With Timeshare law across the globe changing, there seems to be no shortage of people out there hoping to exit from their unwanted timeshare. The resale market proves this by being awash with owners fed up with the ever-increasing annual maintenance fees for resorts they no longer want to use. These people then attempt to source the best information available from the many companies available that offer that type of help.
ITRA or the International Timeshare Refund Action Group seemed to offer a lifeline for these desperate owners. Tempting them with the classic bait and switch by using the attraction of legal advice, the company then assumes responsibility for the unwanted ownership and ITRA would then switch the client to their product of a holiday club or credits.
The two main people at the head of the helm are the late Mr Peter Utal and his consultant Mr Andrew Cooper. Running the company throughout its duration they alleged to have achieved 1,790 successful relinquishments compared to the 2,964 existing clients that they had promised to assist with their exit.
Rather than being released from their ownerships, these owners later found that they were still being chased for the annual membership fee’s as well as having shelled out thousands of pounds to gain ITRA’s assistance. The complaints against ITRA have increased over time and have now reached breaking point.
Thankfully, last month the High Court Justice in London has ruled that ITRA, which operates out of a PO Box address in Gibraltar, must be placed into compulsory liquidation. This decision was made off the back of several legal cases that have been brought against them on separate occasions in courts right across the UK.
The main case in question; which will pave the way for many other owners (and clients of ITRA), was actioned by a British couple who had already won a separate, previous case against ITRA, for unlawful conduct; which was in line with misrepresentation of sale, as well as failure to provide the services that ITRA had promised them. The court ruled in the couple’s favour but ITRA failed to refund the £6,450 as they had been ordered by the judge. ITRAs decision to ignore the judge, then forced the couple to escalate and enforce the previous judgement through the High Court of Justice in London. They then had a second success, again being awarded all of the fees that they had paid to ITRA. Time will tell if this second judgement pressures ITRA to do the right thing and refund the money that two courts have now said should never have been taken in the first place.
Another similar case involves a gentleman from the UK who sued ITRA for citing misrepresentation and a service that was pretty much unusable. While on holiday in Fuengirola he was approached and persuaded by an ITRA sales representative to dispose of his Diamond timeshare. Along with the lure of compensation, he was convinced that if he did relinquish, he would also be eligible to sue for substantial reparation. The judgement was that ITRA were to pay back £9,765 including interest charges, court fees and costs. To date, this client, similar to the previous clients’ case, has not received a copper coin!
These ground-breaking results, although not redeemed as of yet, are fantastic news for the thousands of other timeshare owners who have found themselves in similar circumstances. As like many before them, in both of these circumstances, the client had been caught out and lost substantial amounts of hard-earned cash throughout their exit journey.
The compulsory liquidation forced upon ITRA will no doubt put delays on the reimbursement of any of these payouts. The good news is, that there seems to have been a turn in the tide for any future legal battles of the same nature. Hopefully this is now the time for the consumer to prevail over fraudulent companies such as this one for a change!