A timeshare story - Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons
How it started
Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons were on their way back from a holiday at a friend’s apartment in Malaga. A few years earlier they had invested in property abroad but lost their money in the worldwide property crash, so having this ‘free’ holiday was a great treat.
As they were waiting to board the plane, they were approached by what they thought were airport / tourism office staff who asked for feedback about their time in Malaga in return for being entered into a prize draw. On their return to the UK the couple were contacted to say they had won the draw in the form of a holiday. Because of their financial difficulties, the offer of an obligation free holiday was very exciting. At no time had the word ‘timeshare’ been mentioned by anyone.
“Lincoln Green have released us from what felt like a prison sentence” – Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons
Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons flew to Malaga, whereby, they were collected from the airport and taken to a timeshare resort. Upon their arrival the resort representative said there would be a meeting in the morning to explain the facilities available. Unfortunately, Mrs Fitsimmons woke up suffering from food poisoning so the couple asked if they could skip the meeting as she was still unwell, but they were assured it wouldn’t take long and it would be worth their while.
The meeting started at 9.00am and the couple realised straight away it was a timeshare style of presentation, although this was referred to as ‘Fractional Ownership’. Immediately the Fitzsimmons said there was no point them being at the meeting as they were already in a debt management plan, were not in a position to buy anything and that it would be a waste of everyone’s time. But the salespeople in the room just carried on, saying that this would be an investment that would over time increase in value, and one day will be sold at a profit but in the meantime, they could use the timeshare resort for themselves.
The sales reps virtually tag-teamed each other, using different sales tactics, and the Fitzsimmons were never left alone - they were even escorted to the toilet. They felt trapped. The couple kept explaining that because of their previous financial difficulties they wouldn’t even pass a credit check but the sales team said they had another option and could get them a loan, which would be worthwhile for the free holidays they would receive, investment potential and the benefits they would accrue as part of the resort’s points scheme.
Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons had now been in the same room for almost 12 hours, being subjected to high pressure sales tactics throughout. Everyone else had left and they were the last ones in the room, so they just signed the paperwork to get out. It wasn’t until the following morning that they took in what they had signed. The paperwork said they were committed to a 19-year, £30,000 commitment. They were in shock - this wasn’t what they had wanted at all.
The sales reps virtually tag-teamed each other, using different sales tactics, and the Fitzsimmons were never left alone - they were even escorted to the toilet.
The pressure and worry
After Mr and Mrs Fitzsimmons returned to the UK, they were very stressed. They were paying money for a Fractional Ownership product that they didn’t want and couldn’t afford. In fact, they couldn’t even afford flights to go abroad for the next three years but eventually decided they might as well visit one of the resorts as they were paying for it anyway.
On arrival they had to go to another compulsory meeting where there was more pressure to upgrade and take out additional loans. This happened every time they visited the resort in Malaga. It made the holidays stressful as they dreaded these meetings and at the last meeting Mrs Fitzsimmons was actually in tears. They couldn’t afford the loan, Mrs Fitzsimmons was made bankrupt, her husband was ill due to the effects of the loan. It was a really difficult time.
Finding a way out
After years of stress and worry Mrs Fitzsimmons started researching firms who might be able to help. She spoke to some ‘advice centres’ who specialised in timeshares, but they wanted thousands of pounds upfront before they took on their case, and they weren’t even lawyers. The Fitzsimmons said they couldn’t afford it and didn’t want to use them, but the advice centres hounded them through cold calls for months afterwards.
She then discovered The Timeshare Association that provided free and independent advice to timeshare consumers. They listed ethical legal experts known to them who specialised in timeshare matters and UK-based Lincoln Green Solicitors was at the top of their list. Then Mrs Fitzsimmons called Lincoln Green who were immediately sympathetic and understood the issues and pressure the couple were under. The team said they could help on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so there would be no risk to the couple and no need to provide funds upfront. The couple felt comfortable with the legal team right away.
Mrs Fitzsimmons called Lincoln Green who were immediately sympathetic and understood the issues and pressure the couple were under. They said they could help on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so there would be no risk to the couple and no need to provide funds upfront.
Lincoln Green Solicitors asked the Fitzsimmons to send over their paperwork and got on the case. They very quickly found inaccuracies in the paperwork, conflicts of interest and said it was key that the Fitzsimmons were in debt counselling at the time and they should never have been given the loan.
The Lincoln Green team researched into all the legal issues and similar cases and put pressure on the resort operator. They argued that the Fitzsimmons had only agreed to the loan after hours of high pressure selling and if proper financial checks had been made should never have been offered it. Within a week the resorts’ lender offered to clear the loan. Lincoln Green said this wasn’t enough, and after further negotiations the lender also agreed to refund interest and maintenance fees which in total came to over £15,000.
I can’t thank the Lincoln Green team enough. I feel like I have been released from a prison sentence and can’t believe it’s all finally over. The feeling of freedom is amazing and the fact this ordeal has ended is such a weight off my shoulders. I am so glad I decided to pursue the case with Lincoln Green and would recommend anyone in a similar situation to do the same.
You may be due compensation
We are investigating the sale of many “fractional ownership” products that have been potentially mis-sold by a number of timeshare resort operators. If you feel that you have been mis-sold a “fractional ownership” product by a timeshare resort, then we would be interested in hearing from you.