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Like many others, Adrian and Ruby Davies are anxious to offload their timeshare and have been swamped with cold calls from firms saying they can help.

“We aren’t using our membership any more and are worried about leaving our children with the liability for paying the fees, around £1,400 a year,” said Adrian, a retired doctor from Middlesbrough.

They agreed over the phone to let Stoke firm Carl James Associates deal with the relinquishment of their Club La Costa membership, paying them £4,200.

Dr Davies then had second thoughts, not least because he did not like the advice he was given by Carl James rep Gerry Tiernan to just stop paying his Club La Costa annual fees.

So he tried to cancel the deal, arguing that he had not yet signed a contract with Carl James or sent them any of his timeshare paperwork, so it could not have started work on his case.

Carl James refused, telling him he was outside the 14-day cooling-off period, they had a verbal “contract in kind”, and it had already paid another company, Fullbrook ­Associates, to begin work on ­relinquishing his timeshare “on a non-refundable basis”.

Couple joined Club La Costa in Fuengirola, Costa del Sol.

Dr Davies told me: “It is all very nasty and I find it rather stressful.

“It’s become increasingly difficult to book with Club La Costa during half-term, the re-sale value has fallen through the floor, so we just want to relinquish it and at least not have to pay the maintenance each year.

“Carl James Associates cannot have started work on my case as I have not sent them any information on which to proceed.”

Fullbrook has not replied to me but I have heard from the director of Carl James Associates, Tom Whelehan.

He said that they had received “glowing testimonials” from customers and had no negative online reviews.

He insisted that its terms were fair and fully explained to Dr Davies, who did not ask to cancel until 29 days after paying.

“Whilst we appreciate the customer’s argument that they have not yet received value for their payment, we do not accept that our service contract terms are either unfair, unreasonable or unprofessional,” he said.

“Should we provide an open-ended, full money-back guarantee for all customers who, at any time, and regardless of the extent of the services performed for them by that date, can withdraw with no obligation?”

I’m not suggesting that, but I do think that until they have a signed contract with a client they do not have a deal, only the expectation of one.

Even after that, is it fair to keep Dr Davies’ full payment rather than only the portion that reflects what work, if any, has been done on his case?

I also have some concerns about salesman Gerry or Gerald Tiernan, who was formally a sales and marketing director at Eze Group, which was prosecuted by Trading Standards.

Fullbrook Associates also conducted timeshare relinquishment work for Eze Group under its previous company name of ­Fullbrook Marketing Limited.

Mr Whelehan accused me of trying to “tar them with the same brush” and pointed out that Mr Tiernan was not part of the Eze Group prosecution.

Another bone of contention was this claim by Carl James Associates: “We are a Best Practice Representative for the Parliamentary Review Board, this is not easily obtained, hard work and a lot of compliance is gone through to achieve this honour.”

I’ve previously written about The Parliamentary Review. Despite the name, it has no official status and is nothing to do with the Government, it’s a publication produced by a private company called Westminster Publications Limited.

You need to pay to be included – around £3,500 last time I looked – rather than show ­excellence, as proven by the Tyneside school that appeared with the slogan “Highlighting best ­practice” despite being repeatedly categorised as failing by the schools watchdog Ofsted.

Mr Whelehan sees it differently, insisting that Carl James Associates was specifically chosen to appear in the Parliamentary Review because of its views on timeshare and “how the industry should be ‘cleaned up’”.

I think we can all agree that’s something that needs doing.

Consumer champion website KwikChex estimates that £150million has been lost to timeshare exit scams.

One of the most shocking recent cases was Eze Group, which lured victims with the promise of a free mini-break where they were subjected to intense sales pitches lasting up to eight hours.

It was mainly elderly folk who were told they could offload their unwanted timeshares but in exchange had to buy “leisure credits” in the Eze “lifestyle” club, which cost up to £46,000.

Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of Eze Group outside court

In March last year, director Dominic O’Reilly was jailed for 28 months and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly got 18 months’ suspended after pleading guilty to breaking consumer protection regulations in a prosecution brought by National Trading Standards.

Judge Murray Creed, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, said the pair used “oppressive, aggressive and highly manipulative sales practices”.

Club La Costa says that it allows clients to surrender their membership free of charge so long as their fees are up-to-date.

“Members can simply contact our CLC World Member Services department to enquire on this policy and be guided through the process if required,” said operations director Guy Mantel.

“Claims management companies we believe are fully aware of our policy in this matter yet continue to misrepresent the situation and persuade our members to pay out fees, in some cases sizeable amounts in the thousands, for a service that is not required.

“We continue to advise and warn our members and owners of such activity and point them to third-party support websites such as”