Timeshare consumers who have been around for some time and for all different reasons want to dispose of their membership are at some point faced with a very appealing offer from the so-called Reclaim companies that are around.
These companies unfortunately (and in spite of what they “predict”) do not always just look out for the interest of the consumers and as much as they announce they will not charge any money up front until the consumer obtains the money claimed. The word retainer fee, upfront legal costs, deposit..are still mentioned in the first contacts of these companies with the consumers and we do not know of any case where a claim has been put through without the consumer paying a penny to start.
One of the most active reclaim firms now is ReclaimGC / Claims Directive.
ReclaimGC –www.reclaimgc.com , set up in 2009 in Gran Canaria, by German national called Eugen Kaiser. They are also operating in Tenerife.
It doesn’t add to trust knowing that Mr Kaiser was twice arrested by the Spanish Police in the past and his Reclaimgc appears to be an excuse to sell his dubious holiday club Voyager – www.lifestylevacation.net.
They are approaching timeshare owners informing them that the companies where they bought the product used unlawful practices to sell them timeshares. Basically, ReclaimGC / Claims Directive claim that under The European Directive 94/97/EC, timeshare companies broke the law by taking a deposit from them before the cooling off period, although Kaiser forgets to tell them that under Spanish legislation the taking of deposits was permitted.
However, to be able to join such Class Action against the timeshare company and to get their contract cancelled, they are asked to join their costly holiday club Voyager (many victims quote a figure of 6,000 Euros). The owner of the company states that it can take up to 5 years before the case will be heard in court and that the case can only be processed under Spanish Law.
So to get out of one holiday-club, you buy into another holiday-club…but you think you are paying for the legal costs which you will recover double when your claim goes through.
As per one of the managers of Reclaimgc, in a comment on a timeshare forum the reclaim works as follows:
“Each case is different depending on where you own timeshare and the amount of timeshare you own.
We wish to underline that we work on a NO WIN – NO FEE basis and that our commission is taken after the case is closed and the claim is paid out. In other words, we don’t take on cases which we are not sure to win.
At first our legal advisors will have a look at your timeshare contracts to establish that you have a claim. This initial assessment of your claim is FREE OF CHARGE.
If they establish that you have a claim you can decide to proceed by giving our lawyers a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf in the Spanish courts. The only upfront fee you pay is for legal costs and this will be determined by the amount of timeshare you have purchased. This fee is fixed to cover all the legal costs associated with your claim regardless of how long it takes to secure a successful outcome. The defendant will be sentenced to refund you all of your legal costs.
How long a claim takes to get assessed by the courts depend on many external factors which we cannot affect. A case can take from 6 month up to more than 2 years, very much depending on when a judge in the Spanish Courts has time to assess your case. “
So from a NO WIN-NO FEE, FREE OF CHARGE phrase we are thrown into the “Nitti gritty” of an upfront fee and costs to be covered…6000 Euros is a lot of money compared with Free of Charge.
They neither take on cases where they are not sure if they can win in the courts, but with a bit of searching on the internet it becomes clear that not everything is as “easy” as they paint it:
Court rejects 9 more “Claims Directive” cases : Brussels 17th December 2010 – in a press release issued December 7th, the Anfi group reports that a further 9 claims brought by owners represented by Claims Directive have been rejected by Several judges in Las Palmas, making a total of 14 consecutive rulings in favor of Anfi Group in the last two months. (more: http://www.rdo.org/es/node/704)
Bottom-line: Reclaimgc takes upfront fees for supposed legal costs, they sell a discount holiday club to consumers who think they are getting legal advice, they forget to tell that the supposed legislation used for the claim was not applicable in Spain, they forget that they already have many cases rejected, and last but not least…nobody got their upfront fee back!