/ Travel & Leisure

The end of shameful timeshare pressure-selling?

'Timeshare' written in sand

A welcome change in the law this week gives us more protection against rogue companies who use dubious means to coax us into buying a holiday club or trial membership to a timeshare. But will it make them stop?

This Wednesday, some much-needed protection against holiday scams quietly slipped into EU and British legislation. In principle, this is great news for holidaymakers.

The new law closes loopholes in previous timeshare legislation that have allowed unscrupulous firms to take money from people on the spot after using heavy sales tactics. These could be for trials for timeshare that they don’t really want, or for holiday clubs offering a lifetime of discounted holidays that may not even materialise.

It could happen to you

It’s surprisingly easy to be charmed into signing on the dotted line for a long-term holiday product. On my first day on the Costa del Sol in 2008, a scratchcard tout duped me into attending a timeshare presentation – I went to pick up a prize.

Over a wearying five-hour period, the persuasive sales rep became my ‘friend’, sharing ‘inside knowledge’ with me. He gave me a glowing account of his 34-month timeshare trial, but emphasised that this special deal was only available if I signed a contract there and then.

Luckily, I went along as part of an undercover investigation for Which?, so I didn’t actually hand over any money.

Why a trial for 34 months? Well, until this week, the law stating that companies couldn’t take any upfront payment for timeshare products only applied to timeshares running for at least three years.

The new legal protections

Now the consumer protection applies to timeshare products lasting more than one year, as well as other long-term holiday contracts where the consumer gains access to accommodation benefits or discounts.

We’ve lobbied for these new rights, so we’re really pleased that many of our recommendations have been adopted, including a cooling-off period during which the buyer can withdraw from the contract without any penalty.

It would have been even better if the cooling-off period had been extended from 14 days to a month. If you get targeted on the first day of a 14-day holiday, you’d have to cancel before you got home.

But my main concern is how, and whether, these laws are actually going to be enforced. Won’t rogue companies just continue their slippery, heavy-selling ways if they know they’ll be able to get away with it? Or will they simply find new creative ways to get around the rules with some new product or trial?

We’d like to monitor whether companies will flout these new laws. So let us know if you end up at a presentation where they still insist on taking payment upfront with no cancellation rights or a 14-day cooling-off period.

Comments
Guest
michael says:
21 July 2015

Is ITRA a safe company to deal with

Guest

HI is that the timeshare release company as we were wondering the same?

Guest
Jose Carlos says:
19 August 2015

We have just returned from Lanzarote and feel really foolish, we were duped by the scratchcard scam, winning a weeks worldwide holiday and a bottle of champagne, after being told we would have to sit through a 90 min presentation in which time a contract was drawn up, we were asked to pay a deposit of £500 with a visa debit card, being handed over to Karen and promised a week in Tenerife and 5 weeks to any where in the world. whilst signing the contracts we became suspicious the last page was on plain paper, we said we no longer wanted to go ahead , i made Karen draw 2 lines through each page to void the contracts but she wouldn’t let me have a copy, She couldn’t get rid of us fast enough, I came straight back to our hotel and cancelled my debit card no money had been taken, I returned home and phoned the police who put me through to the Action Fraud, They took a report and would be really pleased to hear from anybody else who has been duped by Karen , Richard or John so as they can build a case.

Guest
Sandra says:
3 November 2015

My husband and I ‘won a prize’ on a scratch card too that was given out by ‘Nicky’. We listened for 2.5 hours (but it felt more like we were being held captive) by Barry and his manager Richard who were giving us the hard sell. We explained our debit and credit cards were back at the hotel we were staying at. No problem they said, they could give us a lift to our hotel to retrieve them so we could leave a deposit of over £700! We left shortly after clutching our prize of a bottle of ‘champagne’.

Guest
M de neuvu0ille says:
7 June 2016

Thid our 1st week here before we have to sign out travel passport after reading various posts n waking up im not signing, anykne kniw what position im in.

Guest

I was sold a timeshare some 8 years ago, I was promised fees would only go up by around £15 a year and we could use the timeshare at other locations, these are now none existent, and the fees have done up by over 100%, I don’t know what to do.

Guest

Hi
We saw advertised on the internet a company called Timeshare release which stated that they are able to release people from timeshare within 6 weeks, as anyone had dealings with this company?

Guest

If they are linked with Eze Group dònt do it we went to an appointment we thought was with a Lawyer from Eze Legal after 5 hours with a representative and he tried to charge us £5908 to get out of the contracts! We told them we thought he thought we came down in the last rain shower!

Try Stephen Boyd Althena Law

Guest

The best advice is NEVER buying a timeshare anywhere. It is a scam and the so-called timeshare you buy is sold over and over again to other people. It is very difficult to sell your timeshare now and renting isn’t in the deal. It will cost you more to buy a timeshare and maintenance fee than to rent a hotel room or a full ownership of a condo. Don’t do it. There is good information about timeshare scams.