HAVE YOU BEEN A VICTIM OF MISREPRESENTATION??

What is misrepresentation?

The Misrepresentation Act 1967 in effect, states that a misrepresentation is a false statement of fact (it is not an opinion) which induces the representee to enter a contract. Where a statement made during the course of negotiations is classed as a representation rather than a term, an action for misrepresentation may be available where the statement turns out to be untrue.

If your decision in buying a timeshare purchase was dependant on the statements made by the seller, and the purchase turns out to be different than promised, then you should seriously consider making a claim for compensation.

Timeshare presentations can be gruelling experiences where clients are subjected to many hours of immense pressure from sellers. The effectiveness of these presentations stem from the fact that these sellers are very well trained in presenting a product in a way that the consumer does not logically recognise the reality of the purchase. Unfortunately many of the timeshare contracts sold are due to salesmen misrepresenting the nature of the product and even the nature of the industry.

Example of Timeshare Misrepresentation

During sales presentations, potential buyers can be mis-lead into believing that a timeshare is a quality product that can lead to a large return on investment for the consumer. Furthermore, sellers often claim that the market for timeshares is easy to navigate and you could easily resell your timeshare in the future. This is a clear case of misrepresentation, as the timeshare market is actually extremely depressed due to consumers being more aware of the bad reputation of the industry.

It is important to remember that during sales presentations, a decision to buy may be based on verbal presentations made by the seller, which are more difficult to prove than documented statements such as those in the contract or on any printed correspondence. Verbal statements made between two people can be seen as ‘one person’s word against another’. Whereas, if many people were told the same statement by a seller, this would then be a case of systematic misrepresentation where it’s the seller’s word against that of all the other representees. This then becomes hard to disprove.

As proving timeshare misrepresentation is somewhat difficult, it is a very good idea to document, in detail, all forms of misrepresentation experienced at the timeshare presentation. These statements may constitute fraud and are a great way to build leverage against timeshare companies. Here are some statements some of our clients have experienced from sellers:

  • Clients can be told that the special deal that is on offer is only available until the end of the day and after that the price will go up. This is rarely true.
  • Clients are told that their timeshare is a good investment and will go up in value.
  • A common statement made is that they can stay anywhere in the world for the same price.
  • Or that the maintenance fees will not go up.
  • Or that the resort will promise to buy back the property after so many years.
  • Or that they will easily be able to resell their timeshare.
  • Or that it is not timeshare that they are buying, but another product.

Another problem that goes unforeseen is the validity of the points or upgrades that consumers can be coerced into buying. Clients are convinced into thinking that the benefits to this will include:

  • Making their timeshare property more flexible on dates
  • Give them options to use another timeshare property in another country or resort
  • Give them a more valuable timeshare property

Unfortunately, after the purchase of these points or ‘upgrades’, many clients have realised that their points are still not enough to acquire the holiday that they wanted.

Misleading omissions

Sometimes it's not what's actually said that's the problem. Sometimes its what's been left out that's the issue. For example in the case of timeshare, a sales person may omit that maintenance fees will rise at more than the rate of inflation.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations offer protection against traders who are economical with the truth, or miss out key information that you might need to make an informed decision.

Traders must make sure the information is provided in a timely manner - and not so late that it's of no use to you.

It's considered misleading if a trader does any of the following:

  • omits material information that the average consumer needs, according to the context, to make an informed transactional decision
  • hides or provides material information in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner
  • fails to identify the commercial intent of the commercial practice if not already apparent from the context

And information must also be displayed clearly - obscure presentation is tantamount to an omission.

Types of Misrepresentation

Your right to claim will depend upon different types of misrepresentation including the following:

Fraudulent misrepresentation

A fraudulent misrepresentation can be determined if someone makes a statement that :

  • they know to be untrue, or,
  • they make without believing it is true, or,
  • they make recklessly

If you have entered into a contract as a result of a fraudulent misrepresentation, then you have grounds to cancel the contract, claim damages, or both.

Negligent misrepresentation

This is a misrepresentation under the same Misrepresentation Act 1967 where a statement is made carelessly or without reasonable grounds for believing its truth.

For example, if an estate agent told a buyer that the house would be very quiet, when in fact the next door neighbours were about to start a very noisy reformation, this statement would be classed as negligent, as even though the estate agent did not know about the reformation, she did not do any thorough checks to substantiate her claim, she just assumed it to be correct. Had she known about the noise and lied about it, then this would class as a much more serious case of fraudulent misrepresentation.

HAVE YOU BEEN A VICTIM OF MISREPRESENTATION? CONTACT ONE OF OUR CONSULTANTS TODAY TO SEE IF YOU CAN MAKE A CLAIM.