With so much conflicting information about claiming compensation from the various Club La Costa companies, it can be a challenge to separate fact from fiction.
The following guide to the ten most commonly asked questions is brought to you by leading timeshare compensation firm European Consumer Claims (ECC)
For decades, timeshare companies in Spain and elsewhere ignored protective consumer laws designed to prevent aggressive, high pressure sales. The wheels of justice turn slowly in Spain but since 2016, the rogue resorts have been paying the price for their actions. Hundreds of millions of pounds of compensation have been awarded against them by Spanish courts.
To protect themselves, timeshare industry lobby groups have been determinedly saturating Google results with inaccurate articles designed to deter their victims from formally pursuing them for compensation. Even going as far as hiring once trustworthy consumer sites to muddy the waters with misinformation in order to shield resorts from their obligations.
The timeshare companies don’t have to convince you not to sue them, they only need to sow doubt.
A customer who does not feel 100% confident about taking formal action, will generally continue on their current course, being that of least resistance, and refrain from claiming compensation.
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t…”
Cutting through the confusion
To clear up misconceptions, here are the real answers to the ten most common questions clients are asking ECC:
- I understand that CLC broke a few rules, but we ended up having some genuinely great holidays there. Is claiming compensation really the fair thing to do? — Please be in no doubt: This one is a definite yes. CLC and other companies like them didn’t ‘forget’ the law. They didn’t ‘accidentally’ act illegally. They made a measured, conscious decision to ignore laws put in place for your protection. They did it to profit at your expense. But you will need to give some account and consideration for any holidays which you had
- How likely am I to be granted compensation if I claim against CLC, and how much money do people really get awarded? — M1 Legal, ECC’s associated firm of timeshare lawyers have a current success rate in court of around 98.6%. This is because ECC filter the applicants for M1 Legal and only accept cases that firmly fit the criteria for compensation which has been set following substantive and successful legal precedent. The consultation with ECC is free, and they will let you know if you have a viable claim. The amount of any compensation depends on various factors, such as how much you have spent on timeshare, how much deposit you paid inside the cooling off period and how long you used your membership and in what way. It can be around 100% of what you paid, and much more if certain common infringements were made. In specific financial terms, the average CLC compensation award is around £20,000. Some people get less, and some are awarded much more.
- I spent thousands of pounds on my CLC membership. Why does it not have any resale value? — What a timeshare member owns is generally not a share of property, but the ‘right to rotational occupancy’. Even from a purely mathematical standpoint this would mean it decreased in value every year for those memberships fixed in duration. However the real issue is the obligation of the maintenance fees. Timeshare companies no longer earn much money through actual membership sales, so they have increased maintenance fees to levels equal to or more than equivalent regular accommodation. Also most resorts are no longer exclusive. So owning a membership only commits somebody to pay for accommodation they could get somewhere else as and when they decide. It’s a benefit to the resort, but not to the member. Not only are people unwilling to take on this responsibility, but those who have memberships actually have to pay for expert help in order to be free of this onerous and ongoing commitment.
- How long does the claims process take against CLC generally take? — This is difficult to predict as CLC’s defence strategy changes all the time. Claimants are advised to allow 12 to 18 months for the case to reach fruition. If the process completes sooner (as sometimes happens) that should be counted as a bonus.
- Can I still holiday at CLC if I claim against them? — If your maintenance is up to date, technically you could still take your timeshare holiday in CLC, however the lawyers strongly recommend that you do not do so. It would not help your claim to compensation if the other side can show that you are still using the product. After your claim has been concluded, you no longer own the timeshare, but CLC sites, like most resorts are readily available on Booking.com. Ironically, often for less money than members pay in annual fees.
- I read rumours about Club La Costa companies are going through administration (and now liquidation). How does that affect the claims process? — The short answer is that it barely affects the actual outcome at all. CLC would like you to believe they have no money. But that is an insulting assertion. CLC is estimated to have a huge net worth. The declarations of bankruptcy by CLC´s Spanish companies are considered by legal experts to be transparent (and ultimately doomed) attempts to avoid their legal obligations to consumers. It should be noted that the administration/liquidation process with CLC, managed and undertaken by FRP Advisory, has opened up other potential routes to the claim. Including via courts in the UK.
