The Azure Timeshare Scandal
Unfortunately, more often than not, news surrounding timeshares are dominated with stories about unveiled timeshare scandals. Whether it is a misrepresentation, bully tactics in the industry or even fraud issues, our media is populated with stories that scare us away from ever owning a timeshare. However, for many, it is a reality with thousands annually losing money to scams and unwanted timeshares.
There is a particular amount of negative reputation surrounding the name ”Azure Timeshare” after it was linked to the mis-selling of timeshares. Azure Services Limited was not an FCA authorised broker and were in breach of the general prohibition in section 19 of FSMA when they brokered a total of £47 million in loans, with a shocking £32,500 per transaction.
Read on to learn more about the Azure scandal, what it means for timeshare owners, and what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
The Azure Timeshare Scandal
Former footballer Gary Neville has been linked to an alleged mis-selling of Timeshares in Malta, connected to the Azure group, with the sales operation centred on the Golden Sands resort. Neville became a non-executive director of Island Hotels Group Holdings in 2009 after he and Ryan Giggs invested over one million euros each. The Island Hotels Group owned 50% of the Golden Sands resort and 50% of Azure Services Limited, the latter of which marketed timeshares and brokered Barclays loans between 2014 and 2016 without authorisation under British law.
Allegedly, sales staff used the footballer’s links with the hotel group to broker a substantial 1,444 loans through Barclays Bank. It was the use of the footballer’s names that prompted many customers to see the business as credible. But, they claimed they were not adequately informed about their purchases and were told that they would be able to make profits through easy sales in just a few short years. At the tribunal in 2017, Barclays claimed that only 63 buyers claimed their loans were misrepresented to them. It is up to the Financial Conduct Authority must decide whether Barclays can be allowed to enforce these debts.
How This Affects Timeshare Owners
Many customers have suffered as a result of the Azure scandal, and the mis-sold timeshare deals. One striking example is 42-year-old Charles Rebbeck from Hastings who received a cold call to his home, offering him a week’s holiday for just £150 at the Golden Sands resort. As he had two young daughters and a wife in remission from cancer, he decided to jet off on holiday, claiming that although he knew “there is no such thing as a free lunch…it was such a good offer. I knew I would have to attend a sales meeting, but I had no plans to buy a timeshare.”
But like many others, Rebbeck ended the intense five-hour sales pitch with an agreement to pay £13,300 for a one-week timeshare with a 25-year contract. They were even shown photographs of Neville and Giggs during the presentations. Rebbeck claimed that at the time of the presentation, he was assured it would be easy to sell, and the timeshare would even be worth £24,000 in a few years.
However, when the time came for Rebbeck to sell the timeshare, he was unable to. This is a story we see across the industry, with the promise of an ”easy sell” often being mis-sold to consumers. Unfortunately, in 2016 his wife passed, leaving him with two daughters and a massive loan he can never repay.
Rebbeck’s case isn’t unique, and there are many like it claiming that the Azure group mis-sold them a timeshare, using football connections and harsh, pressuring sales tactics to force them into signing contracts. The Azure scandal has left many timeshare owners looking for a way out of their commitment and separated from their thousands of pounds of debt.
Check out our website to learn more about Athena Law and how we can support and help you try to exit your unwanted timeshare contract. If you have been mis-sold or pressured into signing a contract, we can work with you to relieve you of the burden and help you feel financially free again.