TWENTY years locked into a time share holiday agreement has finally ended for a Frimley couple
Chris and Lin Matthews, both 71, spoke of their jubilation at ridding themselves of the millstone around their necks in the form of their time share at the Cromer Country Club in Norfolk through Universal Vacation Club, part of the Petchey group.
“Yes, we lost a lot of money, but thank God we are finally free of it,” said Chris. “If our story helps someone else to get out of a horrible situation then some good will have come of it.”
Their victory is thanks to central London law firm Pinder Reaux working with the European Claims Centre who are handling hundreds of similar cases.
Pinder Reaux settled the claim with the time share company that had been pursuing the Matthews for money.
It was in February 1997 that the couple went along to a presentation in Reigate, Surrey, with open minds to consider whether to invest in a time share holiday property. Lin said that first presentation seemed “open and above board” and because it was an English company they felt “protected and safe”.
They agreed to pay almost £6,000 for a week’s timeshare at the club, and also pay annual service fees. They also took an option to pay an annual fee to time share exchange operator RCI, to be able to swap their week in Cromer for a week elsewhere.
“At that stage no one said anything about the contract being in perpetuity,” said Lin.
On two other occasions in 1988 the Matthews increased their time share time stake, first by £1,500, and then £45.
Their annual charges started increasing drastically, from £258 in 1997 increasing nearly five fold to £1,200 by 2008, also being hit by more “one off” payments.
At a further presentation in January 2002 they were told their time share with UVC was being taken over by Infinity, operated by Atlas Resorts Marketing, also part of the Petchey group. At a further high pressure sales presentation they were told the cost of the change was a further £5,750 which they paid.
They only used the Infinity scheme once and stopped using their time share in 2008 while still paying into it for a further five years.
In 2012 they got a call from a time share disposal company when they learned their contract was ‘in perpetuity”.
“It really shocked us,” said Lin. “It meant they could keep coming after us for the annual fees – not only that, they could do so from our estate after we die meaning they come after our kids and grandkids.”
The time share disposal consultant told the Matthews he could get them out of their contract and using Pinder Reaux and the European Claims Centre, settled with the time share company after pursuing them through the High Court.
“We’re just so relieved to be free of the stress and worry of this,” said Lin. “We didn’t want this being put on to the kids and grandkids. If our story helps someone else then some good will have come from it.”