured it would be worth £24,000 in just a few years and that it would be easy to sell.
As the story with Timeshare sales tactics usually goes, this wasn’t the case and he was unable to sell. Tragically, his wife passed away in 2016 leaving him to care for his two daughters and with a huge loan he cannot afford to repay. His story is unfortunately not an isolated case, and we work with clients from all ages, backgrounds and situations who have found themselves carrying the enormous financial burden of a timeshare with no real escape route in mind.
What can I do?
Are you in a similar situation? We are working with clients right now who we are representing on a no win no fee basis to help them get their lives back.