A grandmother from Croydon has spoken out about her dismay after a controversial high pressure sales tactic and a £99 holiday ended up in her owing £27,000, devastating her finances for years.

Veronia Johnson, a 65-year-old executive assistant from south London, was in Portugal after being offered a £99 holiday by Hilton, an offer she described as a "godsend" as she struggled to bring up four children on her own.

But the holiday required that she go to a timeshare presentation as part of the deal, but said she felt safe from any kind og trickery as the offer came from hotel giants Hilton.

Veronica recalled that the salesrep at the time "wouldn't take no for an answer" and put them under a huge amount of pressure, and also used the association with Barclays to convince them they could trust the project.

"We were both determined not to spend money we couldn't afford, especially in a foreign country.

"But for the whole morning this woman was surrounding us with luxury and telling us we deserved it. She put a lot of energy into convincing us both we could afford it.

"The fact that Barclays was attaching its name to the project as credit providers was really hammered home. The sales woman kept saying: 'If Barclays are involved, you know you can trust the project.'

"In the end she convinced me I could manage the payments by saying 'if the loan is approved, that means Barclays believe you can afford it.' I allowed myself to be convinced and filled in the application paperwork.

Veronica says the sales rep coached her on how to fill in the paperwork which was approved in minutes. "I never got any loan approved so quickly in my life," recalls Veronica.

"My friend applied too, and was turned down for finance. The sales woman was relentless, pushing me to act as guarantor for the second loan. I declined, thank goodness."

Veronica took a loan for around £17,000 over ten years.

"It worked out that I paid over £27,000 by the time I finished," she admits. "Paying the payments meant I couldn't afford to use the actual timeshare.

"I gave one holiday to one daughter, and a holiday to another daughter, but that was it.

"I've never used it myself. In the end I had to just give it back. I couldn't afford to pay the maintenance fees or flights as well as keeping up the payments."

"I had always planned to pay off my mortgage before retirement," the conscientious Surrey homeowner says. "But now I'm 65 and having to work past retirement age, because I still have 7 years mortgage payments left."

The Timeshare Consumer Association have now issued a warning about the controversial timeshare deals, explaining that people have made "life ruining decisions based on presentations made by high pressure, commission-only sales people.

"Links between reputable credit providers and high pressure sales operations are coming under more and more scrutiny," says Daniel Keating, Information Officer for the TCA.

"We know that people abroad, and in a 'holiday' frame of mind are more likely to agree to expensive purchases that they would normally be more careful about. Big, well known credit providers helping them to finance these decisions adds credibility to the situation and we are hearing stories like Veronica's all the time.

"Credit providers are rightfully being held responsible for their part in the damage that has been done to people's lives. Already there has been a huge win with Barclays Partner Finance and their involvement with disgraced Maltese timeshare company Azure.

"In the meantime we urge holidaymakers to never sign anything on the day, and to carefully consider your finances before committing to what can be a life altering decision."