Timeshare victims die waiting for justice


The disclosures are yet another blow to the mediator, who pledged to improve wait times earlier this month after being criticized for a drastic drop in productivity.

Fiona Smith, 65, of Lincoln, was one of many timeshare victims invited to free vacations at Diamond, Club la Costa and Azure resorts. She says she has had to borrow tens of thousands of pounds in high interest loans from partner lenders including Barclays Partner Finance, Hitachi and Shawbrook Bank.

She and other disgruntled clients claim they were aggressively sold timeshares that they were told they could later sell for a profit. In reality, timeshares were virtually impossible to sell, leaving homeowners saddled with expensive loans for years to come.

A number of timeshare companies – which have consistently denied any wrongdoing – have collapsed, rendering the fight for compensation pointless. Borrowers therefore turned to their lenders instead.

Ms. Smith has been fighting for five years. In 2018, her husband died of cancer, the weight of the unfinished compensation battle weighing on him.

“I know he was very frustrated and anxious in his final days because it still wasn’t resolved and I was left to deal with after he left,” she said.

David Ince, 78, from Hampshire, also lost his wife to cancer as he tried to get his money back. He said the distress their fight with Barclays caused had never left her.

Another reader, Christine Budd, 66, from Portsmouth, was forced to sell her house after she stopped working but was still required to repay a £ 40,000 loan she took out to buy a Club la Costa timeshare that she was unable to sell. She has been fighting to get her money back since 2017.

“I get at least three calls a week from people claiming they can get it back for me,” she said.

Sarah Waddington of Sarah Waddington Solicitors said the delays had “opened the floodgates” for the crooks.

Barclays, which has 1,425 pending complaints, said it was sorry for the delays and was working with the ombudsman to find a solution.

It repaid £ 48million to 1,500 borrowers in June for its share in irresponsible loans used to finance Azure timeshares in Malta.

Hitachi, which has 583 cases against it, said it tried to resolve the complaints quickly and called on the ombudsman to resolve the issues.

Shawbrook, who has 831 pending complaints, said he was working on a case-by-case basis.

A spokesperson for the Financial Ombudsman Service said complaints are often complex and it looks at the evidence before reaching its conclusions.

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