- Which jurisdiction and route is a strategic decision that the M1 lawyer needs to determine on your behalf. CLC used a complex web of companies based in the UK, Spain and various opaque offshore jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands. The contracts issued by companies subject to Spanish jurisdiction are dealt with through the Spanish court system. The UK based and offshore entities have different routes to potential recovery of monies, including via the administration/liquidation process.
- It is a similar amount of work whichever route is elected to be taken in your claim. Many of M1’s lawyers suggest that there is often more work to be done when managing a claim through the FRP administration/liquidation than when pursuing a claim via the Spanish courts. Neither path can be considered an ‘easy’ option — there is no easy way to obtain release from your timeshare and recover money from CLC. However, even when there is extra work to do, reputable firms like ECC and M1 never ask the client for any extra money and always adhere to the contracted amount.
- Have Wyndham taken over CLC, and how does it affect my membership? — Officially Wyndham’s timeshare division is not involved with this ‘partnership’. The rebranding has been presented as Wyndham’s regular hotel inventory being expanded by being able to access the CLC units. Timeshare industry experts do not believe that Wyndham will pass on the opportunity to exploit CLC’s huge database of timeshare owners. There are also concerns as to already overburdened CLC availability being affected further as Wyndham’s guests will now be vying for units that were once purportedly exclusive to CLC member
- Are there firms who will take these timeshare compensation cases on a no-win-no-fee basis? — Very occasionally this service is provided under no-win-no-fee conditions. In normal circumstances however the upfront costs involved in claims cases are too high for claims firms to be able to advance on your behalf. The high volume of claims managed by ECC (for example) would require impractical amounts of capital to be tied up during the process. ECC, along with all other reputable advisory and support firms, have to charge up front to cover the costs. Bear in mind that claims firms reap their financial rewards from their percentage of the award. This is their motivation to do their utmost to get you the best outcome for your claim.
- If we are not up to date on our CLC maintenance fees, does that affect our ability to claim? — Again, the short answer is: possibly but unlikely. It is very unusual that being behind on your maintenance fees would preclude a claim. If you are behind on those fees, get in touch with the ECC advisors. They will go into the specifics of your situation with you and give you an estimated expectation of your award amount.
- Have Wyndham taken over CLC, and how does it affect my membership? — Officially Wyndham’s timeshare division is not involved with this ‘partnership’. The rebranding has been presented as Wyndham’s regular hotel inventory being expanded by being able to access the CLC units. Timeshare industry experts do not believe that Wyndham will pass on the opportunity to exploit CLC’s huge database of timeshare owners. There are also concerns as to already overburdened CLC availability being affected further as Wyndham’s guests will now be vying for units that were once purportedly exclusive to CLC members
- How do I decide on which firm to trust with handling my claim? — There are unfortunately many scam firms and fraudulent operators in the timeshare claims space. There are also firms that mean well, but just don’t have the experience and/or expertise to deliver results. Notable exceptions are European Consumer Claims (ECC), Canarian Legal Alliance, and Sarah Waddingtons Solicitors. ECC and M1 have the biggest portfolio of CLC claimants, and arguably the best reputation and track record in the timeshare claims business in Europe. However, it is understandable that you would want to research this yourself. To help you do so, here is an article to help you cut through sites with vested interests and misinformation so you can make your own educated and informed choice
These are the most commonly asked questions, but every case is unique. If you have any other questions or want to discuss your options, get in touch with our team for a free, no-obligation consultation.
- European Consumer Claims
- Do you qualify for timeshare compensation? A quick guide:
- Are KwikChex compromised by timeshare industry funding?
- How to tell a genuine timeshare claims company
- ECC contact page
- Your moral obligation to claim timeshare compensation
- Doug and Linda Mackay testimony
- Book your timeshare holiday…. on Booking.com
- Club la Costa Members’ anxiety as Spanish CLC companies file for bankruptcy
- Successful High Court application as administrator BDO replaced, in timeshare giant Club La Costa’s ongoing administration scandal
- March 2022: Another record month for trailblazing firm of timeshare lawyers, M1 Legal
- Timeshare manipulation tactics. How people are influenced to buy on the day
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First published on MyNewsDesk November 2022